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Adventure

Adventure: Rock Always Beats Marketing

Kevin Gibson

Back in the old days, all a band had to do was build a little buzz, get noticed, sign with a label, and then let someone else promote their music at that point, the band just had to keep making sweet sounds and raking in the cash and accolades.

OK, maybe it wasn't that easy; one could argue that some music promoters could be considered, er, shady, and that the actual artists would at times get the short end of the stick for their labors of love. And most of the time, they would never get noticed at all.

But today, there are tons of marketing tools for bands, courtesy of the Internet no sleazy A&R guy needed. Heck, the D.I.Y. movement in indie rock could be considered a direct result of such new media. Setting up a band Facebook page takes only a few minutes, and it then becomes a giant networking machine. But what if no one in the band really knows how to market? Worse, what if no one has the time?

In that case, they'd better be in it for the music, and Louisville's own Adventure is a band that truly is. Josef and Phil Medley, the brains behind the operation, both have busy lives in addition to trying their best to crank out an album per year (give or take), but they have played "Live Lunch," played Forecastle, and their songs can be heard on WFPK.

Not bad at all. So who handles all this awesome marketing for Adventure? Well, sometimes nobody.

Joe Welsh - Adventure

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Joe Welsh - Adventure Joe Welsh - Adventure

Jordan Forst - Adventure

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Jordan Forst - Adventure Jordan Forst - Adventure

Josh Clark - Adventure

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Josh Clark - Adventure Josh Clark - Adventure

Adventure

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Adventure Adventure

Adventure

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Adventure Adventure

Adventure

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Adventure Adventure

Adventure w dog

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Adventure w dog Adventure w dog

Alex Clark - Adventure

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Alex Clark - Adventure Alex Clark - Adventure

"It comes down to what you want to focus on and where you want to put your energy," Josef said. "I don't want to put my energy in marketing I just want to play live."

At the same time, the Medley brothers (actually, they are cousins, but Medley brothers clearly sounds cooler) understand that it has to get done somehow, on some level.

"I am constantly reminded that we're in charge of everything," Josef said. "Whatever you're not doing is not getting done. To be honest, we don't know a lot about the marketing side and promoting yourself and all that."

The time-honored way to market is to tour, tour, tour but Phil has a wife, a toddler and a baby on the way. Everyone in the band has a job. Hey, even musicians have real lives, right?

"In some ways we are limited in terms of the amount of touring we can do," Phil said. "At same time we are trying to play other cities, and we are getting our music out to the masses and networking a little bit more with our fans. Small things like that that we are getting the word out that we're playing or whatever. We've made some small steps."

Of course, there's always that old-fashioned way to fall back on. "If we could get word out to a label and they could pay for the next record," Phil said, not really joking, "that would be awesome."

Indeed it would. But when it's all said and done, what it boils down to is the music both Medleys write songs for Adventure, and they write plenty. In fact, the duo pretty much has another album plotted out already, meaning it's just a matter of pulling in brothers Alex and Josh Clark (yes, they are actual brothers, and they are also Phil's cousins), on bass and drums, respectively, to develop and record the tracks.

Heck, it's refreshing to hear a band that's truly just in it to be a band with all the hipster-fueled indie groups out there oozing stylized gunk and pretense, Adventure comes across as a breath of fun, fresh air.

Matter of fact, Adventure's new album Brou-Ha-Ha is a tangible testament to the Medleys' commitment to craft. It's fun, weird, wild and rocking. And probably the best part about it is that it is just what it is, without trying to fit into anyone's category or impress any label fat cat or specific milieu.

Perhaps Alex, who actually joined the band on bass after the recordings were made (Kirk Kiefer played on the record itself), said it best when he spoke about his favorite track on the album, "Stranger Things Have Happened on the Farm."

"Before hearing the recordings, it was one of my favorites to see Adventure play live," he said. "And now, it's definitely one of my favorites to play live. Catchy, speedy, and any song about a sketchy horse farm in Italy is OK in my book."

Brother Josh sums it up thusly: "Adventure is fun. Adventure is drama-free. We love playing music together, and that's simply what we do."

CRANK OUT THE JAMS

One could say that, even with all the life responsibilities and playing out live in support of the records, the Medley boys are pretty damn prolific. One person who says that, in fact, is their drummer.

"Phil and Josef crank out new material at a crazy rate, so it keeps things fresh," Josh said. " We've had weeks where we skipped rehearsal due to someone being on vacation. When we came back to the studio the following week, they damn near had another album's worth of tunes waiting for us!"

But, he says, being around that kind of creative energy and passion is what makes being in Adventure so enjoyable. There's always something new just over the horizon.

For example, two of the songs on the new disc "Dirty Mouth" and "I Think We Should" are songs that were written a few years back, and stuck around while they were being revised. And revised again. And when it finally came time to choose songs for the new album, they just, well, fit.

"Those were two rockers, and they fit well with that set of songs," Josef said. "We've got a pretty big stock of those."

Adds Phil, "There's always plenty to pull from. The next record is almost ready to go."

It's as if they've got a Dewey Decimal System library filled with songs that fit certain spaces. You need a country rocker? Yeah, we've got that. A quirky ballad? Check. A balls-out rocker about a circus freak? That's around here someplace.

