~Asbury Park Vibes' Band Of The Week~

THE SIMPLE RADICALS

January 25, 2021

Untitled photo

YEAR FORMED

2019

HOMETOWN 

Chicago, Illinois

BAND MEMBERS

John Malkin – Lead vocals/guitar

John Griffin - Lead guitar/vocals

James Page - Bass guitar

Griff Johnson – Drums/vocals


*Questions answered by John Malkin.*

BASICS

YOUR MUSICAL PAST AND PRESENT IN ONE RUN-ON SENTENCE.

Former drummer turned guitar player who played in numerous cover bands and projects over the years and couldn’t be happier with my current band and album “New Revolution” and absolutely love our fans and can’t thank them enough for their support. Ok, I need a breath.


SORRY, BUT WE HAVE TO ASK … WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR BAND NAME?

The Simple Radicals more or less came out of the way my lead guitarist John Griffin and I look at life and music. We’re both non-conformists and non-conventional. We like to look at things differently. Stay simple. But think radical. Hence The Simple Radicals.


HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND TO SOMEONE WHO HASN’T YET HEARD YOUR MUSIC?

The Simple Radicals is a retro-rock and roll band that combines sounds and styles from some of our favorite classic/alt-rock bands like Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Green Day and Cheap Trick. If you like any of those bands than I think you will like our sound.


HOW DID THE STARS ALIGN TO BRING YOU ALL TOGETHER?

I developed the concept and wrote the songs last year for the “New Revolution” album and began laying down the construct of the songs in the studio such as the rhythms, lead beds, drums and vocal tracks. I reached out to my fellow Radical John Griffin who I played in a band with a few years ago and asked if he would listen to the tracks and consider laying down the leads. He loved the tracks and laid down some incredible shreds and the rest is history. The Simple Radicals was formed.

MUSIC

A PROJECT YOU’RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON THAT YOU’RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT.

Our album, New Revolution is about the extremes of what people are going through today and their efforts to instill a revolution of change in our society. It’s about using their voices to create the catalyst for change and to better their lives and society as a whole. The guitar-God Vernon Reid from the band Living Colour plays lead on the track "Medicate". Wait until you hear his shredding.


HOW DOES THE BAND FLESH OUT A SONG FROM START (IDEA IN YOUR HEAD) TO FINISH (RECORDING)?

I see a lot of images and moods when I write. Certain chord progressions, finger pickings and riffs often direct me on how the song is constructed and then the lyrics start to flow. It’s a bizarre process but it works for me. I actually write a lot of my songs on an acoustic guitar. Even riffs such as the ones on “New Revolution” and “Medicate”. I feel that if it sounds good on an acoustic then it’s going to sound even better when it’s plugged in.


WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE BEST SONG YOU EVER RELEASED, AND WHY?

The song “The Optimist” really hits home for me.  With all the shit going on today in society and in our own personal lives, it’s a song about trying to remain optimistic about things and looking at the half-full side of life. The lyrics “I’ve got the rest of my life and I’m not going to stop ‘til I get it right” is a statement about not giving up when things look dire. There’s no rush. You’re in charge of your own destiny. Get it right the best you can. But just try to get it right.


PICK ONE WORD THAT BEST DESCRIBES WHAT YOUR REHEARSALS ARE LIKE.

Intense. We’re all perfectionists but in a good way.


ANY MUSIC VIDEOS PLANNED OR IN PRODUCTION? We just released a song and video called “Rich Man Wanna Be King” which provides a scathing lampoon of President Trump. It’s already racked up almost 200,000 views and climbing. Our video “New Revolution” has already racked up over 60,000 views and climbing. And we just released a quarantine video to our song “The Optimist.


LET’S GEEK OUT FOR A SECOND … TELL US WHAT YOUR ABSOLUTE FAVORITE PIECE OF MUSICAL EQUIPMENT IS RIGHT NOW.

I just bought a D’Angelico acoustic guitar. I can’t put it down. She’s a beauty.

