Interview: Conny Bloom // The Electric Boys
The Electric Boys were a band that were borne and flourished in the MTV era of the eighties. Infusing some funk along with basic rock sounds helped to give them an element of uniqueness. However, due to changes in the music business, their star’s rapid ascent quickly faded as their second album failed to achieve the level of success of their debut. Fast forward to 2015 and the Electric Boys have a new album out and are on tour with another eighties funk rock band, Dan Reed Network. I caught up with frontman Conny Bloom ahead of the band’s Manchester show.
Soundclash: Hi, Conny. You are out on tour in the UK with Dan Reed Network. I understand that your relationship with him goes back quite some time. How did you first meet up with Dan Reed?
Conny Bloom: I have known him for a long time because when our first album came out me and Andy, the bass player, went over to New York to meet the record company - I think it was called Phonogram - they said that it was “interesting that you guys are mixing rock with funk because we have just released this album by this band called Dan Reed Network.” They gave us the CD so that we could listen to it when we went back home. Then we bumped into each other on the road a few times, and he came on stage with us at some point. We did a few songs together for a laugh. Lately, I have been opening up for him in Sweden, playing like an acoustic solo thing for a few songs. We have run into each other a few times over the years.
SC: Do you feel that last year’s album “Starflight United” marked a departure in the Electric Boys sound? Or is it more of a natural progression from the band’s earlier releases?
Conny: Yeah, I think that… I wouldn’t say that we have tried to change the sound on purpose or anything. With that album we just wanted as much clarity and punch as possible. I always say that the best way to try out a record, or a mix, if you like, is to try it out in the car or in a rock club played really loud. I have been DJing as a rock DJ for fun at times. You have your favourite records and some of them just sound like shit. You realise that you can’t play them in the club. We just wanted something that you could put next to any Danko Jones record and to have that punch and clarity to it. That’s all there is to it!
SC: You formed the band with Andy and, indeed, have also played in other bands with him. How would you describe your relationship with him?
Conny: Yeah, it goes deeper than a band member because we met when we were really young - 13 or 14 or something like that. We were both into Alice Cooper, that’s how we became friends - and then we started playing together. Of course, we have been through a lot together. I don’t have a brother; so he is like a brother.
SC: And of course with Andy you also joined Hanoi Rocks? What prompted the change in direction and step backwards from frontman and centre stage to guitarist?
Conny: I understand why you are saying that, but for me I don’t see it as taking a step backwards. For me, it means, “Oh great! I don’t have to sing so I can concentrate and play even better guitar. It’s more like a luxurious thing, or job if you like. Guitar is my main thing. It’s always been that way. I still don’t see myself as a singer. I know I am a singer but I couldn’t sing with Aerosmith, I couldn’t sing with Guns & Roses or whatever... but I could play guitar with them.
SC: Playing with Hanoi Rocks, that must have generated a huge buzz for you. Were they a big influence musically when you were growing up?
Conny: Absolutely! I remember two classic shows that I saw when I was younger in Stockholm. One, the first, was the early version of Hanoi Rocks with Gyp Casino on drums. At the same place, called Studio, there was a gig with Jason and the Scorchers. Both of those gigs completely blew everyone’s minds. There was no bands like them at that time. They were totally original and really good I thought. Then, of course, Gyp Casino joined my band. We had a band together and we ended up touring with Hanoi Rocks in Finland. That was how I got to know Andy and spent time with him in London. We always said that sometime we should play together. It took a long time, but then, when it finally happened, it was like, ”Yeah, this should be fun - so let’s try it out.“ It lasted for four and a half years. I thought that it would last for a year or something. It went on for quite some time.
SC: Easier, and nice that Andy also joined Hanoi Rocks with you?
Conny: That had nothing to do with me. Andy got me into the band and then he said “Do you know what AC (the other Andy) is doing nowadays? I said “No, I don’t think that he is playing much these days.” He said that he was playing on my solo stuff, he really liked him and wanted him in the band. I thought *laughing* ”Oh no, here we go again - I just can’t get rid of him.”
