Not a nude band, but very famous

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by Connor Cox

The Naked and Famous are an alternative rock band from Auckland, New Zealand that has made a name for itself in the

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indie rock scene within the last few years. Guitarist and vocalist Thom Powers took some time out of the band’s rehearsal to speak with The Aztec about the group’s growing success, relocating to Los Angeles and the creative process of the new album.

The Aztec: The band started in 2008 and released “Passive Me, Aggressive You” two years later. What was it like during those two years without any released material and then to achieve almost immediate success?

Thom Powers: Well we had some (extended plays) out prior to that. In 2008, we put out two EPs and we were just working on the record until 2010. And at that time we had a very small, independent-type career and put (the record) on an indie label, so we knew we were working ourselves up to something bigger. We would have loved to have been doing what we are now, but that stuff takes a long time and it’s not like there’s a plethora of music coming out of New Zealand because it takes a lot to be noticed. There’s a lot of music being made there, but it’s hard to bring (the music) to the direction of the world. Other than making the connection with “Young Blood,” which was very instant to people, I could tell that it was doing it’s own thing and taking off. We really didn’t have a preparation. It’s not like we went from being not a band to playing overcapacity venues. We just worked our way up. It was super slow (laughs).

TA: What were you guys doing before you were The Naked and Famous?

TP: I had been working in music stores since I had left high school and band member Alisa (Xaylith) was working in one as well. We just had day jobs. We dropped out of school. We were under financial stress, Xaylith and I. So we just dropped out and worked our day jobs and worked on the band. Working at record stores, making no money, working on the band.

CC: From my understanding, you guys relocated to LA to write and record the new album. Why didn’t you record in Auckland?

TP: It wasn’t so much that we wanted to move (to LA) to do it. Moving to LA was just a thing that we did for fun just because we wanted to be out of Auckland. Not so much that we wanted to come over here. Everything that happens in your life (influences) your potential output, like what’s happening to you affects what you’re doing with your day, how you feel, how you dress, etc. In the context of music, “Passive Me, Aggressive You” doesn’t sound like the north shore of Auckland. It doesn’t sound like suburbia or my mum’s house (laughs), which is where I was living when I wrote it.But with surroundings and locations in mind, LA had very little to do with what we sound like.

TA: Are there any kind of reoccurring themes or messages that you convey in the lyrics of the new album?

TP: It’s really not a concept album. (The album) wasn’t inspired and written around a period of time. It’s definitely written about things that have happened from very personal perspectives over two and a half years. That and of itself is not very direct or explicit, but I think that it creates an atmosphere as well as its own stylistic narrative and maybe not a obnoxious or better one. But I think this way because modern music is changing in the way that because people are quicker to call b.s on concept album. It all seems too over-the-top and it lacks irony a little bit. I think people are more discerning with that kind of stuff and are quicker to dismiss it. You hear someone my age in a rock band, singing about something political and it’s like “Come on man, you can’t possibly be trying to inform anyone that they could just find out by just using Wikipedia.”

TA: One last thing, what advice do you have for university students pursuing a career in music?

TP: You’re asking a big question (laughs). It’s definitely an open-ended question. At no point do you know enough. As an artist you should always be learning. You should always feel like you don’t know enough.

TA: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

TP: You’re more than welcome mate.

“In Rolling Waves” is the sophomore follow-up to the band’s successful debut, “Passive Me, Aggressive You.” The record releases on Tuesday, Sept. 17and will kick off its world tour at San Diego’s House of Blues on Wednesday Sept. 25.

Information about The Naked and Famous can be found at

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