Sunglasses On Airplanes: Our Interview With The Naked And Famous

The Naked And Famous
If you haven't yet heard of The Naked And Famous, you will. They're poised for world domination. Having already conquered their native New Zealand with a #1 album and a #1 single, the band was also nominated for the BBC's Sounds of 2011 and have been named one of NME's Bands of 2011.

In March, they're setting their sights on America. They'll release their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, on March 15th and will also be playing SXSW that week. On April 11th, they'll begin their first North American tour, a twenty-one date affair that will have the band traveling across Canada and the United States.

Last night, David Beadle, the bassist for The Naked And Famous, was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about the band, music videos, his musical influences, Nine Inch Nails, jeans, Andrew W.K., life on the road, and rock star moments.

Hi, David. How are you doing tonight?
I'm good, thanks. It's the middle of the day here. I just had lunch which consisted of chocolate and iced coffee, so I'm feeling really healthy.

You're a rock star, so you can get away with that. You guys have stated in countless interviews that your band's name comes from some Tricky lyrics. What was your second choice?
There wasn't one, really. We went through a lot of different names and different ideas and there was just one that stuck out from some lyrics we chose. I couldn't think of what the second choice was now.

You guys have had a number one album and a number one single in your native New Zealand. Did you wake up feeling like you owned the place?
No. It was all really strange for us. I came from studying at University and Aaron and Jesse were working in IT and so we were all just sort of working our jobs and doing music as something we loved. To wake up and have something like that happen, it was more surprising and surreal and we didn't know what to do. So it was easier to keeping being calm and keep doing what we were doing. There wasn't any feelings of owning the place or anything. I think it's hard to get that feeling when you come from New Zealand with a population of four million people.

"Young Blood"

You just played a couple of dates on Big Day Out. Were these the biggest shows you've ever played?
They were right up there with the biggest shows we've played. We did one on New Year's which had about 20,000 people, so that was probably the biggest crowd we've played to. But at all the Big Day Outs, we were just so surprised at the number of people who came to see us. Every single show was the same and we'd get that same surprised feeling. Coming from New Zealand and then coming over to Australia and having people there that were excited to hear your music was just exciting and surprising for us. It was awesome.

You shared the bill with M.I.A., Iggy, Tool, LCD Soundsystem, and a bunch of other bands. Who did you want to meet the most?
There are the obvious idols we have like Deftones and Tool and M.I.A. We all love those artists and they're all our idols, but in terms of who I personally wanted to meet, I thought it would be more exciting to meet the people from Die Antwoord. You know that South African hip hop group?

With the crazy videos.
Yeah. That's who I wanted to meet the most. I was too nervous to go and talk to them, so I didn't actually get the chance. For about two weeks, I would just stare at them for any opportunity I had.

We did manage to meet Deftones and Tool as well. We got to spend a little bit of time with Chino from Deftones and Justin Chancellor, the bass player from Tool. It was exciting being thirteen years old and listening to these artists and all of a sudden being able to tell them how much you love their music. That's really exciting.

Whose live set blew you away?
Crystal Castles, for sure. They were really good. Once again, Die Antwoord were amazing. Andrew W.K. was hilarious. And Tool. They always blow my mind.

You guys have a very rich sound. How hard is it to reproduce that live?
One of the things when we were writing Passive Me, Aggressive You was to make sure that we could recreate every single noise on the album live. If we were going to put something on the album, we wanted to make sure that when people came to see us perform, they'd be able to have that same experience. We can recreate everything live that you hear on the album and that's something we've always made sure we can do.

What's your favorite song to play live?
As of this Big Day Out tour, my favorite song to play live is the song "Frayed." That often changes. Sometimes it's a track off the first EPs. Recently it was "Spank." But as of the last tour, it was "Frayed." The way it just breaks down into such a heavy drum and bass part and it'll come back up to Alisa's vocal and Thom on his guitar, that aspect of the song is very exciting for me.

"Punching In A Dream"

Do you guys work any covers into your act?
We have a song right now which we play sometimes in New Zealand. It's a song called "Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!" and it's by a New Zealand group called The Mint Chicks. Another track we played awhile ago was "I'm Afraid Of Americans" by David Bowie. He collaborated with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails for that song and Nine Inch Nails are an obvious great influence to us as well, so it seemed very natural to do that song, too.

You're getting ready to start your first U.S. tour here in April. What are you looking forward to the most?
Just actually having the opportunity to be "on tour" is exciting in itself. Growing up, listening to music, and dreaming about being on the road and playing music across the United States – that's like a strange dream for someone from New Zealand. To be able to do that and have that opportunity is just exciting. It's amazing.

