Local Natives

For Los Angeles group Local Natives, success has only ever come in tremendous amounts. From the release of their debut album Gorilla Manor early last year, critics and fans alike have been passionately clutching onto everything created by the quintet and with flawless performances at nearly all of the world's biggest festivals including Glastonbury, SXSW, Oxegen and Coachella, they are slowly becoming one of the biggest indie bands of the last two years. With hit singles Airplanes, World News and Sun Hands being on our airwaves for some time now, the moment has finally arrived that we see an appearance here on our shores. Local Natives are touring with the stellar indie lineup of the Laneway Festival and I caught up with Kelcey Ayer, the keyboardist and singer for this truly fantastic band.


Describing the sound of Local Natives is a difficult task indeed, but with comparisons to Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes, the ever-popular folk-indie genre seems to be the correct fitting for them. "I think it's hard for people to talk about bands without a point of reference. We're just very flattered to be, I guess, compared to other really great bands that we like, know and respect. Yeah it's fine, but you can't just be like 'oh listen to this band, they're awesome.' You do have to help people along and get it a bit more into their ballpark. We think it's great."


The live shows of Local Natives have been in demand with virtually every major festival craving the band's appearances. "Yeah, it's definitely been a great year, for any band's first record you know, its like a dream come true. It's pretty amazing." Noteable highlights include their sets at Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds Festival, Oxegen, Coachella and SXSE, the latter of which saw the true rise to fame for Local Natives. "I definitely think we're very grateful for all the support that's been out there. Because all of us have been playing music for pretty much our whole lives, and we're all still pretty young, in our mid-twenties or whatever, but we really feel that we broke through last year and I think we've got a really great platform a second record and I hope that maybe be able to do this for the rest of our lives."


With such huge appearances for the relatively new band, the question must be raised about giant festivals vs. intimate club concerts, and like most bands, Local Natives has trouble finding the clear winner. "I think they all have their benefits and drawbacks like festivals are awesome because there are so many people there and you can see people you've never really heard before, so it's a really great platform to put your music out there. I mean you're usually playing in beautiful settings, like a farm or a jungle, something crazy like that and that's fantastic, but you know in club shows, you can really capture the sound and you can do exactly what you want to the best of your ability. It is a very cool experience to have the fans and for us to be in one room together, playing the songs. I don't know whether I prefer one or the other, its kind of like apples to oranges."


Gorilla Manor, the debut album from Local Natives, was released early last year and it has been received outstandingly well from all corners of the globe with the singles Airplanes, World News and Sun Hands receiving loads of airtime on alternative radio stations. When asked about personal favourite tracks, Ayer was certainly in two minds about which to pick. "Actually, well we all write in the band and then like one person will head up the lyrics to a song, but we all came up with the origin for the track. I think ‘ Cubism Dream' is about a girl that went to Australia to study abroad, which led to the demise of a relationship. So it's pretty funny now, actually being able to fly over there and play that song. But ‘ Airplanes' is a big one for me, that's another one that I wrote the lyrics for and it seemed to really resonate with a lot of people who have lost loved ones, so its been really kind-of awe inspiring in the way that I will meet people and we'll be able to relate to one another just through this song that we wrote. It's pretty crazy."


Me, being an avid Local Natives fan myself, happened to notice the strange introduction to hit single Airplanes and couldn't resist about the cow/whale/moaning noise that they include at the start of the track. "Uhh, that was [laughs] just us playing around and now it's fun to hear and what other people think it is because not a lot of people get the stupid joke that we just kinda did in the studio. Some people think it's whales and they want to know what whales have to do with airplanes and I don't really know what to tell them, because it's certainly not whales."


Local Natives are appearing in Australia, touring with the Laneway Festival nationally as well as a few sideshows along the way, and as it turns out, a local favourite act was the sole reason for the band's appearance. "Well there's another band, The Temper Trap, whose manager I guess, puts on the Laneway festival, and you know, they were telling us how it's going to be great, and they're going to have lots of great bands there and looking at the lineup, it looks like its going to be a cool little festival to be at, and we're really excited to come play there, I mean there are times where you visit another country and do a few shows on your own, and then come home but then this is a few shows in a festival with awesome bands and its going to be a lot of fun."


Laneway has some spectacular bands on the lineup this year with Yeasayer, Foals, Cut Copy, Two Door Cinema Club and many more. But it is fellow American band Deerhunter who has the attention of Local Natives. "I think Deerhunter is playing right? I've been really getting into their latest record and been kind of back-tracking to their older stuff and I think I'm really going to get into their set. There's another band called Bear in Heaven who are actually really good friends of ours and it will be great to catch up with them, but also to watch their live set because it is amazing."


As well as Laneway, there are two sideshows for Local Natives, one in both Sydney and in Melbourne with lovely support acts Leeder Cheetah and The Paper Scissors to warm up their crowds. "We haven't actually had a chance to meet them yet, but we did get to go through a list of Australian support bands and we did handpick them, so it will be great to see them live."


With already a substantial fan base within Australia, there are sure to be some large crowds coming to watch Local Natives and hopefully a few more than a festival that they appeared at in Switzerland, with a huge attendance rate of five people. "Yeah, [laughs] we showed up and there was no one at the festival, it was the first day and it was a fairly new festival...they hadn't even opened the doors yet. So they wanted us to start playing, then they'd come and open the doors. So we were supposed to play to this empty festival ground, it was the weirdest thing ever because that whole summer, we were playing festivals everywhere, so we'd be used to the normal festival experience. Having a crowd when you come out, and just be a part of the chaos of a festival and then we were in Switzerland and it was a ghost town. They were like "yeah we still want you to play" so we waited for a while and played a shorter set with only a few people there, but it sucked because towards the end, all these people showed up and we finished our last song and people were freaking out saying "where are you going" and stuff like that, but we were done. It was very poor planning. Oddly enough, we got paid a ridiculous amount of money just for that show, like way more than any other festival, so it was just really funny how it turns out."


The live show from Local Natives is definitely one to behold. Being obviously very proud of their performances, Ayer has a few last selling points for why punters should come along to see them. "I guess I can definitely say that our live shows have a different kind of energy than the album. I think the recording sounds a little more subdued and relaxed. I think there's a lot more energy to the live show that people don't normally expect but that's cool to have people see that. I'm just excited because we haven't played in a while and its great to be doing shows again."


Expect huge thrills from Local Natives when they come down to Australia in February for the beloved Laneway Festival in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide & Perth. A highly recommended act and an all-round nice group of guys, a true pleasure to behold.

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