Interview and Live Photos Credit: Anna Zurek
Right before their gig at The Underworld Camden in London we got a chance to catch up with Electric Boys vocalist Conny Bloom to talk about their new album, how they reunited again and their hopes and dreams for the future. But that’s not all! We got a little bit more personal for you guys and also got a glimpse into the past on how Conny in particular started out as a musician back when he was a teenager and who inspired him to pick up the guitar (I bet a jar of cookies that it’s not who you think it is). So if you’re curious and I’m sure you are by now, keep on reading to get to know more about a talented band and a more introverted as well as approachable side of a man than his confident stage persona would make you guess.
MGM: You just recently released your new album “Starflight United”. What sets it apart from other records you have released so far?
CB: Mainly the production I would say. It’s still the same band. We have quite our own sound. So even if we play songs that are different, it still usually ends up sounding like we do. So I think the production is really the difference between the albums that we’ve done. There’s been another producer, different engineer, so the sound might be a little bit different. I still think they all sound like a typical Electric Boys album.
MGM: So why did you choose a new producer? Did you want to achieve a certain sound?
CB: The producer is also the record company guy. He wanted to sign us and we started talking about the next album. He had ideas because he had heard of the previous album and he didn’t think that really hit him like he wanted an Electric Boys album to do, like he felt that the old stuff did. He said that he went to see us live. We played all songs and he thought we were great but for him they didn’t pop out on the record like they could. So I thought that was interesting that he had some sort of vision how to make it more in your face and I think it is production-wise. The sound is better if you’re in a rock club and put on one of these tracks from the new album. Compared to the previous one the sound is tighter and bigger. Also they have their own studio and nowadays it’s quite difficult because record companies don’t put up any money really. So signing with a record company that has their own studio meant that we could be there for a long time – a bit of a luxury nowadays.
MGM: So how do you usually create your songs and what’s your inspiration?
CB: It is difficult to say because I think we are getting inspired by different things. Things we read, things we see. Music-wise, I mean there’s a lot of music around all the time so whether you like it or not I’m sure you get inspired. I don’t know, it’s difficult. I mean of course I can get inspired by a certain song or something like that and think ‘Shit we should have a song that has this kind of groove’ or something like that but the best songs are not the songs that are made like that. It’s usually the songs that just sort of come to you without trying too hard.
MGM: How do they come to you without trying too hard then?
CB: I don’t know but Keith Richards said and I think that’s a good way of explaining it, he said there is a lot of melodies and music around all the time and you just gotta keep your antennas out and be open to it. I mean it would come to you.
MGM: Do you get a certain feeling when something sounds right?
CB: Yes, you do. I usually say that if I’m sitting and playing guitar, it usually starts with a guitar riff and I find myself going like this – you know stamping my feet and nodding my head or whatever, then that’s usually a good sign. Sometimes the melody comes after that so it’s like ‘Oh if I play this song it will work really well if I sing like this on top of the riff’ and then you go from there ‘Oh maybe the chords should be like this then’ – something like that. And then all of a sudden ‘Hey that’s a song!’ But sometimes you have one riff and you wanna plug in a song around it and that can go forever and it just won’t happen – unless you maybe play it to someone else. They might say ‘Hey I have a verse that could go with this’ and then you can push yourself over the cliff. So it’s different. There’s no rule.
MGM: Alright, so did anything weird happen during the tour or the production of your album?
CB: Well this tour, the first thing that came to my mind was that we had a flat tire on the bus last night. It actually exploded – it was a blowout. We were sleeping and then all of a sudden it went poof and then (imitates rattling sound). You know those things on the road that go (imitates rattling sound)? I thought we were driving on those and it went on for quite some time and I’m thinking ‘Oh fuck we’re gonna crash.’ Then I found the car slow down and everyone went like ‘Oh fuck we have a flat tire!’ It made a long night. So that’s the first thing that came to my mind about what happened in this tour. It’s been a good tour. It’s been a lot of fun.
MGM: So what has been the crowd’s response so far, especially considering that you are touring your new album at the moment? Do they like it?
CB: I think so, it feels like it. At least that’s what they told us. So yeah it’s good. We started the set with two new songs but it feels like we get them going straight away even though they never heard those songs. So it’s good. We actually have quite a few new songs in the set so it’s a bit of a chance or a risk but at least I’ve noticed in Sweden that people appreciate it because, our old fans, they’ve heard the old stuff anyway so they are sort of curious about the new songs.
MGM: Okay, talking about your new songs, I’ve noticed that your new record isn’t available on neither Amazon nor iTunes in the UK but only in Sweden and Finland. Why is that?
