Today’s Feature – March 28-29: Malbec

March 29, 2008 at 3:30 pm (Today's Feature)


To be clear, it is never the intention of PensEyeView to insult the intelligence of its audience. That’s obvious. However, there is a good chance you’ve already heard… maybe even seen our latest feature. Malbec, the LA-based group setting new standards by “integrating sequenced hip-hop beats with modern pop stylings,” can be heard on all kinds of TV shows and movies, from The Ghost Whisperer to One Tree Hill. Add to that the fact they’ve gone under the name “Pontius” in the past (you’ll find that story below), and you may have no idea if and when you’ve come into contact with Malbec.

Whatever you call them or wherever you hear them, the fact remains these guys have a hold of something special. Winners of the LA Music Pipeline Contest and part of the “Top 100 Best Unsigned Bands” list in Music Connection Magazine, Malbec uses a striking mix of sounds, pulling from “southern rap/hip-hop and brit pop, to classical compositions and folk music.” Their new release, “Dawn of our Age” is the definitive example of such technique. Pablo, Sam, Nick, Sid and Mark “spent a year and a half writing and recording this record making sure that each song was crafted and written the way they saw it.” They continue, “The industry has changed so much and instead of writing something to get signed or whatever, we wanted to write something that meant something to us, something that inspired us.”

It’s always stimulating to hear of a band making music for themselves as opposed to someone else. You can catch Malbec at their big show at The Viper Room in LA on March 28th (that’s today) for the CD release show. If you’re around, head on down. You can learn more now in the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Malbec

Pen’ (PEV): How and when did the band first get involved with music and form as Malbec?

Nicholas Ruth (NR): Well, in general all of us have been involved with music in some way our whole lives. Specifically however, Pablo Sam and I (Nick) all met at Indiana University. Pablo and I were studying classical guitar and Sam and Pablo became friends through the Indie music scene. Pablo and I moved out to California after he graduated and I consequently dropped out of the Master’s program. Pablo got hooked up with Sid through a mutual friend and started collaborating on music together. We decided to actually start a band together. Sam came out for vacation, we asked him to play bass and she honestly never left. Mark was a friend of a mutual friend and he was recommended as a great drummer. He was really the first and only person we ever “auditioned.”

PEV: Now calling Los Angeles home, what kind of music where you listening to?

NR: We listen to almost everything. We have a wide variety of genres and artists we like. We like to think the diversity of our musical interests are an inspiration to the uniqueness of our sound. Basically, out taste ranges from U2 to UGK to Black Flag.

PEV: When and where was your first live performance? How have you changed since that first one?

NR: It was an Italian restaurant outside of San Diego. We started off the set with a Jam. Cause we didn’t have enough rehearsed song material. And even funnier, we had no name so the owner introduced us as Pontius (Marks last name) and we changed it half way through the set to Jet Set Copia! HA! Needless to say we have hopefully improved since then.

PEV: Tell us about “Dawn Of Our Age”. What can fans expect from it?

NR: We feel that it is truly a representation of our sound. We spent a year and a half writing and recording this record making sure that each song was crafted and written the way we saw it. We wanted to make something that didn’t have rules. No preconceived notions as to style, arrangement etc. The industry has changed so much and instead of writing something to get signed or whatever, we wanted to write something that meant something us, something that inspired us.

PEV: How is ” Dawn Of Our Age” different from other albums out today?

NR: I guess time will tell. Even though the music world has gotten quite watered down there are still some great records out there currently. With that said I think we believe that this record is still very unique and different. We believe that its main uniqueness in that it is not genre specific. We don’t want to have to conform to a set of rules about what we can and can’t write. Each of us brings something very unique and fresh to the table. Ultimately the possibilities are endless and this record is a step in that direction.

PEV: When you sit down to write an album like ” Dawn Of Our Age”, what kind of environment do your surround yourself in?

NR: Really anywhere. Part of the record was written in Argentina when a few of us were there in Sept of Ô06. A ton of it was written at our studio. Writing really happens everywhere.

PEV: What is your take on the current music scene today?

NR:In general it’s wack. However I truly believe people are always hungry for something new and fresh. Especially when what we are exposed to as a society is such a small percentage of what is out there.

PEV: How has your musical styling changed since your first recording or over the years?

NR: I think in general when we did our first recordings we were heavily influenced by the producers we worked with. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but in general it was usually pushed in a specific direction. As we have progressed, we have learned to not lean to much on outside influence and trust in ourselves.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio. What was going through your head?

NR: Like the first time we walked into Toys R Us.

PEV: What is “road life” like for the band? What are the best and worst parts?

NR: Road life has been great in general. We have met a ton of great and interesting people. The best thing has no doubt been the nights like Indy and Detroit when the crowds have been great and the energy has been amazing. The low points have been the long drives through the night and the reoccurring cold that is being passed around the Petri dish we call our van!

PEV: In all your travels, which city (International or US) do you think offers the best music scene?

NR: Well, we haven’t been overseas yet, so nationally I think it’s the Midwest.

PEV: Who is currently in your CD player right now?

NR: Gucci Mane.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band that you think we should all be listening?

NR: Spleen United.

PEV: Who would you wish to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

NR: Mannie Fresh and Quest Love.

PEV: What do your friends and family think about all your success?

NR: I think in general they have been super supportive and think that its amazing that we have been able to pursue something like this.

PEV: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far? Why?

NR: No question it has been finishing this record.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Malbec?

NR: None of us are from the same city.

PEV: Where do you think the band will be in 20 years?

NR: I don’t know but we will be close to 50.

PEV: What one word best describes Malbec?

NR: Thrill.

PEV: So, what is next for Malbec?

NR: Tour, tour, tour!

For more information on Malbec, check out


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