Interview: Bedouin Soundclash on Coming Full-Circle

We Will Meet In A Hurricane, out now on Dine Alone Records, brings the Canadian duo of Jay Malinowski and Eon Sinclair full-circle.

“We were in the middle of the pandemic, so there was logistically no getting together. You couldn’t do something like we’d done on the last record where we had, like, 25 people in a studio in New Orleans. This was just us going back to basics where we recorded out here in Victoria, and it was pretty laid-back. We would spend one week in the studio every month and be writing together. Eon flew out here and was living out here for a bit. We just sort of started collecting songs. Because it felt like the world was kind of just on pause anyway, there was no, like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna make an album.’ We just started building slowly until we had 14, 15 songs. It was pretty laid-back. It wasn’t that same kind of crunch feeling that we usually have when we’re writing.”

Currently, he’s in British Columbia with his family and young child. There’s audible goings-on in the background. “If I seem a little bit distracted, it’s my son screaming,” Malinowski laughs. “It’s a whole new thing. It’s tiring. But both me and my wife have toured a lot as musicians. So it’s kind of like being on tour all the time. You’re not sure if you’ll get sleep. If you do, you’re really happy. But it’s amazing. It’s the best thing that’s happened in either of our lives.”

Turning to music and the new songs, Malinowski and Sinclair still tap back to their mutual love and appreciation for reggae, but the vibes they write are uniquely theirs. “We don’t consider—because those words are so loaded when it comes to genre—ourselves reggae or ska. We come from a tradition of late ’70’s and ’80’s punk rock and early ’80’s reggae, how it fused together in that scene. We’re not a ska band at all. We’re not a reggae band either. ‘We have those elements; there’s some elements to what we do. I don’t know; we just sort of play the world that we like to live in.”

The world they live in is influenced by the bands they loved growing up, bands who also created a world around themselves. “The Clash was a great example,” Malinowski explains. “They created an entire world; it wasn’t just the record. They had visuals; you could get inside their world. And there were so many influences, from rockabilly, to dub music, to surf music, but it was The Clash. With our band, I think that we try to create a world of, like, ‘Hey, these are all our influences, whether they’re folk, whether it’s reggae, some world music, whatever it is.’ And we try to create something that is distinctly ours. Something that you’d say, ‘Oh, that sounds like Bedouin Soundclash, but it’s not really defined by our genre.”

What does the world around Malinowski look, sound, and feel like? It’s broad and big with duality. He tries to dial it in:

“How do I see the world? I have no idea. It changes every day. I think that lyrically, I tend to be a bit more cryptic. I think that some things that are harder to—that aren’t just straight ahead, (that) have more than one meaning, and I like that. I also think that every song is different. I generally find I like taking things that are maybe certain ways of saying something and then using the sayings. So there’s a familiar part to it, and then making it a little bit poetic as well.”

One of the tracks Malinowski’s proudest of is the title track, “We Will Meet In A Hurricane.” Malinowski says it’s a good example of how Bedouin Soundclash work together.

“Actually, it was this song that we had kind of had the basics of. We’d forgotten about it. We were demoing stuff before a tour (that) we were doing in 2009 with No Doubt, and we recorded it. I had the verse and the chorus. Actually, our manager, Piers was like, ‘Hey, do you guys have any old demos?’ He listened through, and he found this, and he’s like, ‘Hey, this is a good song.’ We’ve forgotten about it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ I love the way it came together. A group effort going back through time and finding something.”

Family influenced this record too. He started looking back while writing We Will Meet In A Hurricane. He wasn’t just looking back at old songs they had written, but himself as a person, too. He talks about new fatherhood and closing old books.

“Lyrically, in my personal life, I just had a kid. I was sort of looking back on my life in a chapter before having children. I think a lot of the lyrics sort of reference, in a good way, the themes of wrapping up a certain chapter of my life. I guess I was thinking a lot about a lot of the things that you deal, at least in my own life, that I dealt with certain themes. I realize I can look back and be like, ‘Oh, I was dealing with that when I was, like, 5 years old, 6 years old.’ Then, I loved music or whatever, whatever those aspirations were or fears were. They have larger ramifications later in life, and the same kind of story repeating over and over again in your life.”

Malinowski further explains:

“The idea of We Will Meet In A Hurricane is that we’ll meet ourselves again in some sort of way in life. For me, I as playing in a band, I started drinking really heavily when I was in my 20s and stuff. At this point, I’m five years sober. So there’s times to reflect and say, ‘Oh, there’s certain fears and things that I would do in my life.’ Whether it was, I always wanted to play on the stage, what comes with that too, is a lot of pressure—I think as that type of personality also seems to be prone to alcohol abuse and drug abuse. So those kinds of things I could kind of look back on and be like, ‘OK, that’s something that I could see coming.’ The only person who can face that problem is yourself, not somebody else.”

If Malinowski is coming full-circle, lyrics like, “We’ll burn it just to build it again,” a line from “Walk Through Fire” (feat. Aimee Interrupter), are a perfect example of songwriting that shows Bedouin Soundclash are building on the sound of previous records and also creating something new. There’s a lot of new goings-on to detail. Malinowski elaborates:

“We’d have these tracks finished. Whether it was with Amy (Allen) or Marcia (Richards) from The Skints or Ashleigh (Ball) from Hey Ocean, we reached out, said, ‘Hey, you’d sound awesome on this track.’ Amy, we knew from a tour we did together. We toured with the Interrupters in 2018 in California. And then we’ve known Marcia from The Skints for a very long time. We kind of all knew the people that we asked, and it kind of turned out. We just sort of felt like they fit the track. We we’d send it over and see if they’re interested.”

He’s excited, and with the finished album soon to hit the world, Malinowski is also ready to get back out into the world. He says:

“We love being on stage now. We’re grateful. I think that’s the difference. We’re grateful to play music. When we get to play to people, and it makes them happy, it’s something that we’re really grateful for.”

We Will Meet In A Hurricane has a lot in common with Sounding a Mosaic—But as much as it may, it’s a more mature point of view. Bedouin Soundclash have grown the world they live in with Malinowski’s songwriting themes while still being uplifting and joyous. He concludes by saying:

“I would actually have to say it’s full-circle. If I think of what we were like in 2005, I was like, ‘Well we’re not gonna write a record that’s the same as that one.’ I feel like this is the full-circle album—where it’s the closest to what our early stuff was like.”

Follow the band here.

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