Shaky Knees Festival Interview with Local Native
A lot has happened since Local Natives became the Local Natives just a short time ago – they self-funded a debut album, parted ways with a band member, embarked on a huge European tour, built a new studio, befriended a twin from The National, dropped a “Best of 2013” second album, opened for Kings of Leon and were invited to play some of their bucketlist venues.
The new fangled folk band out of LA recently visited an elbow-to-elbow indie-hungry crowd during Atlanta’s second annual Shaky Knees Festival at Atlantic Station. We had the opportunity to chat with drummer Matt Frazier and bassist Nik Ewing on the successful whirlwind it’s been for the guys:
Blue Indian: Welcome to Atlanta, y’all having a good time so far?
Matt: Thank you. So far, so good. Just got in late last night. Good to be here at Shaky Knees.
Blue Indian: Well, there are a lot of excited people around that you guys are in town. How’s your past year been on the road?
Matt: It’s been amazing. This is kind of the very end of it all promoting Hummingbird, last year was 10 months of insane amounts of touring. And we just did a six-week run around the U.S. and Canada, we just finished last week. We’re looking forward to doing a milder version of the festival circuit this summer.
Nik: Yeah, we’re trying to scale it back just a little because we’ve been gone for so long.
Blue Indian: Talk about how Hummingbird was so unique and different. Did you guys go about it differently than Gorilla Manor?
Matt: It was interesting. We were coming off Gorilla Manor and that was a record, you know like they always say, you have your whole life to make your first record…and we’d been playing those songs live forever, we just went into the studio and recorded them pretty quickly. With Hummingbird, we had taken a break after Gorilla Manor and we had lost a member, so there was this weird transitional phase where we were trying to figure out how to approach a new album this time around. We holed up back in LA, found this awesome little practice studio we built up on our own, and spent close to a year in our studio, writing and demoing out songs. That was our 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Working on new music, working on artwork, whatever it was. Then when it came down to it, we eventually decided to scope out producers and see who we would record with, and where we’d actually record the record.
Blue Indian: Who did you end up working with?
Matt: We’d been in touch with the guys from The National, we’d done a little tour with them, hit it off really well with one of the twins, Aaron Dessner. He became a mentor to us and we ended up bringing him onboard, he ended up producing the record, and went out to his studio in Brooklyn, NY and lived there for most of the summer 2012 just making and recording the record. It was great.
Blue Indian: It isn’t just great, it’s phenomenal. What have been some of your favorite spots to play on your six-week spring tour?
Nik: The Ryman in Nashville. We’d never even been there before, and we’ve heard about it for so long. It was such a historical and magical place.
Matt: It was definitely a bucketlist venue.
Nik: We all thought we just didn’t deserve to be there.
Matt: We’ve played The Orange Peel a couple times, Asheville’s always a cool place. The first half of the tour was interesting because we were opening for Kings of Leon. On scale, it was a level of touring we’d never done before. We were playing arenas, huge productions. They have like ten semi’s and eight muscle, it’s insane. In LA we got to play The Forum, which was pretty cool, something we didn’t think we’d be playing for many years to come. That’s a legendary arena/venue now, so that was cool to play there and to get a peek into that whole world.
Nik: It’s another whole level that we didn’t know.
Blue Indian: I typically watch your “Breakers” music video almost every other day because it’s that good; you guys have fun filming it?
Matt: That was the first song we decided to release for Hummingbird. We have a friend named Jaffe Zinn who was originally a good friend of Taylor’s and became a friend of ours, and he’s this awesome filmmaker, he use to live in LA, he lives in Seattle now, and he has a fantastic eye. We worked with him and basically had all these grandiose visions what we were going to make the video into. We had this storyline and all these ideas that really didn’t pan out how we wanted…to make like a cohesive story and narrative. So, we basically ended up taking the best part of all our ideas and filming stuff that looked cool. Made it a surrealist kind of weird thing, we were really stoked on how it came out and thought it fit the song really well. It was fun to make, throwing any and every idea at the wall and seeing what stuck.
Blue Indian: What are some of your musical influences as a band?
Nik: I can speak for all of us, we’re really excited about the new The War On Drugs album, Lost In The Dream and Future Islands’ Single, were all really excited about them and think they’re both awesome.
Matt: That new The Horrors album, Luminous, just came out. I’ve been checking that out a lot lately. You need to check it out.
Nik: And that new Lykke Li, No One Ever Loved is awesome right now.
Blue Indian: Thank you guys for sitting down and chatting real fast. Can’t wait for y’all to blow up the Peachtree Stage later this afternoon.
Matt: Cool. Thanks for the chat.
Nik: Yeah, thanks man. Looking forward to a great afternoon.
Local Natives – “Breakers”