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Medicine was formed in Los Angeles in 1990 by guitarist/keyboardist Brad Laner. The band has released five LPs, the most recent being 2013’s, To The Happy Few, on Captured Tracks. Our friend Ryan Muldoon at Revolt of the Apes has compiled a list of 10 questions for Brad Laner in anticipation of Medicine’s APF 2014 performance.
Can you recall the first time you consciously felt â€œhealedâ€ by the act of listening to a specific band or a specific album? What was it about that music that impacted you so greatly at that time? Has your overall impression of this music â€“ either in general or of its â€œhealingâ€ capabilities in particular â€“ evolved over the years?
Ah, I see what you’ve done there. I would say that I love and respect music in and of itself too much to look to it for any sort of practical use. Certainly music can be used for both good and bad, therapy and torture. Do either truly honor the most high and mysterious of all art forms ? My taste may have evolved over time, but I’ve never stopped loving any music that I’ve ever loved.
What is an aspect of making music in 2014 that you perhaps take for granted today, but would have been nearly unimaginable for you during the earliest days of Medicine? How do you think this change has benefitted you? What is one aspect of making music that you would love to accomplish, but seems to continue to elude you still to this day?
The computer and all of its digital elasticity, of course. Which has benefited us tremendously. We no longer need to spend 50 grand to make an album like we used to have to do back in the 90’s. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to do a huge amount of different things with music and to follow nearly every whim I’ve ever had. I just always want to get better at it.
One of the first Medicine songs that ever captured the attention of our eyes as well as our ears was â€œAruca.â€ What can you tell us about the origin of this song? Can we be so rude as to ask specifically about the very title of the song itself? Do you have a distinct sense of performing music with a history that spans more than a generation? If so, what is most surprising about that sensation for you?
It’s a play on the Spanish slang term ‘ruca’, which means girlfriend. It’s just a cool jam with lots of interesting guitar bits that you can also dance and sing along to.
The old songs that we play don’t feel old to us when we play them, but I welcome the layer of heaviness it brings to the occasion. To be playing songs that some people have waited years to hear us play, that’s one very nice aspect to doing this.
How have you observed your own musical palettes by the time your began recording â€œTo the Happy Fewâ€? What are some of the most meaningful bands or albums in your world that you think might not have ever entered your atmosphere had you not ever taken a break from performing as Medicine? Is there a particular area of your own musical interests that is decidedly not shared by the other members of the band? What is it about this music that you find so compelling (or, by contrast, that the other members of the band find so repellant?)?
I used my time away from the band mainly to learn how to use home recording technology via immersion in the world of underground electronic music. I wouldn’t say the other members of the band find that repellant. In fact I’m sure they’re glad I did it ! I’ve always sought out collaborators that I can learn from and that’s a constant whether the band is going or not. There are too many significant ones to list here. Just a massive ton of records. Check my discography !
How instrumental were the re-releases of â€œShot Forth Self Livingâ€ and â€œThe Buried Lifeâ€ by Captured tracks in the reanimation (for lack of a better term) of Medicine? What was your initial reaction to the prospect of breathing new life into these recordings? Into Medicine as a whole?
It’s been well documented that I went around for years saying I’d never re-form Medicine. Then, as you noted, the re-issues became a reality and we all got happy with the idea. A total surprise for all involved. I feel very lucky to have been able to oversee those reissues. Very gratifying.
What are the necessary elements for a highly memorable live performance in your mind? Do you find that playing music can deliver you to a mild (or perhaps not so mild) altered state? Do you think of yourself or the band as feeding off of the reception and energy of the assembled audience, or does your experience on stage feel entirely separate, largely personal? How does your onstage experience compare to your experience when watching a live performance as a spectator, rather than a participant â€“ or is the spectator truly a participant after all?
Honestly just having good music will do. At the best of times it can be a transcendent experience for one and all, but outside of playing well there is so much we can’t control. Let’s hope the stars align !
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what’s your favorite song by the Brian Jonestown Massacre of all time and why? Please show your work.
Tons of classic Brazilian music, obscure jazz fusion records, piles of experimental Finnish cassettes, things on the labels we release stuff with, etc. I don’t have a favorite BJM song, but I love to shout “You broke my sitar, maaaaaan” at my bandmates. Our drummer Jim Goodall says his favorite BJM song is “Carousel”
How did you initially hear of Austin Psych Fest? What other bands on the line-up this year are most intriguing for you to see perform live?
It’s famous, isn’t it ? I want to see Boogarins (see above) and i’d like to check out The Horrors and Oneohtrix and too many others to mention. Looks like a strong lineup, should be really fun !
Mother Teresa â€“ an early Psych Fest supporter, we’re sure â€“ is quoted as having said the following:
â€œThe greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality.â€
Mother Teresa was an asshole. Just kidding.
What’s next for Medicine?
New studio album later this year/ early next ! Shows whenever we feel like it.
Catch Medicine at APF 2014 May 2 – 4. Tickets and camping passes are available for purchase HERE.