With a range of Australian artists such as Little Red and Yves Klein Blue breaking up, and many others such as Operator Please and Miami Horror falling into temporary obscurity, it’s hard to say who’ll step up to fill the void.
That’s where Brisbane atmospheric rock band The Medics come in. Since their innception in late 2007, the four piece have released two solid EPs and one debut album, as well as winning a Triple J Unearthed competition in 2010 and a handful of Australian music awards.
Now, following their main stage appearance at Byron Bay’s Splendour In The Grass in July, they’re packing their bags and setting off on a 14-date Australian tour, riding off of their debut album Foundations.
The Medics are well accustomed with recognition of their talent, having received a Deadly award for 2010’s Band of the Year, as well as more recently taking out three National Indigenous Music Awards for album of the year, song of the year and new talent of the year. Lead guitarist Andrew Thomson explains the band’s surprise over beating Busby Marou and Gurrumul at the NIMAs, saying that “we were so wrapped that we took three awards. We were actually nominated for three, but we never thought we’d win them all – especially with our tough competition.”
“We’re all glad that Foundations won the album of the year award and how much positivity it’s received, but we’re also happy that it wasn’t as big as, say, Temper Trap’s debut” Thomson explains.
Follow-up albums have always been a true test for bands, with some Australian acts such as Wolfmother and The Temper Trap falling short with the sophomores to following their definitive debut albums. “There’s always going to be that little bit of pressure that pushes artists to have a bigger and better second release,” agrees Thomson. “but it’s not powerful enough to be distracting in the studio for us. We took a month off and went away to record about ten or eleven songs. Not all of those are album quality, but we’re definitely going to use some.”
One thing people overlook is that many artists were –and sometimes still are – punters, going to the same music festivals as their fans before they became big enough to grace the stages.
Thomson tells his Splendour stories in the years before The Medics were big enough to play, saying that “I went to Splendour in the Grass in 2010 and 2011, and now it’s good to perform rather than buy a ticket because it’s one of Australia’s best, but also Australia’s most expensive festival. One negative was that, because we were performing on the Sunday, we couldn’t go our hardest on the Friday and Saturday. We ended up being pretty healthy and energised for our show, but we caught a few acts that night who were really, really weary from the weekend.”
With the four members of the Medics still classed as young adults, each doing their own individual prospects, it may prove difficult for a touring band to still successfully complete a university course or hold a permanent job, but Thomson tells us that it’s not as difficult as some may think. “I’m lucky, because my sound engineering course lets me do a lot of my assignments on the road, not to mention how I got to bump in to my teacher who was mixing at Splendour In The Grass.”
“Our bassist Charles Thomas isn’t a massive part of our creative force, so he occupies himself in lots of other ways,” adds Thomson. “For example, he studied graphic design, and he’s doing a campaign called To The North to raise awareness of high school bullying by riding bikes from Townsville to Port Douglas.”
The Medics have an undeniably unique sound to them, and it’s hard to interpret which artists helped them achieve it. According to Thomson, they don’t even have any influences. “When we get together and write, we don’t borrow from any artists. We just feed off of each other until we have a complete composition. Of course, we sound like artists – for example, I think we have the loud and intense parts the way that The Mars Volta have – but they weren’t one of our [direct] influences.”
The Medics have fully grounded themselves in the alternative Australian music scene, and they’ve made it clear that the only way they’re moving is up. Their musical chemistry “grows every day” and with a great deal of recorded pieces already on hand, a follow up release may be sooner than their fans think.
Foundations is out now through Footstomp Music. The Medics are currently on tour through to October 5th. Full dates and details here.