NEWMEDS, only in their formative months as a band, have already taken great strides in establishing themselves as Hull’s latest and loudest voices in the rock scene pandemonium. After the release of their latest single ‘Cognitive Behaviour’, a raucous deluge about the tribulations of dealing with mental health, Soundsphere sat down for a conversation with Nick Cobley (vocals), Joe Brodie (drums) and Mark Wood (guitar) about the emergence of NEWMEDS, and the personal motivations behind musicians who have done it all, but are searching for something different.
“Between us we’ve come from a broad spectrum.” Guitarist, Mark Wood said. With an eclectic mix of experience in the likes of Drowners, Outspoken Silence, all the way from blues to black metal, NEWMEDS are wise to the ways of the industry. “This is a result of ten years of playing in many different bands all over the world, essentially.”
Nick Cobley, the vocalist and songwriter for the band, told us of how NEWMEDS came to be: “When we first started NEWMEDS we knew it needed to be a brand, it needed to be professional. So we got the logos done, we got the feel of the music and we just put it out straight away. People are listening to it already and they didn’t even know we existed. The original plan was a project. Brodie, our drummer, and I had known each other for quite a long time, and were familiar with Mark as a guitarist through the scene. He wasn’t in a band at the time, and we thought ‘We fucking need to get him in our band. He’s absolutely class.’ So that was the aim: get a guitarist and start practising.”
The process of writing and producing new material seemed entirely different to the previous experiences of the band. “I’ve been in bands for years, and spent hours and hours in rehearsal rooms trying to slog it out,” Joe says, “but with NEWMEDS, we booked a room for four hours, wrote a single in the first hour and then went home. If we’re not feeling it, we’ll just go “right, let’s leave it for tonight”. It’s better to do that than to stagnate in a practise room, starting to get pissed off with each other.” Wood added, “Three songs just came out of nowhere. Then we booked a studio straight away, as soon as we’d got them written. We were in there, trying to turn it around as fast as we could.”
Cobley continued, “We thought we wanted to do things a little bit differently this time because we’ve done the scene and the circuit for years and years. We didn’t want to just start gigging around Hull until people get bored of it. So, we thought, Let’s practise and get some songs together. The first song we wrote, we released as a single. From then on, we started to build a set up. We just really want to get a fucking solid set together before we start gigging, rather than swapping and changing songs. When we go out there to do our first gig, we want it to be tune after tune instead of having to rely on fillers. I think we’re aiming for October to gig in Hull, get all our mates down, invite the press, and go from there. There’s no plans yet to tour, but obviously at some point we’re going to want to tour like fuck if we can.”
NEWMEDS, before they’d so much as released a single, had already faced considerable backlash after comments taken out of context in previous interviews: “I said to someone that we aren’t a Hull band, but it got taken as if we didn’t want to associate with Hull.” Brodie says, “People started slagging us off a little bit. The reason we said it was because we didn’t want to be known as a Hull band. I don’t think Hull has a sound. It’s not like a London band, or a New York City band. I mean, The Strokes are a New York City band, there’s no doubt about it. But Hull doesn’t have a sound – so we’re not a Hull band. I’ve got a Hull tattoo on my arm, but we just don’t want to be confined to playing one place. It can get too stagnant.”
Cobley adds, “When you’re a kid and you’re in bands, if you’re thinking ‘We have to be playing every weekend”, you end up doing the whole fucking tour in Hull. It’s a bit of a drag for people. If you do it once every month, or once every three months, then it gives you something to look forward to. It did get pulled out of context though. People were like, ‘Oh, you don’t want to play in Hull?’ We didn’t say that. We said we kind of know the route for bands from here: you start a band, you play Adelphi, then you’ll play The Sesh, which we’ve supported and played for 10 years, and then you play Humber Street Sesh. That’s the goal -but we want to play a little bit bigger this time. Even so, if nothing came of it, I’m happy that we’ve written some fucking great songs. It’s more important for us to enjoy it.
The band is trying to adapt itself to the ever-evolving music industry, which now thrives on drip-feed economy. Rather than releasing a body of work immediately, what with fleeting attention spans being the established norm, they’re planning on staggered single releases, keeping the audience keen. If they had to describe the NEWMEDS sound, what would be the influences we could discern from it?
Wood comments, “Guitar-wise, riff-wise, in my head, I’ve always been a big fan of Tom Morello. I’m also a massive fan of Nirvana. I was probably listening to that sort of stuff since I was ten. When people come back and say ‘You sound like Rage Against The Machine’ or ‘You sound like The Bronx’, those are the bands I listen to and it comes out. When people say that, it’s fucking ace.” He continued, “A lot of our songs have come from the simplicity of just banging out a beat. I look at drumming like I look at a riff. I don’t show off. We often look at each other as we’re playing because we back each other up. Playing guitar, you have to follow the kick. We’re locking in. It’s like a rhythm section more than anything. We’re going to take a lot from Frank Carter’s shows as well. When he started The Rattlesnakes, he did the first gig in his tattoo shop, so naturally, we thought we should do our first gig in our bar. At first, they only did small venues, but they were rammed. We want to follow in their footsteps a bit and share their ideology.”
At this point, we ask Nick, where, lyrically, he sources inspiration: “I try to take a page out of Alex Turner’s book because I’m quite influenced by the Arctic Monkeys and the way he draws on personal experiences and in-the-moment situations. ‘Roslyn’, the first song we wrote, was about the bar, about a girl coming in and getting fucked up and going on a night out. The second song we released is about going to the doctors – this was years ago now – saying was I depressed, and all they did was give me some medication instead of trying to deal with the root of it. That’s why the song is called ‘Cognitive Behaviour’, because it was about doing the CBT training and reworking how your brain processes thoughts instead of just masking it with things that damage you. That idea also relates to our name: NEWMEDS.”
One of the reasons we interview musicians and artists is so we can give you first-hand advice you’d otherwise miss out on. What would NEWMEDS say to aspiring musicians? “Make as many mistakes as possible.” Brodie continues, “I think you have to make a shit tonne of mistakes before you make anything decent. Also, another bit of advice for local bands is if you record, go and record with Pat Pretorius [The Talks]. He’s helped guide us in the right direction and he has pretty much built our song.” Wood adds, “It pays to be unconventional. We’ve upset people already just by playing the game a little bit different. The Hull thing: they couldn’t wait to slag us off about that. It got around so fast, and I knew it would happen. It’s ridiculous to say we “don’t like Hull” – we have a business here! But everyone was talking about us, and they’ve not even heard a song yet.”
Despite only on the cusp of emergence, we were curious to know what NEWMEDS considered success, and if they’d already had a taste of it. Cobley said, “If your songs are played after you’re dead you’ve won.” Brodie elaborates: “If you don’t feel like you’re succeeding while you’re in the band, then quit. I already feel pretty successful in this band. I’ve played big shows and I can’t remember them. I don’t think that’s really success. I got paid loads to play in a cover band and I fucking hated it. This is the best I’ve ever felt in a band. Money isn’t success.” This, he said, was the greatest highlight of all: “The biggest compliment we’ve received was from our friend who said ‘You sound like an actual band.’” With their experience, talent and sheer enjoyment of being in NEWMEDS, this compliment is nothing short of prophetic. With a catalogue of material waiting to be released and gigs to be announced, the band hold the promise of making a serious impact.
NEWMEDS will perform at Dive on Princes Avenue in Hull on Friday, November 9. The band has recently added Sam Rudderforth (The Temple) as its new bassist.
Words: Sophie Walker | Interview: Dom Smith