LOCAL NATIVES is a band full of passion and thoughtfulness. Their music is incomparable, unique and something so special. Last Thursday they played an incredible show at the great venue Brixton Academy in London. Quite early that day NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION had the pleasure to talk to Ryan and Kelcey about their stunning record Hummingbird and about touring in general.
So first of all let’s talk about Hummingbird, your brilliant record which was released in January. How would you describe it, what does it mean to you?
R: It’s a really personal record for us. We were kind of documenting all these sad times we went through in the past few years. We were trying to push ourselves and it has been quite an expansion and we added a lot of stuff like fake drums. I am really excited how much more we can add for our next record.
What is distinct about your sound are the harmonies. How do you get it so perfect? Recording is one thing, but I have seen you guys live before and it was just as good.
K: Thank you! We have been singing for almost ten years together- so Ryan and Taylor and myself are the main song writing group. Ever since high school we were singing harmonies together and I think it’s just playing shows every night and we are always trying to improve. I feel like people wanna hear about a secret technique…
R: We didn’t go to singing school it just happened naturally, we just started singing together, got to know our voices, how they sound like and work together.
I heard that you are collaborating a lot during the song-writing process. How does that work? Are there also disagreements sometimes?
K: Yea a lot of disagreements. It can be definitely hard because there are so many people involved. Ryan, Taylor and I are the main songwriters but we all got involved in what happens and we are all really passionate, so it’s hard to go one way. It is not anything we can’t get over it. Any song is something we could not make by ourselves, so we have to give up a little bit sometimes to get a lot more and that always goes really well. We are really happy about Hummingbird and a lot of other songs.
You can be happy about it yes. Like you said: it’s a really personal record. What song means the most to you and why?
R: I’d say You & I . It is a really meaningful song for us and it helped us when we wrote that song and it also helped to see where the record goes. We started a lot writing after that song and it was a big turning point for us.
Can you tell us about the work with Aaron Dressner (THE NATIONAL)?
K: Yes. We went on tour with THE NATIONAL, like seven shows and we got to know the band. We knew that Aaron could possibly be a good collaborator. We didn’t want to have a typical producer who works with tons of bands a year. We are really passionate about our music and we wanted to have someone who is as passionate as we are and he ended up being just that and he fit in right away. It worked really well and he really helped us to be spontaneous in the studio. We have been working in L.A for a year by ourselves , writing every part. It was a good idea just sit down and do something, play chords.
Which song of Hummingbird would you choose as a movie soundtrack? For which movie?
R: What do you think man?
K: An existing movie?
Yes, or you can make up one if you want.
R: Iron Man 5.
K: I kind of like Black Spot for a movie, in that you can think dark. (laughing)
R: A lot of songs could be good for some sort of move soundtrack, mainly because of a lot of instrumental parts and in our minds it is a bit like a huge soundtrack for us.
That’s true. What is the story behind the cover photo?
K: We were trying to think of pictures for our album artwork. We have a practice space in L.A. and we were all getting on top of it. Behind that surface it is actually just a car park but we added the sky. Ryan took a photo of me struggling to get up and every time we came back to it, it grabbed us. In the end it showed that if you struggle and you can smile about it, it helps turning bad situation into something positive.
LOCAL NATIVES: “The shows make everything worth it”
You have been touring a lot this year. What do you think is the best and worst thing about touring for you?
R: Sleep schedule is totally messed up, as you can see. (laughing) So lack of sleep is the worst part.
We haven’t been home for quite a long time, and you don’t see families and stuff back home. For me the best part is that hour and a half we are actually on stage and have fun and it is the reason we are doing this.
Actually soundcheck is also the worst part – I hate it.
K: (laughs) But we always try to jam it makes it more fun but not very often. The shows make everything worth it and you get to see so many places, that is really positive. Most of the time it feels good.
And how is it to tour with bands like CLOUD CONTROL?
K: We played with them before when we were touring with our first records and their first record. They are awesome, we have seen maybe about two shows. They are on the same label over here.
The video for Ceilings is loads of unique clips that show you on tour – a real masterpiece. Some parts seemed a bit weird to me. Can you tell us a story of the clips shown?
K: There is one thing, it is not like a silly thing, but we were carrying giant rocks into the water. We had a long festival term going on this summer and we ended up on a two day vacation in Sicily and we have never been there before, it was like paradise – so amazing – crystal clear blue water. That is the weird thing we experienced this year, lots of flying, we can’t sleep and then there are this little moments, it’s just that lifestyle, it’s crazy. We are so glad to see a lot of places, cold places like on this tour, and there are those little moments
R: One of the weird things that happened is that when we were in Australia, Kelcey suddenly punched a carrot. (Ryan imitating Kelcey punching a carrot)
K: I actually punched a bunch of five carrots!
In general, are you having a big influence in your music videos? Do you think they are important?
R: We try to have more influence.
K: Nik, our tour mate, has also had some influence. We actually just asked him to be in the band, that’s quite a change for us.
That was actually my next question. In Cambridge it was the first time Nik played with you as an official band member. How was that?
K: (laughs) He has been on tour all year and it not really different. He is just such a creative member, being able to do a lot. Everyone in the band has more to offer than music and we try to do a lot of things on our own.
Great. Last two questions. I was always wondering what the place where you wrote your first album looks like? How does Gorilla Manor – your house – look like? Typical Orange County with empty swimming pools to skate in?
K: That’d be cool.
R: We actually lived in two houses. First one those definitely more messy and weird the second one was more of a proper adult household.
R: You know, four bedrooms, me and Taylor actually shared a room – it was a really weird time.
What do the things hope and passion mean to you?
K: It kind of describes what we are doing. We are here in this venue because we have been passionate to make it happen. Hope… We are always hoping that we are progressing and stay as passionate as we are – always thinking it could be better and trying to do better.
Yes. And I think your music gives people hope. Thank you so much for talking to me that early it was a pleasure. I really look forward to your show.