“We’re a group of characters” - that’s how the band Bruce Take Nap describes themselves on the steps outside the party they just finished playing in Baltimore. Bruce Take Nap is Bryce Watson (guitar/lead vocals), Corey Wathen (guitar), Dylan Fitch (bass), Liam O'Connell (drums), and Zack Wathen (saxophone). From College Park, Maryland, these five friends are just along for the ride, playing shows and making music as they please. Their debut album “Yellow Denim” was released earlier this year, and a new single “Summer Sex” dropped a couple of days ago.
I first saw the band play last summer at Songbyrd in Washington, DC, where they were opening for Lunar Vacation and Makeup Girl. I was immediately drawn to lead singer Bryce’s smooth vocals and their laid back, yet polished, sound. Their music is intricate and emotional, yet is still something you can vibe to on a chill, autumn night. This past Friday, I had the opportunity to catch up with them after their show and hear about their upcoming plans for the future.
GMAT: How did you guys start out?
Bryce: I had this solo project called Bruce Take Nap going, and then I wanted to get a live band for it. Pretty much everyone got together in March. We have a Terrapin record label club at University of Maryland, so I hit up the chat like, “Who wants to play in a band?” Corey was like, “I’ll play.” And I already knew Zack, and Zack was like, “Hey, you trynna jam?”, and I was like, “Yeah, I have a band now”, and he was like, “Alright, cool”. Then he showed up to practice, and was like, “Oh, that’s my brother! Hey. What’s up?”
GMAT: Your music is pretty chill, or at least that’s how I describe it to people. Your song “Cheap Wine” has this 70’s vibe to it and sounds super psychedelic. How would you describe your sound to others?
Bryce: Pretty much. I took jazz for one semester in high school.
Zack: Eight semesters.
Bryce: Yeah, so this guy is actually a jazz guy. I’m just a wannabe jazz guy. I know these weird chords, and I’m gonna see what I can do with them. It’s experimenting with jazz chords within indie pop music. ”Cheap Wine” is an outlier. “Cheap Wine” is like the one song people tell me they love, and I’m like, “What? What do you mean you love that song?”
Zack: I call it psychedelic fusion. That’s sort of what I decided it is.
Bryce: Zack’s description is better than mine. Psychedelic fusion.
GMAT: Is there any one song on “Yellow Denim” that you are particularly drawn to?
Corey: “Isabella” is my favorite song. Actually, it’s not even my favorite song on the album - it’s my favorite song of all time.
Bryce: Yeah, “Not The Same” I think is my personal favorite, just because that was one of the only ones that I produced myself on that album. I just think it’s a really emotional, huge song for me. But “Isabella” is the best song that I ever wrote for sure, like, that progression - I don’t know how I did it. I just wrote it in the dorm room one day. I was just like, “Alright, cool, let’s run with this. See what happens.” So I think “Isabella” is the best song, but my favorite is “Not The Same”.
GMAT: You just released a new single. Was it challenging to bounce back into music after your debut record? What was that process like?
Bryce: My first album, I worked with a producer. He actually used to play drums in our band, and produced that first album. We co-produced and collaborated together on all of it and then I finally learned how to produce on my own. I started producing my own stuff more and more. I don’t even remember when I came up with “Summer Sex”. It was just, like, one day, I figured it out. It was a little different, like, doing everything myself for the first time, to like actually release, but I wouldn’t say it was better or worse - just a different experience doing it myself. Definitely easier to get the sound that you want, for sure.
GMAT: I’ve heard that you’ve already started working on your second album. What can you tell us about that?
Bryce: So far, I have a couple of really good vault tracks from when I started producing in December that might be on it. Other than that, I’m kind of moving away from the “Yellow Denim” sound and more to the single sound. A lot of the other songs on the album have a lot of experimentation with synthesizers on them. In terms of structure, I don’t know...a little more simple. The writing is not as complex as some of the other stuff on “Yellow Denim”, but the sound is so good. Yeah, it’s almost done. I gotta tape vocals and then start mixing, so hopefully it will be out by the end of November, latest by New Year’s.
GMAT: What’s the best part about playing music for you?
Zack: The best part about playing music for me is hearing myself.
Bryce: The best part about playing music live is meeting people who also are sick musicians. Like, our friends Makeup Girl, who also played the Lunar Vacation show, are some of our best friends in the scene right now. Just meeting people like that and going to shows and making connections with fans and other musicians makes it all worth it for sure, because it is a lot of work.
GMAT: Are there any musical bucket list items you have?
Bryce: Not really. I’m doing this for fun, and I just wanna see where it goes. Obviously, it would be sick to do this for a living. We’re gonna see how far it can go before people are sick of it.
Dylan: Getting a record deal is a bucket list item for me.
Bryce: I wanna get signed so bad because that would make everything so easy. Everyone’s like, “No, don’t get signed. Stay independent”, like, no. Please, someone sign me. I need to put out my newest album.
GMAT: Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Bryce: My real name is Bryce, and not Bruce. It’s a long story how I got that name. Actually, it’s just a typo in a text message. I think I’ve divulged too much information. I don’t wanna get the CIA on my case, so that’s all I’m gonna give you for now.
Be on the lookout for new music by Bruce Take Nap soon. In the meantime, be sure to follow them on Instagram and Twitter (@brucetakenap), and check out “Yellow Denim” and “Summer Sex” on Bandcamp here.