New Medicine’s forthcoming debut album is titled “Race You to the Bottom,” but, if their presence on the 2010 Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival is any indication, the Minneapolis-bred rock quartet could be headed straight to the top. Their combination of sweeping guitar licks and emotionally disrobed songwriting evokes the breakneck oomph of early ’80s punk bands and is sure to have fans at every stop banging their head to the beat.
For lead vocalist Jake Scherer, the band’s message is all in its name.
“Everybody has a different medicine—whether it’s coffee, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes,” says Scherer. “When I was growing up, music was the only medicine I needed. If I was really bummed out about something, I’d put a record on and it’d cheer me up. Music’s the ultimate healer.”
I caught up with Scherer and bassist Matthew Brady prior to their show at Darien Lake on Sunday to discuss the genesis of the band and how they’re enjoying their time under the Uproar spotlight.
MNOD: How did you guys begin playing together?
Scherer: Well, we all went to middle school together and played in different bands together. Different members, different bands, but we kind of created a hybrid of all our friends’ bands. Like I said, Dan (lead guitarist) and I went to school together and have known each other forever, so we decided to start a band and everything clicked right off the bat.
Brady: Yeah, we were friends first you know and that made it a whole lot easier to get the music together. We had that chemistry and that base.
Scherer: We knew we all wanted to take over the world, so we had the same great mentality.
MNOD: How did growing up in Minneapolis affect your musical direction?
Brady: That’s a great question. You know, Minneapolis has such a great, diverse base of music. Everything from rock to hip-hop. Alternative bands are really great. You have the history of artists like Bob Dylan, The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum. All those different bands have built the city into a place that nurtures young bands. Venues to play, people to come out and see you. Everybody treats each other well you know. There’s no backstabbing element. Everybody’s happy for one another, so it’s really cool.
MNOD: Who were some of your influences growing up?
Scherer: When I was 13, I started writing songs and Kurt Cobain was my favorite artist at the time. Nirvana is still one of my favorite bands to this day. I loved the way they played and the songs they wrote.
Brady: I grew up listening to punk rock bands like The Descendants, Black Flag and Propagandhi. Stylistically, that scene had a lot of influence on the way I play and the elements I bring to the band.
MNOD: What song on the upcoming album are you most proud of?
Brady: I think we’re most proud of our new single called “Little Sister.” It’s a song about Jake’s sister who died when she was young and it memorializes her. It kind of explores the idea that if she was here today she’d be 18 years old and how would she have impacted Jake’s life. For Jake and for all of us, we’re glad it turned out so well.
MNOD: I read that you guys had more than 100 songs prepared. How did you decide what made it onto the album?
Scherer: We just wanted to narrow it down. We wanted to have the best songs possible on it so, if someone said ‘This is a good song, we would say ‘Well, this is a great song,’ because we wanted to make it work. I think we came up with the best 11 songs for the album.
MNOD: What types of guitars do you play?
Brady: I play a lefty Mexican jazz bass that is covered in about 5,000 stickers, so it’s hardly recognizable. It’s got a lot of heart in it.
Scherer: I play a Gibson Les Paul as well as a Fender Telecaster.
MNOD: I know the tour has just begun, but what has been the best part of it so far?
Scherer: The catering has been pretty awesome.
Brady: Yeah, the catering has been great. It’s cool having the ability to hang at the merch tent as soon as we get finished playing and sign posters for anyone who comes by. We really get an opportunity to meet everyone out here that wants to come over and say ‘Hi’ and we love to do that. We’re sociable people, so we’re having a great time.
“Race You to the Bottom” hits stores on September 28