On Saturday July 15, Screamer Magazine talked to Gemini Syndrome drummer Brian Medina and wizard-like vocalist Aaron Nordstrom on their bus under the haunting shadow of the Ohio State Reformatory before their set at this year’s Ink in the Clink in Mansfield, Ohio.
Though classified as alternative, prog and nu metal by both fans and media, they don’t really consider themselves metal, rather just making the music that comes out. “I don’t really consider what we do as heavy necessarily,” Medina says. “I listen to such a wide variety of music. I think we all have such a wide spectrum of influence, it’s interesting that we end up where we end up. I think for us, we just do what we do and it comes out the way it comes out.”
Though their name sounds like something from a medical dictionary or psychology textbook, Medina says it’s a combination of meanings, “It’s not a psychological thing. Gemini represents our inherent duality that we’re all born with, our yin and yang. The syndrome has a dual meaning. It’s something that we’re all born with but at the same time the prefix ‘syn’ means to bring together, combine, unite or become as one.” The band uses the concept of everyone’s individual duality being at odds with a higher state of being, always searching to balance both sides.
They incorporate general thought provoking spirituality, but not aimed at any specific group or belief system.
With two records out 2013’s Lux and 2016’s Memento Mori they’ve won fans over with story-telling narratives and intellectual takes on themes of mortality, inner/outer beauty and living life’s experiences to the fullest. With themes of medicine and technology prolonging life to the journey to the other side, the video for Remember We Die is about, “Coming to terms with mortality,” Nordstrom says.
Medina uses death as the ultimate reminder to live the life you want, “Use death as a remembrance. Cherish the life we have and [use it] as an opportunity to motivate ourselves to live full lives.”
They want to do as much with their lives and careers as they can in case it’s taken away prematurely. If they’re gonna go, they’d rather die with their boots on, happy, doing what they love.
“If any of us have had someone die, especially in an untimely manner, then you can always reflect on how awesome it would be to have another day with them, another week or another year,” Medina says. The band encourages everyone to enjoy every day given with friends and family around you. “All the things you can give; contribute to and be a part of in this organic petri dish of human of life on earth.”
The concept of the video for Sorry Not Sorry sheds light on the same subjects as Remember We Die saying this is how not to do it. The video shows a woman in her lavish mansion never satisfied with what the mirror shows injecting her lips with a mysterious substance, while the man symbolically snorts money, “It was a little more imaginary, a thing that doesn’t really exist. Like an instant lip injection but side effects may include face melting off,” Medina jokes. The video also shows metaphors for our growing addiction to social media, the endless battle to beat father time and pursuit of wealth and power as each person engages in their version of chasing the dragon.
“That’s definitely kind of a metaphor for Botox and the decadence of physicality,” Nordstrom says of those with money trying to obtain prolonged beauty. The L.A. image of glamour is still real in certain parts he adds.
It’s what can be bought with money taken to extremes Medina says, “It’s the idea that they were fine without any of that. Instead of being fine with who they were, which was more than enough, she was already gorgeous. They had to take extreme [measures] to make themselves better.”
While still a young band, they’ve each been playing practically since birth and foresee music as a lifelong plan. There are no plans on quitting, until father time kicks their ass. Whether prolonged career longevity includes pickling their organs or blood transfusions, time will tell. “Retirement, till Alzheimer’s,” Medina laughs. “If we last that long and if they still want us.”
Nordstrom’s played music since early digits. “I grew up playing classical jazz piano and picked up a guitar in my early teens, but like Brian, I was listening to this collection of so many different genres and styles. And I play a lot of them, too. I’ll write stuff on the side, singer song writer acoustic stuff. Not necessarily for this band but for fun. There are people I’ve admired and inspired by from every genre. We manifest what we do, when we get together, it’s what clicks with us and what naturally comes out.”
The band was born and bred to play music, “I never entertained the thought of doing anything else,” Medina says. “I don’t know why. I think there was a one or two day period in the 10th grade where I could’ve taken an architecture class and that could have been me. I should probably think about what I wanna do. I almost didn’t graduate high school because I took too many music classes and I wasn’t checking what I was doing, taking enough core classes.”
Medina draws inspiration from a widely eclectic spectrum of bands including Mr. Bungle, Twelve Foot Ninja, Pantera, Rage Against The Machine and Young MC, for starters. Each band has drawn inspiration from the past, present and everything else out there constantly feeding and evolving the cycle.
Pushing nothing aside the band listens to death metal, reggae and salsa as well. “All that stuff is an influence on our music. I think the thing we all have in common is we like to keep things on a smooth keel. Take all these things we grew up with and mix it with our personalities. Put it in the oven, bake it and it comes out like this.”
Medina stresses his love for Mr. Bungle and stresses the talent of genres not necessarily spoken of in intellectual music circles. “To see them live, you just know there’s musicians out there that are complete geniuses with what they think of and create on the mainstream side of things. People underestimate the musical prowess of a lot of these death metal, hardcore and metal bands.” Medina went further saying that there are incredibly talented musicians in genres opposite of metal like Justin Bieber and Pink.
Living in L.A. for over a decade Nordstrom says the L.A. scene has evolved since he’s lived there and it will always cycle through and create new scenes. “There was this kind of surge with us and a handful of other bands that got signed. Suddenly the scene went on tour.” Nordstrom thinks there will be evolution and a new scene will be created then signed.
With the multi-themed ranges of their songs, if they could talk to any major figure alive or dead they would go biblical, historical and intellectual. Top answers were Nordstrom’s desire to meet Isaac Newton with Medina’s meet and greet with the leader of Atlantis. Other choices included Moses, the creator of Kung Fu, Socrates and Plato. They would enjoy talking to the minds that helped build the pillars of our modern culture.
The band admires historical figures that helped evolve humanity and shared in writing history. Medina discussed different versions of history which were passed down through storytelling, biblical scholars and the writings and teachings of Plato. Though each person’s story branches off in different directions, it’s all rooted in the same basic path, brain and life cradle.
Stretching back to the beginning Medina would also love to visit or at least observe the Jurassic period and meet and communicate with the early humans.
In response to his deep rooted interests, Medina says he’s either very well read or… very well podcasted. After deep consideration, he jokingly takes a more rock star stance, changing his answer to Ron Jeremy, identifying him as a coping mechanism for thousands of men that might think, “I have a chance. I don’t have to go to the gym.”
“I met him once [outside the Rainbow] and asked if he’d ever had sex with an albino,” Nordstrom recalls. “He said, yep and turned his back to me. He did not like my question.”
As far as bucket lists and to do lists go, Nordstrom wants to go overseas and eventually visit space. In all seriousness, Medina would like to see a glass bottom plane travel through the ozone in his lifetime. With the recent scientific activities in space, anything is possible.
They share a few final pearls of wisdom with the fans and the Synners worldwide. “Only you can help stop forest fires,” Medina says with a smile. “Thank you for your support.”