Veteran Noise-Pop Trio Medicine Got Into Brazilian Music on Their New Album

Veteran Noise-Pop Trio Medicine Got Into Brazilian Music on Their New Album
Courtesy of Captured Tracks

The just-out Home Everywhere (Captured Tracks) is veteran noise-pop combo Medicine’s followup to last year’s critically huzzah’d To the Happy Few, which was released after a near 20-year break for the band.

The trio — made up of guitarist/producer Brad Laner (Electric Company, Savage Republic), singer/bassist Elizabeth Thompson and drummer Jim Goodall (ex-Flying Burrito Brothers and Whitehouse) — have gargantuan and bizarrely catholic musical backgrounds from which they draw upon to create their vision of a new, noisy yet shimmeringly beautiful kind of pop music that will, one hopes, change the shape of the universe and never again be compared to My Bloody Valentine.

Laner and Goodall recently dissected a key track from the new album with the Weekly, and it sounded something like this:

Home Everywhere is out on Captured Tracks on October 28. L.A. Weekly officially rates it a mind-blower.

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Brad Laner: Thank you. We do too. [Laughs]

The new album has the sound of three unfettered music lovers doing what they feel and think without regard for how it’s going to be categorized or its commercial potential. The title track is an 11-minute, multi-part opus that bears little resemblance to "Great Rock Music" as we’ve come to know it.

BL: It’s 11-and-a-half, but who’s counting? Yeah, that was a several-month commitment. That title song is based on a jam we did one day. I had bought a cuica, that Brazilian instrument, and gotten fascinated with Brazilian percussion.

Jim Goodall: Which I got fascinated with after he got fascinated with it.

BL: It was like every time Jim came over to record drums, I’d say, “Let’s do fake Brazilian music.”  I have this confidence that anything I try to attack isn’t going to sound like pastiche, it’s just going to end up sounding like me. I’ve never been able to do anything straight; rock music, industrial music, it always comes out sounding perverted.

JG: That day we did “Home Everywhere,” I came over with all these new beats. I thought, “Brad’s gonna be so impressed,” and I played a couple. He was just like, “Aw, I don’t know. What about something like Brazilian?” I went, “Oh, OK,” and we just took off.

BL: We just kind of fearlessly —

JG: — did our own version of Brazil. Going through our filter.

BL: Right, like, not studied.

JG: It’s not like we’re thinking it sounds Brazilian –– well, we were thinking it did, but it really doesn’t, not too much.

BL: Just listening to a lot of Jorge Ben and Tom Ze and –– I’m kind of over it now…

JG: We move on. We move fast.

BL: While making the record, that’s my where head was at. It was like it was all I wanted to eat, and I gorged myself and it came out the other end. And we have a record to show for it.

The title track melts everything down; the Brazilian elements were merely instigators. How did you put all the parts together?

  BL: I wanted to do an exploded version of what we normally do, which –– particularly on the last album, To the Happy Few –– are multipart things that last for three or four minutes. So “Home Everywhere” is the exploded version of a typical song. Multipart is my middle name –– I just love multiple parts. [Laughs]

That’s not very punk rock.

BL: No. I’m very prog. But y’know, I’m punk rock, too.

JG: We thought we were Weather Report, too.

BL: Yes, the middle section of “Home Everywhere” is very much attempting to be like I Sing the Body Electric–era Weather Report. Now all I want to listen to is electric Miles and quality fusion of that ilk. So there’s a hint of that on “Home Everywhere,” but that is multilayered, heavy, difficult stuff to pull off.

Medicine
Medicine
Photo by Brad Laner and Ryan McCardle

Medicine makes high-concept pop music that draws from a lot of far-flung sources. It takes experience to do that and not just end up sounding derivative.

BL: Honestly, the only reason we’re doing this is because we can. We know there’s gonna be ears on it, or more ears than we normally have, because it’s Medicine, which is bigger than anything any of us do individually.

Does your label Captured Tracks talk to you about reining things in a bit?

BL: No! They’re delightfully hands-off. They have not ever said one word about the music, not one word. They haven’t heard the records until they’re done.

JG: Then they love ‘em.

BL: Well, so far! We’ve done three, and, yeah, it’s crazy what we’ve been able to do. It’s a beautiful thing. And so strange. I mean, we’re like 30 years older at least than any of their other current roster. But I’d say this record sounds pretty damn youthful. Like, belligerent, almost. Why is that?

JG: Can you believe there’s old people on this record? That it’s made by ancient people?

BL: We’re still full of piss ‘n’ vinegar, as my mom would say. [Laughs]

JG: Yep. I don’t know why.

Who is Medicine’s audience? Is that something better un-thought-about?

BL: I try to treat any audience I have as a cherry on top, a pleasant bonus –– or a distracting bonus.

At the end of the day you can look at your record shelf and see your own stuff there, and feel proud about it. Right?

BL: [Laughs] And I’m like, “What have I done with my life?” No, it’s the path I’ve chosen. I feel like I’m blindly hurtling down it.

JG: Don’t look out the window.

BL: We’re lifer music weirdos.

JG: We just can’t stop.


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