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An interview with psycho-delic Chicago band

The Mediums

by Chris Auman

Published April 17, 2010

The Mediums

Chicago's dirty psych-garage rock band The Mediums are comprised of two Scorpios and two Aries. But I have no idea if I made that up, or if that's true, or where I may have heard that, or even what possible relevance it could have either way—but that is hardly the point!

OK then, now that I've completely and irreparably botched this introduction, let's just get right to it. Aided by trusty Reglar Wiglar Intern, Little Tim, I sat down to interview The Mediums in their dressing room after a scorching gig at the Bottom Lounge this past February.

We now join The Mediums interview already in progress:

RW: Ok, ok, fair enough. Ok, the tape recorder’s rolling, Jason, what do you do? You’re the singer...

JASON: I am.

MATT: Harmonica player.

JASON: Tambourine.

RW: That’s right, you got that goin’ the whole time. And Matt, bass player, what kind of amp is that, that’s an old school—

MATT: Ampeg.

RW: It is an Ampeg.

MATT: 1994.

RW: I heard it scream, I heard it making that noise that only an Ampeg makes.

MATT: Yeah, it’s a nice amp with that big fat fucking bottom.

RW: Drummer.

STEVE: I’m Steve, drums—not drums and percussion, just drums.

RW: Just drums, no percussion for you.


ADAM: Adam, guitar.

RW: All right. What did you think of the bands you were playing with? You blew them all away, I gotta tell yah. You agree. You agree with that.

(NOTE: In fairness, I did not catch the opening band.)

ADAM: We have a pretty high opinion of our cultural product.

RW: What was the band before you?

ADAM: Special Vagina.

JASON: There are no special vaginas.

MATT: The Ruiners were before us.

RW: They had a woman who was mostly naked—

JASON: With zippered elastic shorts.

RW: Right, I saw that, and it didn’t help them. And their bass player was Vince Neil from Mötely Crüe.

ADAM: Which didn’t help either.

RW: It didn’t help them.

MATT: I was hoping we could borrow the girl for our set.

RW: They had guitar, bass, drums and two guys who didn’t do anything.

ADAM: Isn’t that what ska bands do, isn’t there always a guy who doesn’t do anything?

MATT: The Happy Mondays had Bez.

STEVE: The rest of the band won’t let me wear leather shorts.

RW: Is that true?

JASON: They’re too expensive. Since we do everything as a band, we don’t want to pay for ‘em ‘cause they would have to be specially made ‘cause of his junk.

RW: It fills it out.

JASON: Girls break up with him because they can’t handle his junk.

RW: Wow.

ADAM: Male camel toe.

RW: Is there such a thing as male camel toe or is it called something else?

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STEVE: It must be called something else.

RW: So you guys have not recorded yet?

ADAM: We have not. Here’s why we haven’t recorded yet, it's because of the Soft Targets.

RW: That’s bullshit.

ADAM: They take all Kris Poulin’s time.

RW: So Kris Poulin is the only game in town then.

ADAM: Pretty much. That we can afford.

RW: I know you’ve recorded before. Was it not something that you felt was worthy of releasing?

MATT: We’ve sold some, we’ve brought ‘em to shows.

JASON: A lot of [the songs] were covers, good for the two song, three song CDs to sell for five bucks or whatever.

RW: So you do covers, you do originals, what’s the balance?

JASON: We do mostly originals now. Tonight we played one cover, I think.

RW: So when I saw you at Ronny’s two years ago...

ADAM: Eighty percent obscure, garage rock covers.

RW: That nobody would recognize, so you can...

MATT: Appropriation.

ADAM: See, Matt and I are visual artists too, so we have this thing where it’s not really ripping something off, it’s just using it.

RW: Who started this band? I know you were in a band...

The Mediums Live at Schuba's

MATT & ADAM: Hodads.

ADAM: Ok, so it was Hodads and we rocked, but we had on drums—instead of the venerable Steve—we had Brandon with a smaller penis than Steve, maybe even a special vagina. Brandon doesn’t read this.

RW: He can’t read, I heard.

ADAM: I guess he was the one child left behind.

STEVE: It was actually kind of a cool thing, a friend of a friend connected me with these guys and they had me up for an audition—it wasn’t really an audition, did you guys have other guys lined up?

RW: One of those, huh?

ADAM: But yeah, we were the Hodads and then we played one show at the Beat Kitchen opening up for the King Brothers, right?

MATT: Then we played a Halloween show at the Winthrop House.

ADAM: Yeah, we did the Winthrop Halloween show, and you guys played that? Did we play with you?

RW: Yep.

JASON: Reagan National Crash Diet.

RW: Yeah.

ADAM: So then shit happened, Jason took off and went hobo and went to Europe for six months.

STEVE: Hobo, not homo.

JASON: I joined a Morrissey cover band.

RW: You were the bartender at one of the craziest bars at Belmont—that cop bar right?

ADAM: The Blue Light.

RW: The Blue Light, before it went all legit.

JASON: Gold chains, hairy chests, three buttons down.

RW: How many fights were in there a night?

JASON: Zero, because I broke them up.

RW: I saw you jump over the bar at least once when I was in there as a casual observer.

ADAM: Were there chick bikers that hung out there?

JASON: There was everything from retired police officers, Marines to drug dealers... uh, lesbian truckers... American Indians... there were all kinds of people in there. It was quite an experience, but luckily I’m still alive.

RW: Well, all right.

