Jesse Malin - Interviewed

31 October 2002

Jesse Malin Interviewed
Contact Music spoke to Jesse Malin

Contact Music spoke to Jesse Malin about coming over to the UK and his debut album The Fine Art of self Destruction.

How are you doing?
Well it's a little early for me here, it's the afternoon for you but its just the start of the day for me, mornings for me are always I little ruff but hey I'm up and I have my coffee.

Any plans for the rest of the day?
Well after this I'm gonna go and check out some guitars, I'm trying to find a good acoustic guitar for the European tour that starts in about a week, I have a photo shoot and then I'm gonna watch the Sopranos that I missed last night because I had a gig, I'm taking it a little easy at the moment, I have been doing a lot of stuff and kept my self real busy I've been burning the candle at both ends, I need to chill out and gear up for some more shows, we are playing on Halloween so I'm just gearing up for that.

When do you come over to England?
I'll be supporting Ryan Adams for 4 weeks, on a European tour then I will be back in the UK in December doing dates as my own headliner.

For people who haven't heard your music how would you best describe your sound?
I guess its pretty dark and melodic, I tell stories but its Rock 'n' Roll pop, I dunno really? its pretty urban, it's got a sad rock theme to it but I like to think of it as hopeful, it's kinda Neil Young meets The Clash. Someone once said to me it was Shane Mcgowan meets Woody Alan.

Who are your main influences?
I love stuff that's really song driven but is still rock 'n' roll I love bands like The Replacements, Nirvana, Jane's Addiction Tom Waits Bob Dylan.

Jesse Malin  @
Jesse Malin @
Jesse Malin   @

How long have you been making music for?
About 15 to 20 years, since I was a little kid doing talent shows, you know doing Kiss covers and Ramones covers then I had a couple of punk bands, but this is a new thing this is the first time I have gone out solo and I never really expected to do that I always liked being in a group and I think the way my life unfolded and the way my songs came apart in a really personal way made me turn to solo writing, but I always felt that being a solo artist could turn me really corny you know the usual stereo type "singer song writer" with a beard and a flannel shirt sitting on a stool, but there have been people who have approached it differently and that's what I'm trying to do, in more of a "rockin'" fun way as apposed to the pipe and the slippers. There is always time for the slippers later!

Where in America are you from?
New York City born and bread!

How do you take today's music scene in general?
It's cool that rock music is coming back and there are guitar bands like The Vines, The Hives and The Strokes, I would rather hear that on the radio as to that "home boy heavy metal mucho gorilla mad at dad music2 that has been perambulating out here for quite some time now. Limp Penises and all that, it just had no style and no sexuality it was to testosterone driven. White people trying to be black in the worst possible way it was just offensive to me, I love hip hop music some of the originals Public Enemy and a lot of stuff like that but the hybrid mix with metal it was just really ruff. So hearing real guitars and records that appraised a more organic lo-fi vibe appeals to me, but I think it is pretty easy for people to be in rock bands at the moment then when bands like the sex pistols were coming out or the Stones even Nirvana between the internet MTV and all the modern technology it has taken away a bit of the danger in that you have to know and do things on your own, you could find out by pressing a few buttons on a computer, it used to be you used to have to live the life and be out part of the community, that's why I like playing live gigs and touring because its about being in peoples faces and interacting and the human contact, you know the ritual of going to a record shop as apposed to buying stuff on line. All these things add up and I think that is why you can go to parts of America where you used to get beat up for looking weird and you couldn't have piercing tattoos and things don't mean that much any more because people are accepted as the popular culture on TV, so now rock music has been put in more of a safe manor.

So have you seen any of those bands you mentioned before?
I have the Vines record I like that, The Strokes live in my town and they are friends of mine and I have seen them play a lot they are really good, The white stripes I thought were cool for awhile and I liked their 2nd record Meg is really cool, but the Hives I'm not really that bigger fan of to be honest. But the records that hit me most is like Wilkos last record Yankee hotel foxtrot, The Flaming lips and stuff like that.

Ryan Adams produced your new album, how did your friendship come about?
I had a group called D generation and he was a fan and he showed up at one of the gigs and we started talking and realized we had an affinity for a lot of music and he broke up his band Whiskey Town and came to New York city and we started hanging around going to bars and started to swap ideas and jam with one and other and I'd come out on stage and jam with him and he would come out when I was on stage. When it was time for me to make the record he said he would really like to produce and he decided to take his week off that he had from touring and instead of going on holiday to Ireland or being with the family he came into the studio and banged it out in 6 days doing everything live, at the time I was really frustrated because in the past I liked to take my time and do 2 or 3 takes like Elvis, and Ryan always used to be its done and I would be like its crap its rubbish it needs doing again and he would be like F**k you, you asked me to produce this record I'll do it in the way I like, it took me until after the record was finished when we were in a bar to realize that he really captured something a real snap shot.

What are your favorite tracks?
It changes often, but I like Queen of the underworld, Wendy TKO and Fine art, It's hard to say some days different songs ring out and I have to step away from it and not play it that often, Bob Dylan says he never listens to his songs after he has recorded them but this is my first one so I still play it once in awhile, but after playing the songs so often live you can often desensitize your self to the record, but I'm happy with it if I lay off it for I while I can say ok it has worked pretty well. We have been getting a lot of good response from the press I have noticed from most of the interviews I have been doing especially the European ones that you guys listen to the record a lot more as apposed to just reading the bio and just playing the first couple of tracks, in America the press just read the press release and don't really pay much attention to the rest of the album.

If people decide to go and watch you live what can they expect?
Back flips, trampolines fireworks I come out with dogs do a magic show teeny bopper strip tease Gary Glitter porn all the usual stuff, no not really, on this tour it's just going to be me and a guitar without the band, usually play with a full band, so it's just going to be me playing songs telling a few stories.

Contact Music has an area dedicated to unsigned musicians what advise would you give them as musicians starting out?
Just don't let anybody effect you. Go with your initial feelings, when you first start out I think you are not as aware of what is going on and I think there is a real beauty in that and your influences can be the truest, Stick with it! Believe in your self surround your self with people who care about you don't give up shoot from the heart and have fun!


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