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Great Condition

12 September 2012 | 7:15 am | Warwick Goodman

“We’ve got some friends who have made the move. Everyone kind of eventually moves out of Cairns. There’s a few people who are still there, but a lot of the musicians and artists usually move away.”

The story begins in the tropical setting of Cairns. It involves travel, a relocation, a lot of great adventures with friends. No, this is not a spruik for a holiday package on the Daintree Coast. It is the story of The Medics, a group of young men who make great music. They grew up in Cairns but moved down together two years ago to the city of Brisbane, where they now hang their hats. It is the dream of any young band, to be fueling up the van, to be taking shifts behind the wheel, to be playing in a different town every night. The attention and recognition they are currently receiving didn't happen overnight. The band have been together for some five years, but you wouldn't know it on appearances.

The Medics have a proud indigenous background and a rich musical pedigree. Kahl Wallace is the lead singer and guitarist. His cousin, Jhindu Lawrie, is the drummer and back up singer. Lawrie's father, Wallace's uncle and mentor to The Medics is indigenous is Bunna Lawrie, singer and drummer in renowned indigenous Australian band Coloured Stone. Wallace explains that they recently attended the National Indigenous Music Awards, the NIMAS, in Darwin. “It's been going for a few years,” says Wallace about the awards, “it's in its fifth year now and it's been national for two. And you know, it's a great thing, it's important in the indigenous community to have that. There's a lot of indigenous artists out there and it's a great platform for indigenous music to get heard, you know, nationally, and internationally.” And the young Medics did alright there, too. “We picked up three awards, we got the album of the year, song of the year and new talent of the year. So we were pretty blown away with those awards, and it was a great experience.”

The band played at the event and Wallace says that it meant a lot to their families to see them up there and have that recognition of the awards. They are proud of themselves, as they should be. “It means a lot to our families, for them to see us up on the stage and getting those awards really means a lot to our family and community.” During their short set at the awards they were joined not only by their uncle but also by an upcoming indigenous music starlet to play a cover of Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind. “We did three songs, we did Griffin, we did a song with my uncle. He's a well known indigenous musician and we did one of his songs called Black Boy. And then Thelma Plum came up for our last song. She's an upcoming indigenous artist, she's getting a lot of air time on the 'js' at the moment, she got the [triple j] Unearthed spot at the NIMA's.” 

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The four-piece have a lush indie rock sound and make powerful, moving tunes. They have been close friends since school, made closer by the band's move from Cairns to Brisbane and their time spent on the road. “We basically all met at high school, and friends of friends, you know, everyone knew each other in Cairns. It was a tight knit group of friends. And we all just got together to make some music that was kind of a bit different to what the other bands in Cairns were doing at the time.” Wallace says that they moved down to Brisbane for the opportunities it provided to them as a band. “You know, the music scene down here is such a great music scene. And it's a lot bigger, there were more opportunities down here. Yeah, it was just more opportunity, easier to travel. We were at that stage in our lives where we needed to move out of home, you know? To grow up, in a sense.” It is not uncommon for kids who grow up in Cairns to want to move away to a bigger city. “We've got some friends who have made the move. Everyone kind of eventually moves out of Cairns. There's a few people who are still there, but a lot of the musicians and artists usually move away.” But don't they miss the warm weather? “It's sunny in Brisbane today, but it's not as warm and tropical as up north,” he admits. “I don't mind it 'ey, I love it. It's good to go back there, and we're going to be starting our tour there, our national tour, we're going everywhere, but we're starting up in Cairns.”

Speaking of weather (it can actually be an interesting topic of conversation, despite common opinion), The Medics ran into a wild storm when they played at Splendour In The Grass. Many people weren't expecting it but most, as Wallace recalls, seemed to enjoy it. “It was really cool and just surreal. We played on the Sunday, that storm came in on the Friday, it went for about half an hour and everything just poured down and everything got really muddied. It was really fun, people were sliding around in the mud, knees deep, literally.”

Wallace is a true traveller at heart. It seems that he really feels like life in the band is an adventure, with places to go and things to see and people to meet. And for him and his Medics, this is just the beginning. “We love being on the road, we love travelling and stuff. We recently got ourselves a van, haha!” He laughs happily at the realisation that his band went through with purchasing a large vehicle for solely band purposes. “We're just gonna chuck all our gear in and start travelling.” Of the recognition and attention they are presently receiving, Wallace admits that it's a dream come true. He awaits the future with open arms. “It's always been a dream to, you know, get your music heard, to get it out. Like not just your family and friends listening to your music, but having people coming up to you after shows that you haven't met before and saying they heard our song on the radio and then they decided to come to one of our shows. And I really love that, meeting new people that have been listening to our music.” Wallace takes a breath before continuing. “Yeah, it's been an amazing ride the last 12 months, and we're just taking it in our stride and we're humbled by it all.”

The Medics will be playing the following shows:

Wednesday 12 September - Spectrum, Darlinghurst NSW
Friday 14 September - The National, Geelong VIC
Saturday 15 September - The Toff In Town, Melbourne VIC
Thursday 20 September - Karova Lounge, Ballarat VIC
Friday 21 September - Ferntree Gully Hotel, Ferntree Gully VIC
Saturday 22 September - The Westernport Hotel, San Remo VIC
Thursday 27 September - Transit Bar, Canberra ACT
Friday 28 September - The Patch, Wollongong NSW
Saturday 29 September - Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
Friday 5 October Hotel - Great Northern, Byron Bay NSW