Interview conducted March 14 2020
Interview published April 6 2020
"I was a bus driver in those days."
Eddy Malm, mostly known for his
stint in the Swedish classic heavy metal outfit Heavy Load in the first
half of the '80s, is today out with his own band Eddy Malm Band and also
with the recently resurrected '70s rockers Highbrow, and when those bands
formed a package together with Walmann Combo for a show in Stockholm,
Metal Covenant seized the opportunity to talk to this indeed polite veteran
for a while.
Tobbe: So what is Eddy Malm up to in 2020?
Eddy: Well, let's put it this way: He's living
the life, because I have all the time in the world to do whatever I
want. But there's music involved in that, obviously Eddy Malm Band.
And I play golf and do other fun stuff, like boules with the senior
citizens, because I'm one of those nowadays. [Laughs] So I do a lot
of stuff. And it's great.
Tobbe: Was it a big step to retire, or was
it just great?
Eddy: It wasn't such a big step, I think. The
job I had was sold to another company, who I thought was just shit.
So I was glad that I got the offer to get a year with full salary without
having to go to work. And this offer happened to come at the time when
I had just one year left to retirement anyway, so it felt just perfect.
So I took that offer. Getting paid without working, you know.
Tell me a little bit about tonight's show with these 3 bands.
Eddy: It was just a coincidence actually, because
X Highbrow, or we, came up with the brilliant (said ironically) idea
that we were going to be part of this gig. We thought it would be fun
if we were 3 bands. So we started to rehearse. X Highbrow rehearses
in the same room as EMB, but kind of every other day.
I found an old cassette tape, with the songs
that we are going to play tonight, except for A Loser and Roumers, which
already were released on a record. But the other 4 songs we found on
a cassette that we had recorded and we thought that we were going to
play those songs. And that's great fun.
And that Walmann Combo is with us is obviously
because Lasse Walmann is in that band as well, which makes things a
whole lot easier. But we have arranged this ourselves. We're the ones
who have rented this venue. So obviously we hope that we can continue
with this package a little bit, that Walmann Combo, X Highbrow and EMB
get to play, like, everywhere.
Tobbe: Why did you choose to call the band
Eddy Malm Band and not use a proper name?
Eddy: Well, it wasn't really my choice. The thing
is that Per [Hesselrud], the EMB guitarist, and current Highbrow bassist,
chased me a little bit over the years. When I quit Heavy Load and lived
in Solna, he contacted me and we started playing a little bit together,
because he's a die-hard Highbrow fan, you know. He loves Highbrow. We
were doing some stuff on and off and then all of a sudden he, Micke
[Kerslow, drums] and the bassist at that time [Tomas Malmfors], contacted
me and wanted to start a band.
So I thought that it was going to be fun, you
know. And I got to bring the old songs I had done. So we started recording
them and then it just continued. I think it was their idea to call us
EMB. That it was going to be Eddy Malm Band, you know. To me it didn't
make a difference whatever we were going to call ourselves. But anyway,
that's what we call ourselves now.
Tobbe: It's quite common that artists use
band names that's similar to the band where they were most successful.
In your case this would mean something close to Heavy Load obviously.
Eddy: Exactly. But I also think, to some extent,
that you utilize the fact that Heavy Load actually was pretty big, and
actually pretty big around the world. I noticed that when I was at that
event in Athens, Greece [Up The Hammers Festival, 2016]. There was a
Heavy Load tribute band [Heathens From The North] playing and they contacted
me to see if I wanted to go there and sing my songs with them. At that
point I noticed how big it was, you know. The audience was full of 20-year-olds
and that came as a surprise to me. You know, "If they like Heavy
Load they must be old men now.". But it wasn't like that.
at Sweden Rock , when I played there with Heavy Load [Eddy made
guest appearances for a few songs], there was a lot of people in the
crowd too. So I realized that Heavy Load was a big band. But unfortunately
the brothers [Ragne and Styrbjörn Wahlquist] didn't want to let
go of the grip. They wanted to take all decisions themselves. We were
in contact with major record companies that wanted to market us out
in the world, but they said no thanks. So that's why I quit really.
