NAKED GYPSY QUEENS – Bare It All

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Photo Credit: John Partipilo

There is a moment in time that most music fans rarely get to experience.  And that’s the moment where their favorite musicians come together and experience that lightning in a bottle feeling where they know that collectively their lives are changed forever.  This band origin story is often talked about in interviews, scaling years from the initial struggles of rising up in the industry.  Some of them are exciting, others are bland and the lucky ones even got a head start.  These bands like The Rolling Stones, Guns N’ Roses, The Cure, and The Beatles were lucky enough to meet as teenagers in junior high and high school.  With nothing but the drive to get their music out into the world, they paved the way for generations of rock bands to follow; bands like The Naked Gypsy Queens.

If the name doesn’t already spark an interest, the fact that this Tennessee quartet has become one of Nashville’s premiere rock acts before any of the bandmates have even turned 20 years old might just do the trick.  With deep roots in amplified blues and that classic rock n’ roll feel that reaches across generations, NGQ has built on the sound of their greatest influences.  Guitarist Cade Pickering, was kind enough to sit down with Screamer Magazine and give us some insight into that electric moment when the band began.  With geographical destiny at hand, each member of the band had moved at very young ages to Tennessee.  Pickering, after moving from New Mexico to Nashville, had begun his journey as an athlete.  Growing up in an all sports family, he spent a lot of time and energy at sporting events, but one of his main role models at the time was actor and musician River Phoenix.  “I loved all of his films and usually when I’m infatuated with someone, like a role model or something, I kind of dig in and see what their lives were like,” began Pickering.  “I found out that he played guitar a lot and that he actually wanted to be a musician more than an actor.  And I was like, I can do a few chords.”  At fourteen years old he put down his gym bag, picked up a guitar and never looked back. “My ex-girlfriend actually sent me a video link to Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit and after I saw that music video I instantly knew that I wanted to be in a band.”  While Pickering was learning songs from the likes of Nirvana and the Melvins in the confines of his bedroom, NGQ frontman Chris Attigliato and drummer Landon Herring were already paving the way to royalty in a high school psychedelic band.  After meeting through mutual friends, Attigliato and Pickering began their musical journey together.  “I had just started playing guitar, and he was, I think, three or four years in. So, he was kind of my mentor,” Pickering remembers.  “He would always take me to their gigs and rehearsals and I would just watch until I finally had the courage to really try out.”  That’s when Pickering and bassist Bo Howard rounded out the lineup of a band that was not originally called The Naked Gypsy Queens.  But as most of us know, high school isn’t always as glamorous as what we see in the movies.

l to r: Chris Attigliato, Cade Pickering, Landon Herring & Bo Howard – Photo Credit: John Partipilo

“It was kind of like an us against the world kind of thing,” Pickering explains.  “We all went to a very small high school.  I think that our graduating class was only about 30 students, so everyone knew us and each other.  At the time we really didn’t care about what anyone else thought, because we were so excited about the band.  We just did our own thing and didn’t care if we had any supporters or not.  At the time we weren’t that great, so I could see why we didn’t really get a lot of support back then.”  But as juniors in high school, they kept rolling along to the beat of their own drummer, until they found their signature sound.  “We looked at what bands were doing now and what we could do differently,” Pickering discloses.  “A big influence of ours then and now, is The Allman Brothers Band Live At Fillmore East album. We loved the idea of doing modal jazz jams, instead of the psychedelic trippy noise rock.  So our music was constructed more like a jazz piece, rather than just jamming.  Not a lot of people that we knew of at the time were doing that.  That was a big part of how we wanted to grow.”  With a new sound blaring from the speakers the band began playing local gigs, and even snagged a couple of out-of-state shows as well into their senior year.  Social media growth began to drive their following, and eventually would land them into the local battle of the bands.  They had just released their single Tennessee Heat on Youtube and decided to send it over to be considered for the competition that had a grand prize of recording time at the world-class Dark Horse Recording in Franklin.  To no surprise, the band that took the alluring name of The Naked Gypsy Queens would also be taking the stage to battle it out with other local acts.  They performed all original songs at the show, which helped them claim their victory and an entertaining encore where they played homage to their greatest influence with the live version of Whipping Post. The following month they completed their very first recording session, knowing that it would not be their last. 