"Plus, it allows our live shows to constantly evolve," notes Josh. "You never want to beat people over the head with the same set, show after show."

But the Medleys are quick to poo-poo the notion that they are super-humanly prolific.

" It's because there are two writers," Josef says. With that, they both say, almost in unison, "It seems prolific, but it's not."

So they explain.

Josef notes that things really started to speed up when Josh became the drummer about two and a half years ago Kiefer was the bass player then, and "They were really efficient you could throw a lot at them. Josh is real similar as far as that goes. He can play lot of different styles of music."

He says there are a few different ways he and Phil go about writing a song, and one of their favorites is to write based on a title.

"We're real interested in old country songs where you know what the song's about from the title," Josef said. "There's a certain joy in that. It's judging a book by its cover, in some ways."

"When You Left (Why Didn't You Leave)" is an example of that from the new record.

"It has to make sense in a certain way," Josef continues. "You can have so many rock songs or so many country songs … one or two slow songs. We tend to write a lot of different types of songs.

"We write in scenarios a lot too," he continued. "Sometimes, it takes a really long time to get there. It doesn't work out until you find the right allegory."

"Or you find the right conflict," Phil adds. "At first you're just putting stuff down on paper. There's no beginning, there's no end. But you have to have that in your mind so you can paste all the parts in there."

Josef points to The Flaming Lips' "Lightning Strikes the Postman," which is a literal take on a familiar phrase. "They made this metaphor, but they made it real," Josef said. "That is so much more visually interesting."

"And it's just over the top enough," Phil adds.

" I think it's why we write a lot," Josef says, referring to the many different ways they approach songwriting and the subject matter. "If you have a large enough body of work, you're not tied down to a subject matter."

"And it does kind of come across as new to the band if you have that many," Phil adds.

And they admit that the songs often have a long gestation period, which would explain the two "oldies" on Brou-Ha-Ha.

"We tend to know when they're not quite done yet," Josef said.

"Looking back through notebooks, I will find seven or eight versions of a song," said Phil. "You just keep writing until it's right. You know what it wants to be or what it should be, but it takes a long time to get there."

"It tends to start pretty pedestrian," Josef adds. "A lot of times it will be one line. You remove everything else. And it is effective sometime to write allegories where there is a lot of subtext, but sometimes it's pop where you find that direct line to the listener. It's a song, it's not a novel or a short story."

The truth is, these guys could go on all day about the many different types of songs they write and how utterly non-prolific they are. (Ahem.)

BEING ADVENTURE

We haven't really mentioned that it is Phil who mixes all of Adventure's recordings. The guy is a bit of a sonic whiz, it seems, and actually ran a studio downtown (in the building across Main Street from Stevie Ray's) for quite some time.

And you probably have already guessed if you've been paying attention that it is Josef who does Adventure's artwork. Brou-Ha-Ha's packaging is splattered with comic-book style art that illustrates the songs cleverly with characters. Heck, the artwork alone is worth the price of buying the CD. Talk about prolific.

But what's it like to be in a band like Adventure? It's a true D.I.Y., an old-school indie rock band, a vital, creative machine.

"Long hours and the pay is crap," Alex says. "It's great." He points out that with all the familial connections, "It's not like walking into practice with a bunch of strangers. Adventure is a reeeeal family band."

Josh and Alex previously played in a band called North Jordan, which once opened for Hootie & the Blowfish. ("Yep," Alex said. "That really happened.") Much like the Medley boys, they have played music together for years. So they know of which they speak when they talk about the special feeling of playing in a band with family.

"Making music is an awesome thing, but when you have the opportunity to do it with good people, that's when it goes to the next level," Josh says. "The fact that we're all family is special to me, too. Alex and I were first introduced to music by watching our parents play in bands with Phil's parents, along with other uncles and cousins. Adventure is a way to keep the music alive in our family, and I think we're all proud to carry on that tradition."

Asked if he and Phil ever butt heads during the writing or recording process, Josef pauses for a moment and says, "Sometimes. Not very much. I think we find a way to compromise enough. It depends on how stridently one of us thinks of something. Small things are usually the things we argue about and it's not arguments really."

Phil then pretends to be on a telephone call with Josef, shaping his hand into the crude form of a phone and placing it next to his ear. "What are you doing?" he mockingly demands. "I wanted a guitar solo there!"

He then returns to reality and says, "It's not like that. In the end, you'd be hard pressed to find anything we argued about, because it fleshes itself out."

"It becomes obvious" what the song needs, Josef agrees. "And we have shared musical points as far as what we want things to sound like. If he brings in a song and wants it to sound a little more like this, I understand that."

So, the sound is there, and the family closeness. And the prolificacy. That brings us back to that tricky marketing thing again. Wouldn't it be a shame if someone never gets to hear Adventure?

"We put our CDs in the local music record stores, Better Days and Underground Sounds," Josef said. "They were receptive."

"They're available on the World Wide Web," Phil adds. "They're on iTunes, they're on Spotify."

"Are they on iTunes?" Josef says, seeming genuinely surprised. He continues, "We will play some shows this summer. We had a good turnout on the opening gig."

"And WFPK has helped out," Phil chimes in. There is another pause.

"Yeah," Josef says, "that's about it."

But did they mention they have another new album pretty much written and ready to go?