Indie-pop quintet The Naked and Famous from Auckland, New Zealand, are riding a monster wave of success. They were shortlisted on the BBC Sounds Of 2011 poll earlier this year alongside the likes of Jessie J, they were a hit at SXSW in Texas and took home the NME’s Philip Hall Radar Award. We chatted to the band’s keyboardist Aaron Short as they gear up for festival season in Europe before making landfall in London for Wireless in July.
So are you total UK/European music festival virgins?
Yep. But not only that – this is the very first time that we’re touring in all these places. The most we’ve ever done before is a few shows in London, one show in Manchester and a couple of shows in New York and LA, apart from that, we’ve only really toured Australia. So, yeah, they’re all new places for us.
Do you think the Oz festivals such as the Big Day Out will hold you in good stead for the gigs over here?
Oh, definitely, there were a couple we did this year that were insanely hot – 42ºC, melting our faces off when we were trying to perform. But generally our tracks seem to go down really well with the whole festival vibe. We’re ready for it.
Your debut album was Passive Me, Aggressive You – it’s a great name for an album…
The name comes from a track on the album called All Of This and it just seems to represent all the contrasting themes on the album such as the male/female duet vocals, digital-electronic-production-meets-rock-band, and in some tracks the lyrics will be giving off one mood or feeling and the music behind it can be completely different. We found that line as a fitting way of capturing all the contrasts.
Some music critics describe you as electro and some describe you as rock – how do you describe your sound?
We just keep it really broad and general and call it alternative pop. If you were picky you could probably pick a different genre for every single track on the album.
Being from NZ did you realise what a big deal it was to be included in the BBC Sounds Of 2011?
No, we had no clue at all. A few people said, “Wow, this is a really big deal!” and we’ve gone, “Oh, shit, really? We really need to go read up – we don’t really know what it’s about”. We looked it up online and found out it was an important thing.
And the NME Award?
That was a real surprise to us, thanks to our label and management – they told us we were just going out for party at the NME Awards and suddenly we noticed we were sitting at the front of this big table and looking around wondering why we’ve got such a great table near Dave Grohl and Crystal Castles and thinking: “This is kinda weird!” And then suddenly everyone’s like, “Get up there you’ve won the award!” And we’re like: “Shit – what!? We don’t even know what we’ve won!”
What’s your festival must-have?
Sunblock’s always a good idea.
What bands you looking forward to checking out?
The Chemical Brothers at Fuji Rocks.
» The Naked And Famous will be performing at Wireless, Rock Am Ring, Rock im Park, Oxegen, Melt, Reading/Leeds and Fuji Rocks.
– Alison Grinter