Bedouin Soundclash creates 'street gospel

Popular band continues success of eclectic funk sound

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Bedouin Soundclash

CLASHING STYLES AND SOUNDS. Bedouin Soundclash is (from left to right) drummer Pat Pengelly, vocalist-guitarist Jay Malinowski and bassist Eon Sinclair.

Two summers ago, wherever you went, somebody was listening to Bedouin Soundclash’s “When the Night Feels My Song.”

Even your mom was probably singing along with it while driving in her minivan; however, Bedouin Soundclash’s Jay Malinowski doesn’t mind.

“It opened us up to a massive audience that we never really had access to before,” says Malinowski, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist. “Sure, there are people who only know us by that song and might write us off for it, but I don’t see its success as a negative thing.

“It’s weird hearing yourself on JackFM or those kind of stations though.”

Bedouin Soundclash formed in 2001 at Queen’s University. The band’s 2004 album, Sounding a Mosaic, skyrocketed it into the mainstream. The band just finished recording its latest disc in Woodstock, New York.

“Woodstock is a strange town,” Malinowski says. “Actually, it’s pretty unique. There are all these artists and musicians hanging around from old bands, or just doing their own thing.

“We really just went into the studio for two weeks and got it all done. I had written most of the songs beforehand, so it was easy to just go in there and start recording right away.

“Locking yourself away for two weeks can be really effective because there are no distractions; everyone is focused solely on the record [and] there aren’t any other projects getting in the way.”

The new album is influenced by several musical styles.

“I’m always listening to a lot of different music, but I really got into gospel music and sort of ‘country-reggae’ for this record,” Malinowski says. “I was really inspired by [gospel music]. There are a lot of beautiful harmonies and passion behind the music itself.

“There is a lot of hollowness in modern music these days. There’s something real about singing about your god or singing to whatever gods people believe in.”

Malinowski says the gospel influence won’t turn Bedouin Soundclash into a Christian-rock band.

“I’m a pretty secular person, and so are most of my friends,” he says. “I’ve never really been religious. It’s more in the attitude the music takes.

“The lyrics I wrote for this album are more like street gospels " everyday things people realize while just walking around the city.”

Malinowski isn’t worried about how the band’s musical growth will be received.

“I’ve got no concept of what [listeners] expect. As a band, we never want to record the same song twice, and I think we avoided that on the new album.”

Malinowski, who studied fine arts, created the album’s artwork.

“It’s just part of the whole package for me,” he says. “Doing the artwork is a part of the whole process. I’ve always been doing art, ever since we started the band in first-year [university]. I want the art to reflect on what we’re doing with the music.”

The band is starting its own label this year.

“We’ve wanted to do this for a while,” Malinowski says. “It allows us to gain some more control over what we’re doing. The label is called Pirate’s Blend. We will be putting out stuff from Vernon Maytones and releasing a Bad Brains/Bedouin Soundclash mash-up as well.”

Bedouin Soundclash plays The Wave March 3.

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