Bobby Conn is
a terrifying man. As we entered a typical Soho public house to meet
him, Jeff Prinsloo from Southern issued a shock to the system by stating
"he's weird, but normal weird". Still, I stayed cool until I saw the
man himself go to the toilet in preparation and suddenly I was starstruck.
he for real? Who knows but you know when Richey Manic carved "4 Real"
into his own arm? Fuck that! So the rumour goes, Bobby Conn has a
self amputated ring finger!
The future might
be in his hands but then again it might not. Regardless, in the meantime
he continues to churn out pop hits and music of genius. The obvious
starting points being his self titled first album, his follow up album
"Rise Up" and the MTV hit "Never Get Ahead".
Jesus! High on crack
Jesus! Threw him in jail
Jesus! Can't afford the bail
For one hour of
my life he blew my mind:-
Bobby Conn: You
have "hi how are you" already listed on there (my question sheet)
Jason Graham: Yeah.
BC: We've already gotten that one down. I like that, that's preparation!
You know, I've noticed that the English interviewers, the press, seems
to pride themselves on having the questions typed out. Not just handwritten
but typed out.
Alun Shepherd: The Dutch would just handwrite them out.
BC: Yeah, if they even had questions, which the Dutch don't have,
questions. They just go like (in mondo Dutch accent, slowly) "well
Bobby, tell us.....something".
JG: Do they? I dunno. How about the English? Do you like England?
BC: Oh, like? Yes, yes.
JG: What about the food? Do you like the food?
JG: Well, its like, whenever Americans come over to this country
they just bitch about the food.
BC: The food? I mean, in America you can get really bad food, without
trying very hard.
JG: They're not overly gourmet in this country, Americans say how
everything gets boiled in this country so....
BC: Well you know, we had mixed grill today.
JG: Did you enjoy it?
BC: I did actually. It was very odd, an odd assortment of meats. Liver,
steak, some kind of weird bacon. Like all on one plate. It was odd.
So is this two different fanzines or one fanzine?
JG: We're mates.
BC: Ah, now that looks like a fanzine.
JG: So what do you make of Soho then?
BC: Here? Why are we doing this here? Mr Prinsloo has odd concepts.
So far I've been in a little like boutiquey shop to eat and then a
tea shop and then here. Here is the most comfortable but its like
odd. Why he picks Soho? Is it centrally located or something?
JG: It's centrally located.
AS: This is Soho? So it is like 42nd Street.
BC: Yeah, I mean this is Broadway. This is like the theatre district.
AS: This is precisely like the type of location you deliberately avoid
when we're in New York.
JG: Yeah, well I guess you know that. Sorry I didn't catch your
BC: This is Alun Shepherd.
JG: Alun Shepherd?
AS: Yeah, its A L U N. Alright.
JG: Oh, like the Welsh!
BC: Yes (?)
JG: So, how did last night go?
BC: Very good, very good. It was full of people and it sounded......
I think it was very affective.
JG: Really? What sort of reaction did you get?
BC: Er, "yay", (claps). "Yes!". "I like you very much sir". I got
"we love you Bobby". I got "thanks for a great show".
JG: Did you get a "wooo!"?
BC: I got a "wooo!". I got several "Wooos!".
AS: A man in Hamburg proposed to him.
AS: He told him he thought now that he loved him and he wanted to
live in a glass dome with him.
JG: Are you going to take him up on it?
BC: I can't marry everyone that wants to marry me.
JG: I wish I had that problem. How many interviews have you done
BC: This is my fifth.
JG: Are you getting tired of them?
BC: Just a little (screams with frustration).
Matthew Newnham: We caught you at a bad time then?
BC: No, not at a bad time (grabs my questions). "How about the weather?".
The weather is beautiful.
JG: Its turned out nice now. So what has been the most asked question?
BC: Basically, probably the most asked question is about the anti-Christ.
That's generally the angle that people wanna start with. And that's
like an hour right there. To explain that is like an hour so....
JG: We'll have to fragment that question.
BC: You're gonna have to lead me round to that one. The last guy,
oh my god, what a doubting Thomas he was.
BC: Yeah, he did not, he would not budge an inch. He was tough, tough
guy. Hard. Hard boiled hard ball. He just asked "so what's this about
you being the anti-Christ?".
JG: But you are, aren't you?
BC: Yeah, yeah, yeah I explained it but its like.......lets lead up
to that one. Lets not start with that.
