In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band each week.
Teasing each other relentlessly, the members of Nude Art are like brothers — and with hours of band practice and friendships spanning years, they practically are.
“I’ve always considered it like three brothers that I never really had, ‘cause we all get pissy at each other and fight and make up,” drummer Leo Kessler said.
Band members Kessler, Erich Mukuda, Sam Knudson and Sam Ruschman have been friends since high school.
“It’s a family affair,” Ruschman said.
The group of four formed their musical family in summer 2012, when they wrote their first four songs.
“When the four of us are working together, it just kind of clicks,” Kessler said.
Unflinching, dedicated, detail-oriented and passionate are some of the ways the members described Nude Art, and through their music, they’ve struck out an unconventional path, unafraid to turn people off.
“We never really found that we fit in with anybody,” Kessler said. The band puts up songs as they record them, but they’ve also put out two EPs, one in 2013 and one in 2014
Loud, shreddy, childish and punk-y, their music is a minefield of guitar and quasi-emotional lyrics that defy definition.
“When people ask me what kind of music we play, I could say lo-fi or whatever, but I don’t want to get pigeon-holed,” Makuda said, to which the group unanimously agreed.
Amid pressure to pick a genre, Nude Art refused to label its music.
“I always hate that question,” Knudson said. “Like what kind of music do you play? I don’t know. You tell me.”
Instead the gang affectionately refers to its music as “swamp.” The term was born of a musty, sweltering space deemed the “swamp shack” where the group once practiced in Columbus.
Though the four are Cincinnati natives, their music is a product of their lives in Ohio’s capital city, where they attend Ohio State in their fourth-years in pursuit of aspirations encompassing music and beyond.
Nude Art members said keeping it light, not taking itself too seriously and having fun are incredibly valuable, but its music is still important.
“The way we write stuff is … if we like it, we keep it,” Makuda said. “It’s not like it has to be a certain sound or a certain style … we have variety and try not to restrict ourselves to a certain sound.”
Nude Art plays what it likes, and it does it for fun, not cash. “Every dollar we make goes back into the band,” Kessler said.
The guys fondly recall the time they cleared out Tatoheads, a German Village restaurant, following a folk band.
“They were playing Mumford and Sons covers, and if you’ve heard our music, you can imagine,” Ruschman said.
Makuda likened the experience to a scene out of a movie. “One thing I’ll always remember is we were playing and I was looking up at one point at this woman who was covering her ears and I just thought that was funny,” he said. “When does that happen in real life?”
Kessler said he liked that their music elicited a response — even if it was not ideal, it was fun.
The band’s laid-back, upbeat attitude has landed it successes, too, like the opportunity to play with the band Ovlov, a Connecticut band they played with April 6. Their music has also gotten enough dispersal to that they got fan emails from New Hampshire and Sweden.
Knudson said he hopes that people can just come, hang out and have fun at their shows.
“It’s super cliché to say this, but forget about your troubles for 30 minutes,” Knudson said.
Kessler said he believes the volume alone of Nude Art’s music is a medicine in itself, saying, “I think it has some sort of cathartic release when you’re that loud, that fast.”
The band plays for no specific audience — anyone with ears is welcome to listen.
“We don’t discriminate,” said Kessler and Knudson in unison before an enthusiastic high-five.
Kessler said the band is excited for a week-long tour in March, where it plans to play in several cities across the East Coast, including Washington, D.C.
“We’re on special request by the president,” Kessler joked.
Nude Art said it would like to put together a single, thematic album in the future.