Nuclear Tourism desperately need a divorce from their Computer Wife in their technophobic new single — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
Sung by the band’s very own Ringo — drummer Brennan Murphy — the Georgia garage-rockers’ latest track sounds raw, hungry, manic and broken in all the best ways. Balancing the off-kilter vibe and shambling grooves of vintage ’90s slacker rock against the edgier guitars and existential angst of more contemporary fare, this cracked little nugget is a black-humoured satire on modern society’s technology addiction — and a track you can pound beers to while doomscrolling:
“Lonely livin’, livin’ a lonely life
My hands my lover, my computer my wife
Hard to think, internal strife
Hard to think when your brain got knifed
No no don’t feel so down
No no don’t feel so down
I just want you around.”
Perversely enough, it’s also the latest sneak peek at the band’s upcoming self-titled sophomore album, a disc designed to position the plucky party punks as 2023’s weed-smoking, skate-pillaging, pizza-scarfing saviors of rock. If you’re lookin’ for self-deprecating, PBR-soaked fun, they deliver valiantly, their eyebrows singed by the torch of philosophical forebears from The Troggs to The Replacements to FIDLAR.
With their biggest single Subatomic logging more than a million streams, it’s no surprise that this young band has beat on the sophomore slump with a baseball bat. But their new record hits for depth too. In addition to the surfy, sun-dappled garage-punk that anchored their 2018 debut Scraping By, this go-round the band dip their toes into a more diverse set of sounds. There’s skankin’ late-’80s Op Ivy-indebted ska-punk (Feels Alright), indica-shrouded Lee Scratch-style dub (Mary, featuring Of Montreal’s JoJo Glidewell on keys), mathematically interlocking Strokes/Television rhythm guitars (Sick of It) — and even some Ed Sullivan-era Beatles harmonies (Whacha) and a Clash-esque raver (Half Drunk).
“Part of me was a little skeptical coming into this record with all these different genres,” says Nuclear Tourism singer, lead guitarist (and Spicoli doppelganger) Parker Allen. “I honestly didn’t know if they’d go together. We had a bunch of ska / reggae songs, and then the next one would be a Stooges / Lou Reed kinda thing. This album is definitely more well-rounded, more garage-rock influenced — stuff like Skegss, Together Pangea, Meth Wax, plus Athens bands like The Whigs. It’s not quite as surfy as our first record, but it’s still got some splash to it.”
Adds drummer Murphy: “What Scraping By lacked a bit was rhythmic complexity, just in terms of the bass and its melodic elements, whether it be countermelodies, or how it plays off of whatever’s going on vocally or in the guitars. Back then, Parker and Nate would switch off playing bass, but then Nate got really good, so we were like, alright, you’re stuck with it. He listens to a lot of Beatles, and his basslines are kinda like Paul’s. It’s really fucking tight.”
For Nuclear Tourism, Parker, Brennan and their twin-brother bandmates Nate and Graham Beveridge (on bass and rhythm guitar) tapped Jesse Mangum to produce, engineer, mix and master. Mangum, whose credits include Elf Power and Meth Wax, recorded the band at his studio The Glow, and proved a trusted mentor and kindred spirit.
“Jesse was fucking awesome — it was cool to have somebody who was just as excited about the record as we were,” Parker says. “We were on the same page, sonically in that we wanted something professional but still kinda shitty sounding, but he also held us to really high standards performance-wise. He’s not afraid to be like, nah, that sounds like shit, y’all fucked up, you can do better; and we’re like, dammit, Jesse, you’re right. But then he’d also be like, ‘The next hour’s free because I want you to fucking get this right.’ He’ll work with you in that sense, which is awesome. And while he always came in with good ideas when we got stuck, he also pretty much let us do whatever we wanted. Working with him was a lot of fun.”
Nuclear Tourism met back when they were just 15, 16 years old, hanging at Nuci’s Space, a music community center in Athens that offers everything from cheap hourly rehearsal spaces to music education programs and free mental health care. While the boys formed a band out of the gates, for many years, rock ’n’ roll took a backseat to their first love: Skateboarding.
“Originally, Nuke was a five-piece with three guitars and a bass player,” Parker says. “We kicked the bass player out because he didn’t want to skate. Back then, we didn’t really practise unless it was raining and we couldn’t skate. After school, we’d meet up at the little DIY skate park on Atlanta Highway — it was a great place to have a beer and get high without your parents knowing. At some point, though, we started taking the band more seriously.”
As soon as they graduated high school, they decided to hit the road. “Our parents were skeptical,” Parker says, “but, like, what else am I gonna do after high school? I dunno, let’s see if this shit works.” He sent out booking emails to venues all over the country. To his surprise, he heard back from famed Sunset Strip club the Whisky A Go Go, who offered Nuclear Tourism an opening spot for surf-punk legends Agent Orange. So the band bought a van and booked a supporting tour out to the West Coast and back.
“That shit was so much fun — it was a road-trip / skate-trip tour,” Parker says. “We learned a lot, and then we came back to Athens, and other bands in town were like, ‘What the hell? Y’all fucking drove out to California? Who are y’all?’ And then all our skater friends started coming to our shows. When they weren’t too high. That’s when everything started getting really fun.”
For the last several years, the party has continued, with a brief break for the pandemic (and for Brennan’s wrists to heal after he severed a tendon in one and then fractured the other in skating accidents). Now they’re back in action with fresh videos on the way, a summer tour in the works and a self-titled LP coming May 12.
Listen to Computer Wife above, sample more sounds from Nuclear Tourism below, and bomb over to their Facebook and Instagram.