I felt that there was a huge potential, but not
as long as they put the brakes on it, because then I thought that it
was no reason to do it. Anyway, we were thinking a little bit like Eddy
Malm - a part of Heavy Load, because it's kind of well-known, so maybe
it's a good idea to call ourselves Eddy Malm Band, because then some
people from the Heavy Load days know about this.
Tobbe: It's been over 3 years since Northern
Lights was out . When will we see another record out?
Eddy: Good question. You know, the thing is that
all the songs on that record are songs that I wrote 35 years ago. There
is some material left from those days, but I haven't been so good at
making new material, you know. And I really don't know if we're going
to work with even more old material, and maybe some new stuff as well.
But this is not so serious, and we do this just because it's fun, you
Tobbe: But still, you can always lean back
and know that you at least put one record out.
Eddy: Absolutely. I'm really happy with that.
I mean, I'm not 25 anymore. It's just something that you've got to realize.
It's just great that the career still is there, you know.
Tobbe: Two of the songs on that record were
already released with Heavy Load back in the day and if you would make
another record there's plenty of other songs that you could re-record,
and then bring forth some unreleased material as well. Just saying
Eddy: Well, that's definitely a way to see it.
I've written the songs nevertheless, so I may use them the way I want
to. They're mine, so that won't be a problem. And, undeniably, there
are a few. But we haven't decided anything yet anyhow. We'll see what
Tobbe: You were in a few bands when you
were younger, and then you were pretty much gone for 30 years, and do
you sometimes sit down and think about those early days, perhaps more
often than regular people do in general?
Eddy: Well, I don't know. I don't think I do
really. You know, when I quit Heavy Load, in '85 I think, Andreas Fritz
also quit. He played the bass in Heavy Load for a while. He quit just
after I did. So he and I started playing together. We started a band
called Challenger. Out of all names we could have picked
to the space shuttle disaster in January 1986.] But anyway, we made
some songs and went down to Germany to meet with a record company who
had shown interest in us. They listened to the material and said it
was great and that they would want to make an album out of it.
we went home to prepare ourselves, but right at that moment he got an
offer from that Danish rock band, whose name I can't recall at the moment,
and he took it. So our thing went down the drain. But after that nothing
really happened. I focused on my job and stuff like that. There wasn't
so much music for me at all, except for the times when Perka got in
touch with me and we played somewhere.
Tobbe: Tell me a little bit about those
early years with Highbrow.
Eddy: I lived in the inner city [Stockholm] at
that point. It was 1977. I honestly don't remember how I got in touch
with them. But I at least know that they were rehearsing in a room in
a garage out in Skärholmen. I went there and we actually played
some Lizzy covers and stuff like that. They had a few songs and they
needed a singer, so I thought that it would be fun to try that.
So I did that, and obviously it went pretty good
because they were quite pleased. We played some gigs, and I think I
was in Highbrow for about two years, but for some reason Mats Dahlberg
thought that they would bring in Dave Nerge as a singer instead of me.
So basically I got the boot, which was a bit sad, but that's the way
Tobbe: Except for that last moment, was
this maybe the happiest time of your days of music?
Eddy: Well, it was a part of it. It didn't top
Heavy Load, but it was actually just as fun as the Heavy Load days,
because that time was wonderful as well. You know, our gigs, our trips
and stuff like that. It was really amazing. But I didn't make any money.
When I played with Heavy Load, they took everything, the brothers. They
took care of everything and therefore they thought they were entitled
to all the money. Well, maybe I got €50 or something like that
So I had to work at the same time. It was kind
of messy. I was a bus driver in those days. It was kind of embarrassing,
because I sat in the bus and some youngsters hop onboard and, like,
"Hey! You're Eddy Malm from Heavy Load!" and there I am, driving
the bus, which was a little bit embarrassing, you know. So I took a
new job after a while.