Are there any places you're looking forward to seeing? Any piece of American culture you're hoping to taste?
We've been to New York and L.A. and that's about it. When I was growing up, my Mom lived in California and I only really got to see that side of the U.S. To actually travel through the United States and pick up on the different cultures, different accents, different foods, different music, and different style, it's all exciting.

When you guys are out on tour, what do you do to pass the time from city to city?
We're not really partygoers. We're all extremely nerdy people. On the Big Day Out tour, Thom and Alisa were reading, I was reading the book On The Road by Jack Kerouac, and Jessie and I were playing the computer game Left 4 Dead. Whenever we got back from a gig or back to our hotel room, we'd jump straight on our computers and start playing Left 4 Dead against each other.

Passive Me, Aggressive You
That's cool. Your album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, drops here on March 15th. Have you been sizing up your competition on that date?
Not yet. It's something I'd definitely do because I have too much spare time and don't have many friends. Because of this tour, we haven't really had an opportunity to do that. I'm going to start seeing who else is coming out on that date and thinking to myself how I'm going to do against it.

Well, you're in luck – Britney's waiting two weeks later. Do you think you'll have a chance at getting #1 on the U.S. charts?
I don't know. It would be surreal. I'd like to think so.

"Young Blood" has been getting a lot of play on XM Radio here so it might happen.
I can't even fathom it. It is so strange right now. I'm sitting in my car in my garage at home. My Mum is inside. To imagine our album being #1 in America just seems strange, you know?

You guys have produced three very cool and very stylish videos for "Young Blood," "Punching In A Dream," and "Girls Like You." How important are music videos to The Naked And Famous?
They're very important. The visual side of music, to us, is very important. I mentioned Nine Inch Nails earlier and the way the visuals for their live show work is incredible. It's like half of it is the music and the other half is just being blown away by the visuals. We have a dedicated team over here called Special Problems and they've been with us since day one. They did the artwork for the first two EPs and the videos for that. They've been with us for website design and t-shirt design. We put all our trust in the visual side of things with them and they've come back to us every time with "Young Blood," "Punching In A Dream," and "Girls Like You" with an amazing finished product. Our philosophy is that they are visual artists and they know best what they're doing, so we leave that side up to them and every time they've just blown us away.

Cool. Are you planning any other videos for other songs on the album?
Hopefully. We're thinking about it. There's possibly something in the works.

When did you guys find out there's a Naked And Famous jeans company?
Being the nerds we are, probably when we were Googling ourselves to see if there was anything exciting around and the jeans company popped up.

So have they sent you all a pair yet?
Nah. That would be nice. Free clothes! That would be pretty exciting.

"Girls Like You"

What's been your biggest rock star moment so far?
I don't have any. I'm just the biggest fanboy ever.

So you haven't trashed any hotel rooms or anything like that?
No. I'd feel too guilty. I wore a pair of sunglasses while sitting on an airplane recently, just to see how it felt. But I just felt so stupid because it wasn't that funny, so I just took them off.

You know Andrew W.K., the guy who wrote that song "Party Hard?" I remember being fourteen years old and waiting three days to download that music video. I saw him at the [Big Day Out] festival. I walked up to buy his tour shirt because I was really excited about seeing this guy I used to listen to when I was fourteen years old. As I was coming back, he was just standing outside one of the dressing rooms so I sprinted up to him with a pen and got him to sign my t-shirt. I don't really have rock star moments. I give the rock star moments to the real rock stars.

You can enter the studio tomorrow and record with anyone. Who do you choose?
I guess just off the top of my head, it would be Justin Chancellor from Tool just because it was amazing getting to meet him. The bass lines and everything he writes are quite cool. As a group, to be in the studio tomorrow with Tricky or Nine Inch Nails, that would be a dream come true.

So do you consider Justin a musical influence?
Yeah. Before I joined The Naked And Famous, I was a guitar player. I played guitar for about eight years and the opportunity to play bass for The Naked And Famous came up, so it's been a bit of a whirlwind. I've been finding a lot of new influences and a lot of new music to listen to, so Justin Chancellor is definitely one of those new influences for me.

We have three short questions that we ask every guest, The CB3. They're all '80s-related. Thriller or Purple Rain?
Purple Rain. Definitely.

Debbie Gibson or Tiffany?

So you know them?
Yeah. I'm a pretty massive Prince fan and Tiffany's a babe.

Finally, Pretty In Pink or Sixteen Candles?
I reckon Pretty In Pink.

Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. I wish you guys the best of luck.
Thank you for today as well. It was exciting. It's always really strange when we get a phone call from the U.S. to do an interview.

So it hasn't gotten old yet? That's cool.
I don't think it could ever get old for me.

Want more of The Naked And Famous? Check out their official site, their Facebook page, their YouTube page, their MySpace page, and follow them on Twitter.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...