by Margaret Chrystall
LIKE his father – the legendary late Cream bassist Jack Bruce – Malcolm Bruce is all about the music.
Currently writing an opera based on a Chinese legend, Malcolm is also rehearsing for his Scottish tour to promote his last project, partially-crowdfunded debut solo album Salvation.
But sandwiching that tour has been Malcolm’s side project The Music of Cream which has been touring Australia and New Zealand with America to follow.
As a composer, songwriter and classically-trained performer who sings, plays guitar, bass and piano, Malcolm has a thriving musical career of his own.
But he agrees he’s found the perfect balance now between his own musical identity and embracing his dad’s legacy.
“Sometimes people think ‘Oh you are the son of someone famous, it’s easy and you’ve got tons of money’.
“But really I am following my own path.
“And because of the nature of the industry and especially now – it’s quite a challenge.
“I think some people change their name and are strict about having no association if they’ve got famous parents.
“But I’m proud of my dad and I’m proud of what he achieved.
“And as long as I continue to do my own work, then I think it’s OK to do The Music of Cream.
“I don’t think it would go on forever, maybe a couple of years of touring.
“For me it has always been a difficult area to navigate. But, yes, I am embracing it.”
Malcolm is particularly looking forward to returning to Scotland – Jack was originally from Bishopbriggs in Lanarkshire.
This tour stops off at Fort Augustus, Ullapool, Wick and Inverness.
Malcolm said: “I’m not Scottish and I wasn’t brought up in Scotland, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Scotland over the years with my dad.
“When I was 12 or 13 he did a tour of Scotland and we got the ferry over to Stornoway and it felt like the whole island – a couple of hundred people – turned up to hear him play.”
“It was a challenging relationship, but music is what bound us together.
“I performed with him and recorded in the studio with him and I worked with him on the pre-production of his last record which we made at Abbey Road Studios.
“For as long as I remember, I was going to see him perform.”
The two talked about music, Malcolm revealed.
“We did, over the years, talk about it a lot – it is a kind of obsession, music, in a way.
“You can’t be half-a*sed about it and both me and my dad were like that in that music is what we do.
“When he was around, we talked an awful lot, shared things and listened to certain artists who inspired us.
“I learned a lot from him, though he kind of let me get on with my own development in terms of studying.
“Also being in that environment where musical instruments were around and musicians were turning up, it was always there and was a big influence, definitely.
“Some people don’t understand my father’s career and his life in music because he was in this band Cream that was only together for a couple of years.
“Then he made all this other kind of music from jazz to classical to rock or whatever.
“So when people think of Cream, it’s a very specific thing.
“And if he’d just done that, it would have been amazing.
“But he did scores of solo records and other things.”
“I think it is a challenge, other people’s expectations.
“But I think you have to have a thick skin.
“This particular album is about this girl that I fell in love with – and the relationship ended.
“I thought I was going to be with her forever, but she kind of disappeared.
“The next one will be all flowers and happy things!”
But first – once the rehearsing is over – there’s the 21st century musician’s other duties, such as getting the show on the road for the Scottish dates.
Malcolm laughed: “I’ve got a little more practise to do tonight, then there’s booking vans to pick people up, washing clothes ...”
The first Highland gig is on Thursday, October 5 with Thurso, Wick and Eden Court in Inverness to follow. full details below.
Malcolm Bruce - plus special guests The Andy Gunn Band with their new album on sale at gigs -play the Macphail Centre, Ullapool, on Thursday, October 5; the Halladale Inn, Thurso, on Friday, October 6; Wick Assembly Rooms on Saturday, October 7; Eden Court, Inverness, on Monday, October 9.