If there’s one way to start off the summer, it’s The Naked and Famous Concert. These guys are awesome. The Naked and Famous consist of Thom Powers, Alisa Xayalith, Aaron Short, David Beadle, and Jesse Wood. Together, they’ve formed one badass alternative rock band. Their songs have been featured in everything from Gossip Girl, to FIFA 2012 and 2014, to The Art of Flight.
It’s apparent how much chemistry these Auckland, New Zealanders (New Zealandites? New Zealandians? New Zealandahns?) have. The band members go all the way back to the ‘glory days’ of high school. Short and Powers met Xayalith in 2006 in Audio Engineering school. Beadle (bass) and Short (keys/production) even go back to the sandbox, friends and neighbors since the age of five. The band even spent a year living together after their first tour. They’re so close; they refer to themselves as a “tight family.” It’s pretty obvious why they perform so well together, and where the chemistry on and off the stage comes from.
The band sparked when Short, Powers, and Xayalith saw their tracks as more than basement band practice—they saw potential and kept at it. Within a couple years they were doing more than just dreaming, “We were quitting our day jobs and being told by our managers there were labels coming in from around the world,” said Short. In 2010 they released Passive Me, Aggressive You, and released their newest album, In Rolling Waves, in September 2013.
Right after the new album release, The Naked and Famous hit the road for a U.S. Tour. Having played all over the world, they’ve nearly perfected their showmanship—“A balance of new and old stuff,” said Short, “Haven’t had a single dud show!”
In Rolling Waves keeps close to home, keeping some similar characteristics of Passive Me, Aggressive You, while still offering something new. The Naked and Famous have been able to showcase their maturity in the musical and lyrical world without causing any out-of-body confusion. Aaron Short explained that they would avoid thoughts like, “‘What the hell is this?!’” after listening to a band’s new album. Between Passive Me, Aggressive You and In Rolling Waves, “There was a lot of growing up to be done by everyone,” “[We] had never really done much live touring before” Passive Me, Aggressive You, so the two-year tour was pretty intense.
After accomplishing a long run of tours, the five were ready to dive into the production of In Rolling Waves (available on iTunes) with a new outlook and motivation. The new album progressed with adjustments in particular areas. Powers and Xayalith found their strengths in lyrics and songwriting—“They weren’t stacking them with layers and layers of production” said Short. The goal was to create a sound that was strong and resolute, without layers of production to get there. There was a lot of concentration that went into In Rolling Waves. Short went on, pulling metaphors out of his hat: “…if the album was a movie, [Thom] would be the director,” referring to Powers’ tendency to lead the writing process.
Powers is present in every area, but everything they do is a team effort—demo writing, lyrics, to production and all things band. It takes an incredible amount of time and attention to detail to get this shit done.
The band is on their In Rolling Waves tour, and they’re gettin’ barreled. They started off with two crazy weekends at Coachella, performing in front of 50,000-70,000 people—one of the biggest shows they’ve yet to play. After facing the fans at Coachella, they headed down under to a music festival called Groovin’ the Moo, located in rural parts of Australia.
I skyped with Aaron Short the morning they returned to their home of Auckland. They were gearing up for their first headline show at home since 2011. They played at the same venue this year, The Power Station, as they played as in 2010 when they kicked off their first tour, “It’s cool to go full circle and come back to it again,” said Short. The first night sold out, so they decided to add another show while they were in town. Expectations were high, but excitement levels were higher—they were ready to perform for and reunite with friends and family after a good deal of time apart.
After New Zealand, they’re making their way to the United States—a quick stop at Sasquatch Music Festival, Boise, and then Salt Lake City with White Sea and Strange Babes. Post tour, their plans are to take a few weeks off before they head out on a European tour, somehow managing to keep their spirits and energy levels at their peak. While visiting dozens of cities and countries, they always find a way to put on a kick ass show—“It’s never not an exciting time to go one stage. Even if you’re playing the same song, the environment and crowd interaction is always different, which makes it exciting,” said Short. Having only visited the Salty City once, it’s our job to show up and show them what Salt Lake is all about. Don’t forget to get your tickets and come spend Memorial Day evening with us, this Monday, May 26, 2014 at The Depot!