Interview: New Medicine Talks "Race You to the Bottom"
Thu, 30 Sep 2010 07:39:12
New Medicine might just be the cure for all of hard rock's ailments.
Their debut album, Race You to the Bottom, isn't plagued with over-indulgent lyrics, bad hair cuts or girl jeans. Rather, New Medicine keep their approach simple and straight-to-the-point. They write hard-hitting, slamming rock anthems that are always catchy and often thought-provoking. From the massive refrain of first single "Laid" to the heartfelt and heart-breaking prose in "Little Sister," New Medicine have crafted an undeniable and unforgettable first offering. If you've got a prescription for real rock, Race You to the Bottom will fill it perfectly.
New Medicine mainman Jake Scherer sits down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about Race You to the Bottom, the story behind "Little Sister" and The Town.
Did you have a complete vision for Race You to the Bottom when you entered the studio?
I definitely had something in mind with all the songs. Getting them right was the most important thing to me. Once I had the songs right, I had an idea of how I wanted the album to sound. The hardest parts were probably sequencing and choosing the tracks we actually recorded. We felt these songs would give the album a great flow. Also, every song on the record doesn't sound the same. You hear that too by starting the album with "Laid" and ending with "Sun Goes Down." There's a big difference between those two songs, but it gets you there. At the end, you don't know how you got there, but it felt good [Laughs].
You pack every emotion that you can into this sonic landscape.
When I write songs, I write them from the heart. A lot of bands will write dark, angry lyrics about the same kind of shit over and over again, or they're totally pop happy and they only write about girls all the time. It doesn't feel as genuine to me. I want to write about things I relate to personally. It's either something that happened to me or something I've seen and thought, "Wow, that's fucked up; I want to write about it." You put all of the songs together, and this turbulent emotional ride. I like that.
What's the story behind "Laid?"
You find those girls who are pathological liars. They just do crazy shit and act super dramatic. I witnessed some of that, and I thought it would be interesting to write about it. In the song, the guy is going through all of this stuff with his chick. They're fighting, and it's drama central. Little does the guy know, she's already with some other dude, and she's been with him this whole time. When the chorus hits, that's when you realize you're not just fighting internally; there's another step to it. With the title of the song, people will think it's about being laid, but it's not. Everything is going wrong here. I thought I knew everything, but she lays it on me and says, "By the way, I'm fucking your best friend!" [Laughs] That's what that song is about. I had a close friend this happened to, and I was watching it from the outside. I knew what was going on. I felt so bad about it. It hits hard.
"Little Sister" goes really deep.
That's definitely a deep song. It's one of my favorites on the record for sure. It's super personal. My sister would've been 18-years-old last year. She had SIDs. She'd rolled over in her crib when she was nine or ten-months-old and suffocated. When you're 18, you became your own person. You graduate from high school, and you figure out if you're going to college or not. You're growing up. I was thinking about her when I was writing and the first words that came out of my mouth were, "Little sister, God, I miss ya." It just came out of me. I wanted to write a song about her because I wonder what she'd be like today. If she was in my life today, how would it be different? My brother might not have been born because my parents may not have had another kid. My life is this way, and I'm in a band. However, if she was alive, I might not even be doing this just because of the way the world works. It's interesting to me. The reason I started playing guitar was because my dad was teaching my little brother how to play and I jumped in like, "I can do this!" Maybe I never would've learned how to play guitar. I had to write a song about her and say her memory still carries through my whole life.
If you Race You to the Bottom, what would it be?
I just saw The Town last night, and I like that as a comparison. It starts you off hard-hitting with "Laid" and then we've got "Race You to the Bottom" towards the end. There ups and downs.
Where did you get the idea for the cover?
I wanted something that represented innocence and fear. I found this famous photo online that I loved. It's this big scary robot and this little girl looking at him. It's such a cool juxtaposition between something big dark and ominous and something innocent. I wanted something weird and ominous standing in front of a totally innocent location, like Coney Island with the roller coaster. It makes you think.
Which albums do you come back to?
Nirvana's Nevermind was a record that changed me for sure. My favorite Nirvana album is In Utero, but Nevermind is what caught me. I was 13, and my friend showed me "Smells Like Teen Spirit." I bought that record, and I knew those were the kinds of songs I wanted to play. It just felt so cool and real. The more I found about the band, the more I wanted to do this. That record sticks with me. After In Utero, I wonder what they would've done next! I definitely draw a lot of influence from Tom Petty and a couple of his albums like Full Moon Fever. Wildflowers is also one of my favorites. He's been cool for 30 years! I definitely take a lot of influence from aggressive bands like Rise Against and Rage Against the Machine. I took a lot of influence from punk bands like Bad Religion, Pennywise and Anti-Flag. Queens of the Stone Age is one of my favorite bands. They're probably one of my biggest influences. I love every record they've ever done. Songs for the Deaf is one of my favorite records. I think Era Vulgaris is amazing too!
Have you heard Race You to the Bottom?
Watch our exclusive video of New Medicine playing "Little Sister" acoustically here!