Interview: Local Natives
Published on July 19th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Local Natives managed to up an already exquisite game on their emotionally charged second album Hummingbird – produced by The National’s Aaron Dressner, no less – and they’re coming back to the UK in October for a tour that carries on into Europe across November (dates here).
We say “coming back” because they’ve been gracing some of our biggest festivals of late, and indeed had just pitched up at Rough Trade East for an afternoon show when we spoke to multi-instrumentalist Ryan Hahn about their crazy year thus far…
Have you had a chance to look round Rough Trade?
Yeah, well we’ve actually been here a few times before. It seems like every time we come to London we have to come by Rough Trade to check it out, you know?
Which festivals have you been playing lately, and have any in particular stood out for you?
It’s kind of been festival crazy, we’ve been bouncing around! Obviously we did Glastonbury and we did a few festivals in France that were really cool. One of them was in this old 17th century army barracks where they used to cut people’s heads off, which was pretty interesting.
We’ve been doing some small festivals too; we played in Poland for the first time, sort of headlined this little festival. That was pretty memorable for us.
I saw a great picture of a couple of you guys stood in a bin somewhere…
(Laughs) Yeah, I think the tour madness had started to set in! That’s us just arriving at T in the Park and messing with the tour manager’s signs that he always puts up for us.
Have you managed to see much in the way of other acts?
When we get a chance to run around, we always make an effort to see at least a band or two. We just watched Frank Ocean, which was really sick, and we’ve seen King Krule a few times.
We’ve also watched Savages, Alt-J and Portishead; so yeah, I guess we have seen quite a bit.
What can we expect from your forthcoming UK/European tour? Might you air any new material?
We’re always working on songs so there’s always the chance that we’ll finish a new one and it’ll pop into the set, but right now we’re still trying to just play our new album.
A lot of these songs were written without having played them live first so we’re always tweaking them, figuring out how to do them live. We might throw a new cover into the mix as well, we’ll see.
It’s quite early on to be talking about it but have you discussed yet what kind of direction you might go in on the next album?
We’re always writing so there’s already a bunch of songs taking shape and stuff. I dunno, I guess we’ve never really talked about it in the grander scheme, like “okay, it’s gotta sound like this” or “it’s gotta be reactionary to this”.
Songs come out and we’re always growing, listening to new stuff; it’s always changing so I’m sure it’ll be different, although it’s hard to say exactly how yet.
Did Aaron approach you about producing Hummingbird or vice versa?
It came up at first as an offhand kind of joke. We were talking about it, then when we came back and finished all the songs and we were looking for producers, he was the one who was most passionate when we brought it up.
We thought, “This guy’s serious about it!” It just kind of felt the most natural so it was a bit of both, I guess.
Do you think you’ll continue to work with him in the future?
We had such a good time working on this record with him that I wouldn’t rule it out, but we’re always trying to do something different and push forward so I don’t know. I guess we’ll figure it out when the time comes.
Are you a fan of the new National album?
Yeah, definitely. We’ve done a few shows with them over the past few weeks so it’s been cool to see the songs done live.
They can play a place like Croatia and people just go berserk, even for the new songs. I think that’s testament to what they do, and what they do so well.
Would you say you guys are settled as a four-piece now, or will you be looking to replace Andy long-term?
Well, we tour as a five-piece [including touring bassist Nik Ewing] and we wrote the record with a five-piece in mind. I would jump on bass guitar and all that stuff.
We’ll have to see what happens but right now we’re a four-piece officially and I think that could change one day. We do like being able to have five people to play instruments.
Finally, which have been your favourite albums from 2013 so far?
Nick Cave has been a really big one for me, and the James Blake album was great. I guess those are the two I’ve been listening to the most.
Ryan Hahn, thank you.
Hummingbird is out now on Infectious Music.