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A Dirty Dozen with JOHN MALKIN from THE SIMPLE RADICALS – September 2019

| 26 September 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Retro Records: On the heels of their active rock radio single “Medicate”, The Simple Radicals have returned with a powerful video for their new album’s title track “New Revolution”, speaking truth to power in radical defense of free speech. Produced by Factory Underground Studio and edited by Guzman Gonzalez, the video pairs the band’s socially conscious lyrics with hard-hitting images of social protest against oppression.” We get singer John to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Our latest release, New Revolution, is our most personal and poignant project we’ve ever done that tries to capture what is really going on in our world today–the social unrest we’re witnessing against oppression, trying to remain optimistic in this challenging world, the overindulgence and over reliance of drugs in our society like opiates, explaining to our children what they need to learn and understand to survive today, and trying to maintain a sense of civility. Our listeners and fans will feel the passion and “straight-from-the-heart” energy of our music. And for those Living Colour fans, they will definitely recognize the sounds of the guitar-God Vernon Reid absolutely shredding it on the song “Medicate”.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I grew up listening to classic rock and was blown away by the “wall of sound” that came out of my speakers when I turned it up to 11. As soon as I heard that I begged my parents to buy me a drum set where I took lessons for many years and played in cover bands through high school. And when I went off to college I couldn’t bring my drum set with me so I traded in my Slingerland black-chrome set for a Gibson SG and Yamaha amp and taught myself how to play guitar.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

There are so many bands and performers that have influenced me over the years including Zeppelin, Boston, AC/DC, Foo Fighters, Cheap Trick and Pearl jam to name a few. I would sit there and play their albums over and over and literally dissect how they built their songs and sound, where they insert their bridges, how they constructed their lyrics, etc. And when I heard Pink Floyd’s The Wall album I studied that day and night and still study it to this day. It truly had an influence on how I write and construct my music.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

So many to choose from but if I had to pick five I’d have to go with Pink Floyd, Cheap Trick, Foo Fighters, AC/DC and Pearl Jam.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. One of the most gifted musicians I’ve ever seen or heard who combines incredible sounds, prolific lyrics, passion and energy into a song. And the fact that he’s from Chicago like I am only makes collaborating with him even better.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We describe our music as “retro-rock and roll” that combines sounds and styles from different classic rock bands like Floyd, Pearl Jam, and Cheap Trick. Someone compared my lyric writing to Rage Against the Machine which made me cringe since I can never match up to the brilliance of Zach de la Rocha. But I’m truly humbled and honored to even be mentioned in the same breath as Zach.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

The ability and opportunity to individually or collaboratively create music is so exhilarating and rewarding on so many levels. It literally creates an emotional high that I am addicted to.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

None if us like to cook which is a good thing which probably explains why we don’t have stomach issues. The best thing we make are reservations and are truly content eating a PB&J if need be. I love fluffernutter sandwiches which the other guys have trouble understanding. However, we’re certainly not shy to ask if anyone needs a drink. When we’re just hanging out someone is always putting on music or picking up a guitar and playing a song or just riffing. And it often leads into a spontaneous jam.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

When I saw Eddie Vedder I was absolutely mesmerized by his presence. I think if I ever met him in person I would be speechless.

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Like Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap, I suppose I could be a salesman like a haberdasher. But in all honesty, any job that allows me to be just be around or talk about music. Maybe a gig on Sirius/XM. In fact, I have a podcast with my fellow Radical John Griffin called “Bands We Wanna Open For” so this maybe this is my training ground for when I decide to leave the road and settle down.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

All my missteps in my life have been learning experiences that I’ve tried to use to better myself or those near and dear to me. But if I had one to pick I wish I was more diligent in persuading my father to go to the doctor much sooner when he wasn’t feeling well and he eventually died. I was a thousand miles away on the east coast while he was in Chicago. I would love to have him hear my latest album. I think he really would have loved it.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

To be in the studio when Led Zeppelin was recording any of their albums would be a dream come true. But to be there when they were recording Led Zeppelin IV at that moment in time when they were at such a creative peak. That album is considered my masterpiece that I own and will play over an over until the day I die. To me it’s the quintessential intersection of the best musicians and music in rock and roll history.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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