SC: Your last solo album was released way back in 2006. Just wondered if being back in the Electric Boys has given you the time to also write for a follow up solo album? Or are you just fully
focussed on the band right now?
Conny: Well, I am doing it now - because I am just mixing a solo album at the moment which is an album in Swedish. That is interesting because it is a new adventure for me.
SC: I discovered a very interesting thing on the internet- that you had starred in a UK advert for Jameson Whiskey playing the harp???
Conny: Yeah, yeah. It was Jonas Akerlund, the video guy that does all the Madonna and Stones videos and everything. The Swedish guy is a friend of mine - he just phoned me and said that it is impossible to get together as we are so busy. He said that if we get together and have a drink then we would have to work together. I said, ”Yeah, that would be fun.” So he replied, “Do you fancy doing a Whiskey ad?” I asked what type of Whiskey it was and then I phoned a friend of mine who is like a whiskey expert. I asked him what it was like, phoned Jonas back and said “Yes, I will do it.” So I am playing harp in the video. The slogan was “expect the unexpected.” There was a few different adverts - one with a drummer.
SC: Did making that advert not inspire you to do any more acting?
Conny: No, but the funny thing is - and this is true - I had about 200 mails on Facebook from people wanting to buy my harp records. This is true, I am just faking like crazy. There was even a harp teacher who mailed me and said, “It’s great that we saw the ad and finally my students have a cool harp player to look up to” *laughs* because it is kind of a geeky instrument. I wouldn’t even tell him the truth. I’m like, “It’s all done with smoke and mirrors - don’t look at me!” I am not an actor, I would say, like Rick Nielson says when it comes to videos “I am not an actor, I am a reactor.” You need the audience there to make it work.
SC: At the height of the band’s success in the MTV era, what would have been your biggest waste of money?
Conny: I would say a little bit here and there. Everything just cost too much. Videos cost too much, recording cost too much. That’s the way it was in those days. People would be like, ”Let’s make an album at X amount of grand. We would be like, “OK, great.” We were actually looking back at making one of the videos. Look at all these people running around, the catering and everything. We were asking, ”What are all these people doing? We are paying for it but we still can’t figure out what they are doing - they are still running around. This is a waste of money.” So I would say, “It’s a bit here and there”
SC: What in your life are you most proud of?
Conny: *pauses for several moments* That’s really difficult. I don’t really have just one thing. It’s basically like baby steps all the time. Success is when I suck less *laughs*. You do a really good gig, and that’s great for that moment. Then you do a shitty gig and everything is, “Oh, fuck!” Then you do a really good gig and you are back...Then, of course, I am proud of the albums and certain songs might stand out and certain gigs.
SC: Do you have any hobbies or interests outside playing and recording music?
Conny: Nothing I am heavily involved with, but I like traveling... Not sports, really. Food - making food. To be honest, I don’t feel that I have too much time. Within music there are just so many different areas. It’s either playing or I am writing a song, or in the studio or even working on a record cover. There is always something going on. We were talking about movies just yesterday; there are so many great movies that we haven’t even seen. It’s not that I don’t want to see them - it’s when am I going to get the time? I have kids, as well. So, when I am not doing what I need to do, I am spending some time with them.
SC: Do you have any unfulfilled hopes, dreams and ambitions?
Conny: You can always come up with new goals. I think it is more like that. I am an easy guy, I don’t set high targets. That’s what I am saying - my target today is to do a kick ass show tonight. Then we will see what the target is tomorrow… It is more like that. I am pretty spontaneous like that and I am shit with planning. It’s like when people say to me, “Do you fancy coming to this party in two weeks?” How would I know what I feel like that day? The best parties are always the ones that you just end up at...
SC: Well, I’m hoping that the Electric Boys will bring the party to Manchester tonight on the tour to promote the 25th anniversary of the “Funk O Metal Carpet Ride” album. Thanks very much for talking to me prior to the show tonight.
Conny: It’s been a pleasure.