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Exclusive Interview: The Naked and Famous

Written by Richard Franks. Posted in Carousel, Interview

Published on November 18, 2011

New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous have been touring relentlessly for the past ten months in support of their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You. The lovely Alisa Xayalith took time out of her busy schedule to have a quick chat with us before their Birmingham show at the HMV Institute on Saturday November 19.
Counteract: Hi there, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Firstly we must ask about the name. The Naked and Famous – where did it come from?
Alisa: The name was lifted out of a lyric from a song called ‘Tricky Kid’ by Tricky. The name encompasses a lot of the things we think are ridiculous about the ‘rock n roll celebrity-isms’ that exist. It’s sarcastic, tongue and cheek. A lot of people still don’t get that it’s a bit of a joke name to show we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
C: How did you all meet?
A: Thom, Aaron and myself all met a couple of years back at a music college. The first songs we ever wrote and recorded together ended up being our first releases in 2008, which are our twin ep’s ‘This Machine’ & ‘No Light’. We didn’t meet David and Jesse until we started writing Passive Me, Aggressive you at the very beginning of 2009. All those boys lived in the same area and went to the same high school, apart from me. We’re a close bunch.
C: So, you’re heading out on a UK tour this month, including some pretty big cities such as London, Manchester, Glasgow and on November 19 you come to Birmingham – where we’re based. What do you enjoy most about touring in the UK and what kind of things do you like to do on your days off?
A: We like touring in the UK because we all feel at home here. Aside from the differences in weather (NZ is going into it’s glorious summertime). Days off? What’s that?! It’s been back to back touring since February! We’re all bit mad because of it to be honest! The one thing that we do try our hardest to be conscious of is staying creative on the road. We’ve succeeded at it so far. Should be well on our way into album 2, by the time touring is done.
C: How do you find UK crowds in comparison to crowds back in New Zealand?

A: We recently just played in NZ. It’s our home turf, there’s a lot of love and support. The crowds back home are really receptive. So far all our UK crowd’s have been great too. I can tell that people have really connected and cherished our songs whenever we play live. Considering we’re still relatively a new band here. Our record only came out in March this year to the UK territory.
C: How did it feel to find out that your fantastic debut album ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’ was so critically acclaimed in so many different corners of the world?

A: It’s so nice to feel validated by influential music tasters. It’s nothing but flattering and makes us feel like we doing something right.
C: What are your favourite tracks off the album / which ones are the best to play live?

A: It’s always hard to choose. It’s like trying to choose your favourite child. If I had to pick one…..it’d be ‘A Wolf In Geek’s Clothing’. There’s a huge rumbling sub bass that kicks in and it makes the room shake. It feels incredible when that kicks in.
C: Were you surprised that Punching In A Dream and Young Blood were such massive hits over here? We caught you at Reading Festival and again at Dot to Dot Festival in Manchester and the crowd really reacted to them.

A: Of course we were! We never ever in our lives dreamed that our music could actually travel around the world on such a large scale. We never thought we’d be sharing bills with amazing bands, getting to grace stages at some of the most famous festivals in the UK. It’s all a bit much. Constantly walking around pinching ourselves. We’re so lucky you’ve fallen in love with us.
C: Some of the tracks on Passive Me, Aggressive You are a lot heavier than the others (A Wolf in Geek’s Clothing), and some are completely different to the previous song (Jilted Lovers). Would you say this shows as a band you have a wide range of influences?
A: Absolutely. Glad you picked up on that. On our first record, we really wanted to have all our favourite parts about music present. You can hear all sorts of musical and lyrical polarities. That concept also ties in with why the record is called ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’.
C: What artists did you grow up listening to?

A: All of us grew up listening to a wide range of music. There’s something to appreciate in every genre. I grew up listening to The Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bjork, PJ Harvey…so it goes on.
C: What are you currently listening to on the tourbus?

A: We’re all huge fans of Apparat’s album, ‘The Devils Walk’ & M83’s ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’.
C: And finally, if you could be naked with anyone famous, who would it be?!

A: Oh what a question! How did you manage to think that up…….
The Naked and Famous play the HMV Institute tomorrow (Saturday November 19 2011). For ticket information visit gigsandtours.com

About Richard Franks

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