Mal De Mer
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Mal De Mer

Seattle, Washington, United States

Seattle, Washington, United States
Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Telekinesis, The Globes, Mal de Mer @ the Crocodile"

A night of crystal clear pop caught this weekend at the Crocodile. - Seattle Weekly

"Recommended show + free tickets (and a 7") from Mal de Mer!"

Heard of Mal de Mer? No, not that Mal de Mer. This Mal de Mer. If you're anything like me, you've heard of them, as well as lots of good things about them, but haven't done nearly enough listening to them.

Today, my friends, is when that changes for the good. Because MdM is a hell of a good band. Period. If you haven't caught an earful yet -- well, they're hard to describe. The vibe varies from a Henry Clay People-esque alt.dirty-pop on songs like "Bubble Bobble" to the more melancholy, moderately anthematic sad-pop sound of "All I Want" -- but there's a running consistency through all the songs they've put out, and that consistency is one of No Bullshit. MdM isn't out to please the herd or become the next-best-something-or-other, they're just making the sounds that they need to get made. This, coupled with their all-star lineup (Michael Lee, Lesli Wood, Jimmy Curran, and Eric Wennberg), would make it appear as though the band itself could do no wrong. And based on the attention they've gotten so far, that might just be the rightest thing we've heard all week.

Wer'e excited to see what happens next for these fine folks, and mostly so to see them do their thing at the Crocodile this coming Saturday night {they're first of three on the Telekinesis bill}. And assuming you all are too, we've procured a pair of tickets to give away for the show, along with a copy of the band's 7". Far out! Want to enter? Just drop an email to tig {at} threeimaginarygirls {dot} com with the subject line "MoreMalDelMerPlease" to be entered to win. Be sure to include your mailing address so that we can get you a copy of the record if you win! We'll choose a lucky entrant around noontime on Friday, March 25th and notify you by email before the end of the day. The band will have you on the guest list +1 at the show, and poof. Just like that! Another excellent Saturday night for you.

Good luck, everyone. We'll see you there! - Three Imaginary Girls

"Song of the Day: Mal De Mer – Bubble Bobble"

The Seattle Band Map is an interesting project that charts the interconnectivity of our Seattle music scene. It’s more than just a project that will let you find out just how your band could be related to Nirvana, Modest Mouse, or the Fleet Foxes (a la the six degrees of Kevin Bacon in the movie world). It also shows the musical migration of this city’s talented musicians as they hop from band to band, genre to genre, scene to scene throughout the years.

One of the more interesting mile markers on the map is a relatively new band made up of veteran Seattle performers whose roots trace back to the nineties. Mal De Mer is the new project of former teen rocker Michael Lee (Subminute Radio) who collected a talented group of friends to form a catchy as heck quartet and started playing around town last year. The unpretentious super group is made up of Lee, Lesli Wood (Ms Led and The Redwood Plan), Jimmy Curran (The Divorce), and Eric Wennberg (Slender Means). Today’s song is hitting stores next month as a 7” single but is already available digitally.

Michael Lee took a moment to talk about the group’s inception, their new video, and what’s next for them.

You took a break from playing music, what made decide to get back into writing/playing music?

Hmm, all I can say is that it happened pretty unwittingly. I grew up playing in bands all over the place as a kid and never really stopped playing music, but just hit a point where I needed to regroup. I can’t pinpoint the time but one day that just ceased to be the case. I wrote a bunch of music, threw a some away, and the keepers became the first Mal de Mer tunes.

You guys have all known each other for a while right? Do you remember how you all met?

The Crocodile Cafe would definitely serve as the geographical epicenter if you had to choose one. I worked as a bartender there for seven years and met a ton of incredible people and fantastic musicians, including Jimmy, Lesli and Eric. The nature of that environment was pretty inspiring.

How did you come together for this project?

I had some songs and these guys were friendly so I just asked them. Jimmy was my co-worker and bassist for The Divorce, Eric was a staple from Slender Means’ frequent perfomances at the Croc and Lesli’s affinity for a post-performance whiskey quickly acquainted us at the bar. An early incarnation of the band actually played Lesli’s wedding last year and after that we knew we had something special. “Ask and you shall receive” was pretty much the situation.

