Philadelphia-based psych-pop quartet Secret Nudist Friends recently released three long-awaited singles. These first three tracks off the band’s forthcoming LP, “I Don’t Like It,” premiered consecutively late last month on Bandcamp and all other streaming services.
In “Search Party,” vocalist Deb Gilmore leads the band on a chaotic search for their elusive “Baby.” Staccato keyboards, intensifying rhythms, sneaky guitars, and frantic group vocals guide the way.
Matty Klauser returns to their usual spot at the helm on “Outside,” a rich, guitar-drenched psych tune, exploring isolation and mental health. The band ventures into Beatles-esque vocal territory with warbled layered leads and four-part response harmonies, as the song crescendos to its climactic sigh.
“I Don’t Like It!” is the title track of the LP, and challenges a society in which people are criticized for being who they are. Gilmore implores us to stand up for ourselves and each other in a world where this isn’t always a given.
PW recently caught up with Klauser to talk about the new music and more.
Let’s go back to the beginning. How did the band form? How did you decide to call yourselves Secret Nudist Friends?
The band has taken several forms over the years. It originally started as the solo project of a friend of mine from college. The name dates back to him and his girlfriend getting involved in a crew of rich Manhattan nudists that they met at the beaches of North Jersey.
He and I were playing music together in a few bands in New York and Philly, and I suggested turning Secret Nudist Friends into a proper band. Eventually, Ed left and passed the torch to me, and after a few different lineups and comings and goings, we formed the current lineup of Deb “Bee” Gilmore (she/they) on bass and vocals, Missy Pidgeon (she) on keys, percussion and vocals, Brian Hullihen (he/they) on drums and vocals, and me, Matty Klauser, (they) on guitar and vocals. We mostly met each other through the DIY scene in Philly, which we have all been heavily involved in. This feels like the dream team, but all iterations of this project have been beautiful!
You recently released three tracks from your upcoming album, “I Don’t Like It.” How is the album coming along, and how did it come together? When do you think it will be released? And what are the best ways for people to hear the singles and album, once it’s out?
After putting out a few EPs and singles throughout the years, it has always been our goal to put out a proper full length. Most of these songs on the album are the products of the last year or so of touring. Bee and I kinda led the writing on these, but they are definitely a product of all four of us and our unique personalities!
We recorded the drums and most of the bass at Pleasure Mountain Audio in West Philly with our friend Patrick Bayer. The rest was recorded by me and the band at our spot in South Philly called Tralfamadore. (Also, the longest-running South Philly house show space.)
Missy really stepped up as a co-producer on the album during the quarantine and months before and really kept the project on track as the world got scarier and focus became harder to find.
I’m currently finishing tracking and mixing the record, and Elaine Rasnake at Daughterboard Audio is doing the mastering. We also have the amazing Emma Atterbury on board doing the art. The full length will be out on vinyl on goodhowareyou records early 2021 at the latest!
You can also find us on Bandcamp and Spotify and everywhere else.
How have the pandemic and all of the closures that came with it impacted the band? How have you spent your downtime?
The pandemic had immensely changed all of our lives. I run and work a lot of shows and work all kinds of music jobs, and they disappeared in a heartbeat. It’s been slow going figuring out how to be a musician right now. Missy has taken the opportunity to work full time on a farm for the last few months. Brian spent some time in Western New York, and Bee has been traveling the backroads of the west coast, working on farms and visiting intentional communities.
Talk a little about being a part of the Philly music community. Is the city supportive of local bands? Are there any local artists who’ve influenced your music – or ones you just like to listen to?
We are all super involved in the music scene and have helped run venues, including Tralfamadore and Pleasure Mountain Ballroom, co-founded the goodhowareyou artist collective, Missy and I ran a booking company called Paper Scissors Media, and countless other involvements. This scene is incredible and incredibly familial and supportive! We only exist because of the love and support of the DIY and music scene here and would have never gotten off the ground without it! We love our label mates so much, especially Trash Boy, Broke Body, canine 10, Kelsey Cork and the Swigs and so many other amazing bands and artists!
What’s ahead for Secret Nudist Friends once the pandemic passes? Back to live shows? And what are the best ways for your fans to keep up-to-date with what you’re doing?
Since the world is indefinitely not a hospitable place for live shows, we are going to release this record and hopefully put out even more recordings. There’s definitely some other songs we’d love to put out into the world. Don’t get me wrong, WE LOVE TOURING, but who can say what that’ll look like for a long time? We are each focusing on finding what inspires us in this life and finding peace and creativity. I feel like that can lead to infinite possibility!