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.

Hunter Gatherers take on Battle of the Bands

Funk band, Hunter Gatherers, formed in January and competed in Whitworth’s Battle of the Bands as their very first performance on Feb. 23 in the Hixson Union Building.

The band is made up of sophomore Augi Sheets, sophomore Matt Goode, junior Ryan Grande, freshman Jacob Dansereau and freshman Cameron Smart. The group has an eclectic music taste. Smart, who plays piano, and Dansereau, who is the drummer, are both heavily influenced by jazz.

“I have an uncle who is a studio musician drummer and he plays smooth jazz,” Dansereau said. “That’s the kind of music that I’ve grown up around and grown to love.”

Smart started playing the keyboard in sixth grade and has now started jazz piano lessons.

“We do a lot of stuff with a 12 bar blues progression, but I feel like we have a unique sound,” Smart said.

Their song “Inside Passage” is an upbeat crowd-pleaser with fast drumming. “Lonesome Coyote” is based around the chord structure found on “The Legend of Zelda” soundtrack. Other musical influences hail from Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The band members may have different tastes but they all have one interest that brings them together: their passion for making funk music.

Lyric writing is mainly left to vocalist, Grande. He said their tunes are made by a lot of experimentation.

“Augi does a lot of the chord make-up, I do a lot of the melody make-up, and then me and Augi collaborate on song layout,” Grande said.

The song “Hujambo,” which means “Hello” in Swahili, (guitarist Sheets had a brief encounter with a Swahili class before dropping it) is an example of this band’s love of funky beats.

“We’re kind of in the wrong decade,” Goode said. “I think we should be in the 70s.”

The competition

Whitworth’s Battle of the Bands competition offered artists the chance to win a first place prize of $500.

The first band to play was Quesas, followed by Hunter Gatherers. The runner-up was Franklin and the winner of the evening was dream pop band, Nude.

Franklin and Nude put on polished performances that got the crowd out of their seats and dancing.

Among the crowd was freshman Henry Johnson.

“It’s nice to know that Whitworth has some musical talent,” Johnson said. Franklin had the audience clapping along with its music throughout. Adam Ogg, senior and the bassist of Nude, described Franklin as really lively and catchy.

Sophomore Rachael Hall said it was fun dancing along to Franklin’s songs and she enjoyed the vocals of guitarist and lead singer freshman Austen Case.

“Franklin should have won because she sounds just like Regina Spektor and I like her; the singer had an amazing voice,” Hall said.

Case said she hoped to spend their second-place prize money of $250 on bettering the band’s equipment.

“I feel so privileged to have played on stage with such great musicians, and a band like Nude,” Case said.

Nude, who won $500, has been together for nine months and is soon to produce a record. They played their songs “Freely,” “No Show” and “Lurker” at Battle of the Bands.

“I feel very grateful,” Ogg said. “We have lots of things to buy for the band.”

Nude will also be performing in the final round of EMP’s Sound Off competition this Saturday in Seattle, Wash.

Smart, of Hunter Gatherers, said he wasn’t surprised at the results of Battle of the Bands and thought Franklin and Nude deserved to win the prizes. He said his favourite performance was Franklin’s because they had good harmonies and an alternative sound.

Smart said he enjoyed his band’s first public performance and said they will use the experience to improve the group.

“I think our band needs to work on being more connected,” Smart said.

Story by Samantha Payne Staff Writer

Contact Samantha Payne at spayne15@my.whitworth.edu.

Photo by Cathy Bronson