Oxegen-bound New Zealanders The Naked And The Famous talk touring, videos, and asking each other out...
Every year seems to throw up a shiny new pop contender (remember MGMT before they went mental?) This year’s band most likely to are the fabulous The Naked And The Famous.
The signs of success are already there for the Auckland quintet. There have been MGMT comparisons (though they are closer to fellow Antipodeans Empire Of The Sun). There’s also that placing on the prestigious BBC Sound Of 2011. Sitting down with Aaron Short (originally producer, now a live member) and drummer Jesse Wood, it’s clear they don’t quite get what all the fuss is about.
“Being back home, people were telling us that the BBC Sound Of 2011 was quite a big deal. We’d never even heard about it,” admits Aaron. “It’s been an ongoing theme throughout the last year. Even with awards and chart placings back home. ‘Oh, you’ve hit No. 1 in the charts, this is a really big deal!’ Is it? We don’t really know what’s going on.” Jesse concurs. “When we released ‘Young Blood’ we weren’t sure whether it would just appear on the NZ alternative chart or go further. That was our first crossover into mainstream radio. We had no idea what we were in for.”
Having earned their stripes in the Southern Hemisphere, the group recently relocated to London in order to spread the word throughout Europe and the US. They played their first Dublin show in March.
“This tour has been quite funny. At the start of the year we played quite large stages and venues in Australia,” says Jesse. “Over here, we’ve been mainly playing clubs and bars. The Button Factory gig is actually one of the biggest so far. It’s like stepping back in time.”
One of the plus points of changing timezones is that they can arrive fully-formed, leaving any musical growing pains behind.
“Yeah, we do feel very developed as a band,” says Aaron. “Although we’re starting from square one in terms of exposure over here, 2010 was really the year of hard work for us.”
Not that the hard work falls by the wayside. The Naked And The Famous are keen to control every aspect of their art, from the music and visuals to the marketing. The pay-off is in the stunning videos for ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Punching In A Dream’ but it can all get a bit… obsessive.
“We love nitpicking. I couldn’t tell you the number of email conversations that go on everyday between ten different people, discussing the most minute stuff like whether a Facebook post goes up.”
Jesse joined in 2009 and though Aaron was behind-the-scenes from the start (“I was hiding!”), the twin faces of the band are Thom Power and Alisa Xayalith, responsible for that distinctive boy-girl duetting.
So is there a band hierarchy? Aaron smiles knowingly and nods down the hallway to Thom.
“There’s definitely a certain head honcho… he’s sitting over there!” He also confirms that, prior to the music, all Thom really wanted was Alisa’s details.
“I ruined it for him, actually!” he laughs. “We were all getting on a bus together. He spotted her and was trying to get her number. I spotted him and shouted, ‘Hey Thom! It’s me Aaron, come hang out with me!’ So that destroyed their first moment. He’s still trying to this day to be honest!”
If The Naked And The Famous really are just a cover for their frontman’s more amorous intentions, hey, at least it makes the soundtrack to our summer that little bit better.
The Naked And The Famous play Oxegen on the Friday.