Clash shoot and interview

Local Natives bring dreamy desert sounds to UK shores. Since Clash last met these all-American boys, their style has evolved but their basic instincts are still the same.

Starting out as the relatively obscure Orange County quintet Cavil At Rest, the release of debut album ‘Gorilla Manor’ saw the renamed Local Natives rise quickly through the ranks of global psych-folk stardom. When this shoot happened, the band had just finished a relentless six-week tour round Europe, and were in Blighty for only a short time before they went back to US, to play at Austin’s South By South West festival - where it all began for them.

With luscious multi-vocal harmonies and an earthy Americana vibe, Local Natives can be filed alongside Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective as being fellow exponents of modern worldly folk. The wondrous choral charm of latest single ‘Airplanes’ has flooded radio airwaves in recent weeks and its success echoes that life is good inside camp Natives.

As the boys happily rifle through boxes of clothes for the shoot, they joke about their newfound love of shopping. “We haven’t had much money for the last four or five years so it’s been a fairly recent thing that we can actually buy lots of new stuff,” says percussionist and vocalist Kelcey Ayer. “We’ve always been into clothes but before we used to just shop in thrift stores in LA, where we can actually afford to buy things.”

Surprisingly, for five bearded, self-proclaimed music geeks, these boys actually really enjoy playing dress-up. “It’s fun. It’s not often that you get to have all this attention,” says guitarist and vocalist Taylor Rice, speaking on the shoot. “It’s neat having all these clothes to choose from.”

The last time Clash met Local Natives it was a sunny day in Camden and the band were wearing standard indie get-up: denim and plaid. But five months on, and their style has morphed into something which is arguably more ‘fashion’ than ‘folk’. They appear to have grown into themselves and their own visual direction.

“I’m just getting to a place where I can choose the labels which I like,” says vocalist Kelcey, who actually worked in fashion before the band started. “It was actually before the show in Camden last year when we were about to go on stage and we all looked at each other and realised that we were all wearing plaid. We agreed that it should stop!”

As the discussion turns to bands, Kelcey and I discover that our musical pasts were not too dissimilar: nu-metal and post-hardcore were high up on the agenda.

“Slipknot were one of the first ever bands I saw. I remember one of the band members telling us to put our middle fingers in the air and I was this little boy and was so happy with it and thought it was great,” he says.

A far cry from the subtle, acoustic tenderness of Local Natives perhaps, but there is definitely is a lot more to this band than first appears.

Local Natives have a wonderfully modest quality about them. And after months on the road, they will return home to LA, but not necessary for a rest.

“It will be nice to go back to America,” says Taylor. “We all have some lady friends that we need to sort out - I don’t think we really quite know what that means but I just had to get that expression in.”

Lock up your daughters LA; Local Natives are riding back into town.

Words by April Welsh
Photography by Brendan And Brendan
Styling by Ruth Higginbotham
Hair by Soichi

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