Featured Image courtesy of the Artist
New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous burst onto the international scene with their hit album Passive Me, Aggressive You. After worldwide and worldwind successes for both their first and second albums, In Rolling Waves, band dynamics became strained, leading to a hiatus, and the personal relationship of principal mainstays, Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith, disintegrated. Following a few years of soul-searching and mending, the band is back with a refreshed sound, new album, and upcoming show at Union Transfer tonight. We were able to catch up with vocalist/guitarist Thom Powers and drummer Jesse Wood of TNAF ahead of the show.
Rock On Philly: You guys have experienced quite a few changes since your last albums/tour. How would you say that has affected your sound?
Thom Powers (vocals, guitars): I appreciate if this question was gentle for the sake of not prying, but that’s almost like asking if life has affected one’s life! The short answer is, “In more ways than I’m able to pin down…” But I would rather let our fans make up their own minds about what they think they hear. I will say that this is our most vocal album to date. The instrumental sections were scrutinized to ensure they delivered and supported the vocal ideas.
ROP: What prompted the decision to make your third album Simple Forms a visual album? What was it like working with Ride Or Cry?
TP: The initial decision to make a lyric video, as well as the decision to make 9 more, were reactionary. We saw the lyric-video as a way to control our image amongst the chaos of YouTube and the interconnected series as a way of doing something outside of the traditional music video. Ride Or Cry are also Echo Park locals. We’ve worked with them on more than just the videos – they’re our aesthetic maintenance crew. They have their filthy mitts in all our social media!
ROP: Are there any visual elements that you helped create?
TP: Years ago, we decided we weren’t going to remain married to a stylized band-font. Logos can be timeless but can really date and make an act look stagnant. I much prefer the thinking behind altering our artwork or “image”. A static logo felt restrictive with a name like The Naked And Famous. For Simple Forms I wanted something modern. While we were in the studio I send “T / N / A / F” to my friend Joel Kefali and he thought it really worked.
Otherwise, we really give the director/artist room to maneuver. I will weigh in when there’s a foundation but I’m also a firm believer in artistic freedom. Obviously we all need to be on the same page, but I haven’t written my best songs because I’ve been adhering to guidelines. Most of my best (perhaps this isn’t up to me to say!) ideas have come simply creating music for its own sake.
ROP: Are there any songs that feel definitive to your growth as artists, or even personally?
TP: Each song feels like a giant achievement. And each finished song is followed by thoughts like, “Oh [God,] will I ever be able to do that again?!” An album is a monumental thing to have had a hand in creating. I’m speaking strictly in a personal sense, too. One can only guess how effective or affective an entire album is to an audience. Young Blood is clearly our hit. We chased its success all over the planet. We might not perhaps still be doing this if we had not written it. I learnt a few things finishing Grow Old and Waltz. Higher and Falling felt like my most triumphant moments on this album.
ROP: What do you look forward to most when you come to Philly?
Jesse Wood (drums) : We’ve been in and out a bunch of times but unfortunately never had the opportunity to hang out. Tried ordering a cheesesteak, but got yelled at for doing it wrong [so], time to do some research. Our tour manager loves Grindcore House in South Philly.
ROP: Are there any Philly artists you would consider a collaboration with?
JW: We toured with Vacationer a while back and we’re all big fans of those guys. We haven’t done a lot of collaboration but being stuck on a tropical island with them would surely best some sweet fruit.
Will you see The Naked and Famous tonight? Comment below with your favorite T/N/A/F song!