Artist of the Month: The Naked And Famous

With a name like The Naked and Famous they’re sure to get attention, but it’s their music that will keep you remembering it. This month ESBMusic is featuring the New Zealand band who has been gaining buzz with their exciting, yet emotive and ominous electro-pop.

It’s this awesome musical dichotomy that has landed them success not only in their homeland (their single “Young Blood” debuted at number one in the NZ chart in 2010), but stateside with their music featured on a number of shows: the CW’s hit series Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl along with Covert Affairs, NBC’s Chuck, The Almighty Johnsons.

The quintet is made up of Thom Powers, Alisa Xayalith, David Beadle, Aaron Short, and Jesse Wood. Powers and Alisa met at music college in 2008. The duo started writing and playing songs together that would go on to be the life blood of TNAF. Aaron, a high school acquaintance of Thom’s, was also studying at the same college and started doing production for Thom and Alisa as they worked out song ideas. These went on to become TNAF’s first releases, the twin EPs No Light and This Machine.

With their heads in the studio, forming a live band was an afterthought for Thom and Alisa. After a few tries with backing musicians, the couple persuaded Aaron into getting on stage as their electronics overlord. Rounding out the band and the rhythm section was another two of their high school mates, Jesse and David. With the band in place they set out to work furiously throughout 2009 on developing a new live set and dozens of demos. Their experimentation and expansion is what shaped and defines their sound today.

This Tuesday, March 15th the band will invade North America with their debut album Passive Me Aggressive You.

The 13 track album hits you hard from the get go. Opening with the upbeat yet poignant “All of This” and follows suit with a vibrant and bouncy electro-pop (“Punching in a Dream” and “Young Blood”) to distorted guitars and dance beats that is reminiscent of Sleigh Bells (“A Wolf In Geeks Clothing”). TNAF’s music varies from track to track but overall it holds true to some some kickin’ dance beats and all the while being an intensely profound and thoughtful record.

Stand out tracks: “Punching in A Dream,” “Frayed,” “Young Blood,” and “Girls Like You”

ESBmusic caught up with the Aucklanders to talk about how they got their name, who they would love to collaborate with, and what they are up to for the next couple months:

ESBM: How did you come up with your band name? What is the meaning of Naked and Famous?
TNAF: Naked And Famous is a lyric from the Tricky song Tricky Kid. It’s a bit of a jab at celebrity culture and all the things we are not about.

ESBM: Who are your influences?
TNAF: We’re all huge fans of Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Massive Attack, M83, Chemical Brothers, Holy Fuck, Crystal Castles and all grew up on 90’s alternative music. Some of my personal favorites are Foals, Meshuggah, Boards Of Canada, Deftones and Grizzly Bear to name a few.

ESBM: You were the first New Zealand band to debut a #1 single in 3 yrs. Why do you think that is?
TNAF: When we got the phone call from our manager we really had no idea what it meant. We were only familiar with college radio charts and the national chart was foreign to us. It took a while before it sunk in but it gained us a lot of attention which in turn got our music out to more people which is amazing

ESBM: Your first studio album was released in September of 2010. What did you do before this?
TNAF: We all lived at our parents houses in middle class suburbia and spent too much time on our computers.

ESBM: You played Big Day Out Festival, how was it?
TNAF: I’ve been to plenty of Big Day Outs in the past so to do the whole tour was incredible. It’s referred to as the Big Day Off by a bunch of artists but we had plenty of side shows which meant we only had one day off over the two and a half weeks. We had such a positive reaction and had massive crowds for an early slot which was a pleasantry.

ESBM: Any festivals in the summer?
TNAF: So far we have a couple in Germany, Ireland and we’re playing at Fuji Rock Festival in Japan which is going to be a highlight of the year. I’m going to eat enough sushi to hibernate for a month like a bear.

ESBM: What band would you love to play with?
TNAF: I saw Crystal Castles a few times at Big Day Out, I got over stimulated each time so I might need nappies if we played a show with them.

ESBM: What music fest/venue would you love to play?
TNAF: Fuji Rock Festival, Coachella, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza. We already did Big Day Out.

ESBM: What are your plans for the next couple months?
TNAF: Right now I’m sitting in a venue called Digital on Brighton Beach looking out over the freezing ocean, Paris will be the next and last stop on our first UK/European tour. We fly to Texas shortly for a mechanical bull competition and we might play 1 or 8 shows at SXSW while we’re there. After that it’s back to Europe then back to the US then back to Europe then back to the US etc.

For more information on The Naked and Famous check out their official website, MySpace, and Facebook pages. Be sure to pick up their debut album Passive Me Aggressive You when it drops on March 15th and check out their other music now on Itunes See the band live this week at SXSW this week and when they tour alongside British Band Foals and Brooklyn’s Freelance Whales starting April 10th in Vancouver, Canada BC (see dates below)

The Naked and Famous On Tour:
SUN 4/10 VANCOUVER BC Commodore Ballroom
MON 4/11 SEATTLE, WA Showbox
TUE 4/12 PORTLAND, OR Wonder Ballroom
THU 4/14 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Great American Music Hall
FRI 4/15 SAN DIEGO, CA House of Blues
TUE 4/19 HOUSTON TX Fitzgeralds
WED 4/20 DALLAS, TX Granada
THU 4/21 AUSTIN, TX La Zona Rosa
FRI 4/22 KANSAS CITY, MO Beaumont
SAT 4/23 ST. LOUIS, MO Firebird
TUE 4/26 CHICAGO, IL Metro
WED 4/27 COLUMBUS, OH Outland
FRI 4/29 CLEVELAND, OH Beachland
SAT 4/30 TORONTO, ON Pheonix
SUN 5/1 MONTREAL, PQ National
MON 5/2 BOSTON, MA Paradise
WED 5/4 NEW YORK, NY Webster Hall
THU 5/5 PHILADELPHIA, PA Theatre of Living Arts

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