Naked + Famous singer Alisa Xayalith on Blink-182 tour and performing in a band with her ex
"Higher," The Naked + Famous
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
A romantic split between two prominent members of a band often is a death knell, but New Zealand indie pop band The Naked + Famous weathered the storm.
The band — whose third album, Simple Forms, was released last year — is the featured act on pop-punk band Blink-182's current tour, which stops in Amarillo for an 8 p.m. April 21 show at Azteca Music Hall, 500 Farm-to-Market Road 1912. Pop band Wavves also will perform. Tickets are $49.50, plus fees.
Its latest album came after an extended hiatus for the band following the breakup of its two vocalists, Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith, after eight years together. Their relationship, in fact, was the backbone of the band, and between the stress of their breakup and the stress of touring, the band parted ways temporarily.
“It was awful,” bassist David Beadle said in the band's bio. “People were unraveling pretty fast. The shows were tight but no-one was in a good space. People were trying to get off the bus, dragging their suitcase down the road in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere! When the tour bus finally stopped, everyone made for the exit and didn’t look back.”
That's all behind them now, Xayalith said.
"Whatever happened happened so many years ago," Xayalith said in a March 30 phone interview. "We've been in a band for 10 years, touring and traveling together. It's like living in a community. ... This is a very creative, healthy time for all of us right now."
Working on the album together was healing, she said.
"Music is my therapy, no matter what is going on in my life," she said. "It's always been that way."
That dates from her childhood as the daughter of Laotian refugees who emigrated to New Zealand after the Vietnam War. She described their exodus vividly in an essay for Clash, and in our interview said that her upbringing made her want to become a singer.
"I chased it," Xayalith said. "My older brother ... owned every single Mariah Carey CD, and I used to sneak into his room and listen to them. I entered a talent cotest and learned how to play guitar at 13. ... It's just something I have always chased.
"It was a way for me to seek solace," she continued. "My family was poor. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, and my mother died just before I was 8 years old. ... Music became my solace, a very significant part of my life."
Xayalith's brother also introduced her to Blink-182, who was a driving force in the late 1990s pop punk movement and recently scored its first Grammy nomination for its 2016 album California, its first album to debut at No. 1 in 15 years. (And its first since singer Tom DeLonge left the band indefinitely, now devoting most of his time to UFO research.)
"This is the first week on tour with them, and it's been absolutely wonderful," Xayalith said. "Everyone in the band grew up listening to them, just huge fans. It's like one of those pinch-yourself moments where you just can't believe you get to do what you do."