MIKE MALININ - GOO GOO DOLLS
Goo Goo Dolls release their tenth studio album, entitled 'Magnetic', on May 7th. One thing that we find magnetic is that drummer Mike Malinin is particularly caring and compassionate. He's vegan and against cruelty to animals. He kindly took time out to chat with SaveAScream about how he thinks Peter Singer is an amazing person, how he'd love to run 471 miles (even if it took him longer than six days) and what he'd most like fans to take from him.
By Shari Black Velvet
Shari Black Velvet: Goo Goo Dolls' new album 'Magnetic' is out soon. How was your personal experience of the recording of it? As the drummer, did you do anything different this time around, drum-wise?
Mike Malinin: Since different producers were used, I ended up recording drums in three different studios. Two in Los Angeles and one in New York. The approach is always slightly different depending on the producer, so I had to be in the right mindset each time. And we used more loops than usual, so it was interesting working around those.
SBV: Back when you first joined Goo Goo Dolls, what was it that made you want to join the band?
MM: I had been a fan of the band ever since I heard their first album in 1987. I even bought "Jed" and "Hold Me Up" as soon as they were released. I somehow missed the release of "Superstar Carwash," so I probably bought that about a month after it came out. But you get the point. I was huge fan of the band long before I ever met them.
SBV: What do you most admire about your fellow bandmates?
MM: The fact that they came out of Buffalo and turned this into a career. And the fact that they are still at it. Their work ethic is admirable, to say the least.
SBV: 'Bulletproof Angel' is a particularly epic-sounding song, with orchestration. Some of the band's biggest hits, such as 'Iris' also featured orchestration. Do you think having an orchestral feel can really boost a song?
MM: In the right cases, yes. But you have to be careful. Too many strings or too much orchestration can bury the wrong kind of song.
SBV: You also have a side project, Forty Marshas, and have released two albums. You write a lot of the lyrics as well as the music. Songs include 'Best Of Enemies', 'Falling Down' and (probably our fave song on the 'In Other Words...' album) 'Never Coming Back'. Tell us about that.
MM: Forty Marshas was a project I started in 2007 just for fun. I have always been a huge indie rock fan, and I wanted to do something outside of the Goos that reflected that. I really like the stuff we have recorded, especially the album "In Other Words...". I did write most of it, but much of it was also a collaboration with some friends. And I'm glad you like "Never Coming Back"!
SBV: The album is experimental in places. Can you tell us about 'Nothing Is Real', for example, which features a variety of weird and wonderful sounds?
MM: Haha! The inspiration from that song actually came from a Daniel Johnston phrase from his album "Songs Of Pain." He complained that nothing is real anymore. I tend to agree. So I stole some lines from him, and then I was musically inspired by a song called "America Is Waiting" by Brian Eno & David Byrne. And it somehow coalesced into what you hear in the song. We recorded the instruments and then spent some time screwing them up on a computer. That was a fun song to record.
SBV: 'You can take everything from me' Johnny sings in 'Rebel Beat'. If fans were to take something from you (metaphorically speaking), what would you like them to take from you? Is there anything you'd like them to learn/know/feel?
MM: Wow. Deep question! I've never really thought about it. I suppose I hope that people find the music worth listening to. And that it's not impossible to be happy and to try and live your dreams.
SBV: You're vegan. When did you first realise the cruelty that goes on to animals and decide to become vegetarian/vegan?
MM: Careful! I could talk about this all day! I have always been aware of many of the issues with the food industry. I think I just blew it off for so long because it felt so hopeless. As Amy Ray once said to me, "If I couldn't kill it, I shouldn't eat it." I completely agree. And I think it is morally wrong to eat meat. So one day I just stopped for good. It's the right thing to do. I didn't want to be a part of an incredibly vicious and cruel industry anymore. So I'm not.
SBV: Have you ever toured with any other vegans?
MM: I don't think so. I have toured with a few vegetarians. I believe that Ben from Lifehouse has never had a bite of meat in his whole life. And I think Colbie Caillat may be a vegetarian. Not sure who else that we've toured with. Is Tony Kanal veg? I think he might be.
SBV: I believe he is, yes.
SBV: How is catering on tour? Is there a decent amount of vegan food on the rider? What vegan food do you usually request?
MM: I usually fend for myself. But this time around the caterers are going to be required to have a vegan option available. So we'll see how it goes.
SBV: You visited Veggie Grill for the first time earlier this month. I visited Veggie Grill for the first time when I was in LA last September. Awesome place... I would love to see a Veggie Grill opening in every city - since I think it's the closest vegan alternative to the likes of McDonalds and KFC - ie. fastfood - but much healthier and cruelty-free. What are your thoughts? What would you say to any meat eating fans that haven't visited a Veggie Grill - or vegan diner in general?
