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Kelakos – Linc Bloomfield

Kelakos – Linc Bloomfield

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

When you are friends for over fifty years and you have a bond of making incredible music, you find opportunities to continue to make more amazing music. This is what rock band Kelakos has done with their latest album HURTLING TOWARDS EXTINCTION. This LP comes years after these extraordinarily talented musicians released their debut album GONE ARE THE DAYS in 1978. After spending years working in Washington, D.C., Bassist/Singer/Songwriter/Producer Linc Bloomfield utilized his musical talents to collaborate again with childhood friend and bandmate Lead Singer/Lead Guitarist George Kelakos Haberstroh, as well as long-time friends and bandmates Drummer Carl Canedy and on Pedal Steel, Mark Sisson to create this classic sounding record that will bring listeners back to rock and roll that is truly inspirational.

Catching up with Bloomfield just prior to the album release of December 1st, he revealed some details about the album, about the music, some childhood memories, how the band started, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: What inspired the new album Hurtling Towards Extinction? I like the title. Is there a theme?
Linc Bloomfield: The title. Well, you have to understand the dark humor that both Geroge Haberstroh and I have shared for decades. There’s a tendency to paint things in their most drastic light, but at the same time, we have a lot of hope in our hearts and a lot of love. So, we look around the world, and I do that for a living, and we see some bad things going on and we worry about the next generation. Are we leaving the world better than we found it? So, we sort of tripled down on the title and there was a question, is that too negative? Do people want a happy title? Then we remembered there have been some very, ON THE BRINK OF DESTRUCTION. There have been some songs that did very well with negative titles. So, we thought it was a title that was suitable for us and for the moment that the world is in right now.

SFL Music: I see the songs tie in. “Where Magic Grows” is about global warming? Is that the inspiration?
Bloomfield: Yeah. Well, thanks for listening. I’m involved in a lot of sustainability things around the world actually, some of it’s non-profit, but I just feel like we are out of time. You can’t just say we’ll fix it in 2040. You have to say, what can I do today? What can everyone do, today? It’s hard, but we need to move the needle right now because if you look around you, look at the climate disasters we’ve already seen. It’s only gonna get worse. So, I feel very motivated, and I think the band jumped in hard behind “Where Magic Grows”. You can make up your own mind whether we’re gonna make it or not. I don’t try to answer that question.

SFL Music: I like the drum intro with the guitar. “Austin Chill” had a drum intro as well. That sounds like it’s about the nightlife scene in Austin? What inspired that one?
Bloomfield: So, I went to Austin in August a few years ago, and it was over a hundred degrees. I really loved the scene. It was amazing! Everything you hear in the song was there. The food trucks were really good. You could get amazing food, not just cheap food. It was really delicious. Then at night there were all these outdoor restaurants and bars. It was a great scene and there was live music, and I kept thinking I was gonna hear some kind of, I don’t know what I was expecting. I expected somebody to come out that would have a great beat, a huge vocal, rippin guitar, right? I didn’t quite hear that. I mean, the bands were good, but they weren’t like that. So, I went home and I thought about it and I said, ok. I need to write the song I should have heard in Austin and that’s what “Austin Chill” is.

SFL Music: “Play It Like You Mean It” is a little more rockin’ with that great ‘60’s, ‘70’s sound. It’s about a hard-working musician?
Bloomfield: Yeah. So, our drummer is Carl Canedy. He’s probably the best know musician in the band. He’s been on now, more that forty-five albums, and the first one ever was the Kelakos GONE ARE THE DAYS album in 1978. On that album, we didn’t know anything. We just thought we were trying to be The Beatles White Album, so we brought in violins. We brought in horns. We brought in all these things, Hammond organ, Hall & Oates’s concert pianist. There were no limits to what we wanted to do even though we had very little money, and no manager and no producer. So, our first album was wildly ambitious, but it really was what we wanted to do. Carl sang a very slow romantic song and we are going to start putting it on social media next week to get ready for the new one. He sang, “How Did You Get so Crazy” and it charted in Upstate New York, and he did a really good job. Then he went on for decades playing metal, touring the world with a great band, The Rods, and producing some awesome metal acts. He really made a name for himself, but he never sang lead again, really. I mean, he had some solo albums where he had some recordings, but no real studio produced where Carl is the lead singer. So, I was determined that we were not going to finish this project until we got Carl to sing again. That’s a Kelakos trademark. We get Carl up front; he sings a song and that’s what “Play It Like You Mean It” is. It talks about him as a drummer. The song will come out the day after Thanksgiving. A video is in process right now. I’m very, very excited about it, but I’m really excited about showing the world what a wonderful musician Carl is because in addition to being a super drummer, he can sing, he can do it all. So, that’s what that’s about.

