Jesse Malin played his last live show before entering this quarantined life on March 13th in London. “The crowd was so good, I said to the band, ‘We’re going to leave some blood on this stage because we may not be back for a while,'” he says, calling from his apartment in the East Village. “We wanted to make it matter.” Since then, he’s been doing his best to stay creative, working on the follow-up to last year’s well-received Sunset Kids, co-produced by Lucinda Williams, and hosting a Saturday afternoon livestream concert on YouTube that he calls “Mr. Rogers meets a rock & roll show.” One of New York’s most ubiquitous personalities (he operates a number of clubs in the city), Malin shares how he’s adapting to his new home-alone routine.
What are you doing with your unexpected time at home?
Trying to keep sane by having a program and some kind of schedule. I wake up, work out Taxi Driver style in the house, doing pushups and pull-ups like Travis Bickle. I’ve been reading and watching films I’ve never seen, and I’m getting to listen to a lot of the local radio stations that I can’t when I’m on tour. I’ve been going through artists’ catalogs, like John Prine and Dylan, starting at the beginning and really going through the songs. I always go back to that Joe Strummer quote: “no input, no output.” I’ve been trying to connect with people and let them know I love them too. People have been checking in on me. I think that’s all really important.
What music do you turn to in times of crisis for solace and comfort, and why?
Bruce Springsteen, because I think his message is that the struggle is there, it’s part of life, and it’s OK, and you can get through hard times. The details in his songs and characters have always brought me hope, but also made me want to step back and embrace the pain sometimes — and know that people have suffered and there’s something to gain from this whole thing. I listen to The Clash for the anger, the intensity, and the celebration of life. And Bob Marley, who speaks to you that we will survive. Wilco is a great overview of life and is very cinematic and very human. I’ve been listening to the new Brian Fallon album, the new Craig Finn, and Chuck Prophet. Lucinda Williams’ new record has been a huge inspiration too.
What do you hope we all take away from this chapter?
Some kind of new appreciation for the things I might have taken for granted, and to enjoy the things I do and do them with a gusto. I can’t wait to get out there and go to a bar and have some drinks and hear music that’s really loud and feel air pushed through speakers at my body, and see strangers and friends and raise a glass to life. After the Spanish flu of 1918 came the Roaring Twenties. I don’t know what’s in store, but I know we’re going to celebrate life together again.
Anything else you want to say to your fans right now?
Just be brave, be loving, and be compassionate and we’re going to get through this. We’ve gotten through a lot in this life and on this planet as human beings and we’re going to find a way. It’s going to happen.