Rock ‘n’ roll troubadour / raconteur Jesse Malin recently released his seventh solo album, ‘New York Before The War’ - said war meaning the trashy, disposable nature of modern life, pretty much - featuring guest spots from Peter Buck, Wayne Kramer and Craig Finn.
Before his UK tour we talked travel, gigging with Ryan Adams and The Ramones, plus crashes, water guns and Marks and Sparks.
- - -
Touring with my old band D Generation, opening for the Ramones in the US in my early twenties. Joey Ramone decided to ride on our bus and on the days in between we took over radio stations, he sang all the Ramones songs that they weren't playing in the set for us in our encore with us. He was a sweet, funny, amazing guy and great to have around.
OR… my other best trip would be, never having played solo acoustic in my life, opening for Ryan Adams in huge theatres, shaking in my boots, learning how to stand alone & make it happen.
I had a band called Hope. We switched drivers in motion on Route 80 in the US with a U-Haul trailer on the back and a piano in it. The van did a 360 in the middle of highway, disconnected the trailer, totalled the van. I got cut up pretty bad and broke my nose while everybody else who was sleeping came out unscathed. It was worse than the mosh pit at the Vanilla Ice concert.
My favourite foreign venue
King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, Scotland or The Olympia Theatre in Dublin. Pretty much any gig in Glasgow is a great gig. The audience are ‘mad for it,’ as they say, full on passionate loudmouths. They know all the words and it ain't just some bit. Sometimes they call me a ‘big Jesse’ in Scotland. King Tut's gets hot and packed and they give you lots of free scotch if you sell out the joint.
The Olympia Theatre is a very cool, very old classic palace of sorts. You can feel the ghosts and spirits that have passed through as you stand on that stage. They know their music in Dublin and if you ain't on point they're not afraid to tell you. Watch out for the flying Guinness or the Shane McGowan poetry contest in the lobby. I've opened for a few artists there early on and had to work hard to prove it.
I'm surprisingly popular in
Prisons, Marks & Spencer and Siberia.
Best or worst exotic foodstuff The vegan, gluten-free flaming shecky, occasionally added with a fried Mars bar. Eating sushi out of a BP gas station. Or spirulina vegan worms at Marks & Sparks.
The most interesting item I’ve brought back from foreign lands
The most interesting person I’ve met on my travels
It was my first time with my early band D Generation playing on the then famous Sunset Strip at The Roxy. We thought we were these big shots from New York and were going to take LA by storm. We hated grunge, we hated hair bands and had a lot to say, but also a lot to learn. As we pulled in to the Roxy parking lot at 5:00 for sound check I was personally amped up thinking about the video of Devo and the movies like Rock & Roll High School and Up In Smoke that were filmed at this place, and many assorted bootlegs of legendary gigs that I had heard from this joint.
As I stepped out of the van, there before us stood a very tall, skinny man in a pink suit and some wacky glasses who said, "I am Kim Fowley and you're not." He knew about our band and was able to compliment us and insult us all at the same time in a couple of sentences. It was the perfect entrance into Hollywood for us. Surreal as it was, I never forgot it.
My essential travel item
High powered water gun filled with cocoa pop.
My essential travel tip
Lots of water, baby wipes, combat boots, ear plugs and an open mind - and always keep in mind that the people you travel with are very important. Lemmy wrote a song for the road crew and my mother used to say "show me who your friends and I'll tell you who you are." Putting together a crew to tour with is another extension of the art form itself.
Getting in a bus or a van is like a pirate ship and you choose the people that you want to bring on that ship to protect, inspire and make you look even better, going from town to town in this business we call show.
Words: Si Hawkins
- - -
Catch Jesse Malin at the following shows:
19 Birmingham O2 Academy
20 Portsmouth The Wedgewood Rooms
21 London Tufnell Park Dome