What can you tell me about “Bubble Bobble?”

It was one of the principle tunes on a batch of demos I recorded last year and seemed like a nice introduction for Mal de Mer to the public. “Bubble Bobble” was its name as a placeholder and it sorta just stuck. The song changed a bit with the addition of everyone’s input, as is always the case, but the spirit of the original is fully intact I think. We have fun playing it and I think that translates to tape.

How did the idea for the video come about?

Idea? It was mostly just picking a fun location, enlisting some talented friends and getting after it. Pony is one of Eric and my favorite spots to grab a drink and we wanted somewhere familiar for our first video. My grade school friend Ryan Taggart directed with a small crew of pals assisting. We knew Nick (Garrison) and Ade (Connere) would be great onscreen so we all met up at the bar at eight in the morning on a Tuesday and went to town. We wrapped at 4:00pm in time for their happy hour to commence as usual.

What’s next for Mal De Mer? Are you working on a full album?

Definitely. We’re putting together a tour, planning on some festivals this summer and somewhere in there we will finish our first full-length. Like I was saying earlier, we put out the Bubble Bobble/All That I Want 7? to acquaint ourselves with people and now that we’ve made some small talk we’re ready to stay the night.

You can catch Mal De Mer on March 26th at The Crocodile with Telekinesis and The Globes. More info and dates on their Myspace page and website.

""Mal de Mer: Roche Complexe" The Stranger's Trent Moorman interviews"

Mal de Mer: Roche Complexe
Posted by Trent Moorman on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Mal de Mer is not the French saying for sickness of the sea, they’re a four-piece rock band from Seattle. A collaboration consisting of Slender Means members and former members of the Divorce, the Amazombies, and Lila. Fronted by guitar player / vocalist Michael Lee, Mal de Mer gathers and cinches intellection of melody. They gild a take on the taking of a new take, sounding like they’ve been a band for years. New but not new. Decorated within intricate chordal pop-wise framework. Currently Mal de Mer is finishing the writing for their first LP to be recorded and released later this year. More currently, Michael Lee spoke, and ate a funsize piece of candy:

Mal de Mer: "Dolled Up"

Why "Dolled Up"? Who's dolled up?
Michael: That tune has been kicking around for awhile. It's stilled labeled "I Drive A Dodge Stratus" in my iTunes for some reason. We went up to London Bridge and did a few songs with my pal Geoff Ott just to see what we sounded like and "Dolled Up" was one of the keepers. It used to be a folkier number but it somehow ended it up as one of the punchiest.

How did Mal de Mer form?
I worked at the Crocodile for a long time and Jimmy did security there. We were fast friends. His band (the Divorce) would play there a lot, and Eric's band Slender Means would too so later on when I had some songs they were just the obvious guys. And Josh Kramer introduced Kim and I at an Amazombies show at the Funhouse several years back.

Give me one memory from working the old Crocodile days.
The time when the band Train did a five-night stand there. That was a difficult time in my life

What’s it like for you singing now? You were just a guitar player before.
It’s definitely something I’ve had to get used to. Getting comfortable singing. It feels like I'm refereeing the battle in my head between Elliot Smith and Michael Jackson.

Do you ever solo?
All the time. I was kind of running on a "no guitar solo" policy until I jokingly did one at a rehearsal and the mates insisted it stay.

What do you think about guitar solos?
I have contempt for guitar solos.

Do you ever think about candy when you play / solo? What candy?
It's more like I drift away into my own personal Candy Land. But it's smaller than normal, really more of a Candy Town or Candy 'Hood. I like to think I'm the Sheriff.

Who are your favorite bands right now?
I saw a local duo called My Goodness at Neumos and they were fantastic. Moondoggies are great. We are playing a show with Erik Blood (Moondoggies producer) band at the Sunset for this year's Noise For The Needy festival in June and his live show is always kind of a spectacle. Black Whales are pretty neat too.

