“Young Blood” is one of those songs that instantly raises the tiny hairs on the back of your arm. The chord progressions, the tiny bit of echo on the synth keys, the heart-stopping pound of the beat — it all harkens back to the first time [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]MGMT[/lastfm]’s “Time To Pretend” came on. It brings waves of nostalgia, hope and most importantly — it just rocks.
[pullquote quote=”I think every band has one of those songs, where the song just writes itself. I wish that happened to us all the time.”]
[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Naked And Famous[/lastfm] have taken the alternative rock world by storm in the last year-and-a-half. The New Zealand five-piece is now a must-see act at Night 2 of Almost Acoustic Christmas.
Their success stateside is largely in part to “Young Blood”, but I like to think this group of twenty somethings has touched a nerve with our collective conscious even deeper. They make music that directly reflects the times we live in — the emotions we feel going into 2012 and beyond.
I got a chance to hang out with the band before their first show on the West Coast this time last year. They had just come from a huge “buzz band” whirlwind in London and two well-received shows in New York City, and were clearly still trying to process their new-found stardom.
The showcase at Bardot didn’t exactly go off as planned — there were multiple sound failures and way too many drunk chicks blowing smoke directly into the band’s space (something they are not accustomed to in NZ, as I found out). But it was a convincing, powerhouse of a performance by a band not even close to the pinnacle of its potential.
While founding members, singer Alisa Xayalith and singer-guitarist Thom Powers, chowed down on vegan rice bowls post-soundcheck, drummer Jesse Wood, bassist David Beadle and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Short played grab-ass all the way to the green room of Bardot in Hollywood, where we sat down to talk the making of their debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, their stunning music videos, their influence, and why you need a day job in the New Zealand music scene (Note: I could not distinguish the male Kiwi accents apart from one another. Not enough Flight of the Concords, I guess.) :
How did the New York shows go?
Awesome. Brooklyn Bowl is a really good venue.
Have you been to the Brooklyn Bowl?
I’ve passed through New York once, in an airport. I feel most people have in our country at some point. Was your show well received?
Yeah, people singing along. It was great.
Surprising to come to another country this early and see people singing along, getting into it?
I was just surprised to see people. [Laughs]
Well it’s going to be packed tonight.
Really? Oh s***.
You’ve been the most requested artist in the last two months.
Really? F*** me!
Alisa: We had no idea.
That’s f****d up.
Where did the name come from?
It’s a [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Tricky[/lastfm] song. I grew up listening to [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Massive Attack[/lastfm], Tricky and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Portishead[/lastfm] and all kinds of trip-hop music.
You can tell. It comes through on a couple of the darker songs on Passive Me, Aggressive You.
Hopefully it doesn’t come across too often.
What else are you influenced by? The album is kind of all over the place. I mean that as a compliment.
Yeah, of course. That’s a nice compliment. I don’t know. Alisa?
A: [Ed. note: way too Kiwi-accent to make out]
Just alternative music in general. A lot of the bands you would find on Pitchfork.
So a lot of newer bands?
It was weird, right before we started recording music, there was that whole retro-rock revival thing. Just a ton of bands claiming they grew up listening to The Beatles and [Rolling] Stones. We weren’t part of that. Definitely not retro kids. Most of the music we grew up with was late-90’s alternative. It has kind of carried on to now.