[FOLK PUNK] The stats on local folk-punk duo Destroy Nate Allen are daunting and damn near exhausting even to contemplate: Married partners-in-pop Nate and Tessa Allen have played approximately 700 shows since 2006; they have blessed 48 states of our great nation with their exuberant live presence; they tour at least 12 weeks out of the year; and in their time on the road together, the Allens have splurged on the comfort of a hotel room only six times.
That adds up to a whole lot of time rolling through frequently dull stretches of the American landscape in a van, but Destroy Nate Allen has learned how to put its countless driving hours to good use. The band's boisterous new album, With Our Powers Combined, which finds the traditionally spare, acoustic arrangements of DNA embellished by a small cadre of Bay Area ska-punk vets, was conceived and written while on tour last year.
"We'd sit there and write songs for six hours, then get to the show and play and do it again," Nate explains. "We did it for two months straight. It was totally insane."
The nature of such a cramped arrangement might cause tension at times, but any van-bound spats over a new song's direction dissipate when Destroy Nate Allen takes the stage. "I have a song called 'Asshole' I play when I've been a jerk," Nate says. "If I've been a jerk during the day, I'll play that song to start our set. It's exactly what it sounds like. It's a song about being an asshole, and how I'm apologizing for it because it's not cool."
Don't mistake this kind of public earnestness for unwitting naiveté, though. The Destroy Nate Allen live experience is nothing if not deliberate theater, for Nate and Tessa know from showmanship, and Nate owns up to the three-ring aspect of performance: "We've pretty much taken every cue from rock 'n' roll, from power slides to crowd surfing to big, dynamic moments at the end of the show."
With Our Powers Combined represents an attempt to channel the campy energy of the band's road-tested live show into a carnivalesque romp replete with drums, horns, electric guitars and keyboards. While the folky focus on day-to-day travails continues to inform DNA's lyrics, Nate's professed desire to "turn sad moments into happy songs" seems finally to have been fully realized in recorded form, with the Allens sharing vocal duties over a gleeful hybrid of ska, folk, pop and punk.
Nate says the band will take a much-needed break after its upcoming six-month tour. "We want to find a place to live where we can be for a couple years. We're gonna slow down," he says, before reeling off details about two upcoming records and plans for tinkering with solo songs that don't jibe with Destroy Nate Allen's party mode. A more settled future for the Allens, then, but certainly not a quiet one.
SEE IT: Destroy Nate Allen plays the Southeast Eagles Lodge, 4904 SE Hawthorne Blvd., on Saturday, June 16, with Ether Circus, Insomniac Folklore, McDougall and Gamblers Die Broke. 7 pm. $5. All ages.