The 31-year-old actor/musician just dropped the title track off his upcoming five-song EP Feed the Flames, out on October 12.
While he describes his sound as “sort of moody-folk,” music has always been a priority for him. “I can’t remember any exact moment when I first found a passion for music,” he tells JJJ.” Music has always been such a huge part of my life that it’s always been part of my identity.”
Michael has a big show coming up at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta the day before the album release, so we had to ask about his pre-show rituals. “I don’t sacrifice animals or pray to shrunken heads or anything bizarre,” he tells us. “I just go out there, hopefully play the songs reasonably well and then get the hell out of there.”
He also opened up to JJJ about his songwriting, the process of making his record, and more. Check it!
JustJaredJr.com: Who or what are some of your biggest inspirations?
MM: My biggest inspiration is just plain old life, relationships and philosophical musings, all that jazz. I don’t use loop pedals or effects or anything, I just write good old songs with an honest, narrative drive. Fads come and go but a good song is a good song. People still listen to Dylan after all these years and as much as I am nowhere near that caliber, I feel like our mission statements are the same.
I write for myself and in doing so I am writing for everyone and I think people will be able to connect with my songs on the same intimate level that I connect with them. As far as other musicians go, Tom Waits was my biggest inspiration to start writing my own music. The first album of his that I heard was “Rain Dogs” and I have never been the same since.
Michael Malarkey Playlist
Click inside to read the rest of our interview with Michael Malarkey…
JustJaredJr.com Interview – Michael Malarkey
JJJ: When did you start to pursue music seriously?
MM: I decided not to go to University and started off playing in various punk and hardcore bands in Ohio. I was really into that scene for about a decade. During this time, I was also working in a record store and developed an obsession with discovering new music and it has always been what I do when I have some time off, whether it be writing music or listening to it.
As far as playing guitar goes, a friend gave me an old electric of his for my birthday one year and through many days of frustration and cursing I began to teach myself bar chords and started stringing together some songs. I never took lessons or played covers but spent countless hours constructing ideas and making basement demos and just shelving them.
I soon realized that songwriting came naturally to me as I was writing several songs a month by this point. However, my songs were always very personal, more like twisted journal entries, and I had no intention of ever doing anything with them. I always thought they had substance but my lack of confidence as a guitarist always seemed to be what hindered me from ever labeling myself as a musician. I started listening to a lot more folk music while in London and my songwriting naturally starting drifting in that direction.
My acting career has always taken precedence, but I’m at the point where I feel like songwriting is not just a hobby for me anymore and I feel like my music has a place in the current climate. Songwriting is taking a backseat to music production nowadays and what I love the most about music is the storytelling aspect (dance music…you get a hall pass…you have your time and place). If you break down most current radio hits and actually read the lyrics, it’s mostly rather bland and trite. I’m not a ground-breaking guitarist by any means. I’d even go as far as to say I am a mediocre guitarist. I am a lyricist first and foremost. I remember reading an interview with Sam Shepard convincing Patti Smith to start playing guitar. He said to her ‘Guitar is just a back-up for your voice. You’re not going to be Jeff Beck, don’t worry about it. Just learn these chords and you’ll be able to back yourself up.’
JJJ: What’s the meaning behind “Feed the Flames”?
MM: The ironic thing about feeding a fire is that it provides warmth but it can also hurt you if it burns out of control. The song sort of explores the dichotomy between the high stakes of hope and despair in love. The whole EP resounds with this theme…the back and firths, the ebb and flow of relationships.
JJJ: What was the most challenging part about making this EP and what was the most rewarding?
MM: My greatest challenge in making this record was trying to keep that real “backporch” quality but also adding something more to my usual lo-fi approach. It’s heart-breaking yet hopeful and I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out.
The most rewarding aspect was hearing my songs fleshed out with other instruments and seeing them take on a bit of a new life.