After conquering the globe with their single “Young Blood” all the way back in 2010, The Naked and Famous haven’t gone anywhere. They’re three records and several tours deep, as seasoned icons of 2010s alternative pop music.
Their latest effort, a 10-track album called Simple Forms, was released just last month, meeting a great response. Their tour to support it is already in full swing, and they’re headed to Newport Music Hall on November 7.
I talked with bassist David Beadle about the new material and all of the wonderful things that come along with new music.
The Indie Sound: The first time I listened to Simple Forms, I thought it sounded really big and expansive. How did that sound come about during the writing process?
David Beadle: Well we kind of wanted to hop back a little back to the sound of our first record, with a little bit more maturity in the songwriting. The songs came from Thom (vocals, guitar) initially; we had taken a bit of a break and everyone had been doing their own thing.
One day a couple tracks popped up in the shared Dropbox, and one of those first tracks was “Higher.” When I heard it I felt that this was going to be one of the singles. But yeah, I guess the sound is an evolution from the first record.
The second record was very self-indulgent, and it was such a pleasure to do. It was good to see where we all were as musicians, but there was a lot more thought in Simple Forms about the more pop side of things, and the production of vocals and melody.
TIS: Yeah, my second question kind of goes off that. The second album, In Rolling Waves, seemed to shock people a bit with the experimentation of it. Did that have an effect on the approach to this album, and if so, how?
DB: Yeah, on the second record, everything was live. We were exploring how we all performed as musicians, and it was done in a sort of old, rock band kind of way. We all came together and wrote the songs, and we were able to play the songs as a band before we even came into the studio.
This time around on Simple Forms, we jammed through the tracks, but we performed them in the studio and got around to learning them as a band afterwards. The first thought was more on the production and songwriting, and then the band performing that came second.
TIS: I think you can hear that when you listen to the albums in comparison. So, after a breakup (between lead vocalists Alisa and Thom), people usually don’t have the opportunity to sing about their feelings together on the same track. Was there a different sort of dynamic in terms of writing it?
DB: I think they’re both very lucky in the sense that they can communicate so well with each other, and in a lyrical way. It had been a year and a half since that all happened, so I think lyrically, it was almost cathartic.
Being able to explore those feelings, and then presenting them to each other, and to the rest of us as well, clears things up and puts things into perspective. It was a very unique position. That catharsis puts everyone back on the same page, and honestly is probably the best policy.
TIS: Right now, there’s a kind of holy pop trinity of female fronted New Zealand groups, between you guys, Broods and Lorde. How did being from New Zealand affect your rise into the international music scene?
DB: I don’t think it did, really. “Young Blood” is what got us into prominence and into the eyes of people overseas. I think we had a sound that was at the time, of that MGMT and Passion Pit era of music, but I don’t think the New Zealand part of it has a huge effect on us as musicians.
TIS: You all have been putting out lyric videos to all of the songs off the new album. Where did the inspiration to make a video series come from?
DB: We’d been working with a social media team named Ride or Cry, and we’d done the lyric video for “Higher.” We were so impressed with it that we had this idea of rather than doing one music video, we could do lyric videos for all of the songs.
So Ride or Cry came up with this concept of a narrative for all of the videos but to release them out of order, so we could leave it up to the viewers to decide what the narrative was and what order they wanted to listen and watch those videos.
TIS: That’s such a cool approach, because I feel like a lot of people are doing a lot of videos with their music lately, and that’s an interesting way to change it up a little bit.
DB: Yeah, we’re very lucky to be working with them. Music is something that means so many things to so many different people. The exact same song can be happy for one person and completely miserable for another. So releasing them out of order with a very vague concept, and letting people put them together in their own way is quite cool.
TIS: What are you looking forward to most on the tour?
DB: I’m not sure really; we’re about five shows in and I’ve really enjoyed the donuts we’ve been eating. But no, performing the new tracks has been an absolute pleasure, and so far they’ve been well received. It’s always nice to play new music and gauge people’s reactions. “Last Forever” is my favorite track to play live right now.
You can catch The Naked and Famous in Columbus on Nov. 7 at Newport Music Hall. Tickets are $25 before Ticketmaster fees.