A music fan down to his Bowery bones and a great songwriter too. Don’t believe me? Ask Bruce Springsteen, who sang and played on the gorgeous Broken Radio, from Malin’s last studio record, Glitter In The Gutter.
Touring that album is when New Yorker Malin was last in Liverpool two years ago. And he loved it: “Liverpool is one of my favorite places to play in the world. I think I spent two birthdays there over the years too. The crowds are always great…”
I wouldn’t let anyone else get away with that tired old line. But, with Malin, I don’t just believe him – I’m genuinely moved by his love for our city. He means it, see…
“The band will be playing a lot of the new record when we get there – but a good amount of songs off the first three as well. And a few surprises: hot mops, dancing bears, brief nudity, spiritual revelations, ass shaking, back flips, a conga line and some real healthy hard rhythms…”
He’s off. Talking in that kind of rock ‘n’ roll jive that illuminates the recent Joe Strummer documentary, The Future Is Unwritten, Malin shares his total joy and belief in music with the late Clash hero. In fact, Saint Joe is a good starting point for those new to Malin’s work: a voice filled with a thousand late nights, with a band who will back him all the way with some redemptive and righteous rock music.
“This new record (Love It To Life, another Strummer nod) was written more on electric guitar and meant to be played with a band, as a full-tilt live experience. A lot of it was built out of jamming with different friends in my basement rehearsal room. I wanted it to be more communal, more rhythmic and more fiesta… as opposed to other records that I’ve written in hotels or apartments on acoustic guitar as more private confessions.”
It’s party time at the O2 in July then? “Well, on tour you get to travel, create your own pirate ship or van or bus; drop out of society; roll into different towns for a brief moment and see if what you’ve written and recorded connects and holds up in public, in the dark, in the heat, on a nightly basis. That interaction between the band and the audience can be very spontaneous and very driving. You get hooked on playing live and keep going down the miles to get that two hour fix.”
See what I mean? Total belief in the job. At times, critics have accused him of being too much of a fan and ripping off, as opposed to paying homage to, his heroes. I don’t see it. He believes in the lineage and he’s part of the long list – and he talks about others accused of standing too close to the giant shoulders of Springsteen like a music fan too: “ I hear less of Bruce in The Killers and more of David Bowie, anyway. But that’s ok. Queen Bitch is a great song to bite off…”
Fair dos. But what influenced this new record? “I wanted to make a record that could be played live with an audience. Something people could sing along and connect to, to beat the depression, the recession, and provide a public confession like my favorite artists. But, that changes daily, just as my favorite artists change daily. Sometimes it’s Sam Cooke, sometimes it’s the Bad Brains, sometimes it’s Wilko. Sometimes it’s The Ramones. Today my favorite song on the new record is Revelations. Every record needs a good break-up song…”
With that, he’s away again, jive talking until tomorrow.
Amen. Say a prayer somebody… Jesse Malin is coming back to town.