NUCLEAR TOURISM is a loud bangin beach soaked fluke of a punk band made up of skateboarders that want nothing less than to provide the most high energy, lip smackin, pants off, piss on your shoes, PBR to the face diy shit show chaos at every performance.
Nuclear Tourism’s new self-titled sophomore album positions the Athens, Ga., party punks as 2023’s weed-smoking, skate-pillaging, pizza-scarfing saviors of rock & roll. If you’re lookin’ for angsty, 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.
-Psychedelic Baby Magazine
Lead single “No Never!” is a garage-rock catapult that launches Nuclear Tourism clear across the sky, telling terminally online losers to take a hike as the band sails past, leaving a smoking trail of burning spliffs & zero fux en route to a golden afternoon at the skatepark. “Dad Brains” ingeniously bottles the twentysomething generational malaise Dustin Hoffman channeled in The Graduate, carrying it forward across the decades—and through the punk-rock shredder—to the here & now, the band pouring it out like a cold 40oz to soothe its homies’ Gen Z burnout. And “Computer Wife” sounds raw, hungry, manic and broken in all the best ways, providing an apt soundtrack to the only hilarious yet poignant satire on modern society’s technology addiction that you’ll want to pound beers to this summer.
Having already shared bills with The Chats, Agent Orange & Death Lens—and with their biggest single, “Subatomic,” logging more than a million plays on Spotify—it’s no surprise that this young band has beat on the sophomore slump with a baseball bat. And yet, despite all the proclamations about frantic wild youth and rabid fans shouting CLEAR!!! as Nuclear Tourism slaps the defibrillators on the lifeless body of down & dirty guitar rock & roll, their new record has musical depth, too. In addition to the surfy, sun-dappled garage punk that anchored its 2018 debut, Scraping By, this go-round Nuclear Tourism dips its toe 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,” ft. Of Montreal’s JoJo Glidewell on keys), mathematically interlocking Strokes/Television rhythm guitars (“Sick of It”)—even some Ed Sullivan-era Beatles harmonies (“Whacha”) and a Clash-esque rave up (“Half Drunk”).
“Part of me was a little skeptical coming into this record with all these different genres,” says Nuclear Tourism singer & lead guitarist 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.”
“What Scraping By lacked a bit was rhythmic complexity,” explains drummer Brennan Murphy, “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 bass lines are kinda like Paul’s. It's really fucking tight.”
For Nuclear Tourism, Parker, Brennan and their twin-brother bandmates Nate & Graham Beveridge (on bass & rhythm guitar respectively) tapped Jesse Mangum to produce, engineer, mix & master. Mangum, whose credits include Elf Power and Meth Wax, recorded the band at his studio The Glow, just outside of Athens, 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 & 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 practice 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.”
The remaining core was Parker, de facto ringleader, guitar shredder and frontman; Brennan, the shy but wiseassed drummer; and the twins, whom Parker and Brennan take credit for rescuing. “We saved them from a life of cringe,” Parker says. “They were homeschooled, so they're a little weird. It was bad. We introduced them to video games and girls and stuff.”
“Yeah, but now they're the ones with the steady girlfriends,” Brennan says. “And look at us. We’re great teachers but terrible at following our own advice.”
Parker describes Brennan—possibly seriously, possibly tongue-in-cheek—as quiet, but having “an energy that lights up the room. If he does talk to you, it’ll likely be a little snarky comment.”
Brennan describes Parker as “Eddie Van Halen reincarnated into Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s body. Which anyone at any local gas station or Wal-Mart will tell him. He looks exactly like Spicoli. Or he used to. Now he cut his hair and looks like Eminem.”
As soon as the band graduated from high school, naturally, they decided to hit the road. “Our parents were skeptical about the idea,” Parker says, “but like what else am I gonna do after high school? I dunno, let’s see if this shit works.” So he started sending 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 in L.A., who offered Nuclear Tourism an opening spot for underground surf-punk legends Agent Orange. So—with their debut album Scraping By freshly released—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.”
And for the last several years, the party has continued, with a brief break for the pandemic (and for Brennan’s wrists to heal up after he severed a tendon in one and then fractured the other in separate skating accidents). Now fully healed up and off of quarantine, Nuclear Tourism is back in action with four fresh music videos on the way, a summer tour in the works and the band’s new self-titled LP, coming May 12 from Los Angeles label Baby Robot Records.
“We're excited to finally have it out,” Parker says. “It's been a long time coming.”