Rock & roller? Singer/songwriter? Punk? Jesse Malin is all of this and so much more. He’s back with a new album, Sunset Kids, and he plays at the Roxy this week, so we chatted.
L.A. WEEKLY: You must be pleased with the response to Sunset Kids so far – people are loving it…?

JESSE MALIN: I worked really hard on this one. We recorded on both coasts, wrote probably around 25 songs – 14 made it. It was hard to choose, they’re like your kids – you love them all equally. It seems like people are noticing this record more than a few other I made, it’s a nice feeling.

How was the experience of working with Lucinda Williams? And also Billie Joe Armstrong?

I’ve a big fan of Lucinda’s writing, singing & spirit for a real long time. I learned a lot about storytelling from her. She made me want to up the ante and her and her husband Tom Overby’s rock n roll instincts were always spot on. It made for a fun experience whenever we would get together.
Billie Joe and I have been friends since the late 90’s and had some fun moments, from jamming crazy covers to side projects like Rodeo Queens, but the song “Strangers & Thieves” was the first we ever wrote together for one of my albums. It was initially intended for something else, but everyone felt it fit into the cannon of Sunset Kids kinda perfectly. The song was written after me & Billie Joe spent a day walking around downtown New York as I showed him all the old hardcore hangouts.
What would you say is the general theme of the album, if anything?
I’ve always felt like an outsider, me and my friends and even the people we play to. I guess it’s some kind of nocturnal alternate lifestyle to the main stream – coming out at night and chasing some crazy feeling. On the flip side, there was a lot of loss during the making of the album. From the early discussions, the day of Tom Petty’s last show, to the passing of my friend and guitar player Todd Youth, the albums first engineer and mixer, David Bianco, and then my father.
What can we expect from this Roxy show?
We’ll be playing stuff from all my records, but a lot from the new one since it seems to be going over in a bigger way than we expected. It took a long time but somehow I feel very comfortable with the connection from a kid in a hardcore band to a guy that fronted a rock band to the songwriting sentimentalist I am now. I feel like I found a way to make it all work in one show without having to wear an electric studded speedo.
When that’s done, what’s next?
We plan to tour this record for a while. Crazy as it was, we recorded so many songs that there’s probably a whole other record in there. I look forward to working on some new things as well – maybe a very quiet record, and maybe a very physical record that I can move to and jump around a bit. Like many, I like both kinds of music – country and western, rock n roll.
Jesse Malin and Joseph Arthur play with Trapper Schoepp at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, October 16 at the Roxy.

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