If you’re at Brickyard Pizza on Tuesday nights, you might have seen mechanical engineering student and singer-songwriter Malcolm Reese performing at the weekly open mic night.
On Tuesday, Reese got on stage to perform three original songs on acoustic guitar: “Isolation Disposition,” “Hardwood Floors” and “Black Hole.” The Daily Lobo sat down with Reese before he went on stage to learn about his personal music history and upcoming projects.
DL: Out of the songs you’re playing tonight which would you say is your favorite?
MR: "Hardwood Floors," for sure.
DL: What’s the inspiration for that song?
MR: I wrote that song at probably, like, 2:00 a.m. when I wasn’t having the best of nights. I had been at home drinking, and I remember specifically falling all over the floor. I have hardwood floors at my house and I woke up the next morning so far gone.
And, I don’t know, I just wrote a song about it, and that’s kind of where "Hardwood Floors" comes from.
DL: What inspired you to first get into music?
MR: My family is all musical, but the first time I ever picked up an instrument to really learn was the guitar. I was 13 years old and my dad had a guitar that my mom had bought him for Father’s Day, since he really wanted to learn to play guitar.
And I found out this girl that I went to school with really liked guys who could play guitar or music, and I was like, "Oh, man, my dad has a guitar."
So, I got it out of the closet and I totally knew nothing about playing it. I set a camera up on a table across from me and took a photo with my hand on the guitar, that was it. It even had a string missing. I knew nothing about playing and I took this picture, and set it as my MySpace profile picture.
I was like, "This girl’s going to fall in love, I just know it."
DL: How long have you been playing at Brickyard?
MR: I’ve been playing consistently just about every Tuesday since last November or December. I’ve missed maybe a day or two, but other than that I’ve made it every week since then.
DL: How would you describe the local music scene at Brickyard and the rest of Albuquerque?
MR: I love Brickyard, it’s always a full list for musicians and comedians. There’s a lot of jazz musicians, angsty college kids like me, and all sorts of different styles, rappers. And I’m in a metal band too, so the music scene outward is great.
The metal scene has always thrived here in Albuquerque; there’s been times where the metal scene has gone on and off. The attendance isn’t quite what it used to be at shows and stuff, but it’s still great.
DL: What’s the name of your metal band?
MR: Dakota Ave.
DL: How did you guys come together?
MR: I was actually at a Pierce the Veil concert about five years ago, singing the lyrics to one of their songs, and our drummer came up to me and said, "Dude, you’ve got to be in this band with me!" And we linked up through Facebook and got some friends together and it came together.
Dakota Ave. came about from that, and now we all live here around Albuquerque and do shows together. One of our guys goes to CNM. Our guitarist (Austen King) and our drummer (Mason King) are actually brothers, and our bass player still goes to high school here in Albuquerque.
DL: What’s your involvement with them and how’s that like?
MR: “Dakota Ave. is a metal band that I do songwriting for. I write all the music for them and I also do vocals live.
DL: Do you have any projects coming up with them or any solo work you’re releasing soon?
MR: I’ve got my album in the works right now. I’ve got all my guitar work done and I’ve been meaning to get to vocals. But I just recorded an album with my band so that’s been my focus for a while. And our CD release show is April 1, so that’s kind of been our priority for now. But I still anticipate my solo album will be out before the summer, and that’ll be all acoustic, while my band has more of a metal sound to it.
DL: That’s great stuff. Do you guys have a name for that Dakota Ave. album yet?
MR: The Dakota Ave. album is called "Rumination." It’s based upon a song I wrote, "Rumination Adaptation," that’ll be on both my solo album and my band’s album. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.
As for my solo album, I haven’t named it yet, but for an idea of the songs on it, it’s got stuff like "Understanding How to Breathe."
DL: What are your influences as far as your sound and style?
MR: One of the bands that really got me into wanting to play music with a band in the first place was Underoath. As far as acoustic stuff I wouldn’t say one specific band or artist really defines my style, but I think my acoustic songs sound similar to Taking Back Sunday or Secondhand Serenade type stuff. It really depends on the song.
DL: As far as live performances, is there anything special or personal about it that you like more than studio recording?
MR: For me, personally, I can definitely feel the music more live. It’s like I can feel the music moving me; the sound waves and the energy are just completely different at home than being right there.
But I personally love to just close my eyes and get into my personal space, you know? I sing sad songs to make myself happy.
DL: Any advice for aspiring artists looking to get a start in music or live performing?
MR: I think just get out there and play an open mic; I play tons of open mics. There’s Oasis Vape downtown on the last Thursday of every month, Brickyard has one every Tuesday, Duel Brewing has it every Sunday. There’s a lot of great open mics around here that you can play at if you don’t know how to book shows or get started.
The atmosphere is great, and it’s no stress if you mess up. The sets are short — about 15 minutes — and it’s really just a great way to try out new stuff and new songs.
Troy Amato is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @troy_amato.