From the sidelines of a packed Golden Vine Hotel just before Christmas, a young man carefully watches and listens to three bands.

The young man is paying particular attention to the guitarists in each of the bands. Each guitarist has been plying his trade for about as long as the young man has been alive.

“Listen and learn,” is a cliched old truism for a reason.

Sean Nudl is the young man. Playing guitar is his passion. And he’s here to, indeed, listen and learn.

Nudl is a familiar face around the Bendigo music scene. He won the 2014 Lazenby Young Guitarist of the Year Award back in 2014, seeing off the talented likes of Rhiannon Simpson and Murray Colbert along the way.

It seems like Nudl has been around a long time, but he only finished year 12 last year. 2018 sees him head off to study music production at Collarts in Melbourne.

Unlike many other talented young musicians, there isn’t an obviously apparent musical gene running through the Nudl family.

“I’ve been focusing on guitar since grade six,” Nudl said.

“I had some lessons in prep but then gave it away.”

He cites the internet as one of his gateways into music.

“It’s helped me investigate a lot of music,” he said.

My dad was a bit of a fan of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, but I started getting into 1960s’ rock, and Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who…”

Nudl’s generation-and-more-ago influences are reflected in what he plays in one of his bands, Animal Time.

“Animal Time is a covers band,” he said. “For festivals and other events. We play T-Rex, Creedence, The Who and other stuff.”

Nudl’s other band is Nation Wild. They play “largely original material,” all written by Nudl.

Nudl isn’t the only link between Animal Time and Nation Wild. Both bands feature a variable, interchanging cast of players.

“Except,” he stresses, “Nation Wild has a keyboard player, Patrick Barton-Grace. There’s four of us. Animal Time is a three-piece.”

Nudl has a particular penchant for psychedelic rock. Nation Wild’s Black Hat runs to over eight minutes. They released their first professionally recorded track, Elevate On, last December.

It was recorded in Bendigo at Ladd Studios. Nudl had previously released around 10 demo versions of different tracks via Soundcloud and Triple J Unearthed.

Get Moving is another original they play regularly.

There are no hard and fast plans for an LP or even EP at this stage, though he says, “something is slowly gestating”.

His tastes don’t just sit in the last century. Nudl cites Wolfmother, Tame Impala, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard as contemporary influences.

Nudl is something of all-rounder though. Like Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Nudl plays and records “pretty much anything” in terms of instruments. He’s currently exploring developing different improvisation techniques.

Both Nation Wild and Animal Time play regularly in and around Bendigo. In both bands Nudl’s playing and choice of material bely his tender age.

Nation Wild will play at the Goldfields Music Festival in Newstead over Labor Day weekend.

– Simon Wooldridge