The New Face of Indie Rock
An Interview with Local Natives

Words by Alexandra Johnson — Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA — Whoever said that man is a creature of habit must have never heard the musical inventiveness of Local Natives. In an age where any single person can create an entire library of original songs with only loose direction and a laptop, it is not everyday you find an album that takes multiple sittings to dissect and encase your head around. The layering of sounds and inspirations is what makes this five-piece Los Angeles based indie rock band stand out among the repetitive static of so much else. There is a comfort that comes from the complexity of the music that lines the foreground of their career and in the mysterious uncertainty of what direction they will take to next.

We sat down with drummer Matt Frazier to discuss the upbringing, cultivation and future of a band that we still haven’t quite figured out just yet, as they try and solidify their next move in front of watchful eyes.

“When I think back on this past year and a half, it’s been pretty surreal to be honest. We always had faith in the music and have always been proud of what we did, but we never thought we would have accomplished as much as we have now, on our first record. It is definitely a very overwhelming, but exciting, feeling”, explained Frazier.

After the 2009 release of their freshman album, Gorilla Manor, Local Natives bred buzz like wild fire. Turning ears, picking up street cred and taking in media accolades came easy to their carefully created 12 song track listing and visual art package that made up Gorilla Manor. With a complete sound that encompassed a cohesive whole, each song on the album was a fresh twist of insight on what this band is capable of, a full-through listen of swirling harmonies, hand claps, rim taps and infectious melodies from open to close. With seemingly no tune left unturned, the sophomore follow-up is well-deserving of all hype and anticipation.

“We’re about to back into writing mode. We’re hoping to start get back to just being in the studio, writing and eventually recording a new album”, continued Frazier. “There’s no set plan yet, it’s kind of up in the air. But, I think the general consensus would be that everyone wants to expand and do something, not completely removed, but evolved. We definitely don’t want to make another Gorilla Manor. Not that we look down on it, but we definitely want to expand as musicians and try something a little different.”

For anyone that loved the band’s debut LP for its moist, unpredictable sound, this could be a blessing. The Local Natives are a band of musicians that we don’t want linearity from, since they have made it known that their spirit lies within whatever yet remains uncharted. However, for anyone looking for another tweaked-out Talking Heads cover, or any cover for that matter, no such luck. At least not this time around.

“I would say it is probably unlikely that we would do it again. We didn’t even think we would put [‘Warning Sign’] on our first record. But, it almost became one of our own songs. So, it kind of became this no brainer thing, where we felt like we had to put it on there. I would say probably not for the next album, but that’s not to say that we wouldn’t.”

“Touring definitely has changed us a lot. With all the experiences we’ve had, we see things differently now. Our eyes are a little more open to the world. I think that will really help influence the (next) record in a different way””
– Matt Frazier of Local Natives

“I usually buy vinyl. Getting CDs, to me, is borderline pointless these days, because I always end up scratching or losing them anyway, and I just end up having it on my phone or my iPod. But, I do like having the physical artwork, because I think that’s still an important part about being in a band, creating your own aesthetic. So, I definitely enjoy collecting the vinyl for each album”, Frazier said. “I just think about all the time we spent on Gorilla Manor‘s artwork and it’s not insane, but it’s involved and has a good amount of artwork within it. We’re really proud of what we’ve came up with and that in itself is another area of creativity that we really enjoy. It’s great when people are into our music, but it is also really cool when people are stoked about getting a physical copy and put it up like a poster on their wall, I just think it’s really cool. I definitely hope that people still purchase stuff physically”, Frazier said.

Coming across as a band that can successfully channel their creativity into both audible and visual artwork, each with heightened levels of intricacy, innovation and calculated madness, is a deviation from the norm.

“Andy, our [previous] bass player did a lot of it, as well as myself. He did a lot of the artwork and I collaborated with him on it for the album cover. Everything that we’ve ever done artwork wise has been done within the band, whether it was Andy, myself or Ryan. We all have backgrounds in graphic design, so we kind of handle it all and we are way too controlling in that regard to let that go”, laughed Frazier.

Perhaps the colorful texture of Local Natives’ stimulating persona comes from the influences that lay within the band. A hodge podge of individual adoration and magnetism with different origins, all lend themselves to the same central point of focus, a disoriented masterpiece of rhythmic potpourri that needs no explanation.

“We’re pretty in line with some stuff, but if you were to look at the last five songs played on each of our iPods it would probably be across the board. We can agree on a lot of things, but there are also a lot of things that we like individually, that the other guys won’t listen to. I think that definitely helps the dynamic of the band a little more interesting”, said Frazier.

The circuitry within the Local Natives is sweepingly propulsive and energetically compelling, so much so that the anticipation of their next move is set in high frequency. After finishing out their 2011 tour rounds early in the year, the band is only setting their sights on the conception of a second album.

“We’re keeping this year more low key, because we want to work on the next record and hopefully have something for next year. That is the main focus for right now. Touring definitely has changed us a lot. With all the experiences we’ve had, we see things differently now. Our eyes are a little more open to the world. I definitely think it is a positive thing, that we’ve seen so much and all have experienced so much. I think that will really help influence the record in a different way”, Frazier finished. | Wide Eyes