“Bonded by isolation and house-party debauchery,” the young guns of The Nude Party formed their band the way we all enter this world: nothing but birthday suits and wide eyes for the future. The five-piece set of friends met as App State freshmen in Boone, NC. They bonded after one lazy summer at bassist Alec Castillo’s family lake house.
“At around 1 a.m. everyone would get naked, and we’d take this canoe out into the lake, and sink it and then lug it back,” Patton Magee (guitar, vocals) recalls.
They were all into music to some degree at the time, often mulling over the idea to start a band. Though, no one really played an instrument except for Magee and Shaun Couture (guitar).
“So Connor [Mikita] got a drum set, Alec got a bass, and Zach [Merrill] got a keyboard,” Magee lists. “We just started playing really bad music together, and then eventually got a little bit better.”
And, yes, for a while their bare-bones music was accompanied with bare asses at their shows. Luckily Boone, where they’ve lived now for five years, lends itself to artistic expression of all kinds. It’s a well of musical inspiration and, overall, a supportive artistic community.
“Everyone just goes to everyone’s stuff,” Magee observes. “If my friend’s having a photography show, I’m going to go. I think that’s how the whole greater community we’re a part of here operates. At least, musically, everyone likes to have a good time, everyone likes to dance and have fun, and I think it’s led us to make more music that’s rhythmic and danceable, as opposed to introspective.”
The Nude Party is almost a revisit to British-invasion rock, a la The Animals, The Kinks and The Velvets, wherein the vocals are upfront. Alongside bands like Allah-Las and The Molochs, other major influences include the “country fried” Rolling Stones’ “Beggars Banquet”—reflected most in songs like “Poor Boy Blues.”
“We’re a modern band like that, where vocals are sort of loud, and you can actually hear the lyrics—if the sound person is any good,” Magee quips, “which I think is different than a lot bands, where the vocals are mixed in and reverbed out.”
Their collection of songs have all come from different spaces and places. It’s never a “Hollywood-style production.” Rather they layer small riffs and lyrics until there’s a skeleton of a song. Together, the group adds the flesh and skin.
“Life’s a Joke” is a quick pick-me-up and reminder how life is fun and great, even if it doesn’t seem so all the time. The tune came about when Magee and Makita took a psychedelic walkabout throughout their mountain town. Looking for a reprieve from stress, the two college freshmen had a musical reckoning.
“We kept listening to that Rolling Stones’ cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away,’” Magee explains. “I just had it in my head all day and then came up with, ‘Life’s a joke not a tragedy,’ with that same sort of Bo Diddley beat: do-dido-dido-doot.”
They dropped their latest single, “Water on Mars,” in December 2016, but they will move to upstate New York to start recording their next full-length album. They will be working at Dreamland Studio in Woodstock, NY, and hunker down nearby with Oakley Munson, who produced their last EP “Hot Tub” (January 2016). Munson used to live in Asheville and moved to New York to take a brief hiatus from music. He started farming before eventually getting tapped to join the punk-rock band Black Lips.
“Now [Munson] has a steady income, [so he] buys a house and hit us up, like, ‘Do you guys want to move in with and we’ll have a big commune up here?’” Magee tells. “Super cheap rent, out in the country but close to New York City—enough where we can go whenever we want to. . . . But I think the plan is during the winter months we’ll tour Mexico or something.”
One of The Nude Party’s final North Carolina shows is happening at Satellite Bar and Lounge on July 15. They’ll be joined by The Cholula Boys, also from Boone. It will be a family-friendly and fully-clothed party.
“I don’t want to be objectified,” Magee quips. “A bunch of strapping young men getting naked to perform … it was more of a funny thing to do when it was shocking to people, but now it’s not that shocking, it’s not funny, so we don’t really do it.”