tended version of an article published in Star News, more Q&A below)
By Brian Tucker
“My mind’s a spigot and I’m starting to dig it,” Patton Magee sings on “Water on Mars,” the heady opening track on The Nude Party’s self-titled release. Representing one color on a vibrant rock and roll record, the lyric, like many on the album, is both vague and fulfilling.
“I was just thinking about walking through the park,” Magee says from the road, the band listening to a podcast about haunted activity on Mackinac Island. He pauses, then, “…while sitting in a van. He chuckles, adding, “And how nice it might be to walk through the park.”
Simplicity of ideas made for great meat and potatoes garage rock songwriting – going off to war (“War is Coming”), blowing off your ex (“Records”), choosing a musician’s life over 9-to-5 (“Chevrolet Van”), lifestyle indifference on the carnival-esque “Live Like Me,” or feeling good facing insanity on the Faces-meets-Velvet Underground rocker “Feels Alright.”
Produced by Black Lips’ Oakley Munson, the music delightfully looks to another era, producing gems like “Records” and “Chevrolet Van.” On it Magee sings, “I dig what you do/But I think you’re wasting your time……Someday when you’re too old to play/Yeah, you’ll wish you had a job,” ensuring the song will resonate forever.
The Nude Party performs at Bourgie Nights on Tuesday, deciding to make their N.C. shows costume parties (“Costumes are encouraged” Magee says) and bringing good cheer in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Originally based in Boone, N.C. the six member band moved to upstate New York in 2017, living on Munson’s property and recording in a church over four days. Early days found them playing basement and house shows (sometimes au natural, hence their band name). While their sound bears a distinctly 60s sound, the basement spirit remains.
“We had played the songs live for a whole year and in doing so you naturally change it over time,” Magee says of taking their show into church to record. “I think its better for us that we played all those songs for a whole year. The songs were finally in their final form. Okay this is how I like to play it. This is what sounds good.”
Songs exist in the same landscape as The Rolling Stones or psyche-rockers The Black Angels. On “Records” a young Mick Jagger is in the shadows of Magee’s cool, bending vocals. The song is spot-on, a cool hook, smooth pacing about the dismissal of a spurned lover. And lyrics like “I’m back in the used section/Back browsing through old rejections” and “I don’t need your love/I just need my records.” The album’s second half is more atmospheric, a noir-meets-spaghetti western persona (see blistering instrumental “Charlie’s Sleep”).
The band has been friends a long time, a larger presence than their making music. Dissimilar personality-wise, Magee says they share the “singleness of intention to make music,” and the same sense of humor “which is probably the main glue.” That glue, and friendship, will be handy as success grows.
Since the album’s summer release on New West Records there’s been plenty of buzz. There’s a precarious nature to ‘buzz’ and building a band’s career in the face of acclaim. Precarious too is the possibility of playing music becoming a day job, historically something musicians aim to avoid (and ironic given the song and video for “Chevrolet Van”). They’ve been touring since August and the buzz has been bringing more people to shows.
“I mean, it’s good. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to gauge what (buzz) means because I’m really not sure. I have noticed a lot more people lately, shows have been really good, a lot of people have been singing along to a lot of the songs, which is kind of new. A bunch of people knowing the words, a room full of people, it’s pretty cool.”
Additional Q&A with Patton Magee
Do you miss North Carolina, or Boone? A small town where you recorded sounds appealing.
Magee: We moved in July 2017, definitely miss our NC friends. I love North Carolina. Its ideal, its perfect, exactly what we wanted. We’re on the road so much anyway we get our fair share of cities and late night hangouts, social interactions, it’s nice to come home to a really quiet nice big yard, big house. I don’t know, the Stones got up early and worked, and we would not say that we do that either, but we probably have a similar work ethic.
Was it like bringing songs to the church to record?
Magee: It’s a gutted out church and they built some glass dividers in it. We played the entire songs, all of us. We would do that couple times until we had the best take of it we were happy with. Then messed with adding vocals, and adding reverb, and little percussive stuff and things like that – as opposed to putting down a drum track and then layering everything on the drum track.
Is it surreal, songs you’ve lived with so long and now people are experiencing them?
Magee: Usually the whole room is pretty excited. There are weird ones here and there but that’s alright. We always try to do our best to get people, just to try to get ourselves as into it best as we can, by moving around and maybe drinking a little bit of whiskey and trying to have fun and get other people excited.
Opening for Arctic Monkeys. That could be you down the road.
Magee: We’re ready, man, we’ve e been touring steady for six years, played so many shows together, that I don’t think there’s anything that could make us feel like we were unprepared. I feel like we’re absolutely prepared.
You’re still friends and experiencing success.
Magee: It’s pretty intrinsically tied together. Some bands are built on one person that writes everything and is in charge and then other people play along. Our thing is just so codependent on everybody, we have to get along in order to make good music. They go hand in hand; we can’t have one without the other. I think we are (fortunate), we aren’t all that similar in every way personality-wise but we definitely share the same sense of humor which is probably the main glue, and the same singleness of intention, which is to make music.
I wouldn’t want to still be doing that exact same thing today. I’m happy that we’ve gotten so much better at playing and at songwriting. I want shows to always be exciting and fun and have that release for people that want to have a good time. I’m absolutely fine with the progression and changing.
If you songs for a movie, what kind?
Magee: Maybe some kind of film noir or western, probably a western of some type, maybe some type of Tarantino type thing, kind of pulpy, action movie.
What do you think about being in your 40s still doing it? Maybe that’s a bizarre question
Magee: (laughs) I’m not sure. I really don’t know. No, its okay (the question) I would like to, yeah, but who knows what happens.
A job, what you want to avoid by getting into playing music. Is it odd to have fun working?
Magee: I think you can find yourself, when you’re really busy for awhile, starting to maybe slip into getting annoyed at things. Oh, we have to do this, we have to do that. It’s good every now and then to have a little come-to-Jesus moment and say, its sick we get to do this and we should be excited to do that. And remember, that this is what we chose to do and what we want to do. We’re stoked to do it.
What about “Chevrolet Van” becoming ironic? One day you’re the guys with ties in the video, but you’re doing music and not a regular job.
Magee: The greater fear would be being the old guys in the basement.
True. So what if it ended tomorrow?
Magee: I’d say it was all worth it, absolutely.