BAND in a coastal town struggling to find all-ages venues to play - so they create their own scene.
Cairns band The Medics have a lot in common with our energetic local all-ages scene, and are a great example of what inspired songwriting and a lot of hard work can do.
Formed in 2007, The Medics are packing for their two upcoming shows: Big Day Out and then our very own regional love fest, Saltwater Freshwater Festival.
"We have to weigh everything to ship for the tour," said guitarist Andrew Johnson.
"Now we're mucking around today trying to find a weight scale - I think we're gonna have to go to the tip and weigh everything there."
It's been a voyage of discovery for neighbourhood mates drummer Jhindu Lawrie, bassist Charles Thomas, guitarist Andrew Johnson and singer Kahl Wallace.
Andrew said the whole point of being in a band was having friends enjoy music around you.
"That's what bands were about back in the day - parties in garages and in paddocks," he said of the early days of The Medics.
"There are no real (all ages) venues in Cairns, so when The Medics started to see a little bit of money come through we started to put on our own shows, like at the YMCA - it was pretty cool hey."
Putting on their own shows in Cairns led The Medics to shows in Townsville and then Brisbane, where they're currently living.
"Those shows were scary at first, and we weren't all 18," Andrew said.
"One pub in Townsville we were playing in changed their mind at the last minute and didn't want Charles to play (he was only 17). So we put the bass amp between the door and the stage, extended the lead and he played like 15 metres from us, he was technically 'outside'. It was really ridiculous."
With loads of local musos playing in more than one band, Andrew said it was obvious from the start that The Medics were something different.
"First and foremost The Medics were on the next level from anything else we were doing," he said.
"Every time we played we practised, we thought a lot before we made any other decisions and we believed in each other's abilities.
"As a band we would critique everything really hard and not rush any- thing."
The decision paid off, with an EP in 2008 and another in 2010 earning them exposure on Triple J Unearthed, festival slots and a coveted Deadly Award for Band of the Year.
Debut album Foundations, released last year, was featured heavily on Triple J and cracked the top 30 of the ARIA charts.
"It was a long process," Andrew said about recording the album.
"It took a bit of time to choose the order of songs, we kinda wanted to make the album sound like a journey."
It must have been a good experience for the band as they're keen to repeat it, partly due to the indulgence of a supportive record company.
"We have a pretty good position with the record label where we show a lot of initiative, we do our own artwork and choose our own songs.
Everything to do with the album was purely our choice," Andrew said.
"We're writing a lot of songs at the moment; we've hired a practise room where we can jam whenever we want," Andrew said.
"We'll be demoing stuff soon, there'll be definitely an album drop this year."
Catch The Medics at Saltwater Freshwater Festival, Taree, on January 26.
There's cheap transport on offer to the Festival - for more info click here.
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