US - California - Full Moon 71 - 07/24/02
Ze Malibu Kids
- an e-mail chat w. Jeff McDonald
A family affair - Jeff McDonald answers our questions
It's a family fair indeed: The McDonald brothers Jeff and Steven, aka Redd Kross, team up
with Anna Waronker (daughter of famous 70s producer Lenny, who also happens to be married to
Steven) and seven-year-old drummer Astrid (Jeff and Charlotte Caffey's daughter) for a fun album
of 70s influenced pop music straight from the heart of Hollywood. Sound It Out is the name
of the record, that recently came out on the spanish Houston Party label and to tie in with the
release Jeff was kind enough to answers some questions by email.
Luna Kafé: What's it like to be in Ze Malibu Kids in the year 2002 (and what
is the main difference to being in Redd Kross in say, the mid-90s?)
Jeff McDonald: "It's so much easier to get things done because of the giant leap in
communications that's happened in the past few years. With Ze Malibu Kids we do stuff when we
feel inspired and it's also so much more fun."
LK: It seems that this album is the biggest departure sound-wise in your 20-plus
year career. Are you just bored of using mainly "straight" sounding guitars
for the moment?
Jeff: "If you listen back to the Redd Kross records each one is pretty different then the
one before it. I play much more guitar in the Malibu Kids then I did in Redd Kross. In Redd
Kross we always had lead players because I had to sing live but now it's just me. I think I'm
an amazing Guitarist. I'm a huge fan of my work. I'm much more prone to experimentation's then
the others of the past. I'm also very lazy and never practice so the results are usually pretty
LK: Was the "new direction" the main reason for the new name, as I suppose the Redd
Kross line up has changed many times and apparently you never thought is was necessary to change
the name? And what's the current "status" of Redd Kross anyway?
Jeff: "Steven and I thought of the whole concept of ZMK while on tour in Germany..... Ze
Malibu Kids isn't a side project. I could never be interested in doing something "on the side".
I like to approach each project as it's own and nothing else can exist while I'm doing it. Redd
Kross will do something again but I've got a couple more things I would like to do first."
LK: Is the new name also a way of trying to make a fresh start and not "scare"
people away just because it's the next album by a band that has been going for two decades? I've
read a few comments that call "sound it out" a "fun" album. Do you consider this effort less
serious than your previous records?
Jeff: "I think all rock and roll records should be fun. Why would anybody bother if it
wasn't? We scare people no matter what we do. Our motives have always be sincere and pure but
people really need to wrap it all up in some sort of superficial package. What appears light
sometimes can be pretty dark if you scratch the surface... On the other hand what can appear as
heavy can be total nonsense. I just let this stuff happen. There is no plan."
LK: How different was the whole approach to making this record? I guess in the past
you've been pretty much in charge all the time, how did that change with Anna, who I suppose is
more of a star in her own right than most of the other musicians you've worked with in the past?
Jeff: "Both Anna and I are extreme Control freaks so it was a fun experiment to just do
what the other asked without question plus we're all family."
LK: What kind of expectations do you have for this release and how does that
differ compared to past records?
Jeff: "The Malibu Kids record is by far my favorite record that I've been involved with.
I can put it on in my car and dig it as if it's someone else which is something I've never been
able to do before."
LK: How did you hook up with Houston Party and why did you chose to work with them?
Jeff: "We have mutual friends and I started talking to HP on the phone and they just made
it easy to put this record out. I have no patience for the Rock rat race right now."
LK: Since this is for an online zine - I quite like your website, is there a special
philosophy behind it? It just seems to be a lot more down to earth and interesting than a lot
of other band sites, which often seem to be semi-corporate.
Jeff: "The web site totally enable me to be completely spontaneous. My best ideas are
always the ones I don't put much thought into. If I get an idea for a short film at 1am and it
can be online by sunrise. That's incredible to think I can record a song and give it to the
world before I even decide if it's any good is very exciting to me."
LK: Silly question at the end: What can we expect from you in the not-too-distant
Jeff: "I really want to make a KIM FOWLEY documentary. More Music and Film stuff."
LK: Any "famous last words"? Anything that is important that you want to
see in print?
Jeff: "We hope to see everybody soon. I want to start performing again because in the U.S.
all of the bands are either Scientologist or Christian rockers. I think it's our duty to do some
international damage control on behalf on the American Rock n Roll community."
Copyright © 2002 Carsten Wohlfeld