What is your favorite candy?
I'm partial to Krackle. The bite-sized ones remind me of being a kid at my grandparents' house. They would feed me chocolate when I was talking too much. Krackle doesn't get its fair share in the shadow of Nestle.

Mal de Mer plays Noise for the Needy on Thursday, June 10th at The Sunset Tavern with Animals At Night, Daniel G. Harmann & the Trouble Starts, and Erik Blood.

You are a pedal board artisan. What’s your board like now?
In the past I've had these massive pedal boards with all sorts of quintuple ring-modulating delay nonsense and something happened in the last couple years that made me want to start from scratch and rebuild. Sort of not falling prey to the instinct of stomping on distortion every time a part needs a boost. It's like reestablishing trust with your children, which I know nothing about. In fact, nevermind, I'll probably be using all my pedals when this goes to print.

How does Mal de Mer make, find, and distill their magic?
Cazadores Reposado. And If I have time, I like to demo my song ideas on my MacBook before I present them to the band. I'm not super gear-savvy, I just know what I like and don't like. I use the built-in mic and start recording basic tracks and build from there. It's kind of tedious to record everything individually but it's a great way for me to think things out and arrange. The songs usually end up totally different after everyone puts in their two cents but I always have that demo to go back to if I feel like we're straying from the original spirit. Jimmy (Curran, bassist) is more of a loose concept kind of writer. He'll bring some lyrical concepts or maybe a riff and say, "Let's do some maritimey bar-brawl diddy", and then once we figure out what the hell he's talking about we just sort of do it.

Break down your gear. What do you play?
I just got a really neat '72 Fender Super Reverb from the Georgetown Music Company. The shop is pretty new and all the merchandise was labeled with Trading Musician tags so I'm pretty sure it's one of those dude's. The tremolo switch was removed and replaced with a master volume which is pretty ideal for playing club gigs. You can still get that big tone without the sound guy thinking you are trying to be Mogwai. - The Stranger

"Mal de Mer: "Bubble Bobble""

The Stranger debuts Mal de Mer's "Bubble Bobble" video and interviews frontman Michael Lee.

You guys filmed this video at eight in the morning. How was that?

Michael Lee (singer/guitarist/songwriter): Yes. A few weeks ago on a Tuesday, at eight in the morning, my band Mal de Mer gathered at Pony, one of our favorite watering holes, to shoot a video for our first single "Bubble Bobble." That hour of the day is not one that I have ever associated with being at Pony. With one of my best friends since third grade Ryan Taggart directing, our pals Nick Garrison and Ade Connere graciously agreed to star in what may go down as one of the hastiest productions ever committed to tape. The process was very thorough. We ordered some pizzas, set up some lighting in an over-sized glory hole, and rolled tape. I learned a few valuable things from this experience:

*Lip-syncing is embarrassing.
*Ade somehow looks even better under the big film lights than in the moonlight.
*That "Jesus Is" billboard campaign is a guerilla Mad Lib artist's wet dream (click photo -->).

Mal de Mer plays KEXP's Audioasis this Saturday 2/5 at the Sunset with Jen Wood and Hallways. - The Stranger

"Mal de Mer Brings Dirty Blues-Influenced Indie Rock to the Sunset"

A couple weeks ago on a Monday night, I was sitting in a booth at the Lava Lounge in Belltown with three of the four members of Seattle indie rock outfit Mal de Mer, discussing their current work and upcoming show at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard (Tues., March 9, with The Shackles and Beaches; $6 at the door, 21+). Trying to make up for her absence, the conversation frequently turned to keyboardist and backing vocalist Kim Kelly, the former singer and guitarist for the now-disbanded punk band The Amazombies.

“When we talked about doing this a little more seriously," said Michael Lee, Mal de Mer's guitarist and lead singer, "we knew that she could play piano, keys, but at first she told me she didn't want to do that because she thought she looked stupid."

"You couldn't just get her a keytar?" I asked, smirking (we had already put down a few beers).

"That was joked about," Lee responded, straight-faced.