Which one of the EPs and albums, Metal Conquest , Death Or Glory
 and Stronger Than Evil  is closest to your heart today?
Eddy: Well, I think Stronger Than Evil is the
one that's most fun. It has the most fun and best songs, because I had
learned a lot then. When I became a member of Heavy Load I worked on
SoundSide [Music store] and saw the poster that they had put up. It
was the backside of the first LP [Full Speed At High Level, 1978], where
all the instruments just fall out of that truck. I thought it looked
really cool. They were looking for a guitarist, so I called them and
asked if I could come down and audition and they said "Sure. Absolutely.
Do so.", but I didn't even have a guitar.
But I went there anyway and borrowed Ragne's
guitar, and they wanted to jam, but I was worthless. So they said "Let's
do it like this: We will play one of the songs and then you can sing
as well.". So he showed me the chords and we played the song and
it went fairly okay, you know. And then I went home and I thought "I
never going to get that job.", but the next day they called me
and said "Hey. You're in.". So then I bought a guitar from
one of the SoundSide boys, Roger Pincott. It was an SG Les Paul '60
and I think I paid less than €50 for it actually. I sold that one
for €6000. [Laughs]
So then I went down there, and we started rehearsing
and stuff, and I started to learn more and more in terms of the guitar
playing, and then I started doing songs. They had a studio, so I wrote
the songs there, and started playing my own solos. I wasn't so good
at that, but I became better and better actually. In the end I think
I did really good solos. So it was a good process, you know.
Tobbe: There has been a few stories about
what happened when Phil Lynott came to the studio. So, tell me your version.
Eddy: When we were recording [the Stronger Than
Evil album], Anders Tengner [Journalist] was there, and we knew that
Phil Lynott stayed at the hotel next doors and that they played at Gröna
Lund [Amusement park]. It wasn't Thin Lizzy playing, but that band he
had put together. [Phil's solo band that later became Grand Slam.] Anders
had told us that he was going to try to get him to come down to the
studio and that he had said "Well, perhaps I'll come down. We'll
see.". We had just recorded Free, but Tobbe [Torbjörn Ragnesjö]
wasn't there so we hadn't laid down the bass yet.
Phil came down and we thought it was great and he wanted to hear our
music. So he listened to Free and, like, "This is a really great
song! But there's one thing missing - The bass." and we said "We
were thinking about letting you lay down the bass." and he was
like "Me? Sure, why not?". So he steps inside, picks up a
bass, listens to the song, and lay down the bass. You know, he knew
exactly what to do.
When he was done we listened to the song and
it was really great and we were really happy. Then we went out to the
lounge, where they had a pinball machine. So we played some pinball,
and we talked, and he told us about his life. And after a few hours
he said that he probably must go to the hotel and on his way out he
says "You know what, guys? You saved my life tonight.".
Tobbe: What I think is special is that the
previous record Death Or Glory has 3 different singers. How did that happen,
Eddy: You know, Ragne, Styrbjörn and I
liked making songs and it turned out that we got to sing our own songs.
Ragne was a pretty good singer and Stybbe had a very special voice too,
so we thought that it was perfect really. And I think that's one of
the reasons to why it went so well. Because there were 3 different categories.
We made different types of music and sang in different ways, you know.
Tobbe: Have you heard anything from the
brothers about making something new? They told me two years ago that something
was about to happen, but it's been quiet since then.
Eddy: Well, one thing is certain, things don't
happen quickly when they're doing something. They have built a studio
now and stuff. And now they're going to record a new album. But it will
take a while, for sure.
Tobbe: Would you make a guest appearance
if they would ask you?
Eddy: Absolutely. I've told them that too. Like,
"If you want me as a guest, I'll do it. No problem.".