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Meet Naked Gypsy Queens, the self-proclaimed cure for "all this depressing s**t"

Naked Gypsy Queens
(Image credit: John Partipilo)

Naked Gypsy Queens will never forget the day Alice Cooper came into the Detroit studio where they were recording their debut EP, last year’s Georgiana, and gave them a rock master class. 

“Alice was telling us how back in the seventies there had to be a show,” says guitarist Cade Pickering. “He was giving us advice about what it means to be a rock’nroll band,” picks up drummer Landon Herring. “Then [guitarist] Wayne Kramer came and pulled Alice back into their own control room because, y’know, they had work to do.” 

They might not have a snake or a guillotine, but the Tennessee four-piece have lived by Cooper’s wisdom, priding themselves on a live prowess that belies their age (21) and has made them a hot draw in Nashville, their adopted home town. 

“Our job is to bring the Friday night,” says singer Chris Attigliato. “You have to get on stage and put up a fight. Mediocrity is eating you alive every night if you don’t.” 

That focus on the live performance is born of the band’s obsession with the Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East, but there’s also plenty in their songcraft. Pickering recalls cutting his teeth in a psych band influenced by The Beatles’ Revolver and Tame Impala, then quitting after hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan

When the current line-up (completed by bassist Bo Howard) fell together at high school, they agreed on the Rolling Stones, MC5 and Greta Van Fleet, and took their name from Hendrix’s Band Of Gypsys. “But a lot of people assume we’re literally gonna be naked,” Pickering says, grimacing.

They got better fast, he recalls. “There’s an old video of us playing live and we’re all just standing there looking like babies. But eventually it all fitted. My studies suffered, gigging in this band while we were still at school. But it was fun, getting offered shots aged seventeen.” 

They’ve caught all that energy on an EP that plants their flag in just six songs. Georgiana’s title track is the most straightforward, a superior dirty blues with Attigliato’s hollers filling the space between Pickering’s slide licks. Down To The Devil turns on a Zepstyle riff but feels vital, not stagnant. 

On Strawberry Blonde #24, a lyric written by Attigliato (while in thrall to Bob Dylan) meets a stomping lick that came to Pickering from heavying up a Nick Drake tuning. The more angular Wolves nods to Jeff Buckley (“It’s about the generation that feels like they’ve been cheated out of the American dream, realising their parents are the wolves”). Finally there’s the epic country rocker, If Your Name Is New York (Then Mine’s Amsterdam), its extravagant title borrowed from Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs Of New York

Naked or not, it should make for quite a set-list after these silent years. Pickering nods emphatically: “People need to dance and sing,” he says. “They need to get out all of this depressing shit.”

Georgiana is out now via Mascot Records (opens in new tab).

Henry Yates
Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.