THE INTERVIEW: Bedouin Soundclash

Although there is a huge call for thunderstorms, it is a beautiful evening in the city.

As I approach the corner of Elizabeth and Prince, I notice a guy leaning on the street post and smoking a cigarette. I go to ask him if I can borrow a light, when my contact taps me on the shoulder, spins me around and than introduces me to the guy leaning on the street post, aka Jay Malinowski; lead vocalist and guitarist for reggae-soul group Bedouin Soundclash.

With a presence focused yet reposed, I immediately feel comfortable.

Instead of doing the typical interview-over-coffee, he suggests we sit outside and enjoy the weather, so we plant ourselves on a skate box in front of the McNally Jackson Café.

Eight or nine years ago when Bedouin Soundclash started out, what were your goals in terms of success? Did you expect to be where you are now? Playing sold out shows to loving fans across the globe?

We started out just as any kid would, just imagining things. Even the idea of playing a show in NY was amazing to us. At this point I kind of wish I still had that feeling, cause now a show in NY is just a show in NY… Playing with The Roots, or any big name act, you lose that childish wonder. But I’m very thankful to be doing what I’m doing.

From album to album you guys have created a sound all your own. From the get-go did you guys set out to achieve something in particular or was it all an experiment with music?

Our band has always been an experiment, but Eon and I always had very clear goals on what we wanted to do. It was always, “let’s do something different.” I wouldn’t say that we necessarily wanted to be “uncool,” but we always wanted to do things for the right reasons…making music purely just to make music.

Who has been your favorite band/musician to play with, collaborate with, etc.?

Saturday we co-headlined a show with The Aggrolites, and right now they are my favorite band to work with. I think they really nailed down the idea of that dirty punk-rock reggae sound.

Is there anyone that you would or would have liked to work with in the music industry?

Joe Strummer, period. Joe Strummer is who made me want to be in a band. The Clash was my favorite band when I was young, and Joe Strummer was my hero. As you get older you stop having heroes like that, but I’ll always get childish over him.

How did the whole touring with No Doubt concept come about and what’s it been like touring with them thus far?

I’m not too sure how exactly it all went down, but they’ve been fans of our band, and we’re very flattered by that. No Doubt is such a great band and their live show is so incredible. I respect them for staying together for so long. I mean they were together for nine years before anything even happened. I think that’s what’s missing these days…All these hype bands come and go so fast.

So what can fans expect from your new studio album coming out in 2010?

With every album I feel we’re getting closer to what we want to say. It’s gonna be a little more reggae, but classic-soul reggae, which has always been our favorite aspect of music.

How has the recording process been this time around vs. in the past?

This is the first time we’ve had time. We’ve always been on the road, constantly grinding. This is the first time we could really think critically about what we wanted to say and take our time with it. So I think the record’s going to be very different in that sense.

So what sparked the initial creation of Bedouin Soundclash?

Eon and I were both outsiders at school, and we both didn’t expect to find anything we were looking for at that place. We kind of both became friends on this basis alone, not expecting much from each other. Then one day I heard him play bass… and we played together, and it just sounded really good. We understand each other in a way that most people don’t.

What can we expect from a Bedouin Soundclash show?

We’ll play our show and if there’s a vibe, there’s a vibe. Sometimes it’ll be a sold out show with a thousand people who’ve been waiting to see you and it just won’t happen, and sometimes you’ll be playing to 25 people in Omaha and it’ll be the best show of your life. But we’ll definitely bring whatever we have to the table and we hope the audience does too.

Lucy Tonic

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