The newest indie buzz band release this month would have to be Local Natives. Based in Los Angeles, this band’s first release Gorilla Manor brought them television performances and tours across the United States and Europe, with none other thanArcade Fire andThe National. They recorded their new album Hummingbirdwith The National's Aaron Dessner,this time leaving their native Golden State to venture to Brooklyn, and also Montreal. The band’s largest headlining show to date was the day after their album release, at Oakland California’s beautiful venue The Fox Theater.
“People were already singing along to new songs, when the new album just came out!” gushed Ryan Hahn when I spoke to him on the phone. Hahn plays guitar and sings in the band, alongside Taylor Rice (vocals/guitar), Kelcey Ayer (vocals/keys/percussion) and Matt Frazier (drums).
Local Natives stand out among all the new indie rock bands due to their beautiful harmonies and soothing songs. I first heard them when listening to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, during which Local Natives performed their hit “Airplanes”. After hearing that, I was hooked. They are rhythmic and soulful, and bring to mind getting lost hiking in a forest.
“We used to record in Santa Monica. For this record we spent nine months in LA and then decided to work with Aaron and go to his backyard in Brooklyn. We wanted a bigger room to work in than we had a chance to in the past. After Brooklyn, we went to Montreal and recorded in a real professional studio. We had never done that before! It was really cold, but met a lot of cool people, it was really fun just hanging out and living together as a band in a house again.”
Hahn explained that as soon as they finished their first record, they “Found an abandoned house in the middle of [L.A. County's] Silver Lake neighborhood. It was a ridiculously fortunate find, we went in there and took everything out of the house we had been living in. We retrofitted it to become an awesome little practice space, and then spent hours and hours practicing stuff, we were together for five days a week.”
From the new album, Hahn’s favorite to play live is "Wooly Mammoth". ”There is something about that live that’s really fun for us. A lot of our songs rely on a degree of subtly and nuance, but this one allows us to unhinge and play fast.”
Hahn had always wanted to be a musician. “It was a dream for me since childhood. I started playing in junior high, even before that I had always been obsessed with music. I love playing live shows. If you are not feeling energetic, it re-energizes you; if you are feeling burned out or tired, when it’s good it is such a rewarding experience. The most frustrating part of being a musician for me is either sound checking before shows or having to wait months to release an album once you’ve finished recording it.”
His favorite memory from their touring so far would have to be when they played on a beach in Italy. They did not know “Much of it what it would be like; the hosts ended up feeding us amazing Italian food, and giving us wine, all these people showed up on the beach.”
As far as a favorite venue that they have played at so far, Hahn stated: “We were fortunate enough to be asked to play the Walt Disney Concert Hall– it’s a beautiful space, 360 degrees all around you, we played acoustic songs in there during the show. We had never heard anything like it! I hope we get to play there again.”
If Hahn could collaborate with one artist, he said it would be David Bowie. As far as influences, he explained that “While you are writing, it’s hard to say how much goes into process. I love Neil Young, Elvis Costello, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. Recently I’ve really been getting into Bowie’s earlier stuff from the 70′s and the work he did in Berlin. It’s really interesting to see such a different side of him. New bands I would recommend are Tame Impala and King Krule. He is British and just has a few EPs out so far.”