On TV he is Enzo, the Italian vampire as well as the best friend of Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) in the acclaimed television series The Vampire Diaries.
No matter in which state you live, the U.S. or the UK, in both cases you saw him die and become an annoying ghost decided to return on Earth from the Other Side; but if you have been awake at night waiting for the grand finale …. ok then you know that we can not yet spoilers so let’s stop here.
But, if Enzo is committed to finding a house divided between two worlds, his interpreter, Michael Malarkey, is back in Londra (where he moved in 2006) and decided to devote himself to his biggest passion after acting: the music.
We met him a few minutes before his concert at The Islington and we asked him to tell us about both his passions.
Needless to say that the tickets were sold out a week before the concert.
When I arrive at the pub, Michael is releasing another interview outside the venue: jeans, shirt and a Top Gun jacket.
Inside, although are still missing a couple of hours at the beginning of the gig, there are already many people waiting to enter the room where there is the stage.
Once back in the pub, Michael talks with anyone who approaches him, enjoying the conversations with a sincere smile and never denying a photo or an autograph.
We decide to get into the concert room to be able to speak and, once seated on the stage, I can derive my curiosity.
Where do we start … the music or the television?
From wherever you want..
Well, let’s start with the music. When did you start playing guitar and why did you choose the guitar?
I started playing the guitar when I was about 20 years old and I started playing because I was in a hardcore punk-band at the time and I played whit this band for about 4/5 years before I knew what I wanted to do so I tried this band. I got frustrated because they were writing maybe 1 or 2 songs a year and I was the vocalist and I was waiting for them to make me them so I kind of started teaching myself the guitar. A friend gave me a sort of electric he had, and the amplifier and I started to try to play a little of hardcore and little bit of punk, by myself, you know, in my bedroom with my parents who became crazy. So, that’s how I started. I chose to play the guitar because you can easily learn to play it. It took me ages to string songs together but I never played covers song or anything, I just started to try to make my own music immediately. And it’s what I do ever since so so I should be able to play music that seems maybe ok.
So, your first guitar was from one of your friend..
Yes, it was an electric guitar…an old crap electric guitar he just wanted to throw away. He asked me if I wanted it and I was like “Yeahhh” and it started.
When and why did you get the idea for this concert?
I was in LA doing The Vampire Diaries and I brought my guitar there, so I..when I don’t play for a while I become a little mental so I was like…”I need to play” . I was with Ian…Somerhalder; he is on the show as well. We were at his house playing guitar and staff. Ian has several guitars in his house so I borrow one of his guitar and I started playing…and I was…”You know what? When I go back home I’ll do a home coming gig. And my friend Danny is a music manager so I asked “Dude, can you arrange a gig for me” and he said “Yes, I’m happy to see you to come back to music”. Great; so ever since then we’ve spoken to do some gigs. I have to concentrate on acting, but it would not bad be able to do a little bit more of both.
So your next concert is something that had already been planned or you have decided to do it because this is sold out?
We decided to do it because this sold really well but also because I want to start doing a little more.
Well you can organize the next one with Ian [Somerhalder]…
Yeah, we joked about to do some duets at some point so maybe next time we’ll see each other we’ll try to do that.
The songs that you play are all written by yourself?
Yes. I write all my own material: lyrics, music, everything is my own creation. I don’t like playing cover songs. I feel that people love them and I know people want to hear covers…but I know people enjoy also hear new things so I always play my own stuff.
How do you feel when you are on stage?
Pretty terrible to be honest. I get really nervous but normally it doesn’t affect me in my brain, normally are just my legs and my hands…and that just never go away. I have just to dealing with it more often. Everybody has nerves, nerves literally are just adrenaline coursing to your body and it’s just up to you decide how to use it. It’s telling you: do you want fight or do you want run? And you can’t do it when you are on stage, you either can’t flight the stage, you can just accept the fact that the adrenaline is there for you to be used.
There is something that you’re used to do before a concert? Maybe some superstitious ritual or some kind of preparation? Maybe usually stay only one hour in the dark closed in concentration …. which means that right now I’m ruining the concert…
No, not really. Maybe share a beer with some friends…it depends on what kind of thing you’re doing…I did a musical in the West End [Million Dollar Quartet at the London Theatre in 2011, e.n.] and for that I had a really specific routine…I had a vocal warm up, a physical warm up, and, most of all, I had to be careful to save my voice for the next evening. But for this kind of music, all written in my register, I don’t need too much preparation.
If you had to choose…music or acting?
Acting. Actually it’s what I chose. I had to make that choice when I auditioned for drama school and I left the band.
How came up the audition for The Vampire Diaries?
Well, I have agents in LA and I auditioned for quite a lot of American Television and…that is just one that did well; maybe because I look like a vampire…who knows…
And how was joining a cast that has been a family for 5 years?
Often it can be intimidating but, in this case, for this group…not at all. It’s an amazing…such a family group of people and they genuinely feel like a family. And when you have this kind of feeling you’re able to do your best work because you’re relaxed and confident and you know that everyone is supporting you..there is no egos, no people playing games; it’s all very much pure and a together “let’s do this in the best way we can”
How do you feel about your character…about Enzo?
I love Enzo…
I love the way you say Enzo..he’s suppose to be Italian but you say his name with this American zi:/ sound…for an Italian is so strange…
Yes, Enzo…Lorenzo…Is it strange..funny or is it strange really bad?
No, it’s strange…sweet
Ah, ok…Good. I was saying…I love my character. Sometimes he does bad things but as actor you must never judge him. You know, because if you start to do it the way you play your character actually become a try to inhabit him. And at the end all his actions in the show have a justification. So, I don’t consider him a bad guy at all even if people think he made bad things
Actually he is not…
No, he is not. Everyone probably can see he has a strong sense of loyalty, of friendship…I think he is a really interesting character.
How is he different from you? Obviously vampire thing apart…
Obviously,mmmm… Well I’m a little more forgiven…I think.
He is forgiven! He forgave his best friend who left him to die in a fire…I think it’s something big…
Yeah. You’re right, that’s true. I don’t go around killing people. This is the difference. I’m more silly, Enzo takes things pretty much seriously. But actually he is always joking… I don’t know…actually we are more alike than I ever thought.
USA or UK?
I absolutely love the UK and it’s why I moved here. I’ve been here for 8 years now, I have a little flat in North London. I’ll be going to the USA hopefully for working stuff but I always just love when I come back and I can go to the pub and get a beer. I love the English sensibility, the English sense of humor,…My mother is English so…But I still rooting for both in the World Cup.
Would you like to return on stage in a play or a musical?
A musical is really intense and the last one was a really big challenge for me. I didn’t think I could do it and I did. And I loved it but I prefer to do things like credit drama…keep things separate. But I’d love to go back on stage.
The concert, which needless to say is a huge success. Between music and lots of laughs Michael set list includes songs such as: From A to Z, Dancing in the Grey, Friends, Break this Chains, Feed the Flames (about the importance to keep the passion alive in a relationship), Everything’s Burned, The Hero Shot, The Bells still Ring (written for a the wedding of his friends), Give me a reason, she Walks Through Rooms and Doghouse Blues (dedicated to one of her favorite places).
After the concert, Michael has dedicated himself to the usual photos with fans and then to a beer with his beautiful wife and some friends greeting me with a lovely Italian goodbye when it was time for me to leave.
Michael held another gig tonight, always here in London. At this link you can find all the information about the event.
Tickets are sold out but some tickets will be available at the door.
So what are you waiting for?!?!
And if you’re coming down remember to learn the choruses of Bells Still Ring because Michael has an idea…