Lightnin Malcolm is a Mississippi based blues musician who has performed with everyone from Big Jack Johnson, T Model Ford and Sam Carr to name just a few. Lightnin’s newest solo album “Rough Out There” which features the grandson of T Model Ford on drums was released recently and has been garnering a lot of attention from the blues world. Media Mikes spoke with Lightnin recently about his writing style and what he likes most about the new album.
Adam Lawton: Can you give us some info on your latest album “Rough Out There”?
Lightnin Malcolm: The album features 14 new songs and is a little over an hour’s worth of music. The record is primarily duo music with guitar and drums. It’s what we like to call stompin’ music and it’s for people who want to just get up and have a good time. The words are kind of serious so the music is a combination of things. There are parts that will make you think and parts that will take your mind off things and let you just enjoy and have a good time.
AL: How does this album differ from your previous work?
LM: I love all of my albums as they are like children to me so it’s hard to compare them or pick one over the other. I think this latest one has shown my growth as a musician especially my work as a song writer. I have T Model Ford’s grandson Stud playing drums on this album and he is just dynamite. There are horns on a few of the tracks as well as slide guitar which were done by Luther Dickinson. Luther is probably one of the best slide guitar players in the world. Even though we are normally just a two piece we have been adding a lot of things lately. The cores of our songs are based on the rhythm of the guitar and the drums. I think with each album I am getting better at getting my message across through my songs.
AL: What type of writing process do you use?
LM: It all really depends as I have written a lot of songs. A lot of times is just comes out of nowhere. There have been times where I have been out somewhere and had to ask to barrow some ones phone so that I could call my phone just to sing a line or hum a melody in to my voice mail. I don’t want to forget it because I may come up with 3 songs that I think are the best thing I have ever written. Then I come with 3 more songs. I am always out on the road as I get to live a unique life and see a lot of things. I think that plays a big part in how and what I write songs about.
AL: Were all the songs on the new album ones that were recently written or are they older songs that have been around for some time?
LM: Some of them are brand new and some of them have been kicking around for 10 or 15 years in my head. It’s real easy for me to write songs but when it comes down to picking what will be on the album is when it becomes difficult. There are just so many directions in which you can go. I have a new group of songs I have been working on recently that are very serious but I am not sure I want to put all of those on the same album because I don’t want it to be a downer or anything. I want every record to be a party record. No matter how serious a record might be I want the end result to be uplifting.
AL: How did you go about connecting with the players you have on the album?
LM: I have known these guys for a long time now. I play with The North Mississippi All-Stars and have met and become friends with guys through that. Stud our drummer I have known since he’s was 1 when I used to drum for his grandfather T model Ford. He was practically sitting in my lap while I was up there playing by the time he was 3 or 4. He knows what kind of sound I like and the drive I am looking for. Along with what I like he has created his own sound which is really great. Most of the people on this album are guys I go way back with and we are like family.
AL: Are there any songs off the new record that you really enjoy playing live?
LM: Man I like them all! “Reality Check” is a nice two piece song that is challenging to do live as it is just guitar and drums. There is nothing else going on in that song. That really shows off our two piece style. Over the years I have played some big shows just as a two piece so I learned how to pull off songs as a two piece even though they weren’t written that way and never thought they would be performed that way. Now I am not afraid to try anything as I have continued to develop my sound. “Reality Check” is a challenging one that people love and “My Life’s a Wreck” is one of my favorites as well. I love playing all of my material.
AL: Can you tell us about your current tour?
LM: We are currently in the middle of a 40 date tour. We have been down through Texas up to Colorado and over to Arkansas. Stud and I are always out on the road. When these dates wrap up I will be back out on the road doing double duty with the North Memphis All Stars. I will be opening those shows along with performing with the All-Stars. After that I have a few days off and then head overseas for about 4 weeks of shows there. I am constantly on tour through November.