Bedouin Soundclash has won a Juno Award, sold hundreds of thousands of CDs and toured around the world, playing with bands like No Doubt, Coldplay and Nine Inch Nails.
But Jay Malinowski, the Toronto-based trio’s vocalist and guitarist, views success as something that can’t be counted in unit sales or placed in a trophy case.
“I think being successful at anything isn’t necessarily the things you get or gain from outside sources,” he said. “I think when you’re finally successful, you’re happy with who you are as a person — and that’s easier said than done. I feel that with Bedouin, with each record we release, I’m closer to expressing who I am as a person, and if I can continue to do that and to connect with people who respond to that, I think that’s success.
“Being inspired and being inspired by life is hard to maintain; if you can continue to be inspired by the world, I don’t know if it’s called success, but it’s a good thing.”
And “inspired” is a word that pops up often in Bedouin Soundclash’s biography.
The reggae/rock/pop trio, which is headlining The Big Time Out next Friday night, released a new album in late September, and it’s all about looking forward with optimism and hope. About inspired decisions.
Light The Horizon, Bedouin Soundclash’s fourth album, has been described as more hopeful and more confident than the band’s previous three records.
It comes after a brief hiatus during which time the band formed its own record label, Malinowski worked on a couple of side projects, and a new drummer came on board.
“It was sort of really looking forward to the future,” Malinowski says of the album. “For the longest time, the band, we’ve been asleep I guess. We weren’t working.”
Light The Horizon is also different than previous Bedouin albums because it was recorded live off the floor.
“It was the first time we’d ever done that,” said Malinowski. “In terms of capturing moments off the floor, I think it’s really key. After doing it, I’m surprised we didn’t do it more often. I think it definitely was a good call for our band because we’re mainly a live band.”
The new record has some interesting connections to Vancouver Island.
The single Mountain Top was written during a trip to Nanoose — which is where Malinowski says most of the records he’s made have been written.
“After a tour in Japan, I stopped on Vancouver Island and went up to Nanoose,” he said. “Me and (bassist and band co-founder Eon Sinclair) climbed up this small mountain there and decided what we’d do … we said we wouldn’t start again until we were inspired again — which happened sooner than we thought.”
Malinowski took a picture of an arbutus tree on top of that mountain, and that ended up being the cover of the album.
Malinowski’s favourite tune off Light The Horizon is Brutal Hearts, a duet with Québécoise singer-songwriter Beatrice Martin (a.k.a. Coeur de pirate), with whom Malinowski released an EP as Armistice this February.
“When we recorded it, I remember it was really a special moment for us and the band,” he said. “I think Beatrice did such a great job on her part. It’s special. It’s one of the best ones we’ve done with Bedouin.”
Malinowski and bassist Eon Sinclair met at Queen’s University in Kingston, and, blending pop, rock, punk, reggae and ska, they formed Bedouin Soundclash in 2001.
Joined by drummer Pat Pengelly, the trio released its debut disc, Root Fire, in 2001.
In 2004, the band released Sounding A Mosaic, which caught critics’ and audiences’ ears at home and abroad. Propelled by the hit single, When the Night Feels My Song — the second-most played song on Canadian radio in 2005 — the disc was certified platinum, and it helped earn Bedouin a Juno Award as Best New Artist in 2006.
Bedouin followed that up with 2007’s Street Gospels, which yielded hits such as Walls Fall Down and Until We Burn In the Sun (The Kids Just Want a Love Song).
The band earned Pop Album of the Year considerations at the Junos and toured internationally alongside acts such as No Doubt, Coldplay and Nine Inch Nails.
The constant touring, the pressures, excesses and personal sacrifices that can accompany fame and acclaim began to weigh down on them, with tensions in the band resulting in Pengelly’s departure and a brief hiatus for the rest of Bedouin, according to the band’s biography.
During the hiatus, Bedouin Soundclash founded its own indie label, Pirates Blend Records.
Longtime Canadian session drummer Sekou Lumumba joined the band, and a reinvigorated Bedouin Soundclash headed down to Philadelphia to work with DJ/producer King Britt — who was a member of the Grammy-winning 1990s hip hop fusion act Digable Planets and who has remixed tracks by everyone from Miles Davis to Macy Gray and Everything But The Girl — to work on the new album.
As Bedouin wraps up its tour — which includes performances at the Leeds and Reading festivals in the U.K. later this month — Malinowski says they will probably take a break and work on other projects, and they will likely start writing for a new Bedouin album late this year.
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Bedouin Soundclash is headlining The Big Time Out next Friday night.
Cumberland Village Works announced Wednesday it plans to hold the event Aug. 12 and 13 at Ash Berry Farm on Royston Road after Cumberland council denied permission to use Village Park due to security issues.
For a list of performers and more information about the festival, visit www.thebigtimeout.com. To learn more about Bedouin Soundclash, check out www.bedouinsoundclash.com.