Before taking the stage at Lollapalooza in Grant Park in August, The Naked and Famous’ Thom Powers put on an episode of “Breaking Bad” to watch. Little did he know one of the stars of the AMC drama was a fan of the indie band from New Zealand and would be waiting backstage when it arrived for its performance later that day.
“I got backstage and there’s Aaron Paul, the guy who plays Jesse on the series, waiting for us to go on,” Powers recalled, shortly before The Naked and Famous performed Wednesday on the W Chicago-Lakeshore Hotel’s seventh floor patio — part of the hotel chain’s Symmetry Live music series. “I was like, ‘It’s so weird, I was just watching you. I mean I was just watching you on TV.’”
Powers called the meeting with Paul “amazing.” He doesn’t, however, believe that having a famous fan means his electro pop quintet itself is famous. In fact, Powers said he despises the idea of the band being famous (its name comes from a line in English artist Tricky’s song “Tricky Kid”).
“I still don’t think we’re famous,” said Paul, whose band drove to Toronto late Wednesday night for a gig Thursday only to return to Chicago for show at Metro Friday. “Never will. I think it’s pretty silly. I don’t want to be a jaded band that says ‘I’m going to L.A. to write a new record.’ (Forget) that. Write the record in your bedroom. If I ever feel famous, I might quit. I would feel like a jerk.”
Powers added that it’s harder to feel famous in his native country — even if the group’s album, “Passive Me, Aggressive You” earned six nominations at the 2011 New Zealand Music Awards and its songs, “Punching in a Dream” and “Young Blood,” were featured on The CW dramas “Vampire Diaries” and “Gossip Girl,” respectively.
“We don’t have a massive celebrity culture,” Powers said. “Even pop stars aren’t that famous. We also are snarky in that we don’t let anyone get too big. We have to cut them down before that happens.”
The other challenge New Zealand bands face is getting discovered by U.S. and British record labels, according to Powers. He feels his band, which he co-founded in 2008 with the group’s lone female, Alisa Xayalith, lucked out.
“It’s pretty hard,” Powers said. “Nobody has the time or patience to go to another country and find something. It costs so much. And (New Zealand) is so far away. We were lucky enough to have a lot of interest. We had people wining and dining us and pitching us. We were very fortunate.”
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