From across the table, drummer Eric Wennberg piped up: "They're expensive, actually."

"They are pretty expensive," agreed bassist Jimmy Curran.

"It's like twelve-hundred dollars for a nice Roland keytar..." continued Wennberg, while Curran added: "Though I think I might know where to get one..."

"Really?" Wennberg asked, before Lee, finally drawn into the downward spiral of jokingly bad ideas, suggested with a wry grin: "We could call her 'Keytara.'"

Mal de Mer may be fresh to the scene, but the band comes with a healthy pedigree in Seattle music. Besides Kim Kelly and The Amazombies, Curran was the bassist for The Divorce, Wennberg still plays drums for Slender Means, and Lee started his musical career as a teenage grungester from Tacoma with Subminute: Radio before playing guitar in a string of Seattle bands.

The band members all got to know one another over the years through the Crocodile Cafe. "Jimmy and I both worked there," Lee explained, "and Eric was always there. Slender Means played there all the time. And The Divorce played there all the time, all our bands played there."

Lee spent several years writing music and not playing live, before the itch to start performing again pushed him to talk to friends about forming a band. Now he and Curran split songwriting duties, and the three members I talked to seemed genuinely driven by the opportunity to work on music that's pushing them in new directions.

In tone and style, Mal de Mer represents a huge shift from the various musicians' previous, primarily punk, bands. Described as "dirty blues" by Lee, Mal de Mer's music is melodic and vocal harmony-heavy, The Cold War Kids cross-bred with White Stripes-style garage rock, ranging from riff-heavy rockers to earnest ballads.

"Slender Means is very formulaic, and specific about not over-playing," Wennberg said of his work as a drummer. "They're very composed. I find this band gives me more freedom to play more of what I feel at the time. Every time I do a drum-fill live, I can do it different."

Musically, one of the band's greatest strengths is the vocals. Lee is serving as lead singer for the first time in his career, but his voice--urgent and pained--is tailor-made for the "rock 'n' roll gospel" the band's aiming for, with Curran and Kelly supporting. On songs like "Unwound," a weepy rocker, the three-part harmony adds an entirely new dimension to the song.

"I'd consider Kim to be in a lot of ways a secret weapon for us," Lee told me of the band's vocal success.
Curran wholeheartedly agreed. "The first thing we had her sing--I remember, because I went to a party at her house--and the first thing we had her sing was 'Who's Loving You?' She did back-ups," he said. "We had her come in and do that, and she did it beautifully, and I remember after that practice, she left before Michael and I did, and us talking about it and Michael just being like, 'We need her to sing all the time.'"

Aside from the slower and more emotional tunes like "Unwound," Mal de Mer specializes in foot-stomping rock. "Make Daddy Proud" opens with pounding beat and staccato playing behind the three-part vocal harmony. On "Dolled Up," Lee opens up the song with a simple guitar-and-drum intro, before the burly keyboards and bass enter and Wennberg kicks up his drumbeat.

In concert, the band's experience as live musicians shows--while the recordings make use of overdubs and other studio tricks, Lee fills out the live experience with a roaring guitar and the occasional shredded solo. But somewhat amazingly, the vocal harmonies carry even in the din of a club. The band's previous shows have been packed, both with recent converts and fans culled over the years of relentless touring with the members' other projects. The enthusiastic response has pushed the band to quickly go from "dinking around," as Lee described the project's origins, to a tight, professional outfit.

"For me, personally, this is the only thing that keeps me sane," Curran explained of why he's playing again, after years with The Divorce. "All of us have obviously done being in a band full-time before. And this is becoming more and more full-time, but since it hasn't been so far, this is the only that's been keeping me grounded."

-- Jeremy M. Barker
- The SunBreak


Bubble Bobble/ All That I Want



Seattle quartet Mal de Mer is still in its infancy, and the band’s enthusiastic sound reflects that novelty. But don’t be fooled. None of these musicians are wet behind the ears. All four come armed with impressive credentials: Bassist Jimmy Curran cut his teeth in the Divorce, drummer Eric Wennberg keeps time for Slender Means, and keyboard player Lesli Wood is much beloved for leading the bands Ms. Led and the Redwood Plan. The four friends’ chemistry is undeniable. Within months of forming, Trent Moorman observed in The Stranger that Mal de Mer already sounded “like they’ve been a band for years.”

