Raised in Whitestone, New York, Malin gravitated to New York's punk rock scene at age 12. From 1980 to 1984, Malin sang in a hardcore band, Heart Attack, playing CBGB's regularly even though the musicians were only 12 to 16 years old. Four years later, the band split. Malin worked as a gas station attendant, a health food store clerk, and a "man with a van." Malin returned to the stage with the glam-punk band D Generation from 1991 until 1999, and ultimately launched a solo career in 2001. His most recent studio albums, New York Before the War and Outsiders, both were released in 2015.
In October 2018, Malin performed a residency of four Tuesday nights at Coney Island Baby, a rock club he co-owns. He has returned for a residency of three Wednesday nights in January 2019, in which he plays his early solo albums in their entirety. Tonight, on the first of these nights, he and his band (guitarist Derek Cruz, keyboardist Rob Clores, bassist Catherine Popper, and drummer Randy Schrader) performed Malin's first solo album, 2002's The Fine Art of Self Destruction, plus 10 other songs over the course of two hours. Malin engagingly introduced most of the songs with an anecdote describing their origins and situating these insights in the cultural context of the time. Once the music started, however, Malin was a rocket-fueled performer, balancing pure rock and roll energy with heartfelt sensitivity. He ignited the songs by singing passionately, and the band provided the extra power to make the engines blast. The residency continues on January 16 and January 31.