BeatCrave is very proud to bring you band, Local Natives, as part of our Know Your LA Bands series. One show was all it took for me to fall in love with this five-piece group. Specifically, all it took was the first measure of “Airplanes.” The drive in the percussion, the tight three-piece harmonies, the violin sweetly intertwined with the melodies of the guitars and keys hit me like a dream and I knew that I had been missing out prior to this show. Lush arrangements with crisp vocals rolled into something that became almost too big for the room I was standing in. If there were any legitimate reason for a girl to fall in love with five guys at once for their talent, I think this would be it. It’s not the first time a band crush has occurred for me, but it’s the first time in a long time it was this exciting.
Now, after getting rave reviews from SXSW, Local Natives is off on a West Coast spring tour. However, they’ll be in the Los Angeles area tomorrow night, April 8th, at Bordello before they take off. For the sake of great indie music, I suggest (but really beg) you to go check it out. Until then, here’s an exclusive interview I was lucky enough to get with Local Natives members, Taylor Rice and Andy Hamm. Discover how much they love Talking Heads, how much they know about kitchen cutlery, and of course, their upcoming album below!
You guys seemed to blow up within the last few months and I’m sure SXSW has definitely helped with that! How long have you guys been together though?
Taylor: I met Ryan and Kelcey in high school, so the three of us have been singing and playing music together for over six years now. We have always been together since that but not consistent, having gone to different colleges all over the state. Our rhythm section fell into place about two years ago with Andy on bass and Matt on drums.
If you don’t mind me asking, why did you change from your name from Cavil at Rest to Local Natives?
Andy: While recording the album it was becoming pretty apparent that the band was becoming something new in itself. The old name had been around mainly with Taylor and Ryan since they were in high school and since then the band has gone through numerous member changes and musical styles. Collectively everyone now was writing and contributing and it felt necessary to make the change. This was the first time we were all really starting to take the band seriously and making it a priority in our lives over school/jobs etc…
I’m a sucker for great harmonies, which you guys definitely incorporate into your music. How important is for you guys to layer your vocals like that?
T: About two years ago we stopped being a guitar band and started being a vocal band. The vocal melodies and harmonies are focal in the writing process, we probably spend more time on arranging harmonies than anything else.
Your cover of Talking Heads’ “Warning Sign” is pretty rad. How did that song get into your set?
A: I was really getting into the Talking Heads entire music catalog at the time and was quickly becoming a super fan of sorts. I came across this background story of a young journalist who had seen Talking Heads very early on and was describing the whole feeling and atmosphere of one of their live shows while the band was playing Warning Sign. I remember thinking “Yeah ya know what Warning Sign is a great song…..we should cover that.” Past that it was working out how to try and make it somewhat of our own. After writing the intro harmonies I think everyone was sold on the song.
Will Amanda Violin ever officially be a part of Local Natives?
A: Amanda helps out and plays with us whenever she is available. Her contributions in the band have been amazing, and I think it goes without saying that her playing is very much missed when she is unable to join us live.
With all the buzz you guys have created for yourselves, I would say no matter how small or big a band may be, networking is key. If you were giving advice to a brand spanking new band, what’s the one aspect of networking you think they should work on first?
T: I’d say networking with fans is actually the most important aspect when you’re starting up. You cannot rely on making some connection to skyrocket you to gold plated diamond record sales. If you get good shows and can draw some people to come watch you play, people will start to take notice.
What part of LA are all of you currently from?
T: We just got a house together at the beginning of the year in Silverlake. Its wonderful; we can walk to Cha Cha and Red Lion for drink time, walk to Home for eats in the morning, and I love running around the Silverlake Reservoir. So many weird dogs in this city.
There are many great things about the LA music scene. What is the greatest benefit of being a musician in this scene?
A: I think the easy answer to that is simply the number of great bands to play with up here. For the months that we have been part of the LA music scene the feedback and general sense of welcoming has been incredible.
Would you say there are any cons?
A: In LA there are a ton of great bands which makes tough to break into certain circles.
I noticed you guys switch off on instruments during a set. That is always impressive. Does that have anything to do with the songwriting process or do you just want to change things up during a performance?
T: The switching of instruments just flows naturally out of how we write each given song. While Kelcey has more or less become our keys player, both Ryan and I play piano during the set. It’s because we wrote the keys for that song, and Kelcey wrote the guitar, etc.
Who does all your artwork?
T: We do all our own artwork. Most posters and pieces are collaborations. Matt’s been a graphic designer doing magazine covers for years, and Ryan and Andy are very adept at design as well.
What are you most excited for in regards to your upcoming full-length, Gorilla Manor?
A: Just one thing? Hmm, I think just getting our music out to everyone. We don’t have any Local Natives material out there prior to this album aside from the few tracks we leaked to the internet and I really want to show everyone what we have created as a band.
Is Bon Iver as nice as his songwriting is?
T: I hope so! For Emma, Forever Ago was an absolute obsession of mine last year. We THOUGHT we saw Justin Vernon in New York during our tour back in January. I couldn’t get up the nerve say hello, though he seemed really nice, speaking amiably with drunk people and nursing a beer. Later it became pretty apparent that the man was not Justin, but if his doppelganger is nice then he must be really nice right? Sorry, that wasn’t a short answer.
What was your favorite part about SXSW?
A: Playing in the Presbyterian Church… love that natural reverb.
Who are some of the local LA bands you really admire?
Your blogs are so fun to read. Any of you considering writing as a day job?
A: If I could get paid to write blogs all day I would do it in a heart beat. Thanks!
Tell us one thing about yourself we probably don’t already know.
T: My day job is selling high end kitchen cutlery primarily to housewives.
Photography courtesy of Local Natives