“I would be so scared if we’d just met and put out one single that hit, and then we were on a big fucking stage,” theorises Patton Magee, The Nude Party’s oh-so-Southern singer, with a drawl. “I would be terrified. I’m glad to have had six years together of forming tightly and having horrible times and really great times. Man, we’ve probably played maybe 1,000 shows together… We’ve played So. Many. Fucking. Shows. I feel a lot more comfortable doing big things now.”
Today, we find the band – completed by guitarist Shaun Couture, keyboardist Don Merrill, Alec Castillo (bass), Connor Mikita (drums) and Austin Brose (percussion) - soaking up the sun at Victoria Park’s All Points East, about to soundcheck ahead of their set playing before the likes of The Strokes, Interpol and Parquet Courts. They’re undeniably on a pretty “big fucking stage” today but, as the singer notes, though their twanging, Stones-meets-Velvet-Underground swagger is only just starting to land on UK shores, back home they’ve been at this shit for years.
Meeting at college in their hometown of Boone, the group of pals barely had any musical experience between them but bonded over a mutual love of ‘Bad Moon Rising’ country-tinged ’70s gang Creedence Clearwater Revival. “We all got together at this lake house that Alec’s parents had one summer,” recalls Shaun. “Connor had never played drums before, Alec had never played bass, Don was just learning keys and we all bought instruments at the same time, put them in a room and thought, well cool, a band sounds fun.” “We’d only have four songs written, but four songs meant we knew four riffs and we’d just play them loud and quiet and get really drunk,” Patton grins. “We started as really low-brow entertainment for parties.”
Like a particularly naughty mirror to humanity, the sextet first emerged into the world naked and howling; unlike most, however, they were also hammered and pissing off a load of techno DJs. “We thought it would be funny [to play shows in the nude]. And it made people pay a lot more attention to us,” explains the singer. “Business owners tended to react more negatively. Homophobes didn’t love it. Other than that, responses were very positive… I remember a few times though, dudes would want to start DJing house music at these parties. There were multiple times when we’d be playing and a DJ would be like, ‘Yo, I’m setting up my stuff’ and we’d just be like, ‘Cool’ and then play one riff for an hour just to rile them up.” “We were just smart asses. We wouldn’t leave the stage. None of our friends at these parties wanted to hear fucking dubstep anyway…” chuckles Shaun.
“We started as really low-brow entertainment for parties.”
Learning simultaneously from the ground up – whether that be how to play their wares or how not to get punched - clearly fused them together strongly from the start. Now, all looking like they’ve been spat out from a vintage thrift shop and finishing off each others’ sentences, The Nude Party are unmistakably a gang – a band, in its truest sense. “It’s like when you grow a vine around a stick. If you planted five vines around a pole, it’d all grow that way,” theorises Patton. “That’s nice, man,” nods Shaun, patting his friend on the back.
Despite their unshowy beginnings and lack of calculated game plan, progress has slowly and then increasingly quickly come their way. Last summer, the band released their self-titled debut LP, spawning an anthem for any young, broke creatives sticking two fingers up to The Man in the sarcastic ‘Chevrolet Van’ (“You’ll never make enough money/ And no one cares about the things you say/ You’re gonna wake up someday/ And you’ll wish you got a job”). “The song to me is like looking at the very real possibility of failure and saying, ‘So what?’,” explains Patton. “It’s better to strike out than not to play at all.” And a pretty impressive roster of new fans have gone up to bat for The Nude Party in response. Earlier in the year, the band went on tour in support of Jack White, while one Mr. Alex Turner recently named ‘Chevrolet Van’ as one of his favourite songs. “I think Alex did us a big solid in saying that because I’ve had like, 150 English people bring that up to me,” laughs the singer. “So big ups to Arctic Monkeys.”
Going from playing “literally everywhere, in so many shitholes” (“We opened for karaoke in El Paso, Texas one time,” Shaun grimaces, “a karaoke night that no one went to. It was just us singing karaoke drunk after we played to nobody”) to travelling across the Atlantic and getting the nod from some of modern music’s biggest icons, The Nude Party are testament to the power of working hard, playing hard and giving a little cheek when necessary. “Now, we’re anything but grateful for the bigger things that come to us,” nods Shaun solemnly. “Anything but?” quizzes his friend. “Shit, I meant only grateful,” laughs the guitarist. “Yeah, this sucks!”