Young Blood: An interview with David Beadle from The Naked and Famous

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After much success in their native New Zealand, The Naked and Famous are making waves around the world with their electric sound. Their fan base is continually growing around the world, allowing them to be featured in the BBC’s “Sounds of 2011 Poll.” Some of their songs have been featured numerous of television shows like Gossip Girl, Covert Affairs, and The Vampire Diaries. Their stunning debut album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, will be available in the U.S. March 15. We sat down to talk with The Naked and Famous’ bass player, David Beadle about life on the road, the bands influences and how they got their start.

How did the Naked and Famous originally form?
David: It started off with Thom and Alisa. They met at the music college over here and they wanted to write music and songs together. At the same music college Thom met Aaron Short, and they bonded over Nine Inch Nails with the way they produced and wrote their own music. Aaron was really interested in the production side of things. The four of them got together and that’s originally how the Naked and Famous formed. Also, Jesse and I had known each other all the way through high school and we’ve all been really good friends. From that point on it seemed natural for us to come along as bass guitar and drummer.

How did you come up with the band name?
It’s a lyric of a song by an artist named Tricky. The songs called “Tricky Kid.” Towards the end of the song he starts repeating “everybody wants to be naked and famous,” that embodies what we don’t agree with in music or pop culture.

Did you all begin your career in music or did you want to do something else with your life?
Tom, Jesse and I, we were all in other bands in high school. They were really tragic metal bands and at the same time we always were heavily involved in music in high school. After high school I went on to study at the University and Jesse did for awhile as well. I guess we always wanted to be musicians but in New Zealand you have to be realistic, so we were finishing other things as well.

How do you feel about breaking out and touring in the world music market?
It’s weird performing around the world. It’s strange for us, coming from New Zealand, you can only do so many shows before everyone’s seen you. It’s such a small place. Being able to perform in other countries and to people around the world is surreal, and such a great honor as well.

How has your album Passive Me, Aggressive You been received in other countries?
It’s only been officially released in New Zealand and Australia. The reception here has been great. What people have said has been really similar across countries. People are really enjoying it. It’s great because we wrote it for our love of music and a love of producing things and performing. Other people are able to enjoy that at the same time. That’s just really nice for us.

Does the title of the album have certain significance to you guys?
Passive Me, Aggressive You is a song lyric in the first song of the album called “All of Us.” It has a lot of significance but it can mean different things to different people. I’m sure to all of us as human beings it means something different for different experiences at the time. It does seem like a really natural album. We take a lot of influence from other people, other music and films..

Do you think there’s a general theme to your album?
Yeah! What we were going for unintentionally was a theme of polarity. There is the digital side of the music but in the analogue sense we are a five piece band. We have drums and a bass. There is a digital/analogue element that is in the lyrics as well. There are both happy and sad lyrics. In the song “Spank,” for example, the music’s jumpy and happy, but at the same time it’s about panic attacks. So there’s a lot of polarity in the music. Initial Problems, the artwork team picked up on it without us even saying it to them. So even within the album artwork itself there’s that digital fear in the middle with the person analogue landscape.

How does it feel to chart at number 1 on the New Zealand charts and also be chosen as one of the bands featured in the BBC’s Sounds of 2011 poll?
It’s surreal and it’s a great honor, but coming from New Zealand, we’re so far removed from that sort of thing. We have no idea what it means. When “Young Blood” debuted at number one over here none of us had taken any notice of the top 40 singles. At the time I was studying for a test and our manager came up and told us about it and we were all sort of wondering what does that mean? We had no idea. We were all so ignorant to that sort of thing. Once he explained it to us we found it really exciting. It was the same thing for the BBC. Before we had never heard of it, but when we saw ourselves amongst the other artists that had been chosen it was surprising and a great honor at the same time.

Speaking of “Young Blood,” I noticed that it’s such a warm and nostalgic song. I fell in love with it’s sound when I first heard it this past summer. What went in to the production of the single?
That song is one of those songs that ended up writing itself. Alisa was sitting in her room and playing around on one of the keyboards, playing with the “ding ding ding ding ding’s.” Thom was sitting at his computer and when he heard it he thought it was great. That song ended up writing itself in a few hours. It was one of those songs that naturally came together really quickly. Over time little things got changed, but “Young Blood” as people know it was written very fast. It was also the first song we recorded as a band. It was a really great song to start off with.

What was your favorite song to record on the album?
The favorite song for me to record was “Frayed.” For some reason it was the most fun for me. “Spank” was a great one as well. Playing bass guitar there isn’t much exciting stuff you can do. Those are the ones that really stuck out for me.

Do you have a favorite place to perform on tour?
When we went to New York we played at this place called the Brooklyn Bowl and it was really cool because you could look from the stage and see people bowling while at the same time playing. There’s nothing like that over here. In New Zealand there’s a venue called The Palace Station and that’s our biggest venue. It was really exciting to play there after growing up and seeing bands play there.

What’s your favorite part about performing live?
I guess the whole thing. It’s really exciting to get on stage and perform the music that you write and the music that you love to other people. I guess it’s just the nature of performing in itself is exciting to me. There’s no one instance I can pinpoint.

What do you do in your spare time while touring.
Jesse, the drummer, and myself were sharing a room on the tour we just finished and we were playing a computer game called Left for Dead. Every time we finished playing we would get back to the room as fast as we could to play computer games. We’re not a very rock n roll. We’re very nerdy.

What were some of your favorite bands growing up and who are you fans of now?
We all grew up listening to 90’s alternative rock. We listened to Seether and Tool. Stuff like that. Now we listen to White Rabbit, Holy Fuck, and Foals as well.

Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
I would really love to collaborate with Tricky. That would be amazing.

Do you see yourself branching out into other genres or entertainment outlets?
I don’t know. I guess so. Music, art and culture are one of those things that evolve slowly. There’s no great plan to diverge into anything else. I think with what we do that happens naturally. So maybe?

Anything you’d like to say to your fans in New Zealand and the U.S.
You should hug your mum and dad more. I feel like I don’t hug my dad enough so I started doing that more recently. I wish someone would have told me that months ago and I would have started giving my mum more hugs.

Check out their video for their single “Young Blood.”
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