At the front is singer-guitarist Michael Lee. A fixture on the Emerald City music scene since the mid-90's, Lee got his start in Subminute: Radio, a quintet of adolescents that garnered extensive media and industry attention for playing polished modern rock that belied their young ages. In the interim since that act’s dissolution, Lee has remained an active member of the local scene—for seven years, he could be found tending bar at the old Crocodile Café—but only recently resumed making music for public consumption. When he decided to return to the fray, Lee didn’t need to search too hard to find other musicians that were excited to play with him.

“Often when I hear a song that I really love, I wish that I had written it, because I want to be the one that gets to play that song,” observes Wood. ”With Mal de Mer, I wanted the opportunity to perform, and contribute to, some of the catchiest pop songs I had heard in a while.” Even though she had her hands full with the Redwood Plan, she couldn’t say no to participating in Mal de Mer, too. “This isn’t just some little local band. This is going to be the new favorite that everyone’s talking about, while wondering why they never noticed before that Michael Lee, that sweet bartender, is Seattle’s next big thing.”

Likewise, to describe the band’s modest front man as “excited” about this informal super group would be an understatement. “This is a collaboration between people who have all known each other for a long time, some better than others, that finally came together in a way that is very special for all of us.” Although Lee composes the bulk of the foursome’s music, and comes to practice armed with demos of rough arrangements for new material, he acknowledges that Mal de Mer is greater than the sum of its individual parts. “Most of the songs are mine, but they become a whole other thing once I bring them to the group.”

Hailed as “pure, unabashed pop with a dark side” by influential radio vet Marco Collins (KNDD, KEXP), Mal de Mer’s sound reflects Lee’s distinctive aesthetic, one where Michael Jackson and Elliott Smith stand shoulder-to-shoulder in his estimation. “I was obsessed with Michael Jackson as a child and I just can’t shake that,” he admits. When the late King of Pop cancelled all three Tacoma dates of his 1988 Bad World Tour, eight year-old Lee was so devastated he boycotted Halloween that year. “I was too distraught to go trick-or-treating. That and Jim Henson’s death are my first two memories of disappointment.”

Happily, his relationship with Elliott Smith wasn’t quite as fraught with sorrow. Subminute: Radio supported Smith’s old band, Heatmiser, on their last Seattle date, and their 1996 album Mic City Sons was an important touchstone in Lee’s teenage record collection, as were Smith’s solo albums like Either/Or and XO. “His songs were speaking to experiences that perhaps I couldn’t relate to, but I knew the music was coming from a very real place. Scarily so, sometimes.”

Like both those icons, Lee is blessed with an inimitable singing voice. More importantly, he aspires to make pop music that is honest, refined, and unpredictable, as evidenced by Mal de Mer’s debut single “Bubble Bobble”/”All That I Want.” With its chugging three-quarter time verses and stripped-down, invigorating chorus, the former spotlights Lee’s fondness for unconventional song structure, while the latter is a sun-dappled ditty propelled by crisp drumming and a sense of adventure. Like much of Mal de Mer’s catalog, these songs took shape during a period of optimistic reflection in 2010 that re-energized Lee’s attitude towards making music overall. The band’s name, a nod to Lee’s childhood in the maritime community of Gig Harbor, also harks back to an earlier time in his life.

Having already been through the entertainment industry wringer once, and at a tender age, Lee is pursuing a much more organic approach as he plots the course of Mal de Mer. “A lot of things happened very quickly in Subminute: Radio, exposure and meeting people and discovering the world of rock and roll,” he recalls. “For better or worse, that experience showed me how to prioritize my goals this time around.” Which is good. Because if the initial reaction to Mal de Mer is any indication of what lies ahead, the adventure is just beginning.