Their debut album will be released shortly and it will surprise the world. Brazilian bluesy hard rock band ELECTRIC MOB for sure is a band to watch out for. Singer Renan Zonta might well be the biggest surprise with his authentic, powerful voice that remembers of the late Ray Gillen (Badlands) and the music that touches the forementioned Badlands and also Lynch Mob. Zonta isn't interested very much in comparisons, he prefers to be musically free. Headbangers LifeStyle's Ron Willemsen contacted the highly talented Zonta to ask about the band, how it all began, Brazilian influences, the current situation in the world and how this influences a band at the beginning of a, most likely, succesful career.
Renan, when and how did Electric Mob start?
,,It all started in 2016, when I decided to move from my hometown [Cascavel] to Curitiba, which is the capitol of our state, Paraná. I knew Ben [guitar] from past gigs and jams and he was the first person that came to my mind. Ben [Hur Auwarter, guitar] was already friends with André [Leister] (drums) since college – they’re both geologists, btw -, and after some jams we started auditioning some bass players, til we found Yuri [Elero]. That’s when the magic began.''
Is it easy to find like-minded musicians in Brazil?
,,I think that it depends from project to project. Electric Mob was easily formed because we didn’t label ourselves. We’re just four guys who love each other and rock and roll, so we do what we wanna do. I think it gets harder when you have a specific concept or sound in your mind.''
Did you always wanted to become a singer?
,,Actually, no. I always wanted to be a guitar player as a kid. One of those classy shredders like Adrian Smith. Obviously, I never got there, haha! I was in this high school band and we didn’t have a singer so I talked to the guys and started to sing til we find a proper vocalist for the gig. In the end, I found a much better guitar player, dropped out my guitar and became a singer.''
Who are your influences as a singer? ,,The list goes on and on, but my top 5 is: Paul Rodgers, David Coverdale, Ronnie James Dio, Chris Cornell and Ray Gillen. Every week I add someone so it changes a lot, but the first three remains the same.''
And as a musician in general?
,,Oh, that’s even harder cause the list expands to infinity, haha! I think the main two, as a musician, would be Ray Charles and Richie Kotzen. But there are A LOT of names that aren’t just influences on my singing/songwriting but in life. Names like Paul McCartney, Bryan Adams, Elton John, John Bonham, Jake E. Lee, Roger Waters and David Gilmour, Roger Taylor, Joe Walsh, Johnny Cash, Adrian Smith, Nicko McBrain, plus 27374920374 more names.''
What would you have become if not a singer in a rock band?
,,I would have some underpaid boring office job, maybe. I really don’t know. The only thing I’m good at is to be a rock singer. At least, that is what people say, lol!''
,,We’re all blues-based hard rockers''. - Renan Zonta
On ‘Discharge’ our reviewer heard influences from Badlands. I would like to add Lynch Mob. Is that far from the truth? ,,Not that far. Ray Gillen is one of my influences as a singer and Jake E. Lee is one of the best guitarists/riff makers of hard rock and metal history, same to George Lynch. But the most important thing, the thing that brings us all together is that we’re all blues-based hard rockers. Badlands and Lynch Mob aren’t direct influences, but you got the picture.''
There is room for some funk [,,Higher Than Your Heels’’, with horns], almost rap metal [,,1 2 3 Burn’’, with a leading role for the bass] but overall ‘Discharge’ is packed with groovy bluesy hard rock with a no nonsense approach. Was that also what you were striving for, this diversity?
,,Wow, rap metal, haha! I don’t agree with that, but okay. Yeah, as each member has a lot of different influences, the diversity is inevitable. We are proud we can manage all of those influences and mix it all in one big pot and still sound like us, with identity.''
When you guys met, was there already a clear idea about the musical direction?
,,Like I said before, we never label ourselves. Of course we’re a blues-based hard rock band but there’s so much beyond that going on, you know? Electric Mob isn’t a hard rock act only and people will see that. We love to be musically free and get crazy sometimes.''
What can you tell me about the writing process? Who does what? ,,The four of us are responsible for songwriting. We don’t have a recipe for that, but lucky for us the four are great songwriters, haha! But, it all starts with one idea. Sometimes I come with a melody or a chorus, sometimes Ben comes with a riff, sometimes André comes with a killer groove and the same happens with Yuri. The most important thing is that we know each other and this monster we created called Electric Mob so well, so we know where we wanna go. The other thing is that we play other instruments, so sometimes I can come with a drum groove, or a guitar riff as well and we go from there.''
,,I always wanna move people who listen to our songs''. - Renan Zonta
Where do you get the inspiration for the lyrics?