INFLUENCES

WHICH ARTIST OR BAND INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A MUSICIAN?

As soon as I first heard the power chords of bands like AC/DC and Pearl Jam I knew I wanted to play music. I was just blown away by the simplicity and complexity of their music and how it brought me to another world. I actually started out as a drummer and played in several bands before moving to guitar.


AN ALBUM THAT’S HAD A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON YOU.

When I heard Pearl Jam’s "Ten" album I studied it day and night and still study it to this day. It truly had an influence on how I write and construct my music.


VOCALIST YOU ADMIRE THE MOST?

Eddie Vedder is my musical hero. I’m mesmerized with his writing and I try to capture the messaging, passion and energy that he does in his songs. If I can even come within a million miles of that I’d consider it a success.


GUITAR SOLO THAT ALWAYS GIVES YOU GOOSEBUMPS?

Wow. There are so many that goose the bumps on me. But David Gilmour’s shred on “Comfortably Numb” gets my goosebumps honking.


MOST BAD-ASS BASSIST?

Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Insanity behind and in front of the bass guitar.


DRUMMER WITH KILLER CHOPS?

Kenny Aronoff. World class drummer and one of the nicest guys in the world. Played with everyone including John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Paul McCartney, Smashing Pumpkins, etc. Not only killer chops but incredibly innovative and unique.


ROLLING STONES OR THE BEATLES?

Stones baby. Not to slight the Fab Four but The Stones literally don’t have one bad song or note.

PERFORMING

DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-SHOW RITUALS?

I love to hang out with the fans before we play and chat with them. It makes the show a lot more personal and intimate for me.


FUNNIEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED WHILE YOU WERE ON STAGE.

I completely lost track of the lyrics during one of our songs and began spitting out lyrics from a Dr. Seuss book. At that point I was eating green eggs on a boat and with a goat.


IF POSSIBLE, DESCRIBE WHAT PERFORMING LIVE FEELS LIKE FOR YOU.

I love to perform live. I feed off their energy and passion and try to give it right back to them in the way we play our music. I also try to interact with the audience as much as we can since our songs are so personal to many. There is nothing more rewarding than watching people lose themselves in your music. It’s intoxicating.


IF YOU WERE SECOND ON A THREE-BAND BILL, WHICH BAND WOULD YOU LOVE TO BE SUPPORTING AND WHICH BAND WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO OPEN FOR YOU? [GOOD CHANCE TO PLUG A NEWER BAND YOU REALLY LIKE]

If Eddie Vedder will allow us to open for Pearl Jam I will forever be in his debt. He’s originally from Chicago so maybe that will help. And there’s a fantastic band called Rainbow James out of Chicago that are insanely good. I’d love to have them open for us.


WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR FANS GET FROM YOUR MUSIC? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE THEM TO KNOW?

I hate to sound so cliché, but I really explore the things and issues that are near and dear to my heart or affecting those that are close to me. "New Revolution" is our most personal and poignant project we've ever done. These are such deep-hearted issues in my life and for many others that the words and music came to me literally in the form of pictures and images. I just needed to figure out how to best express them and put them down on paper and then on an album.



GOALS

MOST DON’T ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BELIEVE THAT WHAT THEY REALLY WANT ... CAN ACTUALLY HAPPEN. CLOSE YOUR EYES AND VISUALIZE WHAT YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR ULTIMATE SUCCESS. WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I’m very pragmatic when it comes to the music business so I like to think in realistic baby-steps. But being invited to play a music fest like Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Coachella or Bonnaroo would be a huge step toward success and a recognition of our band and music.


WHAT ARE YOU DETERMINED TO SEE HAPPEN FOR YOUR BAND IN THE NEXT YEAR?

Play live as soon as the apocalypse is over. But until then, we have a lot going on and coming up. We continue to push our album, "New Revolution". We’re about to release a wicked cover version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” where we collaborated with an incredible husband/wife team called Che-Val. We’ll be releasing a quarantine video to our song “The Optimist”. And we’re about to release a podcast called “Music & A Brew” where we crack open a cold one with musical artists including Kenny Aronoff (drummer for John Mellencamp and tons of others), Todd Sucherman (Styx), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Daxx Nielsen (Cheap Trick), and Jackie “the Joke Man” Martling (the Howard Stern Show.).


