When I meet with Bradley Nicholson of the band A Black Medic, the first thing I notice is that he's young—still a teenager. But age hasn't held back the Florence native and his bandmates from making their way to Jackson and giving the audiences at The Joint their own brand of "sexy experimental."
Like many musically inclined (or just musically obsessed) teens, Nicholson played in several bands for fun before getting serious and forming A Black Medic with his friends Mitch Carrington (guitar) and Alex Grubbs (drums) in 2003. They later acquired bassist Corey Smith through mutual friends. The band started out doing what Nicholson describes as "progressive indie rock" but recently found what he believes is their own sound: the previously mentioned alternative-jazz rock sound they've labeled "sexy experimental."
After early experiments with different instrumental setups—auxiliary percussion (congas, maracas, etc.) and even a stint with a keyboardist—the band found their way back to a traditional rock set-up of two guitars, bass and drums. But despite using an established setup, Nicholson maintains that their sound is "not textbook at all." And although he's reluctant to compare A Black Medic to other bands, he eventually admits to being influenced by post-hardcore indie rockers At the Drive-In and not-so-indie rockers Led Zeppelin. Though the combination sounds strange, Nicholson explains that Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" is one of their favorite covers and slides in easily against their originals.
When I ask Nicholson about their live show, he explains: "We want the show to be sexy. We want the show to be visually appealing. The way we perform, the way we set up the stage, we take it all into account. We'd like it to be appealing to even a deaf person."
And with a smile clearly filled with pride, he tells me, "We're having more fun now than we've ever had."
Although the band hasn't released any records to date, Nicholson says it is definitely in the works. "We really don't have the money to record a full LP right now, but when we do, we'd love to do that," he says. "We don't want to release anything that we don't consider perfect. We don't want to give anyone the impression that we're not as talented as we could be."
Unlike many in their position, the band isn't planning on hitting the road for California as soon as they leave the house. Instead, the members are making the very un-rock'n'roll move of going to college. Nicholson explains he has a passion for psychology, which he will begin studying next fall at Millsaps, while the other members will also remain in Jackson. But when I ask him if he plans on giving up on the band, Nicholson tells me, "I've always wanted to be a rock'n'roll star. I think we'll still be together in the next five years just because we're such good friends. We'll play as far as it will take us."
Nicholson would love to tour outside of Jackson, and, despite being the lead vocalist, he wouldn't consider going solo. He says, "I just love being in a band."
He's a customer-satisfaction-guaranteed sort of guy. He grins proudly at me and says of future concert-goers: "If they can come up and tell me honestly that they didn't like it, I'll give them their money back. That's a 100 percent guarantee."