No weak sauce for Six Feet Under bassist

Jeff Hughell solo album about a chili pepper on the way
By Peter Lindblad

Six Feet Under bassist Jeff Hughell
is releasing his third solo album
Death metal is pretty brutal stuff. In the world of food, there are chili peppers that can, in similar fashion, be absolutely punishing on mouths, throats and the human digestive system. They are so hot and fiery they can make strong, hardy men weep and beg for a quick death. The Trinidad Scorpion is one of them.

Jeff Hughell, known mostly for his bass work with extreme metal maulers Six Feet Under, isn't afraid of a little heat. In fact, he's about to issue a scorching new solo album, his third, titled Trinidad Scorpion Hallucinations and it promises to score awfully high on the Scoville Scale, since the whole thing revolves around what it's like to actually experience tasting that nasty little chili. Hughell is well-acquainted with the stuff.

"I have Trinidad Scorpion sauce that my good buddy Matthew Kourie made, who is actually on the cover stirring the sauce," said Hughell, in press materials announcing the new LP. "It was made with Trinidad Scorpion, ghost and Habanero peppers plus some sweet stuff and it was amazing!!!"

Famed for his seven-string bass work, Hughell is known throughout the world of technical metal for his blazing chops, having played with such bands as Brain Drill, Vile, Feared, Asylum, Reciprocal, rings of Saturn and Cryptoreum. On Trinidad Scorpion Hallucinations, available Jan. 8 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and on, Hughell whisks listeners away on a gastronomical adventure, relaying through music what an encounter with the chili is really like.

Jesse Hughell - Trinidad Scorpion
Hallucinations 2016
For openers, Hughell offers the bass-and-drums beat down "Burn The Soul," a hell broth of a manifesto on the effects of capsaicin meeting your throat (Here's a video of the song A temporary reprieve comes with "Relief," which should be accompanied by a cold glass of milk, before the title track brings on psychedelic visions and the comforting harmony of "Brief Lapse of Clarity" lulls everybody into a false sense of security that the scalding "The Crown Won't Cool It Down" takes away. Inevitably, the issue of what happens later on in the bathroom comes up in the climactic "The Other Side."

"I came up with the idea then that it would be a really cool concept to go through the different phases of the initial heat, to the hallucinogenic part, to when it leaves you so to speak," said Hughell, who adds that he uses Kourie's sauce on tacos, eggs and chicken wings. "My favorite meal to cook would probably be pork shoulder. I love to smoke meats and a lot goes into making a pork shoulder perfect. From the brining, to the seasonings, the temperature, the timing, what wood you use to get the smoke flavor – it all matters. When it's done properly, you can take the shoulder out of it foil it's been resting in and basically smash it and the meat falls apart."

As for the album itself, the cover is intentionally trippy.

"The artwork was something that I wanted to really be extreme and I have wanted to work with Tony Koehl for a long time," said Hughell. "He took my basic idea of me drinking the sauce and Matt making it in the background and ran with it, putting in all of the insane detail. I couldn't be happier with it."

Almost certainly the only concept record ever made about a chili pepper, Trinidad Scorpion Hallucinations is different in other ways from Hughell's past solo work.

"I feel like this album has a much more consistent feeling," said Hughell. "It feels like one song that's over 40 minutes long. I spent a lot more time doing things in one take and having that feel of being real, versus technically 100 percent. It has a more human feeling to it."

Still, being the technically skilled player he is, Hughell is pretty discriminating when it comes to equipment. For this record, Hughell said, "I used my custom shop Warwick Corvette 7 string for everything except for 'The Crown Won't Cool It Down," which has my 6-string Warwick Corvette. Both basses have solid Bubinga bodies and custom Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups. I always record with a fresh set of Dean Markley SR2000 strings. I basically recorded all the bass at home, directly into my Mac book with Logic and then reaped everything at Castle Ultimate Studios. For the clean bass, we used my Gallien Krueger rig with a 2001 head into a neo 4x12 cabinet. For the distorted tracks, we reamped it with a Engl Powerball head into a Marshall cab."

To help bring his vision to life, Hughell recruited some top-notch musicians for the project, including Dominic Lapointe, who tears through a fretless bass solo on "Burn The Soul," with Marc Gilson on keyboards and Hannes Grossman on drums. Grossman also contributes to the title track and "The Crown Won't Cool It Down." Meanwhile, the creator of that  Kourie makes an appearance on vocals and guitar in "Relief," where Kevin "Brandino" Brandon plays arc bass and Mike Blanchard performs drums and percussion on "The Other Side."

"All the musicians on this album were great to work with," said Hughell. "They all brought their 'A' game to the project. I didn't even meet up in person with any of them. The thing I love about the guests is giving them freedom to do what they want. That's why I want them on the album, to hear their style. Or else, what's the point? Drums are a very important thing, too. Both Hannes Grossmann and Mike Blanchard do real performances of everything and don't leave a bunch of stuff to be edited after the fact. That provides a very real feeling."

Jeff Hughell on the bass
Currently, Hughell is on tour in Europe with Six Feet Under and enjoying the trip.

"I am in Germany as a I write this actually!" said Hughell. "This tour has been great. We have three more shows left. The shows have all been packed, the fans here always treat us very well, and we have some great bands on the tour with us."

Are there more chili pepper concept albums on the way from Hughell? Don't count on it.

"Ha ha! I think I am done writing about peppers," he said. "However, Matt and I recently went to a hot wings spot in San Francisco. We had Carolina reaper wings with a dry rub and it was possibly the hottest thing I ever ate. I had one wing. Matt had about five and he was defiantly crushed the next day!"

For more information on Hughell, check out these links:

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