The fifth band to feature on my Music Interview Marathon is American retro-rock quartet, The Simple Radicals. Lead vocalist and guitarist John Malkin tells us how his music is deep and personal and how they love to have a simple life but think radical.
Band Name: The Simple Radicals
Members: John Malkin (Lead Vocals/Guitar), John Griffin (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Griff Johnson (Drums/Vocals) & James Page (Bass)
Founded: March 2019
Originated From: Chicago, Illinois USA
Discography: New Revolution (Album) Rich Man Wanna Be King (Single)
How would you describe your music?
We’re a retro-rock and roll band that combines sounds and styles from some of our favourite 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.
What is your musical creative process like?
I hate to sound so cliché, but I really explore the things and issues that are near and dear to my heart or affecting those that are close to me.
New Revolution is my most personal and poignant project I’ve ever done. These are such deep-hearted issues in my life and for many others that the words and music came to me literally in the form of pictures and images.
I just needed to figure out how to best express them and put them down on paper and then on an album.
How did the band form?
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.
I reached out to John Griffin, my fellow lead-guitarist bandmate from several years ago 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 and complete the band line-up.
How did you come up with your band name?
The Simple Radicals more or less came out of the way John Griffin and I look at life and music. We’re both non-conformists and non-conventional. We like to look at things differently. Stay simple but think radical. Hence The Simple Radicals.
Who influenced you within the music industry?
Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam is my musical hero. I’m mesmerised 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.
There are so many other bands as well that have influenced me over the years including Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, and Pink Floyd.
Have you performed live much and what was your favourite gig to play at?
We were quite active up until the apocalypse came. We played a great music festival in Chicago, toured some dates with a great band called Wayland and played the iconic Cutting Room in New York City.
We had a kick-ass 2020 planned to include; two showcases at SXSW, playing festivals with Molly Hatchet, Jefferson Starship, Puddle of Mudd and Blackfoot as well a tour starting in Chicago. But all got axed due to Covid.
What is the best thing about being in a band?
We love to perform live and our fans know that. We feed off their energy and passion and try to give it right back to them in the way we play our music.
We also try to interact with the audience as much as we can since our songs are so personal to many. There is nothing more rewarding than watching people lose themselves in your music. It’s intoxicating.
What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far as a musician(s)?
What plans have you got coming up this year?
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 just released a song and video called Rich Man Wanna Be King (watch above), which provides a scathing lampoon of Trump. It was just released on YouTube and it’s already racked up over 115,000 views and climbing. Our video New Revolution has already racked up over 60,000 views and climbing.
We’re about to release a wicked cover version of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit where we collaborated with an incredible husband/wife team called Che-Val and we’ll be releasing a quarantine video to our song The Optimist.
In addition, 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), and Daxx Nielsen (Cheap Trick).
What is your ultimate dream as a band/musician?
Opening up for Pearl Jam. That would be the ultimate dream come true. But just having the ability to continue to create and produce music that people like and playing live is also living the dream.
If you’re in a band or a musician and would like to appear on this blog, please contact me and I’ll forward you an interview template.
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