The NUDE PARTY – ” Midnight Manor “

Posted: October 19, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The Nude Party | Midnight Manor Promo Photos

It’s a Tuesday in the Catskills, and Patton Magee and his bandmates in the Nude Party are making preparations for a weekly tradition: “Tiki Tuesday.” The garage-rock band, their producer Oakley Munson, and a few friends and girlfriends who’ve been quarantining with the group in their upstate New York home are mixing up Mai Tais, Scorpion Bowls, and Zombies for a night of drinking and listening to Jimmy Buffett and surf band the Waikikis. “There is always something to look forward to,” says Magee, the Nude Party’s 26-year-old singer-guitarist. “Every Tuesday is a house party.” The six-piece band, whose members met while students at North Carolina’s Appalachian State University, succeed in recreating that college house-party vibe on their new album, “Midnight Manor”, the follow-up to their self-titled 2018 debut. It’s garage rock updated with a touch of 21st-century cynicism, written and performed by a group of self-taught musicians who bonded over Sixties rock & roll. “We wanted to play like the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Kinks. It just hit us all in a particular way,” Magee says.

Magee and his mates — bassist Alec Castillo, guitarist Shaun Couture, pianist Don Merrill, drummer Connor Mikita, and percussionist Austin Brose — went through a Doors phase too, but they were more attracted to the notion of a musical brotherhood over “any egotistical antics, Jim Morrison style,” Magee says. After meeting the producer Munson (drummer for garage-rockers the Black Lips), they fully committed to the communal idea by moving into a farmhouse together in New York. To get to gigs — in 2019, they opened for Jack White and Arctic Monkeys — they all piled into a converted church bus, which Magee says they recently sold for “1500 bucks and an old sitar.”

Financially, it was a loss, he admits, but “maybe in the end this sitar will help us make a really corny psych album. Midnight Manor isn’t that. Rather, it’s an unabashed rock record, full of chiming guitars, sha-la-la refrains, and lo-fi production that plays like the soundtrack to an Animal House remake. In the piano burner “Pardon Me Satan,” Magee wails about falling prey to drunken temptation.

But the enforced downtime has worked wonders for the six-piece, who’ve used lockdown to create a YouTube series about two rival Italian families’ power struggle to dominate the frozen pizza market, and produce their rollicking and instantly catchy third album, Midnight Manor. The Nude Party’s Midnight Manor is a fresh breeze of good old fashioned rock and roll made to make you feel good. To find out more about the making of the album, we asked lead singer and guitarist Patton Magee to scribble down the process behind a few select tracks off the release, and here’s what he had to say. Take it away, Patton.

Lonely Heather

Infatuation with someone unobtainable. I think of the rodeo game where scores of kids try to catch a greased up hog… But that metaphor doesn’t work on most levels. It started with an upbeat piano rhythm from Don. We’d just watched Heathers, and were both a little obsessed with Winona Ryder. ‘Heather’ is like an object of desire and obsession; it’s loving the fantasy and not even knowing the person.

Shine Your Light

I’ve started to realise, with heartbreaks again and again, that I don’t really regret anyone. Because a lover can be ‘the one’ for a period of time, and that time is usually not ‘til death do us part. Even when you’re sure it’s forever, you learn that you can be dead sure and dead wrong at the very same time. The light leads through the dark but it also blinds you.

Things Fall Apart

There’s a streak of what you’d call ‘break up songs’ on this record… for pretty obvious reasons, maybe. I actually started this song at the beginning of a relationship as ‘Feels Like I’m Falling in Love’. It was more upbeat and kind of Elvis-y. But I never quite finished it. When everything turned to shit, I fell back on it with newfound purpose. Misery motivates

What’s the Deal

This song has been kicking around in our repertoire for longer than any of the others. On our DIY tour around the US, we’d often stay with extended family members and friends, so we all came to meet mostly everyone’s entire families. We stayed with my grandma in rural Louisiana and she cooked us biscuits and gravy, we talked and hung out and had a lovely time. The next time we came through, a year later, she had suffered a stroke and was in an assisted living facility. With only the faintest memory of everyone, repeating the phrase ‘oh those sweet boys’ again and again. That was the spark that led to this song. Wondering out loud what it’s all about, and where it all goes.

The devil wears a suit in “Nashville Record Company,” a gentle acoustic number that devolves into a rowdy kazoo solo. And “Lonely Heather” is a frantic punk jam, packing a wallop in just over two minutes. In the hooky shout-along “Easier Said Than Done,” the Nude Party — who tweaked the name bestowed upon them by fans, “The Naked Party Band,” into something Magee calls “slightly more presentable” — spell out the pitfalls of the touring life. “That song is two-pronged. One of the prongs is that everything does sound like peaches and cream, fun and partying. But it does wear on you. It’s a weirdly sedentary lifestyle, where there’s a lot of sitting in cars. You’re always hungover, tired, and sore, and always feeling a little bit depraved,” he says, citing a classic-rock staple. “What does Joe Walsh say? ‘I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do!’”

After two years of non-stop touring behind 2018’s The Nude Party (that church bus was “a rolling deathtrap,” Magee says) — a period that also saw the end of more than one relationship — the band’s nerves were frayed. Magee channeled some of that burnout into Midnight Manor, exposing a little bit of emotional vulnerability along the way. “There’s less distance between the singer and the song. When we came together to make the record, it was at the end of a long, emotionally traumatic period,” he says. “But it felt like we were reunited — a rediscovery of the brotherhood. For all those reasons I definitely think this is the best record we’ve ever made. It’s a bummer that it’s coming out in the middle of a global crisis. When the pandemic began in March, the Nude Party welcomed friends who had nowhere to safely quarantine into their Catskills retreat. They raised chickens, ducks, and geese, and planted an enormous garden. Magee says they were worried. “There were some pretty wild thoughts in your head as to what was about to happen, like a Mad Max-type future. Things have sort of stabilized, but we didn’t know how bad things were going to get,” he says. “Now we just have a ton of fucking tomatoes.”

The Nude Party (from left): Shaun Couture, Austin Brose, Connor Mikita, Alec Castillo, Don Merrill, and Patton Magee.

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