A Q&A with Simple Radicals
Retro-rock with political bite – here’s vocalist-guitarist John Malkin…
How did you get the title of your latest album, and what does it mean to you?
Our album, New Revolution, is about the extremes of what people are going through today and their efforts to instil a revolution of change. It is about using the power of their voice to create the catalyst for change and to better their lives and society as a whole.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
I’m a self-inflicted perfectionist so the most challenging part was personally approving my songs and finally agreeing to stop writing. Also, in production, I was always finding a sound to accent, or a new effect I wanted to possibly add, or improve a vocal, etc. I had to finally stop and let it finish and get released. But the rest of the process from recording, producing and releasing was really fluid and exhilarating.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
We recorded the initial tracks at Crime Dog Studios in Chicago as well as my home studio. We then worked with Factory Underground studios outside of New York City in Norwalk, CT where we did some additional vocal, guitar and drum overlays. They also mixed and mastered the album. Kenny Cash was the producer and also provided some bass on a couple tracks. He is an amazing songwriter, musician and producer and came up with some incredible ideas to enrich the album.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
Ultimately, we’re trying to convey a refreshing change from the clichés that currently permeate rock with music, and lyrics that aim to both observe and reimagine the current state of affairs in the world today. We try to capture through our music and convey to our fans what’s really going on in society with poignant lyrics and straight-from-the-heart energy.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
I developed the concept and wrote the songs for the New Revolution album and began laying down the construct of the songs in my home studio such as the rhythms, lead beds, drums, and vocals. John Griffin and I played in many bands over the years and I reached out to him on Facebook and asked if he would listen to the tracks and consider laying down the leads. He loved the tracks and laid down some absolutely incredible shreds and The Simple Radicals were formed. We then brought in our drummer Griff Johnson and bass player James Page to lay down their tracks.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam is my musical hero. When I heard Pearl Jam’s Ten 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. I’m mesmerized with his writing and try to capture the messaging, passion and energy that he does in his songs. If I can even come within a million miles of that I’d consider it a success.
When the world is back to normal where would like to tour, and why?
We had an amazing 2020 lined up including playing two showcases at SXSW, playing festivals with Jefferson Starship, Puddle of Mudd, Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot, and starting a tour in Chicago. But it all was nixed due to the pandemic. We’re on the line-up to play those gigs again next year if the pandemic is better. We’re so anxious to play live and hope to sooner rather than later.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
I’d have them listen to the title track ‘New Revolution’. It really sums up the energy, vibe and messaging of our music. And it has a really cool opening riff!
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
We want to continue to be innovative and create compelling music and material… and of course have fun along the way. We just released a song and video called ‘Rich Man Wanna Be King’ which provides a candid and scathing look at President Trump. It was just released on YouTube and it’s already racked up over 100,000 views and climbing. We’re about to release a wicked cover version of Jefferson Starship’s ‘White Rabbit’, where we collaborated with an incredible husband/wife duo called Che-Val. We’ll be releasing a quarantine video to our song ‘The Optimist’. And, we’re about to release a podcast called ‘Music & A Brew’ where we crack open a cold one with musical artists including Kenny Aronoff (drummer for John Mellencamp and tons of others), Todd Sucherman (Styx), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Daxx Nielsen (Cheap Trick), and Jackie “the Joke Man” Martling from the Howard Stern Show.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Radical.
For more info visit: facebook.com/SimpleRadicals