The Mediums live

ADAM: So, then I wanted to get the Hodads back together and do the Hodads thing. Matt and I had been talking about it and I called up Jason and said let's do the Hodads, but then were like, it’s gotta be—

RW: Completely different.

ADAM: It’s gotta be way rad. it’s like the Hodads with —

JASON: With seven years of growth in between.

ADAM: Super rad.

MATT: Everyone did their own thing. Jason did the Bottom Feeders, I did the country band, Adam did the Peelers, Steve was in other bands. When we finally did get back together everybody was a lot better than we were from the get go. It made things a lot easier.

ADAM: It was weird because the first couple practices were really good, like the first bunch were awesome.

RW: Where do you guys practice?

ADAM: At Matt’s studio.

RW: Down on the south side?

MATT: On Cermak east of Halsted right off the river in China Town.

ADAM: And then we were playing and then Steve couldn’t play for awhile.

STEVE: Had a little injury. Had to have a bunch of titanium put in my vertebrae, long story behind that one. Laid me out for about two months.

ADAM: We were super bummed. There were no meetings and then Steve is part bionic.

RW: You’re a bionic drummer.

STEVE: Parts of me are made of metal now.

ADAM: And then we came back and then we fucking did it and it’s killer.

RW: So recording again—

ADAM: In June to cut the first album. You know Kris doesn’t have a name for his studio yet.

RW: He has several names.

ADAM: It’s whatever you want to call it, right?

RW: Right, that’s fair.

ADAM: I call it El Cubano.

RW: The who, the what?

ADAM: El Cubano. He doesn’t call it Lab East anymore, right?

RW: No. I think he likes Old Greg’s Downstairs Mix-Up or O.G—whatever the fuck— O.G.M whatever. It’s from a British television show (The Mighty Boosh) where somebody...aahh yeah, yah gotta see it, but once you see it you'll be like, you know...

RW INTERN: I got a question.

RW: Oh yeah, this is my intern—he’s not an intern he’s a man, he’s a full grown man.

MATT: Welcome.

RW INTERN: What’s your goal?

ADAM: To make rad music.

RW INTERN: The music industry for independent bands is very different now than it was ten years ago—the way bands promote themselves—so here we are, do you guys have a plan?

RW: My intern hits it hard. He goes for the jugular.

Matt and Jason of the Mediums

ADAM: I feel like I’m on Charlie Rose. Here’s the thing, we really enjoy playing together. We play every Monday night, that’s our practice time and we love that and as long as that’s good everything else flows from that. I don’t know if that’s really a plan.

RW INTERN: It is a plan.

ADAM: The plan is—

MATT: —to continue to play.

ADAM: For me it’s kind of like a quality of life issue. This is good. It’s very important.

RW: I’ll put it a little more bluntly maybe, I’ve known you guys for a long time. We’re all getting older, were not twenty-two anymore,

JASON: Not even thirty-two.

RW: But we’re still doing it. Why?

JASON: For love.

ADAM: For quality of life.

STEVEN: From the perspective of the new guy, what we're not doing is pushing it really hard. We’re not printing t-shirts, were not pressing CDs, or printing stickers right away. We’re having a blast, playing good songs, other people seem to like it and that’s really cool too.

RW INTERN: There may be room for that in the new thing where you can have bands all over the fuckin’ place that just appreciate it for what it is.

MATT: Your point of getting older, and it’s why I like playing with these guys so much. I’ve got other shit to worry about, I can’t worry about other people’s abilities and infighting. Everybody is so good at what they do.

JASON: Every time a practice has been scheduled, everybody shows up. Every one. Every time there’s a gig, we have to show up at a certain time, everybody’s there on time. Nobody shows up without their guitar—

RW: Or they’re harmonica or whatever.

JASON: Everybody is self-sufficient. Financially as well, which is also very important. If you can’t afford to take a night off to play, whatever the case may be.

ADAM: Well I think too, it humanizes that whole project. It’s not were like pushing something. It just doesn’t matter. It’s not some kind of post-fame, death of the record industry cliché. I don’t know if it’s emblematic of Chicago or it’s just our attitude. It’s just what it is.

STEVE: In the past four years this is the fifth band i’ve been in. There are no douche bags in this band.

RW: Are you sure there are no douche bags. I don’t agree with you. I don’t agree with you.

MATT: I think the thing that helped us the most is that we did go our separate ways and when we finally got back together, we were coming from different backgrounds, different ideas, and we all kinda blended it together.

RW: And you’ve known each other for along time, that’s another thing.

MATT: And Jason’s singing over the last nine years improved tenfold.

JASON: A lot more pain, a lot more pain... and my balls dropped.

RW: You can hear that, man. What the fuck took so long?

JASON: (deep voice) Oh, I don’t know.

ADAM: He does a whole Paul Robeson thing.

RW: Well, congratulations, man, I hope my balls drop sometime.

JASON: They drop twice.

RW: I thought puberty was the end of it, but apparently there’s a lot more to go.

JASON: They call me the pendulum. Jason “The Pendulum” Walters. I let everyone know that.

Ok, so that's kind of an abrupt ending I realize, but alcohol had already started to derail this little pow wow about ten minutes in. What has been omitted was Jason sharing a dream he had about Danny Devito and then at some point Adam began accompanying a Prince song being played over the Bottom Lounge sound system. Even though he was matching The Artist's sexy falstetto note for note, it really didn't translate to tape that well. Therefore:


Read more band interviews:

Birds & Arrows
Blasted Diplomats
Kasper Hauser
Bad Cop
Reading Rainbow
Summer Girlfriends


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