In the fall of 2019, NGQ made their way to Detroit to record their EP at Rust Belt Studios.  It was their first time working with producers and who better to help them dive in than Marlon Young (Greta Van Fleet, Sponge), Al Sutton (Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd), and Grammy Award winner Herschel Boone.  “Going there we were all a bit skeptical,” Pickering describes.  “Like I said, it was always us against the world and we kind of had that punk rock attitude where we didn’t really want people telling us what to do.  We were so proud of the songs before we got into the studio, but when we got there we realized that these guys were veterans.  They have been doing this longer than we’ve been born.  We loved working with them and they were all hilarious guys…They taught us to leave a lot more room than you think in the songwriting process.  For me and Landon at the time, we were always just so worried about getting in as many notes as we possibly could.  We didn’t realize that the song isn’t just about your instrument, it’s everyone as a whole.  And if you give the song time to breathe, someone else can come in and make it even better than what it could have been if you just kept playing notes to fill the space.”  But their producers weren’t the only ones giving them career-building music industry tips.  While recording at Rust Belt, they had the honor of sharing the space with the legendary Alice Cooper.  Known for his epic stage shows, featuring eccentric stage props and illusions, riveting storylines, and impeccable wardrobe, Cooper taught the new frontiers a thing or two about what made his career everlasting.  Tips and advice that alluded to the development of creating a live performance to remember.  Tips and advice that Pickering says will be incorporated in all of their future endeavors.  With the help of their team, NGQ recorded their debut album, Georgiana, in a series of live takes.  Their dedication to putting on a compelling performance was translated into the raw sound that caught the attention of multiple record labels.  But after a few live showcases it was very clear to the band that Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group was the label that felt like a big family who wanted them to succeed.  On February 11, 2022 the band released their debut album and were met with raving reviews.  They quickly became the Nashville band that had lines forming around the block at local venues, because people just HAD to see them live.  Through it all they remained proud of the fact that they had been baring their souls to the sound of their music rather than putting emphasis on the number of digital streams that they had.  And it showed, in both their performances and their album.  Georgiana showcases the range of talent from these young artists from the seductive Strawberry Blonde #24 to the power ballad If Your Name is New York (Then Mine’s Amsterdam).  They even speed it up some with the Motley Crue inspired single Down to the Devil.  What’s even more impressive is the fact that the songs came to the band in an authentic way.  The main riff from their song Georgiana was conceived during a sound check where Pickering let loose.  “We had just finished with one of our earlier songs, Marmalade.  I was in an open tuning, we were all just getting our levels and I started off with this riff.  Everyone went in on it during that sound check and it was one of those songs that really just came out of nowhere,” Pickering explains.  “Down to the Devil and Strawberry were written in under 20 minutes.  We just found that groove and went with it.  But our songs Wolves and New York, in particular, took a little more time to figure out.  Chris wrote those and brought them to us to finish writing at rehearsals.”  With Attigliatio drawing his inspiration from real-life experiences like intoxicating women and moments on a subway in New York City, the lyrics have the genuine and relatable emotions that we often crave in music. 

With one EP under their belts, NGQ has big plans for the future, including some changes in their musical direction.  “This past year and a half, Landon, Chris, and I have been really studying different types of albums.  And not just rock,” Pickering says.  “Chris was into To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar, I was really into The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and Landon was into albums like Pet Sounds.  We really have a whole bunch of different influences and are studying how albums can work beautifully.  Now we have to focus on making the songs as good as we can possibly make ’em.”  From looking at the start of their origin story, it is clear that The Naked Gypsy Queens aren’t going to fade from our stereo speakers.  Fate has been on their side the entire journey and has proven itself yet again.  After Mammoth WVH had to cancel their remaining performances on the Young Guns Tour, due to positive COVID tests in their camp, The Naked Gypsy Queens were invited by Dirty Honey to ride out the rest of the dates.  Just another chapter in their future band biography! 

Georgiana’ EP by Naked Gypsy Queens
1. Georgiana
2. Down to the Devil
3. Strawberry Blonde #24
4. Wolves
5. If Your Name is New York (Then Mine’s Amsterdam)
6. Georgiana Live (Digital Bonus Track)

NAKED GYPSY QUEENS with DIRTY HONEY

4/8 – Marathon Music Works, Nashville, TN
4/9 – The Plant, Dothan, AL
4/10 – Hard Rock Orlando, Orlando, FL
4/12 – Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

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