Kyp Malone seemingly had it all. But somehow, playing guitar and singing for TV on the Radio, contributing
to Iran’s Dissolver album,
producing the meaty second album from fellow Brooklynite Miles
Benjamin Anthony Robinson and owning one of indie rock’s most
bountiful faces of hair was still was not enough. Under the Rain Machine
moniker, Malone finally captures the songs that are entirely his own,
pulling together broken blues, banjo folk and his soul-tearing voice
on the self-titled set. Just before he headed out to rehearse with
his touring band, Pastehis work and what it was like agreeing to a beard massage from Stephen Colbert.
Paste:well enough with TV on the Radio that it must have been hard to find
time to get this solo project going.
Kyp Malone: It's a pretty
privileged concern to have. The band became its own entity beyond
anyone's expectations, and stopped really belonging to us because it
succeeded by a lot of definitions. I feel like everyone in the band
was wondering when they were going to do other work, even though it's
awesome that people are interested enough in us that it would take
that much time. Still, life is short. There're a lot of other avenues
of exploration and things to do. I in no way want to seem ungrateful.
I can't stress enough how blessed I feel to have found that creative
family. I look forward to doing another record in the future. I'm
preparing to do the live thing, but I'm happy to have a break, for
sure. I know I'm not alone. It's been a long time.
Paste: What else made it
the right time to put out a solo album?
Malone: I really was greatly
enabled by producer Ian Brennan. There were periods where I had more
time than when I went into the studio with Ian. It was because he
approached me, and said, "Let's go into the studio," that it
happened. I feel like two-and-a-half, three weeks over the course of
a year was a generous amount of time to make a record by a lot of
people's standards, but it was really quick for me. Ideally, I'm going
to figure out how to write in a disciplined way outside of the
studio. It's just that every time I get into the studio, it seems
like the place to write, even if we have prepared stuff. I just
grabbed what was in front of me. We did a track, I picked up another
instrument, we did a track, I picked up another instrument.
Paste: Is there
heightened pressure in the studio?
Malone: Not at all. It just
feels like it's a place to create. Often times you're bringing in
stuff that you've already been sitting with for a while. So you feel
like you're creating. I really like being in the studio. It's not
dependent on it, but I hope this record does well enough that I can
continue to go back in. Now I've made more records in the studio than
the living room, having to wait for the bus to pass. Not that I
necessarily want to go back to that. I'm doing all this prep now,
press and rehearsing a band, but I'd rather be just in the studio
making another record.
Paste: How does your
daughter Isabelle influence your songwriting?
Malone: If I'm concerned about
an audience, I'd say that she's pretty easy on me. Using her as a
barometer, well, she's pretty open-minded. If she doesn't like
something I'm doing, then generally I should point it in another
Paste: What will she say
if she isn't feeling what you're playing?
Malone: Sometimes just that it's
boring. It's funny. It's not whether she likes something or not.
Often times, the thing that bothers her is that she can't get it out
of her head. She doesn't like hooks. She would like to listen to
music when she's able to not carry it around all the time. If it's
something she can't get out of her head, I know that it's got a hook.
I don't want to give the impression that I have her in a chair as a
test-marketing group. It's much more casual. But she's someone who
has an opinion I value, and she's mine.
Paste: There are a lot of
emotional shifts in this work compared to your intense solo
performances of the past.
Malone: I hope so. I think that
creative work, music in particular, is a conveyor of inner emotional
life. I don't feel one way all the time, so I don't want my music to
feel the same way all the time. There's more variation on the album
on the album than rockers and ballads, it's more elastic than that.
Paste: How did you decide
which songs you would hold for this project?
Malone:stuff I made for TV on the Radio, I write in the studio. These are a
couple of songs that I've written outside of the context of being in
the studio. There's also a direction that I like to go that I have a
hard time getting anyone to follow in TV on the Radio. So those songs
are ones I keep for myself.
Paste: How did you decide
to tour with a band?
Malone: I thought about just
touring solo, but I didn't make that kind of record. When I tried to
play those songs by myself, it felt like not giving them the full
due. I really don't want to use a sampler. Sometimes I play with a
loop pedal, but I'd much rather create a modular performance and
retain the elements. I can sit and listen to someone play guitar, and
I'm pretty well engrossed, but I also find myself often listening to
someone play guitar at a crowded bar and finding myself more
distracted and pissed off by the people yelling in the back who
aren't really engaged. I wanna avoid getting into it with people who
are loud or distracting.
Paste: Is a rain machine
the thing they use in movies to make rain?
Malone:arbitrary place. TV on the Radio's name is completely arbitrary.
Paste: Tell me about
producing Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson’s new album Summer of
Fear (Saddle Creek).
Malone: He's definitely one of
my favorite musicians going right now. I really like that record. I
think his writing is great. I really like what we ended up doing and
I can't wait to make another record. I think it'll be even better.
Paste: What drew you to
work with him?
Malone: I knew about a bunch of
the things that were happening in his life that were in the songs,
and I appreciated the stuff he was listening to, what was inspiring
him musically. I really wanted it to be a record. Almost as bad as he
wanted it to be a record. I would do it again in the future.
Regardless of my involvement, I would love to be checking out what
he's doing for a long time.
Paste:moments of TV on the Radio's appearance on The Colbert Report
earlier this year was Stephen reaching over and stroking your beard.
Did you feel violated?
Malone: He asked me. Being on TV
maybe changed things a little bit. I don't know why exactly it does,
but it does. It seemed like it would make it more compelling to say
yes than to say no. We had talked a little bit beforehand. I like him
as a satirist, but he also seemed like a very good person. It was
very comfortable to be around him backstage. He wasn't some drunk
girl who had never touched black hair before pulling on my
face outside of a bar.