Josh Malerman: The Laid-Back Frontman of High Strung
On Showtime’s new Sunday night series, Shameless, the theme song to the critically acclaimed show that stars William H. Macy is titled The Luck Got You and is sung by a local Berkley rocker named Josh Malerman; he’s the frontman and lead guitarist of the band the High Strung.
JM: Officially we’ve been playing together for nine years. We met in elementary school; Stephen Palmer is new. Derek [Berk], Chad [Stocker] and I have known each other since we were 10.
RT: What’s the story behind the High Strung donating a tour van to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
JM: We had toured in it like absolute madmen for about five years. We played 250 shows a year, we didn’t live anywhere; we just toured from city to city. At some point people started to write on the outside of the van, and I started to write the outline of a book on the inside of it.
It turned into what looked like a vehicle that would transport Dr. Mindbender. At one point Derek said, “Hey, the van is breaking down; we could scrap this thing and get $200.” I really didn’t want to do that.
One night I was at my mom’s house and said I wanted to drive it up to the door of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She said we should. I called the band mates that night, and we drove up those steps and left it at the front door. We had a plaque made for it to make it look like an exhibit.
RT: What was the reaction from that?
JM: I got a letter from a cop. It said, “Hi, Mr. Malerman. This is Sgt. So and So, who had to remove your vehicle. I want you to know that I and the men on the force actually thought this was hilarious.”
RT: How did you react when you found out that your song “The Luck Got You” was going to be the theme song for the Showtime series Shameless?
JM: I was ecstatic! This little song that we play at shows and in bars that sometimes you can’t even hear — and here it is now on Showtime with William H. Macy. It’s incredible!
RT: What made you decide to start writing books?
JM: I’ve been trying to write books for years. I tried my hand at five or six of them. I didn’t finish a single one, and I tried from probably age 19 to 29. At age 29, we had a couple of months off from the road. I was at home and I don’t know what happened, but I started a new book and finished it. Once I understood the right trajectory of writing a book, there was an absolute explosion. I wrote 14 novels in five years.
RT: Has your family been supportive?
JM: My dad would oftentimes say, “Why can’t you be a lawyer during the day and a crazy songwriter at night?” My mom is completely all for it; they both are.