CB: It sucks. That’s just.. the record company wanted it, so… We’re trying all the time to get it out, you know, in other countries. There’s this guy coming down tonight who might be interested in releasing it in the UK. So I mean we’re working on it all the time. It’s really frustrating because we want to get it out but we also know that there’s a lot of people, fans in UK and America – something like that, that would like to buy it.
MGM: So why don’t you put it on iTunes?
CB: It is on iTunes in Scandinavia. I think it’s because if a record company picks up the distribution here, they want their share of the iTunes money and Spotify is different territory. So, I don’t think it’s on Spotify here, right? I don’t think so.
MGM: No it’s not.
CB: Yeah and it’s not in America. But I mean we can. There is an option. You can release it by the push of a button and release it all over the world but it’s better for us from a financial point of view if we can get someone to distribute it, to get a record company behind you because that means they will also probably promote it and try to send it out to press. If you just release it, it’s released but people won’t know. We’re trying to distribute it.
MGM: Are you also trying to distribute it in Germany?
CB: Yeah, of course. To be honest we know Germany is a huge market in Europe, the biggest I think, but nothing ever really happened there for us. But we would like it to. So we’re gonna try.
MGM: So going back in time, what made you decide to start Electric Boys again in 2009?
CB: I’ve been in Hanoi Rocks with the bass player for four and a half years and that’s a bit more straight-forward rock ‘n’ roll if you like and then when we quit the band. It was… well we started talking to each other and I said ‘What do you feel like doing nowadays?’ and we both wanted to do the same thing – go back to sort of that kind of groove, more 70s maybe, kind of guitarist and stuff. Then we said ‘What are we gonna do?’, then might as well try to put one of the best bands in that style together again in my point of view. Well I didn’t think it would work. I thought the other guys didn’t want to but they were really up for it. So everything went really fast from the moment we decided to quit Hanoi Rocks and then all of a sudden we have this band. So it was like an easy process.
MGM: Alright, another question about the past – this time a bit more personal. When did you know you wanted to become a musician?
CB: It’s quite a long story but I will try to make it short. But it wasn’t when I saw Jimi Hendrix or anyone like that, it was actually… I remember hearing Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” and “School’s Out” with Alice Cooper and I mean I have been listening to the Beatles and all that 50s and 60s stuff because that’s what my parents used to play but when I heard that I was like ‘Oh shit this is really good!’ So when I heard those bands or those songs I was totally blown away and then I started playing guitar. Near my mother’s sister’s house, there was a neighborhood and there were two guys and one of them was playing electric guitar really loud in his apartment. So when I used to go visit her I would hear him play when I came from the bus because he was playing so loud and he taught me how to play ‘Sweet Jane’, the riff to that Lou Reed song. So that was the first riff I learnt on electric guitar. So I was inspired by him and he took me to the garage where they were playing really loud. I was standing there and I thought that was cool. Then this other guy, he couldn’t really play but he was really into technical aspects of it. So he was really on his effect pedals and he had made light rigs at home, like disco lights and stuff. Yeah, so when he put on the music, there was all these lights that started flashing and they had lit on his echo effects and stuff. So he put on those lights and he’ll be playing his guitar and it was making all these phased-out noises. So that was the other side of it which is probably why I started getting into that psychedelic part of it. So I still feel like they inspired me more than any particular guitar player but then of course after that I started listening to a lot of records and finding my own guitar heroes and stuff like that.
MGM: So who were your guitar heroes back then?
CB: In the early days and I’m talking really early days now – this is like when I was 11 or 12 or something like that – when you are that young, it’s the music that you get to hear that… I mean there’s a lot of music out there but it depends on what friends you have, what they play because otherwise you wouldn’t know about it, you know. So all my friends and the rock magazines I was reading had a lot of KISS in them, so I started getting into that. I started copying some Ace Frehley guitar solos. I was a big fan of Status Quo, so I started copying Francis Rossi’s solos which is funny because nowadays, I love Status Quo – I mean I love all Status Quo in any way – they were the hippest, I thought they were great, and it’s still, when they put together ‘The Frantic Four’ I still got the chills but I didn’t go to see it, of course because of work. But it’s funny when you hear him play he has got a really funny style of playing but that’s what I was doing and then it was Rory Gallagher, Ritchie Blackmore and lots and lots of Jimi Hendrix. I love listening to Jimi and watching him. It’s funny because that’s the one that usually people mention when saying something about my guitar playing. It’s like… Jimi Hendrix comes up often but I wasn’t really trying to play like him. I was trying to play like Ritchie Blackmore and also Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher and Francis Rossi and a bit like Ace Frehley.
MGM: So you started out when you were 11/12 years old?
CB: A little bit after that. I started playing acoustic when I was 11, so probably when I was 13/14 years old.
MGM: And was it easy or a struggle to learn guitar?
