In the past decade, dozens of rock bands have rediscovered and modernized the Velvet Underground’s dreamily disaffected atmosphere and guitar tones and late-era Beatles’ psych-pop melodies. Who knows if the trend is spurred by nostalgia or new societal apathy and drug experimentation, but Australian bands Tame Impala and King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, along with Americans Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, have brought hazy, trippy, psychedelic music back to the masses.
The sound has been far-reaching, and though its seemingly limitless experimentation makes grouping said artists somewhat of a cop out, there’s no denying the bands’ common influences. One such band, The Nude Party, plays Lincoln Calling this month, and with a raucous, roots-infected brand of psychedelic basement rock, they’ve generated significant buzz and earned opening slots for Segall, The Black Lips and Arctic Monkeys.
The band’s name, at least at its outset, was more than an easy way to get people to double take, as the band would perform — yes — nude. Shows often took place in their basement in Boone, N.C., the small mountain town home to Appalachian State University. There, the band build its first fan base, fueled by booze and their basement shows. But after graduation, signing to New West Records and releasing their first full-length album in July, it was time to start taking things a bit more seriously.
Recent years have seen the band relocate to the Catskill Mountains of New York, which on the surface isn’t a complete change of scenery from the Appalachians. Now without the hoards of college friends who frequented the band’s Boone house, their new pad leaves them more time alone to focus on their ongoing sonic evolution. We talked with The Nude Party frontman Patton Magee in the band’s van on the way from Asheville, N.C., to Philadelphia days before their first European tour dates. Read the conversation below.
How prepared do you feel for a European tour right now?
Totally prepared. We’ve been pushing to do this for so long. We’re totally ready. Most of us have never been there before. Just to go to a country I’ve never been to, and it’s even cooler that you get to go with all your friends, and our expenses are paid for because we’re playing shows. We have like a schedule, we get to go around and play and meet people, and we’ve got something to do all the time. It’s different than a regular vacation where you just show up somewhere and wander around. So we’re just excited to travel around and meet people.
You refer to your bandmates as your best friends, and you all just moved out to the Catskills in a city of 1,000. How has that isolation affected your songwriting, or even your perspective?
It’s great because we’re only there about half the time, and the other half we’re out playing or traveling or just spending time in the city. So I feel like we get a ton of social interaction from what we do all the time that it’s nice to just have a base out there where you don’t know anybody and nobody really comes over. You just have space and land and a bunch of animals, and don’t have too much to do. We can just hang out and record demos in the basement and practice, kind of laze around.
What’s it like to have that luxury, to be able to focus on songwriting without much interruption?
It’s awesome, man. It’s exactly what we were trying to do. We felt like we were taking kind of a gamble, because once we graduated from [Appalachian State University], we knew that we had to move somewhere — we couldn’t stay in Boone, [N.C.], because it just didn’t really make sense. All of our friends were moving away, it’s a small town and there’s not really room to grow. We thought about it for a long time where we wanted to go; we considered all these different cities — we considered New York City for a while, out at the end of Brooklyn, but it was too expensive. We considered some other East Coast cities, like Louisville or Asheville, but this ended up being the perfect thing because it’s cheap, it’s near a major hub, it’s isolated, it’s spacious and we don’t really have to work on the side, so we have a lot of time on the side to make music.
With label resources, what were the production and recording processes like, compared to past recording experiences?
All the past ones were just done in basements with amateur engineers, just whoever had microphones and ProTools on their computer would be how we did it. They’re a lot more lo-fi, and we didn’t have the ability to really sink into the sounds of everything. It was kind of like, how can we position all the amps with mics on them in this room so we can even record it at all and not have it sound like complete s---.
But now, we get to go into a killer studio out in Woodstock with an awesome engineer named Matthew Cullen, who has done stuff with Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey and Black Lips and Fat White Family. That dude is an all star. He ran the boards, he did all of the engineering himself, and our landlord/best friend/spiritual guidance Oakley Munson was there to set up and produce the whole thing, and just kind of be like a focal point and a general in the field. Because you do a take, and you’re all there with headphones on and recording, and it comes out, and just naturally you look at Oakley, and he either gives you a thumbs up, “That was the one, let’s run with it,” or “Do it again, but sing it a little more like this on this part.” Somebody above that we purposefully put above ourselves, that we trusted to guide the whole recording process. He’s the guy.
Switching gears a little bit, you’ve been able to tour with Arctic Monkeys and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. How does it feel to be getting those supporting slots, and what are you able to take from those bands and apply to The Nude Party?
Well, for one, it’s just so exciting when a band that you’ve been listening to and that you’re all really into — suddenly, not only do you get to see them, but you get to meet them. You’ve got them on a pedestal, and then suddenly that pedestal seems more approachable to you, more reachable, because you’re hanging out with people you admire a lot. It makes everything seem more reachable and more real, and it’s just nice to see people that are doing so well and are crazy successful that are still down-to-earth, really nice dudes that are helpful to you and looking out for you and want to hang out and be pals. It’s really great to see people that are really successful and not a------s.
This article was originally published in the September 2018 edition of The DN.