American/ British Michael Malarkey is a rather busy man. The 32-year-old actor spends much of the year filming The Vampire Diaries in USA, a CW show on which he has plays the brooding vampire heartthrob Enzo. This year he is also releasing his new album Knots. We had the great pleasure to interview Michael about his time on Vampire Diaries, new Album and his up-coming projects.

Interview by Mattthew John.

 

Matthew: How are you similar and dis-similar to your character of Enzo in “The Vampire Diaries”?

Michael: We both like stirring up a little mischief. He’s a bit more butch.

 

Matthew: If you were given the choice to become your character in real life. Blessed with eternal youth and the ability to glamour humans. Would you take it? And if you did, how would you live your life differently from Enzo?

Michael: No, thank you. Mortality is a blessing. If I were to live forever I’d be a downright liability.

 

Matthew: At present your character is romantically connected to Lillian Salvatore. If you had to choose a different character for Lorenzo to fall in love with from the series, who would it be and why?

Michael: Well, they’ve paired Enzo up with Bonnie which I think is an interesting and effervescent dynamic. It’s an unexpected pairing which definitely surprised a lot of people, but I think that their energies work really well together. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

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Kat Graham (Bonnie) and Michael Malarkey

M: You have a strong connection with London and the UK. What do you love and dislike about London? And Love and dislike about Hollywood?

Michael: London is where I began my career as an actor and where I met my wife. So, I have a huge amount of nostalgia for the city. It’s got soul and it’s got history and you can always catch some great theatre. I also like being able to disappear and get around via public transport. There’s a freedom to that. I’ve never lived in LA so I can’t really comment on what it’s like one way or another. I go for work things but It’s usually a quick trip.

 

M: You have recently released a new music album called “Knots”. Firstly – I have listened to it. And fell in Love with it. My personal favourite “Do You Remember Yesterday”. You have played Elvis Presley in “Million Dollar Quartet”. But where did your love for music first start? And how did you help it grow?

Matthew: Why, thank you! My love for music actually started with punk rock. I was drawn to the energy of the music and the live shows and I felt like I’d found my people. Punk and hardcore music is about channeling and processing your feelings or political viewpoints in a creative and active way. But it’s also a lifestyle – you know the whole DIY thing. I still feel like I bring a part of that to everything I do. There’s a lot of angst and aggression in punk but the ethos is for the most part very unified and positive. I connected to that when I was younger and that’s part of the reason why I started my own band. As much as the music was very heavy and I mostly only screamed back then, I found an exhilaration unlike anything else I’d experienced before. It was the first time I had a real drive in my life. There is also this incredibly strong brother/sister-hood of being in a band that is a beautiful thing.

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M: Did you have any mentors who helped? And if so who?

Michael: I wouldn’t say I had any mentors really, but I was very influenced by a load of the other guys playing locally in Dayton at the time. I’m still friends with a lot of those guys and they are still making great music. I had my own band at the time, but I was kind of ambitious and eventually convinced my favourite local band, Shadyside, to let me try out to be their lead singer and went on to play, record and tour with them for 5 years. I was the youngest in the group, so I looked up to those guys a lot and learned a lot from them. They’re like brothers to me. I just kept blagging it over the years, until I started relaxing into it a bit more and eventually taught myself to play the guitar. I still feel like I’m blagging it half the time, but that’s part of what makes me push on and keep demanding more out of myself.

 

M: What types of musicians, bands or singers do you like?

Michael: Oh god, how long have you got? At the risk of sounding pretentious, I have a very eclectic palate. I worked in a record store for many, many years so I’ve always got my ear to the ground and am constantly devouring new music. Currently I’m on a plane across the Atlantic enjoying the latest album from Goldmund, kind of minimalist modern classical…before that it was the latest album from Baroness, ‘Purple,’ which is a BEAST of an album. I still listen to a lot of heavier music. Converge is my favourite band of that persuasion. Been a die-hard fan since I was a kid. You can follow me on Spotify and check out my monthly playlists for a more indepth idea of what I’m rotating.

 

Links to Knots: https://michaelmalarkey.bandcamp.com/album/knots

https://www.facebook.com/mkmalarkey

https://www.instagram.com/mkmalarkey/

https://twitter.com/mkmalarkey

 

M: Everyone has a guilty pleasure when it comes to a song or an artist. Whether it is Abba or Take That. Which is yours?

Michael: Lana Del Ray. Don’t tell anyone.

 

M:What lead/ inspired you to make your first album “ Feed The Flames?”. And are there any processes or influences different to the newly released “Knots”? And if so how?

Michael: I’ve been making music and writing albums for 15 years in various friends basements, but I never was too confident about the stuff I was making until recently. When I played Elvis in the West End it boosted my confidence a lot. We all played live with a full band and I started more actively honing my songwriting and doing more open mics after that.

I recorded Feed The Flames in just 2 days in Sheffield in the UK so it was a bit of a rushed process. That actually brought a real excitement and energy to it and I’m pleased with the result, but it meant that I had to make pretty swift choices and cut a few corners. With Knots, I came into the studio with a very specific idea of what I wanted and was able to take more time in achieving the desired result. It’s more produced than the last one and perhaps for the follow-up, I’ll change it up again – maybe strip it back or tweak it out. I like the idea of approaching my work slightly differently each time, whether it’s music or acting. There’s a comfort in familiarity but it can also breed stagnancy or apathy if you’re not careful.

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M:What parts of the music industry do you love the most? And what part do you find most challenging?

Matthew: I love that music is so accessible these days, but it’s been commandeered by streaming services and the downside of that is that a huge majority of people don’t even buy records any more. Making a record usually involves many months – sometimes years – of hard-work and yet people are almost annoyed if they can’t have it for free. People are so quick to jump onto the next thing, to change to the next track, the next channel. It’s an ADD generation. Or perhaps calling it a Sugar generation would be more apt. We go through music like candy bars. The biggest challenge is that it’s a swamped market and therefore almost impossible to make any decent waves doing it without financial sponsorship or big label backing. But hey, I just write as raw and as honest as possible and I’m glad to have the platform to share what I do with whoever wants to listen.

 

M: Which is your favourite song from the album and why?

Michael: That’s like trying to pick my favourite kitten. Each of these songs mean a lot to me. I have a special reservation for ‘Your Hands’ though. It was one of the songs I was having trouble cracking, so my producer, Tom Tapley, suggested that we just go have a couple beers and shake it off. We came back to the studio around midnight slightly boozy and I decided to play it on the electric and I just sat hunched over it on a chair rasping it into the mic and that’s the take we used. I also love Alex Eichenberger’s cello additions to that song in particular. She plays the cello on both EP’s and whenever I play in London as she’s based there.

 

M: What would you like to do in 2016, that you have never done before?

Micheal: Write a script. More on that another time…

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