Jesse Malin at 2017 Lollapalooza
Photo: Jacklyn Krol/The Recording Academy
Jesse Malin's 'Meet Me At The End Of The World' EP: Track By Track
Running all the way across Grant Park to catch an artist you want to see is a common practice at Lollapalooza in Chicago. Friday, Aug. 4 at noon, that was me rushing to catch New York troubadour Jesse Malin on the BMI Stage for the first set of the day.
Rewarded for my efforts, I entered earshot just in time to hear the shimmering reverb-drenched guitar stabs in the opening notes of "She Don't Love Me Know," an undeniable number from Malin's 2015 album, New York Before The War.
What followed was a blistering set of tunes plucked from Malin's prolific career, complete with rock and roll interstitials about love, breakups and opening up for his childhood idols Kiss at Madison Square Garden.
As a member of D Generation and as a solo artist, Malin has accomplished a lot throughout his career thus far. So when I caught my breath and caught up with the highly acclaimed songwriter's songwriter backstage, he took me through each of tracks on his new four-song EP, which features a title track that was possibly the highlight of his Lollapalloza set, and easily the feel-good song of the apocalypse: "Meet Me At The End Of The World."
Track 1: "Meet Me At The End Of The World"
"'Meet Me At The End Of The World'" came from listening to the news and hearing all these people talk about things I really acknowledge and believe in: global warming, what's going on politically, what's going on around the whole world. As always, with every generation, you feel like this is the end man: it's the nuclear arms race, it's Ronald Reagan, doomsday's coming, "1984" — that play is more relevant now than ever. All these things are evil and there is a lot of evil, but you have to find a way to stay positive. I believe in the P.M.A., the Positive Mental Attitude, so 'Meet Me At The End Of The World' came from being inundated with all my friends that are pissed off about stuff. But you know what, you've got to live every day like it could be your last.
Musically, the song was written with two chords at a soundcheck in Long Beach with Alejandro Escovedo and Derek Cruz, my guitarist, just jamming these two chords like the Stones or Bowie's "Heroes" and I started to put a melody over it. ... Then I finished it out in a van and me and Derek arranged it in a hotel room in Oakland."
Track 02: "Fox News Funk"
"It came from a jam that Derek had. It was kind of like a Clash, kind of Sandinista! thing. Again, [it was inspired by] the media blitz ... and reading USA Today because it comes under the door, and realizing you don't want to mix politics and music all the time — but life is political. You walk out your door and you're hit with things. You have to pay for gasoline. You have to eat. You've got to pay rent. And [I thought about] how much the media is owned by the government, by the big corporations, so you're not getting the full story. I think [this song is] a call to people to go beyond that, go with their guts and their hearts. You have got to treat the people around you with love, but you also have to question the powers that be, because as much as I love this country and this planet, there are some people that are out to line their own pockets and have an agenda.
Track 3: "Revelations/Thirteen"
"'Revelations' is a song about a breakup that happened. I was dating a girl who had the same name as me, Jesse, and if we would have gotten married, she would have became Jesse Malin (laughs). ... But we met one day to go have 'the talk,' like when you've got to break up with somebody and have the conversation, and we met at a health food restaurant — I'm a vegetarian — on East 12th Street in Manhattan called Angelica's. I bumped into like Moby and Cyndi Lauper and John [Joseph] from the Cro-Mags there, and you know it's just a a great spot, I wish it was still there. But [this song is] the anticipation of playing back that conversation in your head knowing you've got to have this talk, but after it's done you know you're going to be OK.
And then we just went into "Thirteen" by Big Star, it's just something that happened in the studio and we kept it. It's one of my favorite Big Star songs."
Track 4: "London Rain"
"'London Rain' was written about our old merch girl and tour manager from the U.K. who was diagnosed with cancer and is paralyzed. She needed a wheelchair and she kept such a great outlook that we named her "The Positive Panther," and we did a charity with Butch Walker, Joan Jett, the Eagles Of Death Metal guys, L7, Chris Stills, Tommy Stinson — just a whole bunch of people stepped up. And we raised money to get her a wheelchair. I wanted to have a song to sing at that show for her, and "London Rain" was written to do at the benefit, but it became a song that would end up on the Meet Me At The End Of The World EP as well."
Dive deeper into Jesse Malin's mind with some of his favorite summer songs on his official Lollapalooza Spotify playlist.