The further you delve into the music business, the less romantic it becomes. « Success » doesn’t mean much if you don’t pay the bills.
The Nude Party is a rare band in that the group incorporates comments about the music business into their songs. Alongside the upbeat country-garage mix of « Feels Alright, » torrid western « Wild Coyote, » and the interesting rock mix that spans the rest of their catalog, the band has tracks like « Nashville Record Co. », on which she refers to the greed of the music biz: « They don’t come to make sense, they come to take dollars / Need a guitarist, handsome but not too smart. » The chorus of the band’s most-streamed song, « Chevrolet Van, » reflects the public’s perception of being in a band: « You’ll never make enough money / And nobody cares about the things you say / You’ll wake up to one. » day / And you will wish you had a job.”
The six-piece band offers an energetic and entertaining set, which you can catch on Friday, June 17 when they perform at The Alibi in Palm Springs.
During a recent phone interview with guitarist and frontman Patton Magee, he discussed how the pandemic « came in phases » for the band.
« There was a time when I was really worried about losing my livelihood. Then there was a time when I thought it was kind of nice because otherwise we would have just been touring endlessly, » Magee said. “We worked outside about 150-200 days a year, which was a lot, and that stopped altogether, so in a way it was stimulating to put on the brakes because sometimes the most interesting thing to do is something different than what you do. Now that we’re back at it feels great. It feels like by taking this break we’ve refreshed what we’re doing now and almost approached it from a different angle. We’re more performative and we’ve kind of overhauled our show, and we’ve really lined everything up to make it as big and cinematic as possible.”
One of the things that allowed The Nude Party to freshen up was their recording/performing studio.
« We all collected a lot of unemployment benefits because we were unemployed, and we built a studio in our barn, » Magee said. “We recorded in this studio, which was a very different experience than anything we had ever done before. We just finished the album and it’s in the process of being mixed. … (The studio has) a full PA system; we can rehearse like it’s a show, just like the Rolling Stones. Musically everything is much clearer here and I think everyone’s musicality has really improved. In a way, this whole COVID crisis has opened up some new doors.”
I asked Magee to talk about the sound of the upcoming record and he kind of declined.
« I’ve never read words about music that made me want to hear it, so describing music almost always feels pointless to me, » Magee said. « I don’t really know how to describe it musically, but I would say we need to take the time to really find it, to get all the sounds we wanted and songs with a much clearer ear for the parts to put together . We have so much more space and time. I feel like we’ve had to rush through records in the past. You practice songs, tour them, perform them live in a studio and then collect them, but this time we took a contrasting approach where we wrote songs, arranged them, recorded them and then built upon them. I don’t want to say how much better it is because I don’t want to disparage the previous two records, but I’m really excited to see what this process has unlocked. »
The band’s current live set features new material as well as many songs from their 2020 release. Manor Midnight.
“We didn’t tour extensively (Midnight House) yet, so we’re still touring with that material when we get here in June, along with older stuff and some covers, but we’re working on some of the new songs, » Magee said. « We had to spend a little more time actually relearning the new songs. »
The Nude Party’s pre-pandemic touring schedule was intense; The band members have viewed their live shows as their main attraction.
« Touring will always be our bread and butter, and always has been, » Magee said. « We agree because I think we’re a really good live band and that’s what we excel at and work at. I think for that period, before the pandemic, we worked too hard for too little pay – to maybe help people who weren’t doing that work. Now we’ve reshuffled the deck and reset the structure of what we do. Now we can still do a lot of shows and be a touring band – but do fewer shows and be better off financially. … Eight shows in a row without a single day off and a six-hour drive in between, that really pisses you off. … We kind of learned that ‘no’ is a pretty important word to become familiar with as a musician.”
I was curious to hear how Magee thinks about how contemporary musicians make a living.
« Some bands won’t be able to sell very many tickets for a show and don’t have very large audiences, but they can post a TikTok – and then a million people will see it and like it, » Magee said. « In a way, it seems like the more successful you are on social media, it automatically carries over to other forms of musical success. I think there’s a bit of truth to that, because if you have a viral TikTok song, that’ll help you — but I think it also gives that dual sense that you can sell out shows and do big tours. We work and tour as much as we have and release records and develop fans. I think we do better by taking action and not by signaling ourselves on social media. Other than that, it’s useful. … It just gives misconceptions about how successful someone really is.”
You probably won’t be seeing The Nude Party any time soon, whatever the latest TikTok trend is.
« To tell you the truth, I cringe at a lot of TikTok stuff, » Magee said. « Part of me thinks I should try to do that or generate a bigger following online or something, but I’m too reluctant to really put myself out there. Also, we’re banned on TikTok because our band name was somehow flagged as inappropriate. It’s not in our favor at all because when we post something, nobody sees it. »
With a name like The Nude Party — which dates back to when the band wailed naked — the TikTok troubles aren’t the first time their name has given them trouble.
« There was a long time when we received a lot of strange sexual messages from men in India, » Magee said. “They sent us pictures of their erections and just really inappropriate things. I think they thought there was some kind of orgy organization they could join or something — but that was a boost for us early on on social media because we had hundreds of additional followers. That strengthened us in the bar scene. Nobody knew they were just a bunch of perverts.”
The Nude Party performs with Ceramic Animal on Friday, June 17 at 8 p.m. at The Alibi Palm Springs, 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive. Tickets are $20 in advance. Visit www.thealibipalmsprings.com for more information.