Last updated: 10/24/2011 12:00:00 PM
Sometimes things feel so right you just know they were meant to be.
That's how Whit Crane felt one morning early in 1999. His life in Life of Agony was over but he was sure of his next move. Even though they hadn't even talked about being in a band, Crane called his friend Logan Mader, former guitarist for Machine Head and Soulfly, and said, "Dude, what's the deal?" And Mader, who had already heard the news about LOA, happily replied, "It looks like we're in a band."
The two first met when Mader was in Machine Head. They became friends in 1998 on what Crane calls, "the greatest Ozzfest of them all," when LOA and Soulfly were on the bill.
"I hit it off with Logan immediately," recalls Crane. "We were thick as thieves and that was it for me. I thought, wow, I'll probably jam with that guy one day. We'd hang out and do whatever, get into trouble. Steal golf carts, fuck around, support each other musically. We didn't really know at that time we were going to be jammin'. You connect with people. Sometimes you don't. But there was an absolute connection as friends, basically toxic twins."
The natural evolution continued with guitarist Blunt. When Adayinthelife was opening for Soulfly, he and Mader began to meet in hotel rooms after shows and put together what they envisioned as a side project. But their idea to use different vocalists on all the songs was happily scrapped when Crane became available.
Crane took the next step, the time-honored rock tradition of moving the band into a house in Hollywood where they all lived and worked together for the next 18 months, creating the songs that would define their self-titled debut EP and the full-length, Prince Valium. The pure, heavy rock flowed, not filled with anger, but with searching and questioning ripped from the depths of Crane's soul. After UKJ and LOA, where others wrote the lyrics, it was finally Crane's turn to step up to the plate and get some things off his chest. He seized the moment.
"Keith Richards once said 'no one really writes songs, you are really written through,'" says Crane, "and I am totally convinced of that. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm not really going to hide anything lyrically."
Explaining the songwriting process, Crane says:
"Logan goes to sleep at night, gets up in the morning and does his gym shit while me and Blunt are full nocturnal freaks. Bottom line: Blunt and me would sit up, smoke cigarettes and write riffs and melodies. Sometimes we'd have full songs done as far as acoustic and vocal and lyric and everything. We'd wait up so Logan could program the studio shit with drums and all that. He got up, threw it down and it was done. 'Something New' in particular was like that, just flat out done."
Lending moral support, not to mention equipment was Robert Trujillo. He'd drop by to lend them a bass so they could get something down, hear what they were working on and say, "This is bad ass, let me play on this." Crane laughed when he recalled Trujillo's response when they agreed: "'All right, but I'm not in the band,' he'd say. Robert has been so helpful for everything. For me, Robert's beyond like being a cool person and a great guy and a great bridge for a lot of different things for people, he's the best ever bass player. We call him the Satanic Hispanic."
With Roy Mayorga from Soulfly on board as drummer, the band played their first show as the Pale Demons at The Gig on Melrose. Crane admits it may have been sloppy but it was fun and it wasn't long before they were playing the whole Hollywood circuit. When the band was tight and good they picked Medication for their name and settled in at the Viper Room, where they liked the venue, the sound system and soundman and were well treated.
Everybody knew it was on even with the bit of unfinished business in finding a bass player. Crane and Kyle Sanders both turned to their mutual acquaintance, drummer Dan Richardson from Pro-pain and LOA. Sanders had been in Piece Dogs and Skrew when they were label mates with Pro-pain. Recalls Sanders:
"I was living in Atlanta and getting extremely frustrated with the scene so I called Dan and asked him to keep his ears open for me. Within days, Whit called him with the same scenario, saying the band can't find a bass player. It was as frustrating for them not to have a bass player as it was for me not to have a band. One phone call was made, I was on a plane out to L.A. to see what was happening and it was on immediately."
With nothing to hold them back now, Medication hit the studio and produced a five song, self-titled debut EP, then booked their first tour-14 cities in the U.K. in 14 days in November, 2001.
"It was the most punk rock thing you could do," laughs Crane. "We showed up total commando, guerilla style and played it. That's my favorite part of the journey so far, just going over there and kicking ass."
A Medication show proved to be just what the doctor ordered for Kerrang. They called Medication, "a welcome surprise given the nature of supergroups." "There's a genuine sense of chemistry here," stated the review. "Not one member dominates the mix or the stage and considering you have a guitar maestro, a jeans creaming crooner and a human drum machine all in the same band, the fact that the efforts of the flailing dread mountain on bass and what can only be the offspring of Fred Durst and Eminem rocking some serious bottleneck guitar don't go unnoticed and forces a conclusion that maybe we have something special here."
The paper continued by praising the Medication sound, claiming: "An even bigger surprise is the music itself. This is not a textbook nu-metal workout. Crane's voice range is still impressively wide and there's a Curesque effects cornucopia of delays on the guitars to create a sense of subtlety in a mix where elements of Kyuss and even a little new wave flit by."
In early 2002, Locomotive Music, the international heavy rock label and distributor based in Spain, chose Medication to be their first U.S. signing. The band went into the studio with producer Bill Kennedy (Nine Inch Nails, Jackoff Jill, Monster Magnet, Sepultura, Alice in Chains) who had mixed their EP, and recorded Prince Valium.
"When you're starting from the ground up, it's going to take a long time," says Blunt, "when you have no songs. It took a long time but I don't think we were ready. I think we're ready now. We made an amazing album and I think if it would have happened a year ago or a year and a half ago, it definitely wouldn't be as good as it is now."
Crane calls Medication a "mirror" of the members.
"That's the big gig for me," he admits. "If you're lucky enough to have a catalyst like music or writing or art, some form of creating, whatever it may be - and for me it's music right now - everyone's going through crazy shit and hopefully everyone's evolving. If you can dare to or be lucky enough to mirror what's going on and manifest even just half of the mirror, which would be a huge amount, then you're winning the whole thing. As you're walking along through your life, doing your program as you walk through time and space, if you're lucky enough to leave little documentations of where and who you were at the moment, that's the mission for me. That's the joy of the craft."