JG: Yeah, some people are like so cynical
(Bobby looks up, breathing like Darth Vader as if possessed by, say,
JG: Have you done the erm......OK?
JG: Have you done the MTV VJing yet (on M2)?
BC: No, that's tomorrow. No, Monday.
JG: What are you going to play?
BC: You know, I don't know. This is something that is very interesting,
they gave, they said that I'll be able to look in their library and
pick all of my favourite videos, seven of them. You know, the last
time I watched MTV was in 1984, I think, so.....
JG: Dire Straits!
BC: Actually that's one of them.
JG: That's the only video they had back then.
BC: (Bobby sings) "Money for nothing and chicks for free". I might
pick that. I think I might pick Dance Hall Days by Wayne Chung (?).
AS: You don't even know these tunes do you?
JG: Not that one.
BC: Or the Karma Song (?) (more singing)
AS: Do you know that one?
AS: How old are you?
BC: You're 20? Oh!
AS: How old were you in 1984?
BC: He was a tot.
JG: I was in school.
MN: I was seven.
AS: You were seven years old!
BC: The same year. So that's going to be tough to pick videos. Maybe
you could give me some videos that you might like to see.
JG: Pick your own. I really enjoyed your video.
BC: Well thank you. I mean that's, I guess I should explain since
people are thinking that that video was deliberate. Like that's just,
that video, is an excerpt from a children's dance party show on Chicago
Cable Access. And I dunno if you're familiar how cable works in America,
you know they, the cable companies, are granted the franchise they
have to allocate a certain number of channels for local programming.
JG: Public Access.
BC: Yeah, Public Access, and then you can just have shows and a friend
of ours has got this show called Chic-A-Go-Go which is a children's
JG: How do you spell that?
Weasel Walter: Its like saying Chicago.
JG: Oh yeah.
BC: So he asked me to be on the show that day and I was there with
this other character called The Lord Of Lightning who is this kind
of washed up, R n B guitarist, sort of in the Hendrix mold. This guy
from the south side of Chicago and he released a single in 1985 or
1986 called "I want To Get To Know You", it was like this sort of
psychedelic Hendrix riff thing. That was his only single, he comes
with this Macramay guitar swing, lip synchs his song and then I come
out lip synch my song for an audience of like 8 children and a few
adults but the video is like, just that excert, is just like so strange.
Hello, how are you?
Monica Bou Bou: I went shopping and then a Ju Jitsu Class
BC: You took a Ju Jitsu Class?
MBB: I took a Ju Jitsu Class.
BC: Oh, yay!!!! (Bobby clapping and cheering). So, er, yeah, so that's
the video. So its not like a, we didn't, er, its just the way it turned
JG: I saw the video, it was on MTV and.....
BC: We need Chic-A-Go-Go. They need to have a show like Chic-A-Go-Go
on MTV. I think.
JG: It could happen now with it (TV) going digital in this country,
so the telly channels have expanded to about a thousand channels.
Why did you release Never Get Ahead as a single?
BC: Why did I release that as a single?
JG: I mean as opposed to, you could have done something from the
new album but you chose that one.
BC: Ah, well actually, yeah Never Get Ahead actually was done,
its off the first album and it just got released as a single here
because Southern decided to do that. I would have liked to release
a single off the new record but no one has been forthcoming with an
JG: We'll do it!
BC: You'd do it? You would release a single?
JG: We do a label but yeah. There's some good songs on the new
BC: Yeah, I'd give you one of those songs of the new album and I'd
give you a b-side too. It'd be great. I would love to see United Nations
as a single, I think it would be a great single.
JG: Steve the bassist in our band, that's his favourite. Its a
great song. The opening lines of Never Get Ahead though....spot on!
You're talking about compromise... Have you seen the Bobby Conn Official
Unofficial Lovepad website?
BC: That's not the one from Chicago?
WW: The one from Chicago. The kid.....
BC: It's a lovepad?
WW: It's got a page on it that's like sort of his message board that's
attached to it and he has a picture of him on.
BC: Yeah, I met the guy that, I think I know what you're talking about,
I've seen or I've met that guy. That guy is... You know my idea is
that ideally that people who would be making fan clubs or websites
would be young, attractive boys or young attractive girls but this
fellow is someone who has lived with his mother and dropped out of
school because he is so frightened of other people that he stays at
home all the time and plays with his computer. So, it's not really....
JG: It's a sort of stereotype.
