The "Do It Yourself" ethic often espoused by rock-ready kids is too rarely put into practice. When given the choice between putting out their own music or hoping an A&R guy will eventually come around with contracts and cigars, 99 percent choose to wait. After waiting two years to arrive at a viable lineup, the three members of Fort Lauderdale emo band the Remedy Session learned to cut to the chase. When finding a singer proved impossible, guitarist Chris Polito took vocal lessons. When they wanted better gigs, bassist Lori Marsh booked an outdoor festival. When they needed a Website, drummer Alex Osuna designed it. When they wanted to release a three-song CD, Osuna burned and labeled them on the sly at her mortuary job, then distributed them worldwide for free. Now with a full-length on the way on its homegrown Recovery Records, the Remedy Session is poised to climb out of Florida and infect the rest of the world with its minor-chord theatrics and hauntingly beautiful harmonies.
When their noisecore band Grass Patch split up due to personality disorders, automotive assaults, and their bandmates breeding like rabbits, Osuna and Polito rented a warehouse and began auditioning singers and bassists, thinking it would be only a matter of weeks before they were up and running. They thought wrong.
"We put up ads everywhere," Osuna recalls. "We jammed with anyone and everyone we could, including most of our friends." A parade of South Florida's musical who's who enjoyed brief tours of duty with Osuna and Polito, including the Rocking Horse Winner's Matt Crumb, Disconnect's Scott Nixon, King Seven & the Soulsonics' Tim McGrath, Secret Service's Mike Allen, and Gus bassist Ron Sass. The only person who stuck was Floor guitarist Steve Brooks. Unfortunately Brooks insisted on reworking most of their material. "When he joined, we had ten songs," Osuna recalls, exasperated. "When he left after a year, we had one!"
With the departure of Brooks, Osuna and Polito set their sights lower and finally snagged a bassist. "We were so grateful to have someone who was dedicated, we didn't notice he had no rhythm whatsoever," Osuna recalls. When the still-nameless band entered the studio in July 2000, the would-be bassist's lack of skills was painfully exposed. "We did the basic tracks together," says Polito. "Alex and I were on, but the bass track was funky." After seven hours engineer Jeremy Dubois sat down and taught the bass player how to perform his own parts. "He tried so hard!" Osuna grimaces. "I felt terrible, but he had to go."
With the recording scrapped and the band once again bassless, Osuna and Polito returned to the drawing board. Over the next three months, they tried out a dozen four-stringers. "I quit playing at least ten times," Polito grouses. Finally the Red Shift's Lori Marsh drove up from Miami -- and as they say on Hart to Hart, "when they met, it was murder!"
"The first time we jammed, I showed her a riff, and within five minutes she added the perfect bassline," Polito enthuses. Within six weeks the trio played under the name Frequency Blue at Miami's Wallflower Gallery -- with Polito handling lead vocals. "After so many years of auditioning people, I just decided it would be easier to learn how to sing," he declares. Marsh hipped Polito to Chris Carrabba's vocal teacher, Norma Wisner. After a few sessions with Wisner, Polito and Marsh began harmonizing with barbershop precision, shifted their Frequency, and the Remedy Session was born.
The band was together at last, but drummer Osuna was falling apart. Nagging pains in her right arm grew steadily sharper until a doctor diagnosed her with a torn ligament and put her in a cast and out of action for March 2001. When the cast came off, the Remedy Session immediately started gigging again -- and so did the pain. "It came back in both arms, so I knew the doctor was wrong," she says. A trip to the chiropractor revealed that years of computer jobs had given her carpal tunnel syndrome. A regimen of therapy and splints ensued as Osuna did her best to keep up her drumming duties. Bassist Marsh came to the rescue by bringing in her husband (Dashboard Confessional drummer Mike Marsh) to teach Osuna how to play her drums without aggravating her condition. "She's so little, and she hits so hard," Marsh notes, adding, "Mike set up Alex's drums so she wouldn't have to stretch so far." Mike Marsh also taught her how to hold her sticks properly. "It was weird finding out that I'd been playing the wrong way for ten years," she says. Occasionally Osuna's chronic condition flared up enough to test her limits, even when the band tried to play an acoustic set "so she wouldn't have to hit so hard," Marsh explains. But unlike her husband's band, the Remedy Session's distortion-laden emo-rock doesn't lend itself to stool-perching. "We were awful," she grimaces. "Alex was playing with a splint, and acoustic guitars are not for us."
No apologies are necessary for the self-titled, three-song CD the Remedy Session recorded at Boca Raton's Morning Drinker studios in October 2001. The three tunes, "Overrated," "All Circuits Down," and "Recovery," all showcase the best traits the genre has to offer: Catchy but mournful vocal melodies are wrapped around Polito's fat power chords, Osuna's powerful drum attack, and Marsh's tasty bass licks. Rather than try to shop the EP as a demo, Osuna put the tracks up on the band's Website (www.theremedysession.com) along with an offer no true music fan could resist: a free CD to anyone who sent in his or her address. The strategy paid off immediate dividends. "We sent out a CD to a girl in a little town in California I'd never heard of," Osuna enthuses. "And the next thing you know, two of her friends e-mailed us and told us they really liked the CD and wanted us to come stay with them."
Record labels were also sending away for the disc. "Overrated" is to be featured on no fewer than four compilations this year -- including one on Fiddler Records on which the Remedy Session will share space with both Dashboard Confessional and fellow MTV favorites Thursday. Distant Rise Records honcho Alexia Anastasia flipped out completely over the Remedy Session -- in fact, she's created a new entity, Recovery Records, which will release the Remedy Session's debut album in June. "We totally hit it off with Alexia," Osuna explains. "She's completely dedicated and willing to do whatever is necessary."
To support its upcoming release, the Remedy Session is taking off in August for a tour up the East Coast with an eye on John Waters's hometown for a possible relocation. "South Florida sucks for touring," Osuna opines. "Baltimore is a great hub with cheap living expenses." Even if South Florida loses the Remedy Session to the land of crabcakes and big hair, according to Osuna, it will hardly be the last time we see them. "Both my mom and Lori's parents live here. So we'll have no choice but to come back and haunt you several times a year."
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.