Jesse Malin returns to Norwich

EMMA LEE Rock’n’roll storyteller Jesse Malin returns to Norwich Arts Centre, or “the church that serves herbal tea” as he calls it, on Tuesday, May 15. Emma Lee spoke to him.

EMMA LEE

For a relatively underground artist, Jesse Malin's got an impressive roll-call of guest appearances on his latest album Glitter in the Gutter - Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, his long-time friend and collaborator Ryan Adams and the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, who sings lead vocals on the latest single Broken Radio.

Malin was born in Queens and now lives in Manhattan, from where he spoke to me.

Funny and self-deprecating, he makes getting one of the world's biggest recording artists to appear on your record sound like a piece of cake.

“When I made the first record he [Springsteen] called me up and said he really enjoyed it,” he says.

They played some shows together, stayed in touch, and when the time was right Springsteen offered his musical services.

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“We've been filming the video - it was a lot of fun,” Malin adds.

He and Springsteen have quite a lot in common - both their songs feature ordinary people and the everyday dramas they face.

For example, on the track In the Modern World, a kid hides his face in a cereal box, and in Broken Radio a woman searches for salvation across the car radio dial.

Malin thought that Broken Radio would really suit Springsteen thematically and lyrically and sent him the demo.

A couple of weeks later Springsteen called him up and said “yes” to a duet.

As for the other collaborations on the record, Ryan Adams' contributions to Glitter In The Gutter include In the Modern World, Little Star and Aftermath.

Josh Homme plays on Tomorrow Tonight, Chris Shifflet of the Foo Fighters appears and Lucinda Williams is there in spirit, with Malin paying tribute to the woman he describes as a “poet outlaw” on Lucinda. And for the first time he recorded away from his native New York, on the opposite coast in LA.

Malin's 2002 debut album, the Fine Art of Self Destruction, was heaped with critical acclaim on its release and the Heat came out two years later.

Although Glitter in the Gutter is his third solo record, he's been in the business for years, cutting his teeth in the punk bands DGeneration and Heart Attack.

He says he's looking forward to coming back to the UK - and Norwich, where he's paying a return visit to the Arts Centre in St Benedict's (“Oh, the church that serves herbal tea,” he exclaims, accurately - something which will always win you brownie points with an interviewer.)

“I'm so excited to get on the road. This record's got a very electric feel and there's a gang of us - a full-on band. We'll be playing stuff off all three records and some cover versions - anything from the Kills to Elton John, the Ramones, the Clash, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra… something that means something to me,” he says.

Malin's shows include a bit of audience participation - when he sits down mid-song, everyone follows his lead. And he's got some brilliantly funny anecdotes about some of his fellow musicians - a real raconteur, he knows how to connect with an audience.

Does he enjoy touring? Surely it's a gruelling experience, spending all that time away from home.

“You make the doughnuts, you have to sell the doughnuts,” he says simply. “You tell your friends you've seen the world, but sometimes you just see a little part of places. I would really love to go on a safari in South Africa.

“But whatever it takes to find the energy, you find it.”

t Jesse Malin plays Norwich Arts Centre on Tuesday, May 5. Doors 8pm.Tickets £8.50adv/£9.50door, 01603 660352, www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk

t The album, Glitter in the Gutter, is out now. Visit www.jessemalin.com or www.myspace.com/jessemalin

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