CB: All I remember is that I kept running away from school. I just got so soaked into this thing. I lived close to my school, so when we had a 15min break, I would run home, play the guitar for 5min and then run back. It was just total commitment. But I was also playing tennis at the same time. I wanted to be a Björn Borg. But I found out after a while that, as you were asking if it came to me easy, playing tennis didn’t. I was good at it but I would never win. I didn’t have that little extra thing to make me win whereas I was 14 years old and I was playing in youth clubs, I was playing with my teeth and behind my neck. It just… that came a lot more natural to me, so I decided to quit tennis.
MGM: Alright, so if you could go back in time to that point when you were starting out, what advice would you give yourself?
CB: I don’t know but if I’d given advice to other people, it’s like ‘Practice mate, go for it.’ You gotta love the music or the instrument or whatever it is you set up to do. It’s not gonna come easy. I mean I don’t look at it as difficult because I haven’t… it was just something I did because I always loved doing it. But if for instance I would.. say… try to learn something else that I don’t have that kind of vibe for, then it would be a struggle. It would feel like a neverending story to learn it probably. But I just always played because I just wanted to do it and if you do it often, you become good at it.
MGM: And what advice would you give to new bands starting out nowadays then?
CB: Oh shit, nowadays it’s so different. Everything is different. I don’t know. I can only relate to when I was young and started, so I would probably say the same thing. Just, whatever it is that you decide you wanna do, do it often and get good at it. But then, once again, it’s so different nowadays. It’s all about marketing on the internet and stuff like that, so at the same time you might not have to be that good. You just have to be the one that put up the most interesting instagram pictures or tweets or whatever. So it’s different.
MGM: What can we expect from you in the future?
CB: Well this band is gonna go on, we are gonna make another album and we just wanna make it more, you know, more places, bigger places, more countries. Just like before we quit. We were quite successful in the UK, America and Sweden – those were the top markets. But then again, I’ve been playing with Ginger from the Wildhearts when we toured Japan and we toured Japan with Hanoi Rocks, Spain, Germany, you know, I just wanna… it’s what I do… so I just wanna play to as many people as possible. It’s quite frustrating that I can’t but it’s something that we are working on all the time.
MGM: So what will happen after the UK tour is finished?
CB: After this we’re going back home to work on some new material. Because it’s 25 years to go since our first album, so we’re gonna do a 25 year anniversary show where we’re gonna play that album from the beginning ‘til the end and hopefully record it as a DVD. The next thing is gonna be a short, normal tour in Sweden before that and then it’s gonna end with that gig. But we’re hoping that it’s gonna cause some interest so we can do the same thing here in London as well. Or maybe even a tour around the concept because when that album came out it was number one on the import charts in the UK and we came over for the first tour and we thought ‘Ah it’s gonna be good. We’re going to the UK.’ We came here and played all these clubs.They were packed and people were singing along to the songs. So we were totally blown away ‘cause we had no idea because it wasn’t even released, it was just on the import charts. So it’s interesting how things can switch from one minute to the other and all of a sudden everyone decides that ‘Oh this is really hip! Let’s follow this band or listen to this song.’ You never know before. It’s just when it takes off, it can really take off. But for some bands it never does and for some bands it does many times. But once again, it all comes back to the love for what you do because if you hang around waiting for things like that to happen it’s gonna be a neverending story because it might never happen. You gotta… what’s the saying… it’s not the goal, it’s the journey. So that would be my advice. Just do it at least once a day because you wanna do it for the day and hopefully it’s gonna turn into something great. Hopefully it does something that at least you know that you’ve done something you believe in or wanted to do.
MGM: Alright, so what’s your final message to the fans?
CB: I guess it would be that.. well this is a live band first and foremost and we really appreciate all the old fans that have come back and are still checking us out and of course all the new fans that we’ve found by doing festivals and stuff. We’re constantly trying, like I said, to widen our horizons or whatever and try to get to new countries and play to as many people as possible. We are just really happy to have people hearing our music and coming to the shows.
Electric Boys have released their new record “Starflight United” on April, 23, 2014 through Ninetone Records in Sweden and Finland only but are working towards a release in the UK once a record label is found. So far it is available as an Import via DCON.eu only (click here). You can find a teaser on here and their official video of one of their new songs “Spaced Out” on Youtube here. Electric Boys will tour Sweden starting 18th October, but to keep yourself up-to-date on everything including future tours in the UK, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@TheElectricBoys). P.S. Just between us, I’d highly recommend following them on Facebook as they let you get a behind-the-scene look on how they created their records and other little gems (you never know what they might come up with next). It’s like getting free cookies and who doesn’t love cookies? (Insert a failed wink here – just for you lovely readers).