Jesse Malin defies age and categorization

by Beacon Staff • October 3, 2007

He is baby-faced and floppy-haired. He has been in punk bands.

Malin is 46 years old.,Jesse Malin is in the Lower East side of New York City rehearsing with his band for their forthcoming European tour, waiting for rain to come and wash away every reason to go outside.

He is baby-faced and floppy-haired. He has been in punk bands.

Malin is 46 years old.

If you couldn't guess his age, then he's doing his job.

He put out a straightforward rock record this year called Glitter in the Gutter, featuring Brian Biglioni, the drummer from critical darlings The Dresden Dolls.

He says sentences like, "I love breaking a sweat, taking these songs and seeing the world." Four years ago, he put out a punk-rock record with Ryan Adams called, "We Are Fuck You."

Malin won't be breaking a sweat when he's on the plane, heading overseas; he's no stranger to European touring.

"I was a lot younger," Malin said. "We [D-Generation (his early-90s punk band)] opened up for Green Day when we went through there and it's all been cool. But now I'm more present. I'm going to take some time to look at the architecture. It's not just about getting ripped and chasing girls anymore. It's about getting lost, getting a good feeling on how small this planet is. It's good for the music."

This is where Malin differs from other former-rockers, whose stubbornness may have swept them out of the industry.

"You have to be able to hone what you do," Malin said. "There used to be a time in my life where if it didn't have bar chords in it, I didn't understand it."

"I put on Circle Jerks records, then the next thing you know I'll be listening to Lucinda Williams and then Jeff Tweedy. It's not just helpful, but it keeps you open all throughout life. It gets you more into saying 'yes.'"

Malin dismissed those who say "no"-those in punk bands who immediately throw whatever music they can muster onto Myspace, which, he explained, can be a "gossip fucking cleavage fest."

Somewhere, there must be a rickety old man in him, disapproving of the subculture in which he used to participate, right?

"Nah, I like things that are positive," he said. "In the end, there's hope. It's interesting to me."

Malin's new record, Glitter in the Gutter, combines both the tamed and untamed. The Queens native's CD maintains a rock background and exuberant-yet-edgy personality, but he's not afraid to dabble in those Tweedy-and-Williams-esque pop sensibilities.

Some songs, like "Tomorrow Tonight," sound like some of the edgier songs off Ryan Adams' "Easy Tiger." Others, like the single "Broken Radio," sound like something off a Bob Dylan greatest hits record.

Adams' "Easy Tiger" and Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, by the way, can both be found in Starbucks stores nationwide.

With comparisons to Adams and Dylan, is Malin afraid of the idea of seeling out?

"I think I'm pretty much over it," said Malin. "You're going to die and get old. But I think I can still get up, I can still put on my sneakers if I have a record deal. I try to stay positive and get wiser."

Now, before Malin flies over to Europe, he'll stop in Cambridge at TT the Bears on Wednesday, Oct. 10 and provide the best hook-filled pop-rock the area can find that night.

And don't get the idea that he's too old for a college town and that he can't connect with a college student now that he's somehow no longer seen as rock and roll.

He still says rocker-arrogant things like: "Come on down," with all the rock 'n' roll bravado he can scrounge up, "because music sucks... and then there's Jesse Malin."

And he's still good at his job.