Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is the self-released single “Bubble Bobble” by Mal De Mer.
The Seattle Band Map is an interesting project that charts the interconnectivity of our Seattle music scene. It’s more than just a project that will let you find out just how your band could be related to Nirvana, Modest Mouse, or the Fleet Foxes (a la the six degrees of Kevin Bacon in the movie world). It also shows the musical migration of this city’s talented musicians as they hop from band to band, genre to genre, scene to scene throughout the years.
One of the more interesting mile markers on the map is a relatively new band made up of veteran Seattle performers whose roots trace back to the nineties. Mal De Mer is the new project of former teen rocker Michael Lee (Subminute Radio) who collected a talented group of friends to form a catchy as heck quartet and started playing around town last year. The unpretentious super group is made up of Lee, Lesli Wood (Ms Led and The Redwood Plan), Jimmy Curran (The Divorce), and Eric Wennberg (Slender Means). Today’s song is hitting stores next month as a 7” single but is already available digitally.
Michael Lee took a moment to talk about the group’s inception, their new video, and what’s next for them.
You took a break from playing music, what made decide to get back into writing/playing music?
Hmm, all I can say is that it happened pretty unwittingly. I grew up playing in bands all over the place as a kid and never really stopped playing music, but just hit a point where I needed to regroup. I can’t pinpoint the time but one day that just ceased to be the case. I wrote a bunch of music, threw a some away, and the keepers became the first Mal de Mer tunes.
You guys have all known each other for a while right? Do you remember how you all met?
The Crocodile Cafe would definitely serve as the geographical epicenter if you had to choose one. I worked as a bartender there for seven years and met a ton of incredible people and fantastic musicians, including Jimmy, Lesli and Eric. The nature of that environment was pretty inspiring.
How did you come together for this project?
I had some songs and these guys were friendly so I just asked them. Jimmy was my co-worker and bassist for The Divorce, Eric was a staple from Slender Means’ frequent perfomances at the Croc and Lesli’s affinity for a post-performance whiskey quickly acquainted us at the bar. An early incarnation of the band actually played Lesli’s wedding last year and after that we knew we had something special. “Ask and you shall receive” was pretty much the situation.
What can you tell me about “Bubble Bobble?”
It was one of the principle tunes on a batch of demos I recorded last year and seemed like a nice introduction for Mal de Mer to the public. “Bubble Bobble” was its name as a placeholder and it sorta just stuck. The song changed a bit with the addition of everyone’s input, as is always the case, but the spirit of the original is fully intact I think. We have fun playing it and I think that translates to tape.
How did the idea for the video come about?
Idea? It was mostly just picking a fun location, enlisting some talented friends and getting after it. Pony is one of Eric and my favorite spots to grab a drink and we wanted somewhere familiar for our first video. My grade school friend Ryan Taggart directed with a small crew of pals assisting. We knew Nick (Garrison) and Ade (Connere) would be great onscreen so we all met up at the bar at eight in the morning on a Tuesday and went to town. We wrapped at 4:00pm in time for their happy hour to commence as usual.
What’s next for Mal De Mer? Are you working on a full album?
Definitely. We’re putting together a tour, planning on some festivals this summer and somewhere in there we will finish our first full-length. Like I was saying earlier, we put out the Bubble Bobble/All That I Want 7″ to acquaint ourselves with people and now that we’ve made some small talk we’re ready to stay the night.
Until then, check out the video for this song shot recently at the Pony: