Since I've become old and gassy, I don’t get out as much as I used to. So excuse me if my first earful of Brooklyn’s Nude Beach was from the excellent New York Rules tape compilation that Burn Books put out earlier this year. The tracks on there were righteous enough for me to send away for their self-titled full-length, and I must have listened to that thing a good 50 times since that mailman begrudgingly left it on my porch sometime last spring. Their chimey guitar sound and straight up dude-with-problems lyrics made me pull things out from the collection like Moving Targets’ Burning in Water, the first Replacements LP, a bootleg copy of the New Tweedy Brothers LP, that Nils record on Rock Hotel, and a few others I can’t recall at this late and drunken hour. Nude Beach make the idea of an honest guy in a flannel shirt with a guitar not seem like such a vomit-inducing concept. And for that fact alone, I thought you might want to know about them.
VICE: In all the horse shit trends in music that blow through Brooklyn, where does a band like Nude Beach stand? You guys seem a bit more earnest than the average chill wave hairdo band.
Ryan (drums): Brooklyn is weird and the music scene is weirder. I worked in a record store for three years and saw trends blow by. A few years ago there was a new band of the week EVERY week with some shitty name, and I saw like three or four "Sad Guy" record labels fight over them. Who would put out their 7”? Their LP? Play their outdoor fest? Watching people buy into bullshit gets depressing. Now if you want you can find all the "trendy" 7”s from the last three years in the Academy dollar bin. Nude Beach has and never will be anything more than friends playing music that we think is relevant or good or spirited in some way. Something more than a band that has two songs on Myspace then disappears. We’ve been together almost three years… have you heard of us?!
Chuck (guitar): Yeah, it's easy to write and record a song and post it on the internet without even getting out of bed. I know a few people who make great music in the confines of their bedroom, but for me, playing music can fall short of its meaning when you're not communicating with other people and allowing a space for it to live and breathe. I'm just glad I have something to do.
So who was first, the band from Philly who called themselves Nude Beach or you?
Ryan: Well, the Philly Nude beach was a fake band. They had literally two Myspace songs and got on Pitchfork and then we started seeing their name everywhere. They even played Don Pedro the night after us one time. My friends were like "What the fuck?!." It sucked because we thought we had a cool band name and then they came along and ruined it for a little while. They were definitely dicks. They once posted our tour dates online as a joke, and then more kids showed up at our shows on tour! Joke’s on you, “Nude Beach”!! Also, they named their album Slut Club which obviously sucks. They’re a good example of how Pitchfork manipulates the larger music press.
I read somewhere that they broke up.
Jim (bass): Yeah, they're a good example of how stupid the internet in general can be for music in 2011. I mean, they've gotten more press for their break up then most bands get for actually writing and playing music. They got this piece on NPR because I guess they stopped being a band when all these internet freaks spammed their website with nude beach porno. Anyway, I'm just glad no one is asking us why we named our album Slut Club anymore.
So if Nude Beach had a buddy band, who would it be?
Ryan: My pick for buddy band is without a doubt Marvin Berry & The New Sound. They are so killer and we’ve toured with them before. Just classic catchy power pop tunes. Joe, Jon, and Chuck live in a punk house. They’re some of the coolest guys in the world—not pretentious and really funny! Not dicks. Our friend Howe does a cool one-man-power-pop-glam thing called Punks on Mars, which is consistently great too. He just self-released an LP.
In the interview I did with the Burn Books dudes a while back, they joked that you guys have similar political views to the infamously dicey late 80s NYHC band, Youth Defense League. What did they mean by that? Did you have a family member who died working in a rubber factory?
Jim: I'd like to publicly dissociate myself from the politics of any Revelation Records bands from the late 80s and early 90s.
Chuck: I like to think of us as a "boots straps" band.
Ryan: I like what Burn Books is doing. They put out an awesome compilation with New York Rules. However, they left out pretty much all the awesome ladies who definitely help make New York rule. Where were Aye Nako, Bad Banana, American Sun, Worries, or Giant Peach, huh? Next volume?
If your parents or someone similarly clueless—like myself—asked what Nude Beach sounds like, where would you categorize yourselves?
Ryan: I think we’re stuck somewhere between punk, power pop, and rock. Our new album is definitely slower and cleaner sounding. That's an annoying question, buts it's definitely the type of thing you have to explain to your relatives.
Chuck: Yeah, usually when asked this question I don't know how to respond because I'm clueless as to what these classifications even mean, or what it's going to mean to whoever I'm talking to. It's hard to say punk to people like my grandma, because she might imagine a rowdy bunch of hooligans and rude boys fighting toe to toe.
What band or artist or TV star or whoever made you want to start playing music and why?
Ryan: I liked rap metal when I was a kid, and as I grew up I really got into Epitaph and Fat Wreck bands like Rancid, NOFX, No Use For A Name, and Descendants. For better or worse, that’s when I knew punk was my thing. Then the punk bands on Long Island actually blew me away because I got to see them live. My late uncle Jeff was also a huge influence. He played piano.
Jim: While I was already into punk on some level, the DIY punk scene in and around Long Island when we were in high school is probably what made me realize that you can actually make music yourself and go play it for people, and that it isn't even that hard to do. Some stuff has aged better than others, but a lot of people from that period are still involved in cool bands and other projects. I also still listen to Rancid for at least a little bit every day. I used to play along to And Out Come the Wolves all the way through like every day. I practiced jumping with my guitar, too. I still think Life Won't Wait is one of the greatest records of all time.
Alright, let’s pull it back in here. What do you guys think is the best record of 2011 thus far?
Ryan: For me it’s The Men's Leave Home. What a great band. Sonically, it's amazing—levels peaking, tape deteriorating, weird, psychedelic, perverted jams… It’s exciting music and I can’t get enough. So many cool elements and references AND they got this new drummer named Snake who slays! Also, Future Virgins' Western Problems is a great, long overdue LP.
Jim: That Future Virgins record is great, and Mandible, who put out our first record, just released this LP called Napalm Dream by Tenement from Wisconsin that is awesome. Really heavy power-pop and SST-influenced songs.
Chuck: The Andrea Schiavelli and the Eyes of Love tape. Brilliant weirdo jams. Ryan: Oh yeah, Agreed! Andrea!
Nude Beach - "The Mountain or the Moon" TONY RETTMAN
Nude Beach are playing August 17th at Lulus’ in Brooklyn with The Dopamines, New Creases, and Scarlet Letter.