Jay Malinowski, vocalist/guitarist of Bedouin Soundclash, has been in and out of interviews all day in preparation for the band's headlining performance as part of the Bedlam Music Management showcase at Toronto's El Mocambo. The fact that the band will be wrapping up an evening that'll see performances from Moneen, Attack In Black, The Black Lungs, and several others is a true testament to their popularity and credibility in the scene. As always, it's a total pleasure speaking with him, both as a humble and good-natured individual and a very talented and knowledgeable member of the music community.
So how long’s it been since you wrapped up Street Gospels? Jay: We finished it in February 2007, so it’s been over a year, but we’ve been touring on it so long it feels like more. The nice thing is that Sounding A Mosaic took us so much time to support that even though it’s only been a year for Street Gospels, we’re already ready to start writing again.
Have you started the creative process for the next record? Jay: I always have a few ideas, but I like having an idea for the record as a whole first – what I want to do, what kind of style we’re going for... I feel like now we have to go somewhere else. On the last album, I wanted to establish our sound, and I think on this one I want to move a bit more towards something else – maybe even more classic ska. I’m not sure.
You guys are on some Warped dates this year. I know you’ve done the tour a few times. How’s your reception generally on a tour like that? Jay: You know what’s funny is it can actually be really good or really bad. Actually, I can only remember one show where it was really, really bad. The Warped Tour crowd is generally a little messy, and they’re a little young, so they might just know Sublime, but we like the challenge and it’s generally been fun.
Along the same lines and somewhat topical, tonight’s Bedlam showcase has a lot of Dine Alone/Distort bands, and there seems to be a real community with those acts. How does Bedouin fit into that roster? Jay: I think we fit in well as a band that just plays a lot. And you know, working with Daryl (Jennifer of Bad Brains), we kind of… I mean, we’re all hardcore kids. I think we all share a love for punk music and we like the same kind of things; we want to go about doing things the same way.
Ed. Our drinks arrive, and our server kindly asks Jay for an autograph for his girlfriend.
This may be old news, but how did the chance to work with Daryl come about? Jay: Daryl was… is this Jane’s Addiction? Or Perry Farrel? (referring to the music playing in the bar)
It could be, but I don’t recognize it. He’s got some weird side projects going on now, and it sounds like his voice… Jay: Yeah! So how do we know Daryl? Uh, he heard the record, liked it, and just asked if he could work with us. It was like, ‘Yeah, of course!’ It’s been a great relationship we’ve had over the last few years.
It must be – I noticed he thanked you in the liner notes for Build A Nation. Jay: Oh, really? I didn’t know. That’s nice of him. Did he thank us for all the arguments in the studio, or was he nice about it? (laughs). He’s awesome, and one of our closest friends in terms of us as a band and understanding and helping us over the years. We owe him a lot.
Going along with the “clash of sounds” theme, and the title Building A Mosaic – I’m referring to your varying influences as a band – do you think being from Canada, with our sense of both natural multiculturalism and also our diverse music scene, has shaped your sound at all? Jay: We’re always proponents of the fact that, being from Toronto, we’re all kids with different backgrounds playing music together. And that’s real to me. We grew up listening to punk, reggae… and that’s what makes us Canadian – we have that coming together of a number of groups. And you get that anywhere, but in the Canadian scene, I think there’s a wider acceptance of stuff like that. K-Os is a great example of that bridge that takes place between a lot of different genres and its acceptance in Canada.
On the radio this morning (102.1 The Edge), you said something about how you didn’t envision yourself being in a band. How did that mindset eventually lead to where you find yourself now? Jay: Well, I always wanted to be in a “band,” but I didn’t listen to much “band” music as I got older because it got kind of lame. I always thought the coolest stuff was electronic music from the DJ scene, or the kind of stuff I like, like The Clash or Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen. SO I always wanted to be in a band, but just never thought there was anything good that was current. That was coming at a time when it was all rap metal, and there was no indie rock revival taking place. So I still don’t see myself as a guy in a band; I’m always thinking, ‘What am I going to do next year?”
Are your albums still distributed in the US by SideOneDummy? Jay: We are in the States, yes.
What’s your relationship like with those folks? Jay: They’ve been good with us over the last few years. I mean, they’re a great label, and a lot of bands really love them. Every band I talk to seems to want to be on SideOneDummy right now. I don’t know why. Strike Anywhere just told me that. I mean they’re a great label.
Did you make it to that Strike Anywhere show (at The Reverb in Toronto on June 12th with The Flatliners, Hostage Life, This Is A Standoff, Carpenter, and Aspirations) last night? Jay: I hung out with them; I didn’t get a chance to see their show. I was with Thomas for the afternoon, but I didn’t get to go.
Me neither, although I was told it was incredible. Since we’re name dropping, what have you been digging lately? Jay: I’ve always loved The Bees. I haven’t paid as much attention to this last record, but they’re amazing. The Slackers just put out another record, and I always love them. Something new? I find that it’s not always about what’s new; it’s about what I haven’t heard. Like, I’m really digging R.E.M. now. That’s pretty weird, because I’m usually only listening to reggae and punk, so R.E.M. came from nowhere.
Last one. My dad plays in a bar band – he’s a teacher – with a few older guys, and they cover a couple of Bedouin songs – they really dig your band. Can you shout out to him for me? Jay: Hey, what’s up Mr. King. Thanks for playing our songs – we really appreciated it. You’ve got to send us a tape sometime! We’d love to hear it. I’m flattered they cover our music – that’s the nicest compliment you can pay someone.
Any last words you want to toss in? Jay: Nah man, I got nothing. I’ve been doing interviews all day, but this one was a lot of fun. [ END ]