The Naked And Famous: Big Down Under never meant such great things
How big a deal is a New Zealand Number One single? Raise this with Simon Cowell, as Louis Walsh did a couple of weeks back on The X Factor – in reference to Louis’ choice of Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s ‘One Sweet Day’ for ‘Number Ones Week’ – and you’ll get a face that would wrongly suggest he’s chewing on a stag beetle.
But what would Cowell know? A more experienced source in that case would be The Naked And Famous’ Aaron Short. “I remember getting a call at work from my manager and him just saying, ‘Take the afternoon off. ‘Young Blood’ just debuted at Number One’,” says the synth man, outside Auckland’s Powerstation venue where his band headlines tonight. He still sounding slightly dazed in his recollection, “It just wasn’t a feeling that I ever thought I’d be having. Even when we formed a band, it was never the sort of music we thought would be doing this for us.”
Such is the far-flung fairytale currently engulfing NZ’s biggest new band. They’ve spent two years adding members and evolving their sound into its current chart-topping incarnation. As a means of coining its sonics: imagine all civilisation on Earth has been wiped out, except one man, who roams the global wasteland until one day he stumbles upon a single silver boombox, which he duly presses play on and out comes Passion Pit’s ‘Sleepyhead’, in more dynamic form than ever before. Such is the enraptured velveteen synth-pop wonderment of their debut long-player, ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’. “People say they like the feeling of naivety in our music,” says c0-singer Alisa Xayalith, joining Aaron outside. “It makes sense.
I wrote one song from the perspective of a seven-year-old losing their parent. My mum passed away, I have a funny relationship with my dad, too. So those stark feelings of love and loss are something that I find quite inspiring.”
Evidently she’s not the only one, as the band’s rise is proving too stratospheric to be contained within their homeland. The band are readying to relocate, with their sights set on London. “Anyone that’s ever been to New Zealand will be able to testify to just how cut off it feels,” says Aaron, surveying the bustle of the tiny city before him, by far NZ’s biggest, with a population of just over a million. “It can be beautiful. But it’s so small and isolated, after 22 years here, I daydream about getting out every day.” Dream no more, Aaron, dream no more.
Need To Know
• Singer Thom’s first job was as a bin man
• Bass player David was left-back in his high school football second 11
• Drummer Jess went to high school with Joe from The Temper Trap
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This article originally appeared in the October 30 issue of NME