A Band of Brothers

On their impressive studio debut, North Carolina’s The Nude Party gives us the Full Monty

The Nude Party

The Nude Party started as a nude band, playing naked at the poolside parties they threw at a lakeside house they shared.

“It’s exponentially cheaper to live together,” says lead singer and guitarist Patton Magee, one of the band’s founders. “We cook meals together, split rent, share the cost of soap, paper towels and all that. There’s not really a downside to it. It’s pretty ideal. I had a girlfriend that was living with us for a while, but it’s hard to make a relationship work when you’re gone on tour for half the year or more. Maybe someday I’ll figure that out.”

Although they’d known each other since they were kids, the six band members didn’t start playing together until they were attending Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. “Boone is a small town, with a population that’s more than half college students,” Magee continues. “Anytime you walk down the street, you run into people you know. It’s a close-knit place, between a party school and an academic school. Thankfully, it doesn’t have much of a Greek life, so nothing’s very exclusive. There are usually cool parties and house shows going on.”

The band started rehearsing in the dorms. As the music evolved, they decided to rent a house outside of town and get serious about music. Most of the band – Mcgee; lead guitarist Shaun Couture; bass player Alec Castilla; keyboard player Dan Merrill; percussionist Austin Brose and drummer Connor Mikita – were beginning players, but they were dedicated to their craft. “Shaun, our lead guitar player, was the only one of us that really knew how to play an instrument when we got started,” Magee says. “The rest of us learned how to play by moving in together and jamming for hours and hours each day. It was like growing vines around a column. Because of that foundation, we have a musical bond that is entirely unique.”

As their reputation grew, The Nude Party started touring the country and building a reputation as a high-energy, fully clothed, party band. They play a brand of old time rock and roll that has a sound that recalls Neal Young, The Band, surf music, 60s garage band grunge and The Velvet Underground, but with their own modern spin. When Oakley Munson, drummer of the Black Lips heard them, he invited them to share his home in the Catskills Mountains in upper New York. “Oakley is our long-time friend and mentor,” Magee says. “He’s been around the block, like 25 times. He’s been touring in rock’n roll bands for as long as we’ve been alive. He guides our spirits. He’ll be in music till the day he dies and he doesn’t require sleep. Having Oak in the studio is like putting Adderol in the water. He amplifies everything and keeps the session moving along with purpose.”

Munson produced the band’s eponymous debut, which came out on New West on July 6th. The 11 songs on the album have a 21st Century psychedelic feel. Tidal waves of keyboard wash over swirling guitar textures with hints of spaghetti western twang, anchored by multi-layered percussion and deep, propulsive bass lines. “If you’ve seen us on tour, you’ve probably heard many of the songs on the album,” Magee says. “Nearly everything was recorded live, the same way we do it at shows. Some things had to be overdubbed, in order to have some isolation for mixing – like backing vocals and percussion. Some of the lead vocal takes are the original live takes.

“This was our first experience with a world-class engineer in a professional studio. Recording with Matthew Cullen (Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, Geezer) at Dreamland Studios was like watching an expert pilot at work. He’s so quick and smart. He was able to turn our tentative musical ideas into tangible sounds. Everything we’ve done before this has been low budget and janky. This record is definitely a big step up for us.”

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j. poet

j. poet has been writing about music for most of his adult life. He has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Express, Harp, Paste, Grammy.com, PlanetOut.com, American Profile, Creem, Relix, Downbeat, Folk Roots, New Noise and more national and international publications and websites than he can remember. He wrote most of the Musichound Guide to World Music (Visible Ink, 2000) and had two stories in Best Rock Writing 2014 (That Devil Music). He has interviewed a wide spectrum of artists including Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard and Godzilla. He lives in San Francisco. 

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