Redd Kross Leaders Front Ze Malibu Kids
Ze Malibu Kids are a band of mystery. Although signed to a Spanish
record label, and sporting a name with a slightly German tinge, they
are in fact entirely American. Composed of Jeff and Steven McDonald
(Redd Kross) and Anna Waronker (that dog), they've released a
charming double-A-side single, "I Won't Forget You," backed with
"Your Bed" (written by Lisa Marr and Cub), which has been receiving
modest airplay in the UK on Radio 1. "I Won't Forget You" is a blast
of summer in the coldest part of winter, a festive post-ironic slice
of the Smiths' The Queen Is Dead era mixed with the vocal
harmonies of The Shirelles.
The band, whose first full-length record, Sound It Out
(Houston Party), was released in the summer of 2002, was originally
inspired by a trip the McDonald brothers made to Berlin in 1988.
There they met Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten, Nick Cave
& The Bad Seeds), roommate to a friend, whose appearance and manner
convinced Jeff that "all Europeans wore leather pants, drank
screwdrivers all day, and played their own records all night long."
While the brothers were trying to imagine what American culture must
look like through European eyes, Ze Malibu Kids were born. Anna
Waronker (who, besides co-owning Five Foot Two Records with
sister-in-law and Go-Go Charlotte Caffey, is also married to Steve
McDonald) provides vocals and additional songwriting. Waronker,
daughter of the legendary record man Lenny Waronker (he produced
Randy Newman, Brian Wilson and many others, and is currently head of
the DreamWorks label), also composes for film and TV ("Josie & the
Pussycats" and the "Clueless" TV series).
"Sound It Out" totals 14 tracks, including the single "I Won't Forget
You," "Sleep Therapy" (from the motion picture Sugar Town),
"Ze Xtasy Club," "Standing in the Wrong Line," and a cover of Carly
Simon's "You're So Vain." The album is only available as an import in
the U.S.; in the UK it's released via the Spanish label Houston
Records, which has also released records by Damien Jurado, The Posies
and the Red House Painters. In a recent interview with Luna
Kafe, Jeff McDonald explained, "I started talking to Houston
Party 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."
But Ze Malibu Kids aren't a side project. "I could never be
interested in doing something 'on the side,'" he continued. "I like
to approach each project as its 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.
"I want to start performing again, because in the U.S. all of the
bands are either Scientologist or Christian rockers," McDonald said
in the interview. "I think it's our duty to do some international
damage control on behalf on the American rock 'n' roll community."
Andrea Parra [Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2003]