Video Premiere: "Have A Happy Day" with Nashville's The Medium
interview by jake davis
The Nashville four-piece The Medium, have spent the last few years playing live and honing their sound, a kind of psych-pop that draws from the best of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Often showing both their sense of humor and their honest introspection about life and relationships in their music, it’s obvious the band simply likes to have a good time.
Early next month, the group is set to release their debut album, Get It While It's Hot. Recorded at their shared home in Nashville, the Chapel House, and in a buddy's garage, with production from frequent collaborator Jake Davis. A fun, colorful record tailor-made for summer nights and sweaty house shows is here.
Ahead of their album release on September 6th, we are excited to share the video premiere for “Have A Happy Day”, a sun drenched, spaghetti-filled straight up good time. As well as a conversation between the band and the album’s producer, Jake.
Jake Davis: All right so I am Jake Davis. I helped record and produce this album by The Medium who I'm sitting here with in the kitchen in their house in Nashville. Why don't you go around and introduce yourselves and say what your position is in the establishment.
Jared Hicks: I think I'm Jared Hicks and I beat the skins, play the drums.
Shane Perry: I am Shane and I play the strings and a couple other things.
Michael Brudi: I'm Michael and I play guitar and sing.
Sam Silva: I'm Sam. I play bass and I sing.
Jake: Let's talk a little bit about making this record. It's been about a year now since we started recording it and it was not made in a traditional studio. We made it in a number of makeshift studio environments, mainly in houses. So how was making this record unique from other experiences that you've had with recording?
Michael: The house environment. Fairly on par.
Jake: So you guys aren't used to recording in the actual commercial recording studio is what you're saying?
Michael: We've done that, at the Belmont studio. We've had a couple of experiences in studios around town where we’d save up some money and put it towards that and then we'd have like two days or one day in a Belmont studio, but this was more relaxed.
Jake: How did this influence the end product? Do you think it was better to have the luxury of time and comfort versus the pressure of a studio?
Sam: I don't know. I don't think we work the best under pressure. With any of the actual studio experiences we had. We kind of just like did whatever was suggested to us by the producer and I think you know once we heard the finishes we weren't as happy with it as we could have been.
Jake: It's certainly nice to have the luxury to sit on something for a minute and then think about what worked and what didn't work and then be able to go back and make corrections at your leisure. So, let's talk a minute about one particular song which is the next single which is called “Have a Happy Day”. Sam that's a song that you wrote, right?
Jake: So speak a little bit about where that song came from and how you wrote it.
Sam: The music I had written before any of the words. I kind of finished the song with music before I thought of any words. That's kind of how I've been writing a lot of songs. It was easy for me to come up with one part and then figure out kind of a complementary guitar part and then a bass. I played guitar before I started playing bass. I just had the music thought out and then I came up with the words in about 15 or 20 minutes.
Jake: Had you guys played it as a band before you recorded it?
Sam: Yes. Actually we didn't do it very consistently throughout because I would try to do it in different keys. We recorded the song like half a step down from the standard tuning but you know when you're live you don't always have time to tune between songs. We just kind of did it in the standard key.
Jake: I remember when we were recording that song I hadn't heard it yet and I wasn't sure where it was going and you started the song by just layering I don't know it seemed like it was 10 different guitar parts or something over and over. I didn't know what you were going for. It was all this kind of seasick chorus guitar and you just kept doing more and more and more layers. I was a little uncertain about it when you were doing it and then I think you did multiple bass lines as well. Once it all was mixed together and then it sank in I totally understood what you were hearing and it worked really well. Obviously you had some sort of vision in mind.
Shane: You have to trust him. He's doing it.
Jake: He's proven himself.
Jared: You were very tired that day.
