With a tagline of “Get ready for the new Revolution..”; The Simple Radicals are a band that makes it clear they have a purpose behind all the riffs. Founded in Chicago, Illinois, by John Malkin (lead vocals / guitar) and John Griffin (lead guitar / vocals), the band captures the passion and energy of their collective musical experience, with different tastes, sounds, and styles. The music they create is pure, visceral rock ‘n’ roll – poignant, from the heart, topical and direct. Their latest video “Rich Man Wanna Be King” is a scathing critique of possibly our least favorite human ever – Donald J. Trump, and is sure to start a fight when you play it around your Aunt Karen at your next family dinner. Enjoy the world premiere of the video & an interview with the band below!
Tell us about the creative process for the video. The intention and subject matter is pretty obvious (and awesome), but give us some more info about how you managed to create this in the middle of a pandemic with all the disruption going on!
The songwriting and creative process for “Rich Man Wanna Be King” was very fluid and rapid. I wrote the entire song in about an hour, recorded the scratch and sent it to the rest of the band. They loved it and laid down their parts and I went into Factory Underground Studios in Norwalk, CT to lay down the final vocals and my guitar parts. Once it was finished, we were going to release it as a standalone song but suddenly I had this flourish of ideas of how this would look as a video. I mean there are so many things that Trump has done over the last four years that it was so easy to come up with unique ways of expressing the intent and meaning of the song in a humorous yet candid way . He really thinks he is king which was perfect for coming up with the crown, scepter and cape. And the incident in front of the church. And the water glass. Etc. Whether you like him or not he certainly has provided a lot of visual material to work with. I took the concept to Factory Underground studio and worked with John Shyloski who shot and edited the video and also came up with some great visuals. The band was in Chicago so I actually played each part in the “band of Trumps” and John did an amazing job of editing it all together in a seamless way. And we did this all safe distanced of course!
Do you guys think alternative / punk bands have a “civic duty” to write protest music? Regardless of what side you’re on, it’s clear that music is a great way to communicate a point. Did you feel compelled to use your platform to talk about something important to you, and do you feel like more bands SHOULD be doing that?
Protest and cause music has been around for decades and there are many artists today who are very vocal about political, environmental and social causes. One of my favorite musicians, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, is a classic example of that. Our band The Simple Radicals are not shy to express what we believe in. We try to convey and capture to our fans what’s really going on in society with poignant lyrics and straight-from-the-heart energy. In fact, the title track and video to our album “New Revolution” is about using the power of one’s voice to elicit peaceful change and action. No “bombs or bullets by our side” as the lyrics state. The song was released last year and we had no idea that it would resonate so closely to what is going on in the streets today. And while “Rich Man Wanna Be King” is a somewhat humorous and candid statement about Trump, you can certainly insert other politicians in that video. From both sides of the aisle. There are many good politicians but there are also some that are self-dealing, opportunistic, and personally disgusting in many ways. At the end of the day, I think it’s entirely up to the band if they want to use their platform to express their views. If they think it’s important then do it.
What future plans does your band have, musically and otherwise?
This was going to be a huge year for us. We got invited to play two showcases at SXSW, play fests with Jefferson Starship, Molly Hatchet, Puddle of Mudd, Blackfoot, play a great gig in Chicago, etc. And then the apocalypse hit. Hopefully it improves enough or there is a safe vaccine so we can play live again. Now that “Rich Man Wanna Be King” is out, we’re going to soon release a wicked cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”. We collaborated with an incredible husband and wife team called Che-Val on that song. We also have another quarantine video to our song “The Optimist”. We have a podcast called “Music & A Brew” that will soon launch where we interview musicians over a cold beer. We already did one with world-class drummer Kenny Aronoff and Todd Sucherman who drums for Styx. We also interviewed Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Daxx Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and Howard Stern’s former sidekick and joke writer, Jackie “the Joke Man” Martling. And we’re working on new material. Lots going on. But we hope to play live again sooner than later.
Anything we should know about you guys that we haven’t covered?
We consider ourselves a “retro-rock and roll” band that combines sounds and styles from some of our favorite classic rock bands like Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Cheap Trick. And we love seeing that more and more people are discovering us and enjoying our music. Thank you! People can access our music through our website (www.thesimpleradicals.com) as well as on Spotify, Apple and Amazon. And please follow us on Facebook (The Simple Radicals), Twitter (@SimpleRadicals), Instagram (simpleradicals), and YouTube (The Simple Radicals).