Nude takes first place in Seattle band battle

Of the 147 bands that applied to the Experience Music Project’s 11th annual Sound Off! competition, Spokane-based band Nude wasn’t even hoping to win the competition.

It was not an effortless win, the band members said. Nude tried to remain calm about the experience, but still wanted to be a significant part of the competition.

“We really just wanted to make it to the final round, and then from there we just kind of tried to let go of it,” said Nathan Mead, the band’s vocalist and guitarist. “We weren’t trying to really be competitive. It’s too stressful to be super competitive.”

The competition was held for bands aged 21 and under from the Pacific Northwest. The bands go through a process of three semi-final concerts, and during the final, the winner is chosen.

Because Nude was named winner of Sound Off!, they received a spot at Seattle’s Bumbershoot, a music and art festival that takes place every September.

“It was such an advancing experience, I think,” Cody Thompson said, the band’s drummer. “We pushed ourselves really hard because we were so excited about it.”

The band consists of two Whitworth seniors, Jeff Bass and Jackson Cate (currently studying abroad in Australia); as well as Mead and Thompson.

“Winning Sound Off! was such an amazing thing,” lead guitarist Bass said. “We won Bumbershoot and recording time, and so much awesome gear that fits our needs so well.”

Along with a slot at Bumbershoot, the band will also be recording its first EP in May in Seattle.

According to the band, the EP it is releasing is significant to the start of the band’s career.

“It’s the first stepping stone to initiating ourselves as a band that wants to be recognized,” Thompson said.

Initially, the band had been recording its demos in Bass’s bedroom. According to the band, recording in a studio will be a big — and welcome — change.

“We’ll have a chance to really have [the songs] make sense dynamically,” Bass said.

Nude also said it wants to give its fans a powerful experience through their EP.

“It’s our first chance to create a full experience that people can have outside one of our shows,” Thompson said.

Nude was formed initially during fall of 2009, when Bass and former Whitworth student Mead took a music theory class together.

“We started talking about music, ended up jamming together, and we never really stopped,” Bass said. “We had a hard time finding other people who wanted to do the same weird things we did.”

Bass resorted to using beats made on ProTools and looping the sound during shows when Nude didn’t have a drummer.

Fortunately for Mead and Bass, they met Cate and Thompson. Together, they were able to form Nude.

Mead, who describes the band’s genre as “beat-heavy dream-pop,” described the varying musical backgrounds of all of the members.

“If I were to talk about the sounds we were influenced by, I would say Jeff was influenced by melodic garage rock, with some bebop influence,” Mead said. “I come from 80s mope pop and Cody really likes jazzy stuff but also just street beat.”

Despite their differing musical backgrounds, the band’s unique energies help bring the sound together.

“It never feels like we’re treading on each other’s styles, it just fits,” Thompson said. “We’ve helped to make this sound that we’ve all created with our personalities.”

The band members said they are attracted to passionate, expressive playing that makes listeners have a visceral reaction to the music.

“That’s what we want to be, is expressive,” Mead said.

Nude performed at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture’s BeGin! show on April 13.

Sophomore Seth Owens attended the performance, and described Nude’s style. He has seen the band perform on multiple occasions, and said they get better every time he sees them play.

“Nude live is a dream-like experience,” Owens said. “The unique repeated guitar licks and complementary vocals make it sound as if everything is accidentally perfect.”

Owens said he generally stifles the temptation to dance at shows, but for Nude, he makes an exception.

“When I watch them on stage, I feel like they’re almost contingent upon my interaction as a member of the audience,” Owens said. “They invite, I react, they reward.”

Sophomore Sam Bjoraker, who also attended the show at the MAC, agreed.

“Nude is so fun to watch because of how effortlessly they play complicated arrangements,” Bjoraker said. “They just get up there and enjoy themselves, and you can’t help but do the same. I spend most of the show with my eyes glued to Jeff’s fret board. You can’t help but dance.”

Bjoraker said he believes Nude definitely has a future among other famous bands.

“Mark my words, Nude will be signed to a label in the next eight months,” Bjoraker said.

The band has multiple upcoming shows, including a Star Wars show on May 4 in Seattle. Nude will be playing two shows in June: Elkfest in Spokane  and the Catapult Music Festival in Anacortes. Nude also has a few tentative house shows coming up in Spokane.

To keep track of Nude and sample its demos, visit its Facebook page.

Story by Katie Harriman Staff Writer

Photography by Greg Moser

Contact Katie Harriman at kharriman14@my.whitworth.edu.

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