Jake: I think that was either the last song or one of the last songs we recorded and it had been a long weekend. That was a tedious endpoint but I love the song and I think you did a great job with it. And that's another thing I wanted to talk about. Ironically, the medium of recording we recorded this on pro tools because we had a tape machine that broke the day that we were supposed to start recording. I think a lot of people that have heard this record say that it sounds vintage in a way, sounds like it was recorded on tape and it wasn’t. It was recorded digitally. I think that a song like that, we wouldn't have been able to do it in the same way because with the computer we're able to layer and layer and layer all these guitars and things like that. Which would have been a huge pain in the ass on tape. So in that way the medium kind of determined the end product.
Michael: We recorded a whole album on the tape machine.
Jake: Right and then we rerecorded it.
Michael: So there is a version of this album with a couple more songs. It's on a reel.
Jake: So yeah that'll come out when the fiftieth anniversary is reissued.
Michael: Yeah, yeah exactly.
Jake: Are there any overarching thematic elements that you think run throughout the course of this record?
Shane: It's kind of hard to say. “Come Back to Me” - it's like my food order, come back.
Sam: Dramatic elements, I guess. But just kind of big picture you know, nothing very specific. Positivity. It's a positive record, it's more of a feeling and it's less about the issues.
Jake: There seems to be a level of nostalgia, a level of friendship, a level of relationships and fun. It's just a fun record. It doesn't take itself too seriously.
Sam: No, I would say don't take any of the songs too seriously.
Jared: I definitely can hear different themes and I’ve thought differently about the songs at different periods of time. You kind of it get what you will out of it.
Jake: That's the beauty of the song it can mean different things at different times.
Shane: I want to say I don't take any of it too seriously is all.
Jared: That's like a life.
Michael: There's different flavors too on the records. There's some songs that are really tight and have a certain power to them, like “Happy Day” and “Rosie” and then there's some songs like “Mercury” which we actually did on tape, “Mercury” is on tape “Lazy Sunday” is on tape too. And those have a certain looseness to them but they still rock just in a different way.
Jake: What were you guys listening to when we were making that record? Was there anything or any records or artists that you were feeling influenced by at that particular time that you remember?
Sam: “Mercury” for sure the Beach Boys. Just their arrangement of it with the piano.
Shane: We'd go through an artist that we were kind of exploring at the time and depending on the song the artist would influence the song. So we were listening “Don't Worry Baby” when Michael and I were working on “Mercury” a lot and it turned into a more pulsing sound, whatever you'd call it. It just depended on the song really. Each song was motivated by a different thing that we were listening to. “Good ‘ol Days” was like a daydream, I don’t know if it was influenced by anything. I can't speak for some of the other songs. “Lazy Sunday”, I was just listening to Revolver.
Jake: I mean that's a great influence to have. What would you want to do differently for the next album having been through this process once now?
Jared: I would say just more risks in general.
Jake: Do you think this record is a safe record?
Jared: Not necessarily, but I think it'd be fun to put on some restrictions— with every part of the process.
Michael: You do something for the first time and you don't know what you can do because you're just trying to make a record. But I think now we could probably push it, be more capable of doing more the next time.
Sam: The songs are better.
Jake: The new songs that you've been writing? Well that's that's a good New songs are great and that's a natural feeling to have after you put out a record.
Shane: We're just writing things that happened to come in the moment. I think the songs themselves are getting better and we're getting more used to doing them. Getting more used to an environment and creating them.
Jake: What had you guys done individually before this band? Were you in other bands that released records?
Shane: I was in an indie-rock band called Free Thinker. They were my best friends for a long time. We made a lot of songs for a long time. They're probably the reason I started playing music. Yeah, it's been my dream for a long long time.
Jake: I think there's something really special that comes with the first record of a band or an individual. There's a certain naive energy and I mean that in a good way— of not having done this before. Experimenting and putting out this sort of pure work that's uninfluenced by other experiences as a group. I think this record is a really great example. And you won't capture that same energy ever again. The energy will mature and evolve and it will be greater in a lot of ways, but that spark of a first record is a really unique and special thing.
Sam: Definitely. There's nothing too complicated about our recording. It's all very simple. It's a simple record.
Keep in tune with The Medium here.