LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
John Malkin Vocals/Guitar: 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. My fellow Radical, 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 absolute 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. You can follow us on:
LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys been holding up?
John Malkin: No doubt it sucks. We love to write, produce and record but we are a band that loves to play live and we all really miss that.
LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
John Malkin: We’ve actually been quite busy. We’re currently recording some new material. We continue to push our album, “New Revolution” which has the guitar-God Vernon Reid from the band Living Colour playing lead on the track “Medicate”. We released a song and video called “Rich Man Wanna Be King” which provides a scathing lampoon of ex- President Trump.
It’s already racked up 190,000 views and climbing. We’re releasing a pop-psychedelic version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” which folks can be the first to hear by pre-saving on Spotify and Apple Music (https://thesimpleradicals.fanlink.to/whiterabbit). And, we have a podcast show called “Music & A Brew” where we crack open a cold one with musical artists. Our first show was with world-class drummer Kenny Aronoff. Our next show is with Todd Sucherman, the drummer for the band Styx.
LOMM: That sounds pretty cool. I shall check it out now. Ok.. Tell us about your genre, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?
John Malkin: We’re a retro-rock and roll band that combines sounds and styles from some of our favorite classic rock bands like Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Green Day and Cheap Trick. If you like those bands then I think you will like our sound. I grew up listening to classic rock and still listen to it to this day. It’s timeless and some of the best music ever written. I wanted to form a band that maintained the integrity of the classic rock sound while adding retro flavors.
LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
John Malkin: I see a lot of images and moods when I write. Certain chord progressions, finger pickings and riffs often direct me on how the song is constructed and then the lyrics start to flow. It’s a bizarre process but it works for me. I actually write a lot of my songs on an acoustic guitar. Even riffs such as the songs “New Revolution” and “Medicate”. I feel that if it sounds good on an acoustic then it’s going to sound even better when plugged in.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
John Malkin: We’re really happy with the product. We work with Factory Underground Studio in Norwalk, Connecticut who not only do an amazing job of producing, mixing and mastering our material but they also do a kick-ass job in helping us with our marketing and social media efforts.
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
John Malkin: We’ve been really happy with the response. Our songs are getting added to Spotify playlists, we’re getting some great press, and most importantly, our fans really like it.
LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
John Malkin: We formed the band in 2019 and immediately played a festival in Chicago. Then we played the iconic Cutting Room in New York City where the likes of John Mayer, David Bowie and Sting also played. We had a kick-ass 2020 planned including two showcases at SXSW in Austin, Texas, playing festivals with Molly Hatchet, Jefferson Starship, Puddle of Mudd, and Blackfoot as well as a tour starting in Chicago. But all got axed due to Covid. But we’re on the docket to play those in 2021 if the apocalypse ends in time.
LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
John Malkin: Ideally we’d like to get out and play live but that doesn’t look like it’s happening in the near future. So, we’re going to continue to record and release new material, produce videos when we can, and stay engaged and build our fan base.
LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
John Malkin: I write all the songs for the band but rely on my co-Radical and lead guitarist John Griffin for his feedback and input. Our album, “New Revolution” is about the extremes of what people are going through today and their efforts to instill a revolution of change. About using the power of their voice to create the catalyst for change and to better their lives and society as a whole. Ultimately, we’re trying to convey a refreshing change from the clichés that currently permeates 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.
LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
John Malkin: I am.
LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
John Malkin: Eddie Vedder is my musical hero. 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. Other bands that have influenced us include Foo Fighters, Cheap Trick, Pink Floyd, Green Day, and Tom Petty. If you like the sounds of those bands then I think you’ll like our band and sound.
LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
John Malkin: Love them both but there’s nothing like playing live. Watching fans–old and new engage with you and get into your music is intoxicating.
LOMM: What first got you into music?
John Malkin: I grew up addicted to classic rock and would burn the grooves in the vinyl or CD from constantly playing their albums. Then I became a drummer and played in some bands until I took up guitar. The rest is history.
LOMM: What do you like the best about being a musician? And what is it that you do not like much?
John Malkin: I just love everything about the creative process. From the germ of the idea, to taking the idea to the guitar, constructing the song, writing the lyrics, and then ultimately turning it into a composition with your fellow bandmates. It’s so challenging but so rewarding. Honestly, I haven’t found one thing I don’t like about being a musician. I even love the rigors of touring.
LOMM: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?
John Malkin: Probably working in a haberdashery with Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap.
LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
John Malkin: The lack of outlet to play new rock. There used to be so many radio stations that played new artists in the rock genre but they’ve all disappeared. I’d love to see more outlets devoted to amplifying all the great rock bands that are out there today.
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
John Malkin: To me they go hand in hand. You have to write good music in order for the audience to like you and get engaged with your band and music. If you write bad music it’s gonna be hard to cater to an audience when they don’t listen to you.
LOMM: What is the most memorable gig that you have played to date?
John Malkin: The Cutting Room in New York City. What an amazing venue with incredible stage, lights and sound. Plus we rocked the house to a great crowd.
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
John Malkin: Writing material that people like to listen to. It’s been so rewarding watching people react to our album “New Revolution”. It’s my most personal project and to have your fans tell you what the songs mean to them and how it affected their life is so emotional and fulfilling.
LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
John Malkin: Eddie Vedder. Probably one of the best songwriters in the last 30 years.
LOMM: Who would you like to go on a tour with?
John Malkin: Pearl Jam.. Probably the most talented, electrifying and inspiring band in the last 30 years. And if Foo Fighters have an opening on one of their tours count me in.
LOMM: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.
John Malkin: Being from Chicago I’d absolutely love to play Lollapalooza. Perry Farrell puts on one of the most amazing fests in the heart of Chicago filled with people who just want to rock out. Everything about the fest including the bands, environment, fans and music is incredible. It would be a dream come true.
LOMM: Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
John Malkin: So many but if I had to name a few: Led Zeppelin IV, UFO “Lights Out”, Collective Soul “Dosage” and Dada “Puzzle”.
LOMM: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
John Malkin: I had a kick-ass vinyl collection but over the years sold many or gave them away. Which I completely regret. Then of course the CD towers started building up. Now it’s all streaming for me. No doubt I have a lot more shelf space these days.
LOMM: What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
John Malkin: We’re in the United States from the great blues and rock city of Chicago, Illinois. We’re so blessed to have such a vibrant mix of all music including rock, blues, reggae, punk, electronic, emo, folk, etc.
LOMM: You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, a movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?
John Malkin: I’ll start with my father. He died six years ago. I’d love to have him back for dinner. For the other four I’d take David Bowie, Eddie Vedder, Tom Petty and the actor Bryan Cranston. And I’ll even cook!
LOMM: Haha, cool 🙂 What is your weirdest memory in your music career?
John Malkin: We were playing a festival in the Chicago area and the band that went on before us was dressed in a horrific combination of Kiss meets The Cure meets…I’m not sure. The crowd just stood there in total shock at this sight. Nobody moved. We had to follow that act and somehow turn it around. Thankfully we did. And without any makeup!
LOMM: What is the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
John Malkin: No gifts yet. But someone wanted me to sign a black guitar pick with a black sharpie. Let’s just say I could have signed my name Mick Jagger and he wouldn’t have known.
LOMM: If you had one message to your fans, what would it be?
John Malkin: We can’t thank you enough for your continued support and encouragement. Hope to see you live and in person sooner than later.
LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?
John Malkin: Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Radical.
LOMM: Thank you for taking the time John.