MM: I love Veggie Grill. I will eat there often. It seems like great vegan restaurants are beginning to pop up all over the country. The UK seems slightly ahead in that regard, but it's getting better in the US. I think a huge number of people are sympathetic to the vegetarian/vegan cause, but are just lazy or feel hopeless. That was my problem for years. I think non-vegetarians need to really pay attention to where their food is coming from. It's easy to ignore, but the reality is terrible. There are laws being passed in America right now that make it illegal to film any meat production in certain states. Do you really think they should be hiding how your food is being made? There is an organization called Farm Sanctuary that I encourage everybody to check out. They rescue abused and neglected farm animals and give them a chance for an actual life. They are sensitive, feeling creatures, and they are individuals. And meat is not necessary for the survival of humans anymore. The excuse "I like meat too much" just doesn't cut it. I love the taste of meat. I still crave a steak now and again. But I don't eat it because it is simply a terrible thing to do.
SBV: You read a lot of books. Which vegan-related book would you most advise others to read?
MM: "The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter" by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. Peter Singer is an amazing person, and Richard Dawkins has called him "the most moral person I've ever met." I highly recommend it. It will horrify you, and hopefully change your life. I find many of Peter Singer's arguments for veganism to be irrefutable. You can ignore them if you so choose, but that doesn't change the fact that he is right.
SBV: You're an extreme runner. When did you do your first marathon - or ultra marathon - and what urged you to start running ultra marathons?
MM: I ran my first marathon in 1994. I quickly became interested in attempting ultra-marathons. I think I ran my first 50K and 50 miler in 1997. I ran my first 100 miler in 2001. To date I have finished four 100 milers, and I'm hoping to complete a few more. I love it. Not sure why. I think most ultra-runners don't really know why they do it. I suppose it's just to see if they can.
SBV: In the UK, Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary owner Fiona Oakes is a vegan marathon/ultra-marathon runner. In 2012 she completed the Marathon des Sables, a 154 mile race across the Sahara Desert. What's been the hardest race you've ran? And also, longest?
MM: That's a famous race. I would love to do it someday, but I don't know if I'll ever have the chance. I am still ready for more challenges. I would love to run a 6-day race someday. Essentially, those races are loop courses, and you run as far as you can in 6 days. A friend of mine once ran 471 miles in six days. So that would be my goal. But I'd be happy to just do it, no matter what the result.
SBV: You're touring with Matchbox Twenty soon. Rob Thomas has a kind heart and has his own Sidewalk Angels Foundation which helps people in need as well as abandoned animals. I imagine you two would bond well over your desire to stop animal cruelty. Thoughts? Have you met the MB20 guys before?
MM: I've never met them. I don't know that much about Rob, but I hear he's a nice guy. If he's not a vegetarian, I'll try to work on him this summer!
SBV: Would you ever start your own foundation like Rob?
MM: I can't ever see myself in a position where starting a foundation would be a useful enterprise. I'm happy to work for other, already existing non-profit groups. Some of my favorites are Farm Sanctuary, Compassion Over Killing, and any quality local animal shelter.
SBV: Is there one form of animal cruelty you'd like to stop more than any other?
MM: Factory Farming. I think it's a given that the world will not stop eating meat anytime soon. But something as ridiculously cruel and unnecessary as factory farming needs to come to an end. It's beyond reprehensible. And I do believe it can be brought to an end in my lifetime.
SBV: I love that you support the Green Party. Although as with in the UK, most people tend to keep voting for the same couple of main parties. Why is that? You recently tweeted 'All this "political debate" means very little when held between two broken, exclusionary parties. Consider going @GPUS or @LPNational.' What benefits do you think the US would have if the Green Party took over?
MM: The fact that the US is run exclusively by two parties in ridiculous. In the UK, you have quite a few minority parties that have a say in things, however slight some of it may be. Not so over here. A friend of mine in England is actually an MP, and he rightfully scoffs at how broken US politics seems to be. I would love to see not just the Green Party, but the Libertarian Party grow as well. More voices would necessarily lead to more compromise, which would hopefully lead to more things being accomplished. I voted Democrat for years just to vote against the other guys. But I can't live so pessimistically anymore. Now I support the Green Party because their platform tends to run closer to my own political beliefs. Hopefully we can grow and have a say in the near future.
And check out www.farmsanctuary.org for more info on Farm Sanctuary.
Watch the lyric video for 'Rebel Beat' from new album 'Magnetic':