The Medics formed in Cairns but, feeling frustrated by the confines of the small town, the young musos made the move south to Brisbane. The city’s music scene can be quite small and incestuous – if somebody is in one Brisbane band, they’re in three or four – and I ask drummer-slash-vocalist Jhindu Lawrie what their experiences have been like thus far in Brisvegas, and whether or not they’ve been welcomed. “We definitely have,” he says. “I mean, I’m not in half a dozen bands yet, but give it time!”
Since their arrival, they’ve made friends with many in the local scene. “We know the Last Dinosaurs boys, for instance, and then there are a few other bands throughout Brisbane that we’ve gotten to know really well over the last two years. It’s really nice to be part of a community like that.”
The Medics’ debut album, Foundations, was released a couple of months ago now, but they’re still giddy with excitement at getting it out there in the world. Earlier this month, for instance, it won the band three top titles in the National Indigenous Music Awards – for Album Of The Year, New Talent Of The Year and Song Of The Year. “The response has been pretty good,” Lawrie says. “Way more than I actually thought we would get, and I’m very happy with it. I know a lot of people in different cities, and just to have them contacting me and telling me how they’re enjoying the album, and how many of their friends are liking it – It’s crazy to think about it, but the response has been really nice.”
Foundations is already a triple j favourite, its songs familiar to many around the country, but it’s new fans Lawrie is most looking forward to getting in front of. “We’re about to go out on tour and I’m really looking forward to hitting a lot of the small towns, getting the album to people who haven’t heard it yet. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
The songs on Foundations have a big and bold quality, indie rock bursting with energy and enthusiasm, but beneath the blustery arrangements there’s a real sadness and reflective quality to the lyrics. As Lawrie tells it, this is not a conscious decision, or some kind of reflection of the band’s collective subconscious – it’s just how they like to do things.
“Each song is quite personal for all of us,” he explains. “I guess I don’t think too much about it – we don’t go into it too deeply. But if there’s something big on our minds, an issue that’s really got us going, you can be sure it will end up in one of the songs.” The writing process in The Medics, he says, is very spur-of-the-moment. “We all write songs individually, but we’ve started doing it in pairs, trying different ways. It’s becoming quite different now and I’m really excited at some of the new techniques that are coming in.”
The Medics’ single Griffin, with its heartfelt lyrical cry of “he’s just a boy,” is a powerful song, and it has a powerful video to match, telling the story of a young indigenous boy running afoul of the law. The clip was shot in Brisbane’s notorious Boggo Road Jail, and its themes resonate powerfully with the band.
“We had a lot of pitches, but that was the one that most fit with the meaning of the song,” Lawrie explains. “A lot of aboriginal youth these days are in bad situations – they end up going to jail and crashing cars and things like that – and the clip reflects that in a really interesting way. It means a lot to me personally, and to each one of us in the band, and honestly, I’m really glad now it’s out that it’s been meaningful to other people, too.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
THE MEDICS play the Toff In Town on Saturday September 15.