Saturday, 5 March 2011

Interview - The Naked & Famous

New Zealanders The Naked & Famous are currently touring the U.K for the first time with tracks from their debut album 'Passive Me, Aggressive You'. I spoke to bassist David Beadle before their show at the O2 ABC2 in Glasgow about their sudden international success.

2010 must have been an exciting year for The Naked & Famous; you were featured as the lead band in NME’s Radar section and The Fly’s Ones To Watch pages, The Guardian’s New Band of The Day column and you were shortlisted for the BBC Sound of 2011 poll. What was going through your head when you found out about these things?

David Beadle - In New Zealand there’s no real reference point for those kinds of things so to comprehend the gravity of it is can’t. When you hear about it, there’s no initial hit like ‘oh fuck’ it’s just like ‘what is this?’ and then you kind of go out and find out about it so it’s not until we come over here and someone explains it to us that it all sort of starts to make sense but the Sound of 2011 thing was incredibly flattering when you see what it’s all about and then look at the artists next to it, especially previous artists, it’s real flattering.

What have you got planned for 2011 following these successes?

DB - So far just touring and I guess promoting. We’ve got a bunch of dates lined up here in the UK and South by Southwest. We’re coming back here to do some of Europe and touring with Foals through North America which’ll be awesome.

On the subject of support acts, how did you feel about Nine Inch Nails when you were asked to support them? I’ve heard they were quite an influence to the band in the first place.

DB - Yeah we’re all massive, massive Nine Inch Nails fans and Tom and Aaron who produced the record, that’s initially what they bonded over so they’d talk about Nine Inch Nails and the way they produce music and the way they have the band set up and that was a big expression for them.

This is your first tour in the UK, how are the shows being received so far? Are there any noticeable difference to playing in New Zealand?

DB - Yeah they’ve all been really awesome, we’ve done Heaven in London, Sheffield and Nottingham so far, they’ve all been received really well. I think there’s obvious cultural differences, in New Zealand everyone seems to be really reserved and quite quiet and over here people seem a little more enthusiastic. We found in Australia everyone was excited all the time and over here it’s similar as well, the reaction in London was super-excited, maybe more compared to Nottingham and Sheffield so I guess it depends on where you’re from.

What do you think it was that gave you your ‘big break’ and propelled you into popularity?

DB - Young Blood, we released that it May and that went up on Youtube and that kinda stuff but it sort of grew it’s own legs and was picked up by blogs, it’s just the nature of the internet these days it’s easy to pick up on that kind of stuff. So yeah, the release of Young Blood is what I guess propelled us to the other side of the world. It’s amazing to have your music in a different country.

Does that bring a lot of pressure with it as well?

DB - I don’t know, like I was saying before it’s hard to comprehend so I haven’t been hit by it, I've just been fucking real excited to be in these new places!

Your sound is very distinctive and I think that one of the factors in your popularity is that you’re not like anything else around. How has your sound evolved since forming?

DB - When we formed it was a four-piece band. Aaron, the keyboard player, he was initially doing sound at the front of house, but he was involved in the recording process at the time so around 2009 Jesse the drummer and myself joined, Aaron came out from front of house to being on stage so there was a fifth member which meant that the sound could change from a four-piece band to something that could be a lot bigger. So, a lot of the electronic production changed cos Aaron’s influenced by a lot of the electronic side of things, he’s into a lot of house and Chemical Brothers and all that, techno and stuff like that. So, the sound evolved I guess from being a four-piece to a five-piece, I think it brought a lot more layers and thickness to the music.

Do you enjoy playing big belters which is what you’re more widely known for from your singles of softer songs that also feature on the album?

DB - Yeah I mean, when people hear a single they go wild but I guess for us it just changes constantly, it’s awesome to play the big exciting songs and then the songs like Jilted Love which is really slow and moody and is one of my favourite, favourite songs to play live but we don’t really get the chance to do it that often.

Which bands do you enjoy listening to and how do they influence your sound?

DB - I mentioned earlier Nine Inch Nails, we’re all massive fans of them and Tom and Aaron on the production side of things, it’s a huge influence to that but we’re all big fans of 90s alternative rock as a genre. So in terms of influence we take a lot from that side of things, not maybe from specific artists but you can find certain songs from various artists and pinpoint a certain drum pattern or a bass line or the way a guitar sounds so there’s a huge, huge influence from a great variety of music.

I read that your name comes from a Tricky song, did his downtempo/hypnotic style factor at all in the inspiration behind tracks like ‘Frayed’?

DB - The end part of Frayed initially didn’t have that and then it came back from Tom and Elisa while we were still in the studio recording a massive end part but I don’t know, like I said it’s hard to pinpoint the influence. But yeah, that’s awesome! We listen to a lot of XX so you can hear the vocal harmonies going on there which is an influence as well.

Are you fully concentrating on the tour currently or is there more song-writing in the works?

DB - The nature of the music itself, like a lot of the demos that Tom and Elisa write are initially written in a bedroom on their laptops so on the way from Nottingham to here Tom was sitting on his laptop and writing a new demo and Aaron and I today in our hotel room were trying to reproduce this stupid trance song so it’s always easy to just open up a laptop and write something new.

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