Friday, March 30, 2012

¿Possible o’ Impossible?

Josh has an earnest urge to get weirder.

This is partly why meeting at the Penguinarium of the Detroit Zoo seemed a sensible place to start an interview.

“Smells like a Chihuahua farm in here…” He shuffles inside, his cowboy boots echoing off the scuffed linoleum.

It’s dim and completely empty and our voices bounce off of the awkwardly arched ceiling above the viewing platform. We lean against the railing and merely glance at the stumpy, tuxedoed birds, stiff, flightless, sad and sealed. 

Josh Malerman’s mind’s going a mile a minute and he has his own way of rambling it out: starting out with his own anxieties stirred from the stigma of dating a stripper, to the inanity of  meeting a dare from two young vixens to blend shots of vodka and tequila into one glass, and then quickly to the potential book deal that the lead singer of Detroit’s rock quartet The High Strung could be scoring any day now (because when he’s not writing songs and singing them, half-zozzled, on stage, he’s writing supernatural suspense novels).

“Our song, ‘The Luck You Got,’ has been getting thousands of downloads a week…” he holds one hand out, acknowledging that this song of their's is now featured as the theme song for Showtime’s Shameless. “So, then," he holds out his other hand, "‘Okay!, does that then mean there’s a growing fan base? …Probably…so, at what point do you test that out?"

And then he brings both hands together as he answers his own question, "Well, we have a new album coming out….We'll test that out, out on the road."

The album's called ¿Possible o’ Impossible?, their seventh album and it’s arriving during a bracing time of possible convergence – a new album, a new tour, and, finally, for Malerman, after 13 completed works, a new book deal? Things are looking pretty good.

“I want to go further…”

“I feel like we are at a crux now,” Malerman says, as we traipse through an empty Zoo. It's the end of January, the middle of the working week. It's a quarter past 4 pm, the chilled airs keep almost every animal hunched into their inclosures, (except for the sneering alpacas). It's after hours by Zoo standards and a few bicycle-coasting uniformed gents give us a "buy something or get out" look.

It's a random weekday swathed in muting fog, we came here on a whim, it seemed like a better alternative to a coffee shop. "There's nobody in the's OURS..." Malerman sings on an o’ Impossible? song titled "Sometimes It's Odd, Sometimes It's Like God."

Our hour-long conversation charts the development of this band, back ten years to a trio of 27-year olds out of their minds with nervous energy and voracious appetites for open roads, all too willing to wail their rock n roll stylings on weeknights in watering holes on aloof Monday nights in the Randomness of the rustbelt, to their eeked-out-livings between New York lofts and Detroit suburbs, to their 3 albums churned out through a whirldwind's worth of a 4-year-long just-about-non-stop tour... and all the way through to their addition, two years ago, of guitarist Stephen Palmer (noted shredder from Detroit band Back In Spades) and, then, finally to their steady crawl into wider national attention (i.e. Shameless).

“I feel like there’s something different now..."

1 comment:

mj said...

Cover story. For. Fucks. Sake.
For the amount of hard work this band puts in, and for the amount of quality, honest, chock-full-of-integrity material they produce, The High Strung should be on the cover every week.