Scraped off the north shore of Long Island, Chuck Betz, Ryan Naideau and Jimmy Shelton played punk rock together since high school, in a succession of bands more than happy to set up at any house party, BBQ or makeshift venue that would have them. By 2008 the boys had based themselves in Brooklyn and adopted the Nude Beach moniker. One listen and you can tell they ‘ate’ a lot of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty with liberal doses of the Byrds, the Replacements and the Jam.
I probably get a hundred records like this every summer. Three or four guys and sometimes girls who were raised on rock ‘n’ roll, have scruffy haircuts and holes in the knees of their jeans and rebellious attitudes. They’ve had a few lessons or their dad or big brother gave them some chords. They buy some $200 guitars and amps as loud as they can get off Craigs List or the Thrifty-Nickel or whatever. Usually, they can’t pull off the musicianship of say The ‘E’ Street band or the Heartbreakers, so they compensate with 3 very loud chords played four on the floor. Its nothing new and it’ll never stop as long as rock ‘n’ roll is alive.
You can call it punk, garage rock or whatever the current label is but band like The Standells : “Dirty Water”, The Knickerbockers: "Lies" , Count Five: "Psychotic Reaction" and Strawberry Alarm Clock: "Incense and Peppermints” all started there. Back in my day, I was in these kind of bands and we all wanted to be The Beatles or The Stones or The Kinks. Later on, we wanted to be CCR or The Band but we didn’t have the talent. But we had the passion and the balls and we didn’t care if it was good, we just wanted to play it.
Now, the bands like Nude Beach want to be Tom Petty or The Ramones or Bob Seager, Green Day or who the hell ever. And oft times, they don’t have the talent. But they still have the passion. They still have the unmitigated gall and naïveté to think they can become rock stars. These guys don’t have Pro Tools. They have Squire Guitars and their whole rig costs less than the computer to run Pro Tools. Their songs are cut in one uninterrupted take. There’s no remixing, or faders. Chances are its recorded on a four track cassette deck with one mic between the drum and the finished product.
And every now and then, there is one of these bands that doesn’t necessarily play any differently or better than the countless others that are driven to do the same thing. They’re decent, passable and even good songwriters and unskilled enough to have to rely on passion as musicians and something just happens. It clicks and they rise above the multitude of other scruffy white kids that have been doing this since the early 50s and you don’t end up not with the next Springsteen or the next Ramones but with something wholly original, and it can make a lasting impact. And that impact happens not in spite of the artists limits but because of them.
Nude Beach is that band that rises to the top of the crop. the songs are good, the music is just what garage bands have always turned out. There’s a lot of echo and analog noise, like someone’s sister kicked over her bicycle and clipped a mic stand during the recording session. There’s some distortion but the record has that passion, that unmitigated gall. It’s got balls and it shows that playing together for four years now has paid off. These guys aren’t punk rockers because they have torn and faded jeans, they aren’t punk rockers because of stretched out tee-shirts or denim jackets or because they know their way around a mosh pit or because they can incorporate Cobain nihilism or profanity into their lyrics. they are punk rockers, garage rockers because they had the nerve to pick up guitars, basses and drums, call themselves a band, play gigs and make records.
Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved