The Privates

Artist / Band / Musician
Mean Buzz
Drawn from a host of Nashville’s finest local, national and international indie exports, The Privates quickly shot to the top of the local rock hierarchy with their frenetic pinball rock after forming in 2003. 23-year-old singer and guitarist Dave Paulson loaned second guitar duties to pop-punk provocateurs The Pink Spiders on the road until recently. Bassist Keith Lowen also holds down the low end in De Novo Dahl, drummer Rollum Haas is a member of circus-popsters The Features, while keyboardist Ryan Norris performs with Lambchop.

With the group dividing their time between such a myriad of high- and low-profile acts, it’s a wonder they managed to release three stunning works since their inception. The nine-song, eponymous debut was a frantic jolt of elastic dance-punk, while the follow-up EP, Louder Than Lightning, crashed through a manic blast of giddy fuzz-rock on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Both recalled influences ranging from the complexity and experimentation of Deerhoof to the shimmering dissonance of The Walkmen, run through The Privates blender of fury, humor and quirky sensitivity.

The band’s first full-length, Barricades, was written while Paulson was on the road. “Most of the songs on this album were written on tour with the Spiders, and have a lot to do with being away,” says Paulson. “For the band, the writing and recording was shaped by us being in and out of town at different times. Some songs we never played as a band—we’d do things separately and email each other MP3s of what we’d done.”

Despite such scattershot working conditions, Barricades is a more focused and linear record than anything the band have produced thus far. Though many tracks clock in at under three minutes, the record tames the combative chaos of previous releases in half the time, exhibiting a wide-reaching range while still exploring stop-start dynamics, the cacophonous layers of experimental noise acts and the hooky immediacy of pop. Drums gallop alongside chugging guitar riffs in a seamless blend on the frantic trajectory of “Atrium.” On the record’s trotting title track, “Barricades,” the keys warble beneath Paulson’s disaffected croon as the song expertly mimics achy resignation with its exhalation of an ending. The poppy stab of “Heart’s Got a Hole” uses a cascade of guitar swipes that duck in and out, then climax alongside drunken la-la-las and an exasperated resolution.

If The Privates were likely victims of eternal side-project status, Barricades proves the band are fully realized, more mature and deftly playing to their strengths. Though the band were always praised for their visceral thrill, the latest record is evidence they’ve mastered that tension and release and now control it on all fronts.


"When not touring as supporting members of acts as varied as The Pink Spiders and Lambchop, respectively, the members of this Nashville-based quartet apply their fierce musical technique to singer-guitarist Dave Paulson's byzantine pop songs. Most of the cuts on the band's debut clock in under three minutes, but each sharply arranged number covers a surprising range of territory, careening from caffeinated hook to caffeinated hook with more energy and inventiveness than a barrelful of Arctic Monkeys." - THE BIG TAKEOVER

"Dear Keith, Ryan, Rollum and Dave (a.k.a. The Privates),

Please play more. No, like seriously. We know you’re really busy, what with De Novo Dahl, The Features, Hands off Cuba and Cortney Tidwell cracking their respective whips and lapping up your time. And we know frontman Dave Paulson landed a full-time job as a music writer at The Rage (congrats, by the way) and that being “spotted,” all day, everyday must be exhausting. But together you guys are good—real good. And, if last Thursday’s opening set at The Basement was any indication, you seem to have a whole lot of fun playing together too. Watching Rollum Haas maul his drum kit in a smaller venue—free from the scores of really tall Features fans—reminded us what a force of nature he is. Haas constantly looks on the brink of breaking a stick, or falling off his stool or giving himself a seizure: it’s awesome. And your songs are some of the best in town—all rangy riffs, rambunctious energy and raw talent. Standouts off your recent Mean Buzz release Barricades, like “Heart’s Got a Hole,” “Atrium” and the title track, sounded even better live, imbued with the punk energy of your earlier stuff. And see, we’re not the only ones: even as the first band on the bill, you carried the largest crowd of the night. When Detroit trio The High Strung took the stage it only drove the point home. They are a band that at one point generated national buzz, they were high energy and real tight but they couldn’t hold a candle to your wily originality. So, in closing, there are plenty of good bands, but you guys are a great band. Please play more.


The Spin

-Nashville Scene's "The Spin"

"The Privates' debut disc marks the arrival of one of the top three bands to arise out of Nashville in the last few years. No small feat for a "side project." –All The Rage
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