Native Spirits: Local Natives Interview

Surfing a wave of great acclaim

The Local Natives are surfing a wave of great acclaim – and are loving every minute of it.

The Local Natives are jubilant, and why wouldn’t they be? The previous afternoon they announced an intimate impromptu gig in London’s Hoxton Square, expecting only a few die-hards to show. They amassed a crowd of a few hundred.

“London has been a great town for us,” asserts Taylor Rice, Local Natives frontman. “It’s the first city to really embrace the band and we thought it would be cool just to film us playing a couple of acoustic songs in the park. Then any fans who were really into it would catch on – but it just grew – it was nuts.”

“We walked up and all these people were just sitting in the park drinking,” continues drummer Matt Frazier. “We brought all our stuff into the middle of everybody and started playing. There was no way everybody could hear us either – there was no amplification”.

The naivety concerning their popularity is startlingly refreshing, especially considering massive support from both BBC 6Music and the American site Pitchfork, the latter of which enlisted the band to play on the final day of their festival, on a bill that included Outkast’s Big Boi and the reformed Pavement.

So how have the Natives enjoyed the furore that was created in the wake of debut album ‘Gorilla Manor’?

“Just great. It’s been really warmly embraced wherever we’ve gone,” muses the effortlessly laidback Rice. “We did our first European headline tour and played shows in countries like Sweden that sold out – none us have ever even been to Sweden before. It’s just things like that, you know?”

“The first week we ever came to the UK we played super small shows at places like The Lexington,” he continues. “Then we supported Of Montreal at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and this time round we’ve headlined there – in literally a year this week, it has been so fast.”

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The Californian quintet are known for being as easy-going as their records, a theory attested to by the fact that ‘Gorilla Manor’ is also the moniker for the house that the band shared during the album’s making – a completely collaborative product where every band member had equal input.

“There is creative tension within the band and people fighting for their ideas but it really is a very democratic space. It’s a nice marketplace of ideas but because of that it takes us a really long time to jam out songs,” explains Rice.

“I’ll bring a song to the table and it’ll change so many times before we settle on it – the mood will change and the structure will change but we really enjoy that because it becomes this product that none of us could have done on our own. The whole process keeps us from being kept to one box, it stops us being redundant.”

So, what next? Any news on the much anticipated second album?

“We’ll be touring all the way through to December and it’s difficult for us to shape songs when we’re on the road – we haven’t gone very deep,” admits Frazier. “All we know is that we want to do something a little different from ‘Gorilla Manor’ – we want to progress.”

“For me, this album had a huge focus on keeping everything sounding very natural, especially from a guitar perspective,” adds Rice. “There were almost no effects at all on the album, we wanted to focus on the harmony and the melody, so it became a little more vocally driven. I’m looking to experiment with a lot more lush soundscaping and delve into effects and moody synthesisers.”

With a debut like theirs, we say roll on the next chapter.

Words by Sam Ballard

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