Malia James | AXELLE, BAUER-GRIFFIN.COM
"I only wrote 10 songs for the Boots Electric album ['Honkey Kong'] and I've got to play longer sets," Hughes tells Spinner. "So I'm covering Amy Winehouse and Olivia Newton-John. I just sort of made them my style."
"I love Amy Winehouse," he adds. "And I got to know her just a little bit on a festival tour a couple years ago. And I thought she was an angel and I could tell that she was broken. While we were in Norway they had just announced that she had missed her flight and that she wouldn't be performing. And about five minutes after that she comes stumbling out of her dressing room. And I was like, 'That's rock 'n' roll.'
"But she was surrounded by nothing but vipers and sharks. So 'You Know I'm No Good,' that song is so deep and so honest, man. You can't sustain that kind of energy and inspiration without being a special person, y'know."
Hughes covers 'You Know I'm No Good' from her now-classic 'Back to Black' album, but does it up in his own "style," as he's fond of saying, where he's "trying to butt--- George Clinton with Gary Numan using Little Richard as a dick." In less graphic language, he's making down 'n' dirty disco-rock.
That sleaze-rock vibe also works perfectly for reinterpreting Newton-John's 'Physical,' whose video confused many a young man back in the '80s.
"My mom would always do jazzercise," says Hughes. "And I always got kicked out of the living room when they were doing the Richard Simmons workout, even though I would hide and check out those one-piece leotards in action, believe me. You have to bend to the wills of the devil -- this ain't a bible study."
Hughes may dig his lurid videos, but he's still supportive of the women in rock and considers Juliette Lewis, who guests on 'Honkey Kong,' his spirit guide. And he's clearly genuine in his appreciation for both Winehouse and Newton-John.
Not to be forgotten, though, Boots Electric also have a version of classic rocker 'Abracadabra' by Steve Miller Band worked out for their North American tour which kicked off last week.