New Medicine injects a little hope into hard rock on their debut album, Race You to the Bottom, due out this fall via Photo Finish Records. Each song tells a story, whether it’s about the loss of a loved one on “Little Sister” or the state of the world on “Race You to the Bottom.”
For lead vocalist Jake Scherer, the band’s message is in their moniker. “Everybody has a different medicine—whether it’s coffee, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes,” says the singer. “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.”
In 2007, after years of playing in bands through middle school and high school, Jake decided to pursue music seriously as a career and began traveling back and forth from his hometown of Minneapolis to Nashville to hone his songwriting craft. “It’s a whole town dedicated to music. Everybody respects songs immensely in that city, and it inspired a good chunk of this album.”
One particular song from those Nashville trips laid the groundwork for Race You to the Bottom. In early 2008, Jake brought “Baby’s Gone” to guitarist Dan Garland back in Minneapolis. The track was so powerful that Jake had to record it, but he wanted a full band. So he sought out his high school buddy Matt Brady for bass and local drum whiz Ryan Guanzon. The birth of “Baby’s Gone” signaled the beginning of New Medicine, as the quartet quickly clicked around the track.
Immediately, New Medicine cultivated a following in Minneapolis as they constantly composed new material. With more than 100 songs in their arsenal, the band caught the attention of Photo Finish Records/Atlantic and joined the label’s roster in summer 2009. The band entered the studio and collaborated with producers Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, better known as S*A*M & Sluggo (Coheed & Cambria, Gym Class Heroes, Katy Perry), Steve Hodge (Michael Jackson, Sting, Psychedelic Furs) and The Blasting Room, the production team of Bill Stevenson (Rise Against) and Jason Livermore (Puddle of Mudd). The resulting 14 songs showcase a hard sound with a positive slant.
“Laid,” the first single, examines relationship troubles with a combination of wit and wisdom. The song is a propulsive lovelorn rocker that sugarcoats nothing. Jake, who co-wrote the song with S*A*M & Sluggo, reveals, “It’s about an experience with a girl who’s the ultimate wild child. She gets you under your skin, drives you totally crazy and she’s gone.”
Yet Jake doesn’t shy away from pain on the record either. Songs such as the hypnotic and heartbreaking “Little Sister” see the singer baring his soul. With its soaring melody and crunching riff, “Little Sister” can be hummed or pondered because it’s not culled from standard rock fodder. “My little sister died of infant death syndrome at age one. When I wrote that song, I was thinking about what she’d be like today if she were alive. How would my life be different? It’s a sad song, but the chorus is very positive. Even if she’s an angel now, she’ll always be my sister and no matter what, I’m here for her.”
In the end, Race You to the Bottom is based on honesty. “We never worried about fitting into a scene,” declares the singer. “I don’t care how my hair looks; I just want to write good songs. We’re proud of the music we created, and it’s the best feeling ever.”