The Naked & Famous
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The Naked & Famous

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Earlier this year I got some phone time with the The Naked & Famous’ vocalist and keyboard player Thom Powers who is the founding member of the Auckland based five-piece. Powers was in Seattle when we spoke. “Yeah Seattle is pretty awesome” he shares gently, “But just the whole US tour is amazing.”

After forming in 2008 the band came to notoriety off the back of the popularity of the aforementioned song Young Blood. Powers had this to say about the track, “There’s times in an artist’s career when they kinda’ stumble upon something that is kinda’ of the moment, I mean I do feel like I’m setting myself to come across as,” Powers trails before, finally, taking the compliment and acknowledging the song has the fucking zeitgeist dripping from it. “Yeah I guess it does have that thing about it that really resonates with a lot of people, it’ll be fantastic in ten years if people will look back and say that song was really cool, that would be wonderful. I like the idea of creating something that means a lot to people.”

Powers goes deeper into the origin of the song telling me about the feeling when Alisa came to him with the keyboard line – one of the most exciting factors of the song. “She was just sitting playing around on the keyboard and then we put it on the computer and started playing around with the keyboard lines and stuff and writing chords to go with it and it just developed so quickly.”

 

However, the band are more than just one song with their 2010 album Passive Me, Aggressive You picking up seven awards at The New Zealand Music Awards in 2011. Another song off the record that has got a big response from fans is called Punching In A Dream with its challenging keyboard arrangements, driving bass-line and soaring verse that pushes Xayalith’s unique voice into the stratosphere of the listener’s mind. “It was the most difficult to write, that was a song we were working on for weeks and weeks, day and night, to just try and make it work. I mean the demo was quite simple but we knew if we pushed it hard enough we could turn it into an epic pop song.”

 

He now lets us in on the fact that even though they are very proud of the finished product, at the time it was tough to keep perspective on getting the song recorded. “It was actually such a miserable process and so stressful and I think that is an element of how the song turned out with its sense of urgency and feeling that you are ploughing through something.” The very well spoken New Zealander even sounds slightly out of breathe as he reflects on this gruelling song writing process.

 

Looking forward to their next record Powers offers this: “We’re not a band that want to repeat ourselves so the new material that we’re working on at the moment we are really pushing to do something different.” He continues explaining that although the new material will be different, it won’t be so different that it will alienate fans of their Passive Me, Aggressive You. “We’re not about to do a big 180 degree turn and bring out a jazz record. I never really understood how some musicians talk about how much they hate their old stuff.”

 

Powers now discusses the band’s Parklife tour from earlier this year, explaining that even though the band got a huge response from the audience it still hasn’t sunk in how big they have become. “I don’t feel massive anywhere. I think as a New Zealander it’s not really in our nature to think we’re big rock stars.” He now tackles the Australia/New Zealand rivalry: “I don’t think there’s massive difference between our two cultures, you make great coffee and I love the food culture over there, it feels like home.”

 

Powers then puts his modesty slightly to the side and talks about how great it is when other musicians tell them that they like The Naked & Famous’ music. “Just a couple of months ago Mark Ronson was talking about us on Twitter which was really lovely, I mean just a few years ago I was working at a record shop and putting the CDs on the shelf of these artists who are now telling us that they love our music; it just really puts it in perspective!”

Staying on the topic of live shows, Powers gets into the difficulty of reproducing the band’s sound live. “Look some aspects of a song sound slightly different but we’ve been doing live electronic music for so long I like to think that we can pretty accurately reproduce all the sounds that went into Passive Me, Aggressive You.

 

“Our set up is so fail safe and the reason for that is that Aaron, who is the keyboard player, was a very well paid IT professional before he joined the band.”