UPCOMING SHOWS, EVENTS, FESTIVALS YOU’RE PLAYING?

We had an amazing 2020 lined up including playing two showcases at SXSW, playing festivals with Jefferson Starship, Puddle of Mudd, Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot, and starting a tour in Chicago. But it all was nixed due to the pandemic. We’re on the lineup to play those gigs again next year if the pandemic is better. We’re so anxious to play live and hope to so sooner than later.

PERSONAL

WHAT CONCERT DID YOU ATTEND THAT YOU’LL NEVER, EVER FORGET?

Rush. What a band and show. And my ears are still ringing.


BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN.

Relax and don’t take things too seriously. Life is complicated but also fairly simple when you distill it down to the basics. Things can and will work out if you give it time and you put the energy behind it.


WHAT IS YOUR MOST VALUED MATERIAL POSSESSION?

My John Deere tractor. Best investment I’ve ever made to cut my grass.


WHICH OF YOUR BAND MEMBERS:

· IS ALWAYS LATE? Moi. I live the furthest away.

· EATS THE HEALTHIEST? Our lead guitarist John Griffin. Vegetarian. Say no more.

· IS THE PRANKSTER? Our bass man James Page. He’s totally insane.

· IS THE TASK MASTER TO GET THINGS DONE? That’d be me. I’m a middle child. Sorry.

· HAS A USELESS TALENT? I plead the fifth.


WHEN YOU’RE NOT PLAYING MUSIC, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE TO DO?

I live for the outdoors. Mountains especially. When I’m not playing I’m either hiking, running, playing tennis or just observing.


IF WE WERE TO LOOK AT YOUR “GO-TO” PLAYLIST RIGHT NOW, WHO ARE SOME OF THE ARTISTS WE’D SEE?

You’d see a lot of Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Tom Petty and Alice in Chains.


BEST BAND NAME YOU EVER HEARD?

Bathtub Shitter. Out of Japan. Can’t get any better than that.


VINYL RECORDS, CASSETTES, CD’s, OR DOWNLOADS?

Vinyl. I love hearing the crackling of the stylus on an album. Plus holding the album and reading the liner notes. Nothing better.


WHAT SONG IS AMAZING, YET NOT VERY POPULAR?

“Just Another Suicide” by UFO. Phil Mogg’s vocals are heart stopping.


AN ALBUM YOU NEVER GET TIRED OF LISTENING TO.

UFO Lights Out. One of my favorite albums of all time.


WHAT SONG ARE YOU CURRENTLY OBSESSED WITH?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Alice in Chains lately. “Man In The Box” is intoxicating. I can’t get enough of it.


WHAT SONG HELPED YOU WHEN YOU WERE HEARTBROKEN?

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. Heck, if Michael Stipe is singing to you then you can only feel better.


WHAT ALBUM OR ARTIST DID YOUR PARENTS INTRODUCE YOU TO THAT YOU LOVE?

My parents were into classical music which is the reason I gravitated to rock. No offense to Beethoven or Bach but sorry guys. But my best friend turned me on to Rush and I was gone.


WHAT’S YOUR BENCHMARK FOR A GREAT MUSICIAN?

Uniqueness. They don’t have to be the greatest musician but just really innovative and unique.

  • No Comments
Untitled photo


Asbury Park Vibes is a media publication dedicated to shining a light on the live music scene, as well as promoting the artists we love! We strive to provide show reviews, photographs, and artist stories that bring fans and musicians closer together.

Our coverage focuses keenly on the artists and venues in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York; however, you'll also catch us featuring musicians and shows all across the U.S!!! There's nothing better than the ENERGY and VIBES we all feel from live music! We're sure we'll see you at a show somewhere very soon!

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In