SFL Music: This is true. I have interviewed him and he is awesome. “Back To Me”, that’s about a relationship pulled part because of political views. What inspired that?
Bloomfield: Well, here we go to Thanksgiving next week. How many times have you heard people say, I don’t even know if I can go to Thanksgiving you know, there’s relatives who are left wing, right wing and they become so tense with each other. So, this was just a song about a guy whose woman has really gone all in on whatever you want to call it, but just far right media, and that happens. They draw you in. You spend your time on social media and you keep repeating things. Saying, wow, did you hear this one, did you hear that one? I’m not judging anyone here. I’m just talking about a romance that got pulled apart. Actually, it was a different kind of song for Kelakos. We played hundreds of gigs in the old days together, but we never played a song that was just a sit back, lazy kind of jam with slide guitar, and we just kind of let it go. All the songs are about five minutes, but we just let this one go, and George, George played some signature licks, and as the producer, I just had to put those in the record and let people hear what he does when he’s completely relaxed and he’s just having fun on guitar. I wanted people to hear that.

SFL Music: That bluesy sound was great! You also wrote “The Lone Road” about a love loss? It reminded me of the seventies rock sound.
Bloomfield: It should. Well because look, speaking for myself. Think of Rip Van Winkle being frozen in amber sometime in the seventies and then missed the eighties, nineties, because I was in government. I was focused on all this other stuff and I heard the music, but I didn’t really dial in. So, I wasn’t influenced by it and meanwhile Geroge, after being such a performer, really kind of went off the grid and made a lot of private music his own way. He shared it with me and I shared mine with him over the years, and we were still living in the sixties and seventies (he laughed). I mean, we never really left and that’s what you hear on this Kelakos album, at least from the two of us. It’s not imitating the seventies. We’ve been unfrozen from amber. We have the DNA from that era, and we have a lot of passion and that’s what we’re playing. So “The Lone Road”, if you would go back to the sixties, all the pop bands, they were guys just basically singing to their girlfriends. That’s what The Beatles was. That’s Dave Clark Five, The (Rolling) Stones. It was always talking to the girl. So, a lot of our songwriting is talking to the woman. That just comes naturally and before you start venturing into other kinds of songwriting, that was the basic thing about love songs. Love lost, love in trouble and on the Kelakos album, there’s plenty of songs where we’re sort of blaming ourselves for not hanging onto the woman. It’s not always the woman’s fault. That’s not the point. It’s just that we have a broken heart and we want to sing about it. So, that’s what “The Lone Road” is. I wrote it a long time ago on an acoustic guitar and always dreamed of making it sound bigger, and finally that dream is coming true.

SFL Music: It is a great song. “Florida Flash Flood”, George wrote that. It’s really cool. Its sounds like it’s in the middle of a hurricane. Do you know what inspired that one?
Bloomfield: Yeah, I do. Without giving away any geo coordinates, George lives in Florida. This is a guy that can go from the softest, I mean he used to sing “The Look of Love”, Dusty Springfield. He could sing anything. He had the most beautiful, sexy, quite voice. You heard “Florida Flash Flood”, he can be as rockin’ and rough as they come. Just tear the walls down. He goes all the way to the other end of the spectrum. What happened is, we took our old songs from the 1980’s and Carl found the tapes. They were 2” tapes. They were in a lead lined room in the studio and he found the Kelokas tapes. So, I told him, let’s go to a studio, run them onto digital, send them to me. So, I had like all these tracks just raw tracks. They weren’t mixed into anything. I spent two or three years learning how to do the studio and I remixed it. Then we went to a great mastering engineer and we put out a CD in 2015 of our older music called KELAKOS UNCORKED like a bottle of fine wine. Rare tracks from a vintage seventies band. So, if you really want to hear the old songs which I really hope you do, go to that one. Go to KELAKOS UNCORKED. It’s on all the streaming services. Then we got some reviews which in the old days, it was hard to get reviews. The reviewer sort of said, “hey thirty-seven years earlier, but this is a pretty good band. We like this band,” and we were so, I don’t know what the word is. We weren’t used to getting compliments let’s put it that way. We always did our music for ourselves and our fans liked it, but no one ever said, “wow! What a great band” until then. So, we said, well, maybe we should make some more music, and the first one out of the gate was “Florida Flash Flood”. George had so much pent-up energy (he laughed) that I was afraid nobody could keep up with him, but Carl did it on drums and then the rest is history.

