Are The Naked And Famous this year’s MGMT?

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The Naked And Famous are a five-piece band from New Zealand who are the first to debut at number one on their own nation’s charts in three years. Their second single featured in ‘The Vampire Diaries’, and instantly comparisons started coming in with the likes of MGMT and Passion Pit. Indeed, things are generally looking up internationally for the quintet. Cream speaks with member Aaron Short about his band’s sudden success and getting in the nuddy. Interview by Brittany Taylor

THE NAKED AND FAMOUS ADMITTEDLY DRAW STRONG INFLUENCE FROM NINE INCH NAILS BUT YOUR MUSIC IS ALSO OFTEN COMPARED TO ARTISTS LIKE MGMT AND PASSION PIT. DO YOU THINK SUCH COMPARISONS ACCURATELY SUMMARISE YOUR SOUND?
We always find it interesting when we hear those comparisons because looking at the singles ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Punching In A Dream’, we can certainly see why people would draw that vibe from it. It’s quite a compliment, really, as we look up to both those bands, but I think once people buy the album and listen to it all the way through, the comparisons will fade away. It’s something people might hear in the singles but in comparison to the rest of the LP, it takes its own tangent, for sure.

YOUR FIRST TWO SINGLES HAVE BEEN RUNAWAY SUCCESSES. DID YOU HAVE ANY INKLING THAT THE BAND WOULD RECEIVE SO MUCH MAINSTREAM AND EVEN INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION?
I suppose we were hopeful of it, but to what extent we had no idea. I mean when we made ‘Young Blood’, we were all just sitting around going ‘This should make quite a good alternative single to get onto radio’. We didn’t have expectations beyond that; just focused on feeling good about making the track. When it went crazy in Australia, and then viral on the internet and across the world, it was a bit of a shock. Beyond our expectations, for sure.

THE BAND IS OFTEN LABELLED AS ‘INDIE POP’ OR SOMETIMES ‘ELECTR ROCK’. DO YOU THINK TOO MUCH IMPORTANCE IS PLACED ON GENRES NOWADAYS?
I totally do. I come from an electronic background and for a while there I was very much into the house scene. That scene, of all scenes, is a good example of how overly genre-specific people can get. Within house music you’ve got a hundred other breeds of music from every angle. It’s the same with our music; people ask us to pick a category to define what kind of music we are and the best answer we can give is ‘alternative rock’ or ‘alternative pop’. But listen to the full album and you’ll have an altogether different opinion of what genre we are. It’s difficult to pinpoint a single sound.

THE BAND’S NAME IS BORROWED FROM A TRICKY LYRIC AND I THINK IT WAS BAND MEMBER THOM WHO ONCE SAID IT CLICKED BECAUSE OF ITS COMICAL VALUE. IS THE NAME A REMINDER TO NOT TAKE ALL THE HYPE TOO SERIOUSLY?
That’s exactly it. During the time of the band’s forming there was so much seriousness going on and we were all focusing on just making music. But we realised it should also be about having fun; getting goose bumps and feeling good about it ourselves. So I think [the name] The Naked And Famous fits us well. And we’re all huge Tricky fans.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT THE NAKED AND FAMOUS MAINTAIN THEIR INDEPENDENCE FROM MAJOR RECORD LABELS?
You can be on an independent label and things can go completely wrong, or you can be on major label and things can be absolutely perfect. The most important thing for us has always been to retain our creative control and to be able to make our creative decisions ourselves. And to work with a major label that can accommodate to that, which is pretty much the set-up we’ve got now. And it’s great.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO BEGIN ACQUIRING OTHER ARTISTS UNDER YOUR OWN SUBSIDIARY LABEL?
We’ve chatted about it but we’re not in a position to do anything like that right now because we hardly even have time to shower or eat dinner or hang out with friends, let alone go and look at other bands. We’ve just been so focused on finishing the album and getting it out there. And 2011 is about touring. Once that dies down, we’ll begin the next album regardless of where we are. Because we do so much of our creating on the computer, it doesn’t really matter if we’re sitting on a bus or in a hotel room…

EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE NAKED AND FAMOUS, BUT IF YOU COULD ONLY BE ONE, WHICH WOULD IT BE?
Well it wouldn’t be very fun being permanently naked. What happens in winter? I think I would pick any other option above being naked.

Passive Me, Aggressive You’ is out through Somewhat Damaged / Universal Music.