Feeling like an extra in a film starring David Bowie, I made my through the labyrinth of the back stage area of Liverpool’s Academy 2 venue. On finding the dressing room of the amiable and mysterious alt-country rocker; Jesse Malin I was greeted with a smile and a polite gaze up from his thoughtful task of compiling the set list for tonight’s gig, I felt strangely comfortable as though I had entered my own living room. To start matters off I instigated the ex D-Generation front man musing about the state of modern music and his place in it;
“I’m happy to have a record out and happy to have a chance. I hope to sell more records down the line and become one of the top ten arse shakers.”
With the temperature rising as though global warming had centralized in the dressing room, it was time for a heated debate and to raise the topic of politics. He has recently finished filming an episode of Artist to Artist with Green Day’s Billie Joe. What did he think of the aforementioned trio's recent foray into politics?
“I think they're brave. I am glad that they are doing it, as not a lot of people are.”
He pauses in a moment of contemplation and stares pensively at his freshly penned set list, before summoning belief and continuing with pride;
“I like American Idiot. I wish more bands would jump on the political bandwagon.”
I decided to turn the screw, as I was not convinced that we need bandwagon jumpers. This was on account of the fact that what is impressive about Jesse is that his music and mundane politics are mingled inextricably together like eggs and sugar in a cake mix. This is demonstrated on his latest album ‘Heat’;
“Yeah, I mean; I grew up with it; the likes of Bob Dylan, The Clash and The Sex Pistols.”
Feelings of bravery and boldness were bubbling inside of me like a witch’s broth, as also present in the room was Jesse’s piano playing sidekick; Christine Smith who could be described as a female version of Mr. Malin and was obliviously applying the finishing touches to her make up, occasionally acknowledging the main man’s answers. Should I raise the topic of the intimate venue and the intimate nature of the acoustic guitar and piano show that the two have put on in recent gigs? What is the natural conclusion to draw from this? But suddenly my bottle disappeared like originality from modern television;
“So Jesse, you have recently released a live DVD. How does your live sound differ from that on your records?”
“They are two different animals. Live; you take it to another level; undo the belt a few notches.”
We were now in the middle of the meaty topic of his music, so which of his songs sums up his current mood?
“Swinging Man; while I’m on tour and in this hot dressing room; it makes you want to get naked and swing it. Show off a clean circumcision.”
Christine and yours truly burst out laughing and Jesse in a playful schoolboy manner retorts; "don’t laugh at me”. This little episode shows New Yorker's lively sense of humour in a bright light and simply adds to the strings on the bow of his personality.
It was time to wrap things up and there was no better way to do it than with the topic of his place of birth. Has hailing from the East Coast dictated what sort of music he plays, or would he be an alt-country rocker no matter where he hailed from?
“You walk out of your door and your influences are there. It is a high energy place with many different cultures, I wrote the bulk of my album The Fine Art Of Self Destruction when I was in New York.”
For the coup de grace Jesse finished with a statement almost every politician has said at some point in their life, only he was talking about his aim in making music and he meant it;
“I want to make a connection with my audience.”
Words: David Adair
The "Star•Smile•Strong" Live DVD is out now
The album "The Heat" is also available
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