Photo: Emily Quirk

When I walked into OTR’s MOTR Pub on a Saturday night, I expected to hear the usual pleasant indie sound typical of the Cincy joint. But by the time my ID was back in my wallet, I knew that tonight would be different. Tonight, The Medium is playing.

There are four men on the stage that Saturday night: a drummer, and three perfectly lined guitarists in a Beatle-esque blocking. Occasionally their movements, from the lift of a guitar to a step back from the mic, are in synch, purposefully or not. Their gear, Gibson, Fender, and Ludwig, echo the classic 60s rock retinue.

But what stands out the most is when the three perfectly lined figures lean forward and sing three part harmonies into the mic. No longer am I standing in a damp hipster college bar, I’m in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Gone is the traditional C/E/Am alternative band chord progression, gone are the mumbled woe-is-me lyrics. Here is the unexpected, the whimsical, and the playful.

Now it’s noon on the following Sunday, which means it’s breakfast time for Nashville band The Medium. Sitting in a dimly lit Cincinnati diner, the playfulness has drained a bit from everyone’s eyes, but you can blame the inevitable hangovers for that. Nonetheless, The Medium, Sam, Michael, Shane, Jared, and manager Thomas, are willing to share.

Life began for The Medium two and a half years ago in Nashville, when bassist Sam and guitarist Shane started jamming at Belmont University. Says Shane, “My roommate was an audio engineer major, so we had the opportunity to use the studios there. Sam came in one night and joined us on a session, and that was it.”

“We didn’t have too many expectations in the beginning,” says Sam, “it was just something for fun, it still is.” While the band does have a playful approach to performing and writing music, don’t mistake The Medium for a frivolous band; they have big plans. From coming into their own in the Nashville circuit to now planning tours, music videos, and an album release, The Medium is on the rise.

When they speak of their forthcoming album, they speak with complete control. Keeping the details locked away, they are seemingly constructing a strategy, “We don’t want to say too much about the album,” says Jared, “because when it’s released, we want to do it a certain way.” Thomas adds, “It’s so good, it’s got to be done right.” Over the years, their sound has become more fluid, tighter, and more them.

Although the band listens to all kinds of music (Bob Marley, Tiny Tim, and Tonetta all come into conversation), 60s and 70s inspired rock is the sound of choice for their songs. Why? Shane says, “I think we’re just trying to play music that we like to listen to.” But manager Thomas offers a more prophetic point of view: “I think rock chose them. Their rock’s sons.” Looking back on their performance, it’s easy to see that possibility.

While they’re still a ragtag bunch of boys watching SpongeBob and caving in floors at house shows, there’s an unabashed love of music clear in everyone of them, a sophistication in their songwriting, and a dedication to their craft.

After just thirteen hours of knowing them, it became clear to me: The Medium is what rock and roll needs.

Right now, rock in the mainstream is being represented by bands like Greta Van Fleet and The Struts who tirelessly recycle their music from popular bands fifty years ago. To the outside world, rock looks stale, unexciting, and, most dangerously, unchanging.

But The Medium brings something new into rock. While their music is sophisticated, it’s simultaneously pop-inspired, witty, and accessible. I hope that in the future, rock will be represented by bands like them. That in the future, bands like The Medium will reignite rock, bringing back to the forefront of music with a twist. The Medium is the message, and I hope the world will lend an ear.

Listen to The Medium’s singles “Good ol’ Days” and “The Groove” now:

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