The much hyped alternative rockband from New Zealand, The Naked And Famous, have recently released their second studio album, In Rolling Waves. TNAF just began their European tour, which will continue until the 15th of March, 2014. We had the pleasure of meeting with its two impressive vocalists, Thom and Alisia, on their first night of the tour, in Stockholm.
When Thom and Alisa met in 2006 at a music college in Auckland, New Zealand, they formed a songwriting partnership right away, which would become the life force of TNAF. Aron, who also studied at the music collage, soon became a production foil to the duo. Today, he’s the synth player. Actually, all of the boys in the band sort of knew each other from high school. Bassist David and drummer Jesse came on board as full band members in 2009. We asked them how they came up with their amazing band-name, The Naked And Famous.
– We stole it from Tricky! He was part of the Trip Hop scene in the early 90’s. I think he’s from Bristol. He was just someone I really liked, growing up listening to him through high school. He was one of my immediate frames of references as far as music. So I thought, maybe I’ll steal a name, like a verse or a title from something that I really like. That line, “naked and famous,” stuck out to me. It’s from one of his songs called “Tricky Kid,” and at the time it just seamed obviously ironic for us cause we were just a small indie band with small and realistic ambitious. As time has gone on though, I think it’s given it more meaning because we are now a global band and it’s important that, as we’re becoming more well-known, it does still remain ironic. Cause it is kind of trivial and silly, Thom explains.
Some people like to describe TNAF as an electronic pop band. Though, that’s not how they would describe their sound themselves. They somehow got lumped into a synth-pop label that has been quite prevalent in the last 4 years.
– I like to call it alternative rock music. That’s the most broad and simple genre. It says enough. I think synth-pop is a very single-oriented terminology that was given to us, just based on our most popular songs on the radio. So, we kind of battled that, but now it’s really dissipated and we’re just seen as a rock group, which is nice. It’s been validating to not still be just part of a little time. There’s been a little bit of an evolution with the music, says Thom.
TNAF started as a very low-fi kind of project. They were a four-piece band to begin with, because Aron wasn’t even in the band when they first started. He was just helping them by engineering recordings and producing. They hadn’t really found an instrument for him to play, but he slowly developed that over time with the music software that he used to play live. There has been a lot of progress in the band’s sound since they first started off.
– This is my first band, so I never really knew how to use my voice properly. This band was my first serious go at writing songs. So, for me if I look at the recordings of the songs from our first EP, to where I’ve ended up on In Rolling Waves, it’s actually quite a development. You can hear it and you can see it. We’ve all been growing as musicians over the years, that’s great, Alisia says.
Who’s the Boss?
– Thom is the boss, Alisia answers quickly without a single doubt.
– Yea, I naturally am in the position. I’ve always been a very pro-active person, wanting to make things happen for myself and wanting to achieve my desires, my goals. I find myself being interested in being pro-active. I like making things happen for myself. I like making my visions and my desires come to life. That puts you in a position of being in control over things, Thom says.
I asked them if they ever fight with each other, and Thom answers that they fight all the time. He said that there’s a lot of tension within the group, but at the same time they’re all very, very good friends and it’s a healthy, natural part of always functioning as an adult.
– And that’s proof that you are good friends because you can fight, and you can say things. There’s bound to be tension if you’re working with a group of people that are all very passionate about what they do, Alisia says with a smile.
Keeping Dreams Alive
The band released their album In Rolling Waves on the 16th of September. Alisia explained that they learned so much from the pursuit of their previous album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, that when it came to creating In Rolling Waves, they just took everything that they had learned, everything that they knew, and just built on top of that. I asked them if there were any songs off the new album that they are particularly proud of.
– For me, up until this point, just having released and finished In Rolling Waves, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and achievement. That’s the type of band that we want to be, we want to create bodies of work and we want to continue to make more albums. That we have our second one out is just so satisfying. The whole album is a favorite for me, says Alisia.
– I feel very much the same, it’s like a collective. They’re all like chapters in a book. It’s hard to just pick one, even though they do stand alone as singular songs. It’s too close to the whole process to have a favorite. The last album was such an eclectic experience. Making a record and being in a band is such a huge achievement. That was really one of the biggest factors for wanting to do the second record, having achieved our dream and then wanting to keep it alive, Thom says.