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Even though I’ve never laid eyes on them, it’s easy to recognize Nude Beach’s Chuck Betz and Ryan Naideau at the Williamsburg coffee shop where we meet. Ripped leather jackets and Germs pins stand out against carefully sculpted hippery. Vocalist Betz, with his bed-head buffount hair-do, is a dead ringer for the Clash’s Mick Jones. He says that The Clash are one of their primary influences– you can hear that all over their latest release II. It’s a jangly rock and roll record, closer to “Rudy Can’t Fail” or “Train in Vain” than the currently unavoidable garage-punk sound. The record’s initial pressing of 500 copies sold out almost as fast as it was picked up for re-release by Other Music.
Their sound is sort of the opposite of what you’d expect from a band called Nude Beach, which would be a saccharine hybrid of Best Coast, FIDLAR, and brightly colored umbrellas. But they seem amused rather than peeved at the avalanche of bands with Beach in their name. (See: Blood Beach, Beach Fossils, Ghost Beach) Here the old truism not to judge a book, or a band rather, by its cover actually holds true. “We called ourselves Nude Beach before all of that,” says Betz. “We exist outside of those bands.”
“I don’t even know when that started,” adds Naideau, who plays drums. Their name doesn’t come from an attempt to cash in on a trend, but rather a reference to a Long Island –where Nude Beach was formed in 2008– ska band that would play the local county fair. “They had a song called ‘Nude Beach,'” says Naideau. “The lead singer was a bus driver who was a stoner.”
When asked how they feel about the fact that Mac DeMarco’s critically fellated record shares their album’s title, Betz and Naideau shrug their shoulders. They haven’t heard of him; they don’t like to read Pitchfork. (Which is a little strange as the site gave II a good review.) “There is a sort of start up sentence for reviews of ‘garage-pop’,” says Naideau. “You can’t get too caught up with reading blogs.” Both he and Betz agree that they wouldn’t even know where to begin if they attempted to make music just to try and have it become popular; that thought process doesn’t appear to be on their radar.
They seem the furtherest thing from calculated, noting that they both hold down day jobs. They are most interested in what a band should be most interested in: developing their sound and giging hard. On their last tour they played a show in the middle of nowhere, a/k/a Lander, Wyoming. There was no P.A. at the venue. “This place was not used to having shows,” says Naideau. “It was a cowboy sportsbar in a town with about a thousand people. Anybody we ran into on the street came to the show. We decided to play a bunch of covers, Rolling Stones and shit. People were cowboy dancing.”
When their set was over they started drinking at the bar. People came up to them asking when they were going back on. “So we played another set for over an hour,” says Naideau. Then they hopped in the van drove twelve hours to a show that no one went to.
Nude Beach play LuLus tonight. with Crystal Stilts. The show is free