,,From the world, actually. I love to turn ordinary things into stories, so I write about absolutely everything. Love, hate, sex, fear, everything. The lyrics are very important to me. I always wanna move people who listen to our songs. I wanna bother you, I wanna make you do something about it.’’
Did the album turn out the way you had in mind? ,,It turned out better than we imagined, and thanks to our producer Amadeus De Marchi.’’
Electric Mob is on Frontiers Music from Italy. How did that happen?
,,Before all of that, we were ready to release what would be our second EP, all by ourselves. So, one day we talked about it and started searching for labels all over the world to see if we could get a publisher or any help on the releasing of that material. Ben sent this EP with an EPK and some videos to Frontiers and they emailed back asking if there was a chance of that EP become a full album, and this is ‘Discharge’. I almost fell off my chair and here we are. :)’’
The band being from Brazil, do you feel that shows somewhere in your music? If so, where?
,,Actually, I don’t feel that. Maybe unconsciously. The thing is Brazil is so big! We have a lot of Brazils in one Brazil so we are overwhelmed by a new Brazilian culture everyday. You can die studying our country and still not know everything about us. Even the Brazilians don’t know the whole Brazilian culture. So, when I say “unconsciously” is because our Brazilian thing will appear one time or another. It’s in our blood.’’
You took part in The Voice Brasil in 2016. How did that help your career?
,,Oh, it was a turning point. A lifetime experience. I went there being just a rock singer. I got out being Renan Zonta the crazy mthrfckr rock n’ roll star [that’s not me saying, but the audience and the production of the show, haha!]. I learnt how to be a real artist, how to show myself to people, how to move them and how to run an audience. It was crazy!’’
Did it give Electric Mob a boost? ,,Oh yes! I built a huge fan base at the time and those people support me and Electric Mob to this day.’’
June 12th will see the release of `Discharge’. In a perfect world you would be touring after that. That won’t be possible for a while. How do you deal with the situation?
,,Yeah, this pandemic changed the whole thing for everyone. Our plans and dates were all cancelled and hopefully we’ll rescheduled them soon. The only thing we can do right now is accept and hope for the best. So we’re planning some new material, some videos and other stuff, to see if we can get a smile from people in this horrible times we’re living in. I think it’s time to be closer to the fans, for them to see we’re all together in this.’’
Are there already alternative ideas planned?
,,Oh, sorry. I happened to answer this in the previous question, haha! But, yeah, we’re all in lockdown planning some good stuff to ease this craziness.’’
How do you keep the band in the spotlight and in contact with the fans in times like these?
,,We’re seeing Instagram as a great way to get closer to the fans. They can see us in our homes, in the purest state of non-artist, in our pajamas, and that’s great, haha! Again, this way they can see we’re humans too and we’re together in this.''
Many bands and artists are move to the Internet with special shows, Q&A’s etc. Can we expect that from Electric Mob as well?
,,Yeah, a live stream with the whole band is in the plans, but we’re studying that possibility. We’re not in the same town right now and get people together is the worst idea, seeing the horrible Brazilian stats in this pandemic.''
You also have sung two songs on the new album of Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall (,,Kingdom Falls’’ and ,,Dreams And Scars’’). How did that happen?
,,It was crazy, lol. Frontiers had just announced the signing of Electric Mob and on the same day I got an email from the label saying “hey Renan! There’s this guy, he wants you to feature on his upcoming album. His name is Magnus Karlsson.” And I was like “WAAAAAAAT”, hahaha! I knew Magnus from Primal Fear, Michael Kiske and other stuff, so my jaw dropped. Everybody knows how talented he is, but he’s a great guy too!''
Do you know if those songs were especially written with you in mind or were they already finished to sing for you?
,,I don’t know actually, but Magnus with all his kindness let me be me and do the songs the way I felt it should be.''
If I’d ask you to name one or 2 other promising new Brazilian metal/rock bands besides Electric Mob. Who would you come up with?
,,I’ll go for a labelmate first: Landfall. Great hard rock/AOR band, also from Curitiba. Another great one is Crypta, from São Paulo. An old school death metal all done by girls and about to release their first album. FYI, Crypta has two former members of the great brazilian thrash metal band Nervosa.''
To finish, what are the plans for the next couple of months with Electric Mob?
,,All this craziness made us a little numb, but like I said before, we’re planning some good stuff. There will be new videos and a lot of great things to distract us from that shitty moment.''
Again, thank you for taking time to answer these questions and congratulations with a great album made.
,,Thanks a lot for the great interview! Hopefully we’ll be able to bang our heads outside home soon. Stay safe.''