Most metalheads will recognize bassist extraordinaire, Jeff Hughell, from his work over the years with death metal giants Six Feet Under. On Chaos Labyrinth, his brand new solo effort, Hughell strikes out on his own in stellar fashion. Chaos Labyrinth boasts a veritable who’s who of guest musicians and, while still a heavy disc, it is different from his work with SFU. Here is how the conversation went.
What was the inspiration and how did the idea come about to put together a solo project and release Chaos Labyrinth?
Hughell: I have been doing solo songs and demos for the past 15 years and always wanted to go all out and do a full-length with great production and some killer guests.
What was the writing process like for this record? Was it different than writing for a 6 Feet Under release?
Hughell: The writing process for this record was definitely different from any other band situation because it’s me doing exactly what I want and creating something original, not being stuck in the confines of what is expected of a band. I wanted the whole album to be a journey like one consistent piece of music. Every other song has drums on it so there is a great range of dynamics throughout the album.
You have assembled quite an all-star cast of musicians, how did you go about recruiting so many heavy hitters?
Hughell: The more I got into writing the album, the more I started envisioning different people to do guest solos and contribute parts. Some of the people where already good friends of mine and some where people I had been listening to for years that I had only met a few times in passing. I basically contacted everyone through email with demo versions of the songs and asked them to send a DI track that we would later reamp in the studio. There were very few people that were in the studio together recording. I was very honored and pleased with all the great contributions I got!
Chaos Labyrinth is heavy but different than your work with 6 Feet Under. How do you think your fans will respond to it and what has been the response from those who have heard it?
Hughell: It is a different type of album. I honestly did what I wanted and didn’t worry about what people would think. I feel when you do exactly what you want and what you feel represents yourself, it will come out the best, even if it doesn’t fit into a certain category. So far it has been received really well and shocked the people that thought I was a one trick pony.
I know this is probably a difficult question because I know they are all your creations, but are there one or two tracks that stand out as personal favorites, or that have good stories behind them?
Hughell: I do consider the whole album to be like one consistent song, but if I had to choose one it would be “Grout Polygraph.” I love how the melodies came out and Marc Gilson adds some amazing depth with his piano lines. Alex Bent’s drumming is so tasteful. It’s one of those things that just sticks in your head.
Any plans to take this on the road?
Hughell: I would like to tour with this given the right situation. I could do it with just me and my computer, but it would be way cooler to bring a drummer and more bassists. It would just be a matter of timing and coordination.
You are a multi-talented instrumentalist and even play the piano on this record. What other instruments do you play and do you have any formal training, or are you more self-taught?
Hughell: In addition to the bass I play the piano, which I actually took lessons from Marc Gilson whom plays keys on the album. I took lessons from him for a couple years about 20 years ago. I also play the drums for fun and have had a kit at my house for most of my musical career. I also have had formal training on the bass and played upright bass in jazz band through high school and college.
Is this a one-off or are there plans for future solo records and projects?
Hughell: I do have plans for lots of more solo releases! I actually have a new album that is almost finished as far as the writing process goes with some amazing guests on that too. On top of that, I am collaborating with Kevin Brandino (Aretha Franklin, Outkast, Justin Timberlake, etc.) on a new solo bass album. We plan to have some other heavy hitting Warwick artists on it. It will come out next year and will blow some people’s minds!
Check out the song “Chaotic Implosion” (feat. Alex Bent & Brian Wood) here.