Trinidad Scorpion Hallucinations is the latest solo album from seven-string bassist Jeff Hughell. The album takes listeners on the hallucinatory journey of eating one of the world’s hottest peppers from inhalation to evacuation. Jeff took a break from touring Europe to answer some questions about the new album.
First and foremost, have you actually eaten a Trinidad Scorpion Pepper?
I have had Trinidad Scorpion sauce that my good buddy Matthew Kourie made, who is actually on the cover of the album stirring the sauce. It was made with Trinidad scorpion, ghost and Habanero peppers plus some sweet stuff and it was amazing!!
What was that experience like?
I knew it was going to be hot when we tried it, but it was more intense than anything I had ever had. Plus, it was very tasty and addictive. We had been drinking a bit before we tried it and we probably ate too much. The combination was almost like a whole new level of pepper experience.
Why did you decide to make a concept album about eating the world’s hottest pepper?
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!
Do you put the Trinidad Scorpion hot sauce on everything?
I mainly use the sauce on Tacos, chicken wings, and eggs.
What is your favorite meal to cook?
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 its done properly, you can take the shoulder out of the foil its been resting in and basically smash it and the meat falls apart.
How did you come up with the artwork for your new album?
The artwork was something that I wanted to really be extreme and I have wanted to work with Tony Koehl for a long time. He took my basic idea of having 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!
How was making this record different from your last?
I feel like this album has a much more consistent feeling. 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% perfect. It has a more human feeling to it.
What gear did you use while recording?
I used my Custom shop Warwick Corvette 7 string for everything except for "the Crown Wont Cool it Down" which has my 6 string Warwick Corvette. both basses have solid bubinga body's 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 the neo 4x12 cabinet. For the distorted tracks, we reamped it with a Engl Powerball head into a Marshall cab.
A lot of musicians made guest appearances on the album. How was working with them?
All the musicians on this album were great to work with. They all brought there ‘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 Blachard 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.
You just went to Europe with Six Feet Under to perform. How was that?
I am in Germany as I write this actually! 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!
Your previous solo album Chaos Labyrinth came out not to long ago. Why a new one so soon?
I do this because its my passion to play bass and write music. I could come out with a new album in less than a year or it might take a few. You just never know how it will all flow and work out. I am constantly writing different things. It’s just who knows what project that music will be used for.
Do you have any urges to write an album about the Carolina Reaper in the future?
Ha-ha! I think I am done writing about peppers. 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!