Medusa: the bed boys of rock
05 March, 2020 — By Róisín Gadelrab
Julian Molinero of Medusa, who have released album In Bed With Medusa
WHEN we last caught up with Camden-based band Medusa in 2014, they signed off with big ambitions to head to Chicago to record an album with renowned music producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Iggy Pop, The Breeders).
Now, six years on, fourth album In Bed With Medusa has been written, recorded with Albini in just four days and was finally released a couple of weeks ago.
Medusa – effectively the project of Blackburn musician Julian Molinero – is a three-piece punk/rock outfit that has been running for more than 20 years. Their changing line-up has featured countless musicians (way over 50), with the one constant being frontman Molinero himself. Julian likes to keep tight control of his songs and his band, but is keen to maintain the three-piece make-up, no matter how many musicians he runs through in the process.
“We always change members of bands,” he said. “We only found the drummer (Snell) eight weeks before recording, the bass player (Kotaro Suzuki) has been here for three years. It’s always been a three-piece, always been me in charge of everything musically, always been the same.
“There is a lot of consistency, it’s like a solo project marketed as a band. I just like it when bands are presented as bands, more like a gang of a few people.
“I just like to write all the songs myself, basically.
“I don’t really need help composing songs.”
Julian’s plan to record in Chicago was very carefully planned out.
“We knew we would do it but I wanted to let the last album have its promotion first,” he said Julian.
“We did three music videos and then a year and a half concentrating on gigs, mostly only in London. But I wasn’t ready to do it (the album) for a very long time. By the time we were ready to start, it was January 2018. My idea was to spend one calendar year writing it.
“We ended up extending by a further six months.”
Knowing they would only have one chance to get it right, Julian worked hard to have everything as ready as it could be in advance.
He said: “I knew if we were to do it, the songs would have to be absolutely amazing and we would have to live or die by that.
“The biggest challenge was just writing the songs. I wrote hundreds of songs in order to whittle it down to 10 I was really happy with.
“The songs were set in stone way before we started rehearsing.
“I knew in my head exactly the songs, all the words, all the orders.”
But even with years of planning, things don’t always turn out as expected.
Julian said: “At the end of the second day Steve said to us, ‘if you carry on going the way you are, you’re not going to get it finished. Either get someone else to mix it or just do fewer songs’.”
The band decided to stick to eight songs that could be mixed by Albini, presenting Julian with the opportunity to live out one of his other ambitions – he decided to record acoustic versions of the last two tracks in Transylvania.
“It was an old idea I had 15 years ago and this finally gave me a way to make that a reality,” said Julian.
This latest album is a departure from the previous three, he says.
“The other ones are more catchy and polished but this is more me, what I most like to listen to if it’s not polished, what I like to hear from an album.
“The idea or vision of it was taking it in a slightly different direction – darker, rawer what a band sounds like playing live with a few bits corrected. It’s certainly not political. It started off mostly introspective, trying to describe a state of mind but at a certain point I completely drained the subject, completely covered it, I can’t repeat myself so went to storytelling.”
One notable track is River Phoenix, which Julian came up with in the shower, inspired by a biography of the late actor.
Julian added: “By the time I got out of shower I still remembered it and made it better. On this exact double-page spread of the book, it just happened to have all these elements that went into the song – all on that double page.”
While in the US, Julian decided to stop over in LA and record the video to the song outside the Viper Rooms, the famous club in front of which Phoenix died, employing a drone film crew to film over Hollywood.
• In Bed With Medusa is available at https://medusaworld.bandcamp.com/