Pure Rawk Awards 2013: “Ukuleles, Danish Pastries and World Domination” – exclusive with the Great Malarkey
Since barreling out of East London a couple of years ago, it’s safe to say that the Great Malarkey have been making some serious waves both on the live circuit and with their highly recommended debut album “Badly Stuffed Animals”. Combining elements of punk, folk, East European music and a lot more besides, their profile has been building quickly. We were pretty damn stoked when they agreed to play our Awards show which is on Friday 8th March at the Boston Music Room in North London.
In the Awards build-up, yours truly was lucky enough to be able to grab a few words via e-mail with the Malarkey’s none-more-charismatic singer Alex Ware-Woolf about the album, touring, Scandinavia, Gumtree, festivals and a lot more besides. Read on to find out more…
PR: For the uninitiated, can you give us a bit of background on the band history and how you got together?
ALEX: The Great Malarkey didn’t so much get together as fall together! We are a concoction of friends of friends and Gumtree users! Myself and Joni (Belaruski, drums) were hanging out at J Roni Mo’s (Urban Voodoo Machine drummer) house whinging about not being in bands and after several hours we had the remarkable brainwave of starting our own (quick off the mark us!). We immediately rang Aidan (fiddle) who I had shared a flat with and whacked some ads on Gumtree. A few weeks later, the Malarkeys were born and the mayhem commenced.
PR: The Great Malarkey definitely have a very unique sound, can you tell us how you arrived at it? What are your main influences?
ALEX: We are all influenced by so many bands individually. For me, the band that made me want to play again was The Dead Brothers. If you haven’t heard them, do so immediately – they pretty much changed my life! As a band though, we have a lot of bands that we admire and respect, like Beirut, Tom Waits, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Jim Jones Revue and we’ve met some amazing bands along the way such as Rafven, Dingus Khan, Hallouminati and The Penny Black Remedy.
As far as our sound is concerned, a song is written, we jam it out at rehearsal, add a healthy ethos of ‘no holds barred’ and end up with what we’ve got. You can hear all of our personalities in each song, which I think is awesome. It’s hard to put us into a genre because we don’t fit neatly into any of them. Musically, there are no rules and no boundaries with the Malarkeys and for me, that’s what it should all be about.
PR: Your debut album “Badly Stuffed Animals” has been out for a couple of months now. You recorded it on the back of having a reputation as a storming live band. Were you worried about how the sound was going to translate on to record (especially with there being so many elements to the band’s sound) and are you happy with how it’s turned out?
ALEX: We were really worried that we would let people down by not achieving the energy of our live performance! The beauty of doing an album is that it gives you the chance to lay stuff down that you may not necessarily play live, which we really enjoy doing, yet at the same time getting down some of the stonkers that we do live. I think we got the best of The Great Malarkey on our debut album, we’re not always a balls to the walls band, but when we are, you’re not gonna stand still and all of it is on Badly Stuffed Animals!
PR: So are you happy with the critical reception that the album’s got?
ALEX: We really are. No one is going to honestly be able to tell you that putting yourself out there on an album is easy. You’re voluntarily stripping off, shoving a feather up your arse and running through the town centre! Honestly, we are well chuffed but mostly, we’re relieved!
PR: Recently, you’ve started taking the live show out of London and around the country, how have you found this?
ALEX: To be honest, gigging out of town is bloody brilliant. There’s so many great venue’s all over. I guess a stand out venue that never disappoints is The Maze in Nottingham. They have a night there called Muzika. They provide plenty of booze, a great crowd and a great in-house team, lovely! Hare and Hounds in Birmingham is amazing too.
PR: You’ve also managed to get over to Denmark for a few shows and festivals, how have they taken to the Great Malarkey over there?
ALEX: Scandinavia as a whole has been awesome for TGM but Denmark has become a second home to us (a sentence I never thought I’d say!). We’ve met some amazing people and had some blinding shows, including playing at a Gymnastics school! We have been played on national radio and been invited back to venues and festivals, always being welcomed and accommodated. It’s been such a positive experience. We are returning in July and August to do a few shows which we are really looking forward to. Bring on the pastries!!
PR: You managed to get on the bill at some pretty good festivals last year including Bearded Theory, Bestival and the Boomtown Fair. Is playing festivals something you enjoy and do you have any festival-based plans for this summer?
ALEX: Festivals we’ve done so far have been just flat out brilliant. Its absolute mayhem from the minute you arrive but it’s so worth it when you jump on stage. There’s an atmosphere that you just don’t get anywhere other than a festival. We have big plans for this year, all will be revealed soon.
PR: You even managed to get a gig at the Olympic Park during that big sporting event in Stratford last summer – how did that come about?
ALEX: We have a great agent Mr Adrian Smith over at 7music who gave us a bell and said “Olympics, fancy it?!”, we said “yeah!”. We ended up accidentally playing some ukulele with the Hallouminati boys to David Cameron… but that’s another story…
PR: You’re playing the Pure Rawk awards in a couple of weeks – are you looking forward to it?
ALEX: YES! We really do love you guys and had a blast at last year’s awards so to be playing it this year is marvellous and Teenage Cancer Trust is such a great cause to do it for. We promise a stonker of a show!
PR: Finally, what are the band’s plans for 2013?
ALEX: World domination.
So now you’ve read it, why not come along to the Awards on March 8th and witness the full-on chaos of the Great Malarkey for yourself – you sure as hell won’t be disappointed – last few tickets available at www.purerawkawards.com