In early March, The Nude Party’s Patton Magee was home between tours, cleaning up after a video shoot for the band’s electrified version of a Dr. John’s ‘Somebody’s Tryin to Hoodoo Me,’ from their new release Rides On (New West Records).
True to the band's holistic, self-directed approach, the group developed the concept themselves and shot the video close to their home base in Livingston, New York, where they wrote and recorded their third album.
A well-earned confidence imbues the sextet’s third effort, exemplified by the moody, muscular approach they took to ‘Somebody’s Tryin’ to Hoodoo Me.’Self-produced and recorded with Tampa-based engineer Matthew Horner, the album’s 13 cuts range from psychedelic blues to twangy guitar-rock and retro pop, reflecting the unique chemistry the band has nurtured over a decade of living, touring and recording together.
Magee had long harbored a dream to start a band when he met drummer Conor Mikita and his friends, including bassist Alec Castillo and keyboardist Don Merrill, as freshmen at Appalachian State College in Boone, North Carolina. Soon after, he bonded with guitarist Shawn Couture over a shared love of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Within months, the group was living together.
“That summer I moved into Alex’s lake house. Everyone bought cheap instruments and we set up and started learning to play music,” recalls Magee. Over the next few years, they built both their skills and a local following, they became an incessant touring unit, attracting the support of notable fans including Jack White and Orville Peck and eventually decamping to Upstate New York.
"We all still live in New York state, but we don’t live in the same house anymore,” noted Magee when asked how the band has remained a close, collaborative group through their multiple moves, tours and ever-increasing acclaim. “At a certain point [all that time together] goes from cute to concerning.”
Still, when the pandemic interrupted their touring plans, The Nude Party chose to strengthen their bond further, spending a year together building their own studio before writing and producing the songs that would become Ride On.
“If you’re going to run a creative project diplomatically and democratically, you have to take a good long moment before you step into the room and remind yourself this is a collaborative effort. This is not about me. This is about us,” says Magee. “This is about making the best thing we can all make together, whatever that ends up being.”
Having grown up with five brothers and three sisters in three different states, Magee was introduced to diplomacy, and van life, early. “When I was a little kid, we lived in San Francisco, North Carolina and Utah,” Magee remembered. “My dad worked a lot, and my mom would drive us around in this big GMC Savana van, making all the rounds, picking someone up at school, dropping someone off at soccer practice, the dentist. My earliest musical memory is sitting with my head out the window, watching San Francisco with my four-year-old eyes, listening to 50s rock and pop.”
Magee reflected even more deeply on his formative years to select his six Songs That Changed My Life.
One of the CDs we always had in the car was the soundtrack to Stand by Me.‘Mr. Lee’ and ‘Lollipop’ and Buddy Holly were great, but the one that always got me the most was Jerry Lee Lewis ‘Great Balls of Fire’. I even karaoke that song. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time, my first introduction to rock and roll, that 50s pop-rock style. It’s just all catchy.
When American Idiot came out, I was in middle school, living in Utah. One of my best friends, Willie, who I thought was the coolest kid dude ever, was really into Green Day. He would show me the music video for ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams.’
So when my godmother came to town for my birthday, I asked her to buy me American Idiot on CD. It was the first music I ever owned. I had it on my Walkman and I walked around listening to that CD probably 5000 times. The most affecting song was ‘Jesus of Suburbia.’ It’s this medley of so many songs stuck together. I couldn’t even imagine how anyone had written or played that.
After that I wanted to be a drummer and I asked for a drum set for Christmas. But when Christmas came around, there was this dainty little cheap guitar. I was so upset. Out of protest, I left it there in the living room for four months. At some point, I was bored and picked it up and there was a songbook in it, and I just never stopped playing.
I can hear American Idiot now and it still does something to me.
Once I started playing guitar, I got into guitar-based rock music and I became absolutely obsessed with Angus Young of AC/DC. They came out of the gate on their first album, just rocking about rocking. I would watch this DVD of all these live ACDC shows and just wanted to be Angus Young and be a lead guitar player. I saved up and finally bought an Epiphone SG.
Something about MGMT really sound-tracked my coming off that rock groove and into something more introspective and psychedelic and metaphorical and feely. I was on Youtube watching skate videos and there was a video about some skate contest and the song they used for the edit was ‘Kids’. I may have watched that video 20 times a day just to hear it. I got really into MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations.
At some point later in high school, a cousin I was very close to passed away. He was my older cousin, so cool, and me and him had a special relationship.I just wanted to dig into what he was into. I would play all his CDs in my car and there were a couple of Doors CDs in there, Morrison Hotel and Waiting for the Sun. Those hit me so hard.
It was a weird lonely time when I was living in Utah, by myself a lot. None of my friends even knew I was really into music or wanted to be a musician. I got into Jim Morrison because I felt like his voice wasn’t that crazy. I thought, 'if he can sing, I can sing'. That was when I realized I wanted to be a singer and write songs, not just be a guitar player. I would drive out into the canyon behind Silver Creek and park and smoke weed and sing without feeling self-conscious.
The first time I heard the Velvet Underground, I was on my way to a MGMT show in Charlotte with some new friends I’d met through school. I’d heard of the Velvet Underground but I’d heard they were this weird band that wasn’t good. The dude driving was playing something, and I was vibing so hard and asked him what it was. When he said Velvet Underground, I thought, “this is the Velvet Underground? This isn’t bad, this is the best thing I’ve ever heard.
‘Sister Ray’ is a cool example of something they do that I’ve gotten really into, though we haven’t really explored much in our music. It’s taking a 4/4 beat and has the bass play along to that so you’ve got this steady, simple rhythm going. But over on top of that is this insane, out of sync, almost out of key, avant garde playing over it. That Sterling Morrison and John Cale wild violin guitar stuff that causes this split-brain effect. Half the brain is on that simple, repetitive 4-4 rhythm and the other half of the brain is just constantly hit by something novel and unexpected. That split-brain is like Zen. It’s so fucking cool.