When you chat with drummer Fernando Medina, it’s as if you are in a rock and roll history class. His story is fascinating and his career is varied, from London musicals to appearances at SXSW. Not to mention the work he did for Volkswagen. Let’s find out more…
Hailing from various cities in the USA and abroad, drummer Fernando Medina is always on active, global lookout for new and interesting projects, tours, studio work, festivals and concerts. In fact, he’s made his way through life and the world with some rather tasty, left-of-center, kick-ass drumming–that and a bit of guts.
Guts? Yeah, guts. Considering that he studied 20th-century British literature, existentialism, historical geology–everything but music–at Boston and Oxford Universities and started out as a geologist. Sure, he had musical outlets along the way: private lessons, high school bands, drum corps (The Boston Crusaders). But so did most of his peers who would never pick up an instrument again after their 22nd birthday. But in 1995 Fernando turned down various graduate programs (guts!), took a full-time job as a geologist and started drumming with several Boston bands in his spare time.
Then a serendipitous something struck in the spring of 1998. Valor Kand of the cult deathrock band, Christian Death, left a phone message answering Fernando’s drummer-available ad in a local paper. A month later he was touring all the major European cities for the first time, including shows at the Wave Gotik Treffen Festival. A 1999 European tour (including The Black Easter Festival) with the same band followed. Meanwhile, in between these tours, he had left the job and academic/professional path he’d been on since childhood. Guts! Gig by gig, tour by tour, he pieced-together a new drumming career, a new life and a new respect from local musicians, composers and producers. As musician-producer, John D, of Amberspyglass, recently wrote, Fernando was always the first (and only) call.
During these years, Fernando racked up live performances with bands and artists as far down as NYC along with a growing list of studio credits, even TV/Radio jingles for clients like Volkswagen and Mile-One Auto. He even made time for the unusual, like performing a live, improvisational score to F.W. Murnau’s silent film Nos Feratu with the band, Reflecting Skin, and an original silent-film with the ensemble, Neovoxer, led by NYC performance artist, Mike Pope. By mid-2001, he was playing with Castle von Buhler artist, Annette Farrington, in support of an album featuring impressive programming and production by the illustrious Anthony J Resta (Duran Duran, Collective Soul, Perry Farrell, etc.). These performances included sharing the stage with such luminaries as Jah Wobble of Public Image Ltd and Roger Miller of Mission Of Burma.
By late 2001, however, Fernando was restless. He jumped at the invitation of X-Marilyn Manson guitarist, Zim Zum, to come to Chicago to join Zim’s new band, Pleistoscene. But contractual disagreements prompted him to go to China instead with a Top40 band playing 5-star hotel residencies in Macau and Shenzhen. In 2003, after completing these contracts and performing at the GoGirlsMusic/SXSW Festival, and taking a short Florida sabbatical to regroup, Fernando was back in Chicago lining up live gigs and studio sessions. He kept it up for several years. The list included names like Future Rock, Strezo, William Steffey, The Javelinas, The Break Antenna. One session even found him laying drum loops for use in Ultimate Arcade Online Football. Needless to say, all along he garnered more praise.
2009 to the present has seen Fernando expanding his range: the Panama Jazz Festival accompanying Panamanian percussionist, Ricaurte de Villarreal and touring the US with then San Diego band, After The Crash. The long ATC tour including opening for Eddie Money on several occasions. In 2012, he drummed night after night for a successful, indie musical with London singer-songwriter, Ezra Axelrod.
Always keeping himself fresh, energized and joyful along this journey, Fernando has played for West African dance classes in Chicago and Bogota, Colombia, taught bucket grooves to street kids in Panama City, Panama, and danced amongst Algerians on the banks of River Seine in Paris accompanying their folk music with a mere ballpoint pen and steel thermos.
Texture, syncopation, dynamics, precision, flow–these are Fernando Medina’s percussive hallmarks whether playing rock, indie, pop, R&B, world music, reggae, dubstep, americana, folk or some genre-style beyond labels. Gutsy exuberance–his personal stamp. Hire him and be prepared for a quirky sense of humor, some inspired, explorative drumming, and equally-inspiring stories and reflections. This man lives for the marrow and meandering of life–and rhythm.
Look at the kudos Fernando’s getting for his chops:
Steve Berman of Berman-Branco Music Endlessly creative and energetic, Fernando set the standard for what I hope for when I hire a session musician.
Anthony Schultz (BigT Productions, New England Institute of Art, Audio Engineering Society-Boston) a highly-dedicated musician with a real passion for the ‘Art of Rhythm’.
Annette Farrington [Fernando] was able to capture emotional and dynamic intricacies on par with the musical giants such as Stewart Copeland and Phil Collins.
Felix Moreno, Future Rock We were impressed
William Steffey The most dynamic, tight and versatile drummer I’ve ever had the pleasure of performing with.
Ezra Axelrod You [Fernando] are one of the most unique and talented musos I have ever encountered. You weave melodies out of percussion, a feat rarely achieved by drummers. You have given incredible backbone to my music.
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