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Q&A: Thom Powers from The Naked and the Famous

Being big in New Zealand, the Dangers of hype and Lord of the Rings

We've seen your press shots and, frankly, feel a bit cheated. You are neither naked nor, in this part of the world at least, especially famous.

It's a joke. A few people don't seem to get it, which is a bit alarming. I thought it was a brilliant band name -- so cynical and over the top. If you can include some comic value, some irony, in what you do it makes it even better. A lot of great music and great art has good humour in it.

The Naked and the Famous are a really big deal in New Zealand. And yet you've turned your back on that in order to start again in Europe. You must want to be successful rather badly.

You can only get so big at home. At the same time, it's almost impossible to get out of New Zealand, or even Australia for that matter. We are privileged in that our music has actually crossed oceans.

Yeah, thank God for MGMT fans.

I can understand why people would make that comparison. We are a popular band using synths. At the same time, it's a surface-level thing. There is more to us than that. The weird thing is that we come from a DIY background. We self-produced our records, our videos are conceived and directed by us. To be likened to these overseas bands with big producers, well, I guess it means we've been doing a good job.

You've certainly caused a splash since relocating to Europe. There have been NME awards, a place on the BBC Sound Of Poll ... Do we detect a faint whiff of hype?

With the BBC thing, to be honest, at first we didn't know how big a deal it was.

Our response was, 'oh, the BBC, that's a classy radio station, right?' People were like, 'no, no, it's a really big deal. You should be honoured'.

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It must annoy you that most Europeans only know New Zealand for two things: rugby and Lord of the Rings.

Yeah, those are the only two things people know New Zealand for. And maybe Flight of the Conchords. I don't know -- it's hard to detach yourself from your cultural history.

I thought we could come over here and pretend we're from some obscure part of Europe. But I do feel very connected to New Zealand. I feel very much like a foreigner as I walk about.

Are you bringing a lot of potential heartache on yourselves? You could just have stayed in New Zealand and made a good living, without any fear of rejection.

To be honest, I would have been happy with a career in New Zealand. It can be a nice lifestyle, not too highly paced at all. We don't have a culture of celebrity back home. There's no such thing as New Zealand paparazzi.

I don't know what it's like in other places -- I'd imagine smaller countries are all the same. But then this opportunity to go abroad came up. We thought, why not give it a shot?

The Naked and the Famous play Oxegen on Friday, July 8

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