SFL Music: You started in the seventies in Upstate New York and then moved to Boston?
Bloomfield: Well, three of us were from the Boston area and Carl was from Upstate New York. He was playing in the clubs in Boston and we were looking for a drummer. We had a lot of drummers and we heard Carl. We said, this guy can really do it, and he was looking for something more rock and roll. There’s a picture that comes out on the record. You’ll see it on the CD and LP. You’ll see it on the Webb of us standing in front of the Mayflower and that’s in Plymouth, Mass. We had a farmhouse in the next town over in Kingston and that’s where we were rehearsing. Before we ever played a concert or a gig, we went over to Plymouth and posed on a windy day in front of the Mayflower. We had never played a gig before I don’t think, and that’s Kelakos before the voyage begins. So, we made that our iconic first photo and then we moved to New York metro area, New Jersey. Then we moved to Upstate because Carl knew everyone up there, and that’s where we recorded and we played a lot of music in Upstate and Pennsylvania and the Northeast from there.

SFL Music: You all changed the name to Kelakos to honor George’s family heritage?
Bloomfield: Its true. There was some tragedy in the family and it’s his story to tell, but he had his stepfather’s name. He was a great guy. He reminds me that we were singing together in third grade. I know we played little league baseball because he was really good. I was the pitcher who kept getting shelved. George was always a great athlete. We thought this is great because the Kelakos family has, one he has great cousins, his brother, some really super people, and they have relatives in Greece. I know we sent fifty CDs to Greece in 2015, and now George has already done an interview in the Greak rock press. They’re already talking about it, so it’s just kind of exciting. We’re happy about that. He was a Greak God in his prime, he really was. He owned the spotlight.

SFL Music: When you started recording it was reel to reel and now it’s digital. You started off with music, but you have your career in international security in Washington with senior government positions. How did that come about?
Bloomfield: When I came to Washington, I was in the Pentagon. Can you imagine going from rock and roll in Upstate New York to two years at graduate school, and then you’re at the Pentagon in the Reagan administration. I don’t think I could tell anybody anything about what happened during that time. So, even my wife never heard me sing for years. I’d wait until she would go out of the apartment and then go down to the basement and sing a little bit. It was just a secret, and my people at work never knew. So, 2003, by then I was an Assistant Secretary of State if you can imagine, and I was on a boat. Some rich Slovenian guy who invented Mr. Coffee would fly around and invite guests. So, we had all the ambassadors from Eastern Europe, Slovenia and I knew them all. So, we’re on the boat going down the Potomac River at night after a wonderful gourmet dinner, and the Hungarian Ambassador who I knew, Andras Simonyi says, “I’m forming a band and I want you to be in it.” Every bone in my body said, no. We thought thirty years old was too embarrassing. We really did. Here I was fifty years old and I just said, thank you, but no thanks. Then another guy who I knew who was President Clintons nuclear proliferation expert you know, big shot, said, “I know you play bass and I know you sing, and I know you’re a recording artist. You got to join this band.” I said, I can’t do it. And they said, “well “Skunk” Baxter’s gonna be in the band.” I said, no he isn’t, since he was in Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers. Come on, stop it. So, we went to lunch and “Skunk” Baxter walked into the restaurant with his handlebar mustache, his beret, leather jacket, and it was great to meet him. I was so honored, and then I said, look Skunk, love your music. You’re iconic. I said, look, we’re a bunch of guys, yes. we have fancy titles. The drummer was the Ambassador to Russia, but we’re not really that good and you’re gonna get up there, the crowd will scream, you’ll sit down and we’ll be back to a bunch of old men. He said, “no. If I’m in the band, I’m in” which changed my life because you don’t say no to “Skunk” Baxter. So, ok. We played about one concert a year and it became kind of a big deal in Washington. They made a movie about it. The last time we played was May 10th at a big gala right by the White House. Joe Biden came, not Joe, but the First Lady. The Secretary of State stood in with the band and played, Tony Blinken who is a great musician. It was a big thing. “Skunk” was on tour, so he wasn’t able to join, but Cate Blanchett was there because it was for UN refugees. It was amazing. So that’s the DC thing and it got me thinking. “Skunk” said, “you got to get Pro Tools. You got to get a real studio.” So, he kept nudging me, and that’s what forced me to just say ok, I’ll do it! When I remixed the old album, I started to learn all these tricks and I just kept going with it, and now the result is this new album. I’ve learned a lot since I began, let’s put it that way.

