Naked and Famous enjoy California livin’ 

click to enlarge New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous plays the Fox Theater in Oakland on Friday. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous plays the Fox Theater in Oakland on Friday.
Kiwi alterna-combo The Naked and Famous didn’t intend for its new sophomore record, “In Rolling Waves,” to be its “California album.” But literally rolling in Los Angeles waves couldn’t help but color buoyant, synth-surfing tracks such as “Golden Girl,” “Hearts Like Ours” and “To Move With Purpose.” All of the band members did move with purpose nearly two years ago — to a house in Laurel Canyon where they soaked up West Coast culture and composed the follow-up to their hit 2010 debut, “Passive Me, Aggressive You.” But the sunny sound was a happy accident, says vocalist Alisa Xayalith, who co-fronts the band with Thom Powers. They only wanted to write organic songs they could replicate easily in concert.

Why relocate to California?

Not because we really wanted to write a record in L.A. It’s a 10-hour flight from New Zealand, only a few hours from London — where our label is — and only a few hours from New York. So it was the most central location for us to be both doing business and writing. But there are quite a few Kiwis here already. So many that sometimes I feel like I’m back home again!

What was your Laurel Canyon house like?

This house felt like it would have been in its prime in the 1970s. There were pale-yellow walls, tons of tapestries and red-velvet curtains, and this bathroom that we called the powder room, with the most disgusting floral wallpaper and taps fashioned from little gold cherubs. It felt eerie, like something from a David Lynch film.

What other California culture shocks have you experienced?

A deer! There was a deer just standing in the middle of the road one evening, and I’ve never encountered anything like that. We were like, “Brake! Brake! Brake! Don’t hurt the deer!” There are so many cool creatures here that we don’t have in New Zealand, like skunks. I’ve never seen a skunk in my entire life, but I saw one just the other day. And there are these beautiful hummingbirds that just fly everywhere.

And the best part of California living? No winter, right?

It still blows my mind! When we first moved here, I felt like I was in the movie “Groundhog Day,” every day. I even wished that it would rain every now and again. But that’s such a silly thing to complain about — this is a pretty amazing place to be living.

The down side: You have to drive everywhere.

Yeah. It’s a sprawling city, so I drive now. I went to the DMV, and it’s the most depressing place on the planet. The people that worked there? They made me feel like dirt!


The Naked and Famous

Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $29.50

Contact: (510) 302-2250,

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Tom Lanham

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