The Brain Medicine Interview: Weedstock, Dark Humor, and Vitamin B
Photo via Brain Medicine Facebook Page
To create music that can touch on some of the darker topics of life, while still making you want to dance, is no easy task. Brain Medicine has done just this, using the talent of Clinton Hoffman (vocals, guitar), Will Frolich (vocals, mandolin), Erika Babus (vocals), Kevin Cottone (vocals, bass), and the newest addition, Rhett Belcher (drums). The band tells their stories through jovial Americana music and a dark sense of humor.
When did the band get together?
“About 4 years ago,” Clint Hoffman replied.
“Originally, it was just me doing a solo project. After that, I started to play gigs with my girlfriend’s brother (Will Frolich). We considered bringing in a female vocalist, and Will knew Erika. She came to a practice, and she was in. We met Kevin because Will’s friend Tony knew him and we needed a new bassist. Sometimes we feature a banjo player named Eric Mattson.”
What names did you consider for the band?
“After playing two or three shows under Clint Hoffman, we decided that was kind of weird and conceited.” Clink laughed, then continued to say “We had a song called Brain Medicine, and Will’s friend Tony suggested we just name the band that.”
Of course the question came to mind, if Erika or Kevin could have named the band anything, what would they have named it?
Erika wrote “Heckling Hippies or Heckling at Yuppies.”
Kevin’s response showed how familiar the band is with each other, as he humorously wrote “Erika Babus and the Meat Stick Wranglers.”
Where exactly did Brain Medicine get their logo from?
“I was making posters, and most scientific drawings aren’t copyrighted. That animal is a Swamp Hen, and it went extinct off of a French island in Argentina in the 1700’s.” Clint explained.
What is the band’s favorite gig to play?
The band unanimously agreed that Gugs, a local bar in Glens Falls known for it’s Sweaty Gugs, was their favorite venue – Erika added “Mike has really stood by us as a group.”
Does the band perform any routines before they get on stage?
“We all share a bottle of Evan Williams, and take a Vitamin B Complex tincture.”
Where does the inspiration to write the kind of lyrics you produce come from?
Clint, as the main songwriter for the band, said “90% true stories. So everything that you have heard is with only a little bit of a stretch of the imagination. I try to draw from mostly real experiences. My father, brother, and mother passed away within three years of each other. I grew up in Delaware, and moved up here. I write most of the songs, other songs the band will collaborate on.”
Any plans to release new music soon?
“We have been doing it at my house or Ktone’s (a loving nickname for Kevin) house. Just putting out a track at a time. We are building an album, we got a lot of tracks done, but some of them just need one more little touch to them before they are ready. I haven’t been able to see them in like 2 weeks because of this virus. We might have to start emailing soon. We have like 60 or 70 tracks that we haven’t even recorded yet.”
If each member of the band could choose a famous musician or band to be an opener for, who would everyone choose?
Erika and Will both chose Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, while Kevin and Clint both said John Prine.
What is the most memorable, or most interesting story the band has to tell?
“We played at a festival called Weedstock in Delaware. It was about 6 hours away, and our farthest gig yet, in a town called Townend. It was a classic festival setting, but the biggest difference was that the performers were given weed, a dab station, and THC-infused food. There was THC fish tacos, and corn on the cob with weed butter. On our way home, my car battery died. While we took care of that, we had a blue claw crab and shrimp feast, and ate fried chicken. We missed getting Italian hoagies, though. The people that hosted the Festival, the Delaware chapter of NORML, are beautiful people.” Clint said.
Erika wrote, “Yep, it was the best weekend ever. Clint almost died sleeping in the hot sun.. He’s a hard sleeper. We were so high we just wanted to lay down. All we had were tents in the field.. We were so hot and so high the whole time. It was great. There was ‘Help Yourself Dabs’ in the VIP tent.”
Will and Kevin both were more reserved in their writing about their own experiences at the festival, but were both sure to express how great of a time it was.
A lot of the music that gets produces carries heavy subject matter, and is executed with comedic intent. Why do people like to laugh at things that are so dark?
“Partially because they aren’t supposed to. Everyone likes to break rules – I’ve always been into dark humor and dark subject matter. It’s a good way to handle reality.” Clint explained.
If you have a thing for dark humor, be sure to check out Brain Medicine’s album “So Much For Dare” in the link below!
*Author’s note: As this interview was being conducted over the phone and over direct messages, it was prior to the recent passing of John Prine due to the COVID-19 crisis. We would like to wish our condolences to John Prine, and his family.