SFL Music: That’s your D.C. Band Coalition of the Willing that supports charities. What influenced you to become a musician?
Bloomfield: I’ll give you an odd quote. I hope it doesn’t get me in trouble. I was an abused child in Cohasset, Massachusetts meaning, as a fourth-grade kid, I was the only tuba player in a one tuba town. Let me explain what that means. Back then they didn’t have fiberglass, so the sousaphones weighed a ton. They were made of brass. We had all these patriotic parades. We had Memorial Day parade. We had 4th of July parade and they were great. We had a lot of veterans in our town. We would open the baseball season with a long march and I had to have a football player help me carry the sousaphone. Of course, whenever I passed through the center of town, there were rocks that go way up high and there’s a big church, and I would always get plastered with water balloons. Years later I found out who was throwing those water balloons. It was George.

SFL Music: Oh no! Here you are best friends now, right?
Bloomfield: Yep. We had an amazing music guy in high school named Harry Rogers who played in the Harry James Orchestra during World War II. He toured the world. He was a world class musician, so when you’re exposed to somebody that good and I’ll say it about “Skunk” Baxter too. When you rehearse with “Skunk” Baxter, it just changes your life as a musician. Everything gets much better. You just learn your ability to get focused on what you’re trying to do. So, that got me into the frame of mind of a bass player, and it was a very natural switch in about tenth grade. When Mark Sisson came to town with a guitar, and George and I and others put our first band together, I switched to electric bass. That’s been my instrument ever since.

SFL Music: What would you recommend to a new musician?
Bloomfield: Wow! I’ve met two kinds of musicians who are good. One of them is very carefully trained and they have a lot of trade kraft. I don’t know what to say about that. Then there’s the self-taught, and the self-taught person is always gonna do what sounds good to them. They’re gonna play what feels right. It may not sound like classical music. It may be like Nirvana or Green Day, but if it feels right to the musician, people will pick up on that. They’re gonna feel what the musician is feeling. I have to say one of the things I really appreciate working with George in particular, is that he’s not one of these guitar players who sits all day long rehearsing the same lick over and over again so he can get it in the studio the way many people do. He closes his eyes. He’ll do five, ten takes. They’ll all be different. It’s whatever he’s feeling right now. So, you never get an inauthentic riff from him. Ok, some of them you leave on the cutting room floor, but the good ones, the spontaneous ones, that’s what’s on this record. He’s a true musician. Kind of like Bob Marley. He’s the real deal. I really wanted to put a record together with Carl’s talent, with Mark’s talent and I would just sort of be the orchestra leader who would do all the background stuff and make it all sound good, and hopefully some good bass parts, but George is a super talent and I wanted the world to hear him.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want fans to know?
Bloomfield: One thing about my bandmate Mark Sisson, he was the guy that started it all. He came from Seattle where there was already a lot happening with the early sixties’ bands. There was a lot of action there and he brought it to Cohasset, Massachusetts, and suddenly there were three bands in high school and there were battles of the bands. He lit a flame, and he was our guitar player. He has become really good at pedal steel and lap steel, and what you hear on the new Kelakos album is you know, a producer might say, oh no, no, no. We’re not gonna put pedal steel on a rock song, but for us, we’re gonna put it on every song. It’s not gonna sound like Glen Campbell, country music. It’s gonna sound like rock and roll, but what he did with pedal is really interesting ‘cause he found a way to add something to every sound that we’ve made and that’s a pretty good musical trick that Mark Sisson did. I also just want to acknowledge; we had a great mastering engineer named Blaine Misner. We had a fantastic graphics artist. Wait ‘til you see the album cover and all the work he’s done, Eric Philippe in Belgium, and we have a great movie team in India. So, there’s some really creative people working with us, making it more fun. Hopefully making this is a joy ride for people who want to hear something new. Something that makes them feel like they’re in the groove of the kind of music they are used to listening to, but they’ve never heard this before. I just hope they enjoy it. That’s what we hope.

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