BC: Yeah, a stereotype fanboy. The ultimate fanboy but I'm trying
to get him out of his shell just for my own purposes because if he
is going to be doing the fan club without any money I want him to
be more presentable so I'm trying to get him like a suit, like an
Armani suit or something to sort of dress him up a little bit and
then I think people will respond to him, I don't think he needs to
be so shy. You know if you look good, then you're gonna feel good.
JG: Yeah, right, I got a haircut for today. Does he subscribe to
the Continuous Cash Flow System then?
BC: Do I still?
JG: Does he?
BC: Does he? Oh, I don't..... yeah, I guess he does because he lives
with his mom, so yeah. So I guess, you know, money is irrelevant to
JG: Did you used to be an accountant then?
BC: No, no. I never was an accountant. I used to sell real estate
via phone out of New York and, er, yes that was a very unsuccessful
venture ultimately in that it lead to a short conviction for mail
fraud, back when I was in my early twenties, 21.
JG: Pleasantville yeah?
MBB: (butting in) did you get a chord for your computer? (in background
some cockney geezer repeatedly saying Tesco)
BC: It was impossible.
WW: He wasn't able to have time to.
JG: Did you see the description of yourself as "Beck-style pop
rock" in the local listings?
BC: As a what style?
JG: A "Beck-style pop rock".
BC: Oh well, let's see the comparisons I've had. The worst one, or
the one that's most unappealing, was our last show in Holland, the
billboard said "Hendrix versus McCartney". It's a battle between a
corpse and an old knight of the realm.
WW: A fuddy duddy.
BC: A fuddy duddy. Very unappealing. Also "the Make Up on acid". That's
another one I find perplexing.
WW: "The Allman Brothers versus Oz Mabarach (?)".
BC: That's a very tenuous reference. I don't know, are you familiar
with the work of Oz Mabarach?
WW: And neither is he.
BC: Anyway, also "the Tortoise combined with Captain Beefheart". Pretty
unappealing brew there. "Bobby Conn is better than David Bowie", that's
also a Dutch one. It's awful. So "Beck-style" is like a......new one.
"Ween like" also "Ween like". "Zappa". People compared the first record,
they seemed to think it was a Zappa album. The irony is that I don't
own a single Tortoise, Beck, Oz Mabarach, I do own some David Bowie
records, I'll grant you that, Allman Brothers, Captain Beefheart,
I never even heard these bands. Zappa, I've never heard this stuff.
So....its because I don't listen to music.
JG: You don't?
BC: No, I listen to, I mean my head is filled with all the popular
music that was first fed to me during my childhood and then I buy
a lot of singles at the thrift store which I like, R n B and stuff
from the seventies.
JG: You have a very pop sound, its very....its like the sort of
music that people usually buying Southern stuff don't usually buy,
the stuff that you're playing and its a really nice release so say
like that you're into that sort of music. Have you heard of Robbie
BC: Robbie Williams? No.
JG: Cliff Richard?
BC: Keith Richard....
JG: Cliff Richard!
BC: Cliff Richard? No.
JG: GG Allin?
BC: Heard of him, don't have much time for him.
MBB: Good thing cos he's dead.
BC: That's true, he is dead isn't he.
JG: So is Hendrix.
BC: Yeah, that's true, Hendrix is also dead. The same way too.
MBB: Someone gave me some funny money today.
BC: What, fake money?
MBB: Not fake, out of date....
MBB: ...and I cannot get rid of it. I tried and no one would take
this stuff. AS: What the fuck is this?
JG: A 50p.
AS: Wow, I have one of those too.
MBB: Yeah, well the smaller ones are good but not the big ones.
BC: Why won't they redeem this? What the hell?
Matt: You can take it to a bank.
BC: You can take it to a bank?
MBB: (in sarcastic English accent) "I'm sorry ma'am, we can't take
JG: You should hold onto it, it'll become a collectors piece.
BC: This was made from 1977.
JG: Yeah, that's what I mean. It'll be a collectors piece.
MBB: In fact I have a mind to go back to that restaurant and demand
her give me a proper one.
JG: It's kind of typically English.
BC: They spotted your American accent and thought "oh, we can get
rid of this old 50p".
AS: I'm gonna run out and try and find an adapter.
MBB: And you know what else happened to me today? Some children, not
children, teenagers said "you're not in Moscow now".
BC: Yes. Well that hat has drawn much criticism in Europe.
WW: Tsk tsk.
MBB: "Go back to fucking Moscow!"