Local Natives graced us at Shaky Knees with their glorious presence on the final day of the fest, the last to play the Peachtree Stage before the day’s headliner, The Alabama Shakes. Luckily for us (and for you readers, actually), the band also graced us with an interview to discuss their too-short Shaky Knees experience, their favorite live song (and why they want to top it), as well as what’s coming for the band.
VM: I read that you said “Sun Hands” is the your favorite song to end every show. Why do you think that is? Do you think you will always end with that song?
Taylor Rice: “Sun Hands” is the song that we are able to completely let go and allow things to get completely unhinged. It’s a personal goal of mine to unseat it as our show closer as we’re writing our next album.
VM: Did you get anything good on Record Store Day this year?
Kelcey Ayer: We were in Charlotte, NC on Record Store Day, and we heard Lunch Box Records was a sweet little spot to check out. When we got there however, there was a line of about a hundred people going out the door and down the street. Apparently Bruce Springsteen tweeted that he might go (he had the rival show in town), so it was rammed, on top of all the normal RSD madness. We tried and failed, but we tried just the same! F*cking Bruce Springsteen, man.
VM: Who were you most excited to see at Shaky Knees in Atlanta this year? Did you stay the whole weekend?
TR: Alabama Shakes. I saw them play once at a German festival we played together last summer and was blown away by how great Brittany’s voice is live.
KA: I wish we had been there the whole weekend. Spoon played on Friday, and we’re all the biggest Spoon fans. We just got off a six-week tour, so we went on a little vacation afterwards that went right up until the Sunday we played.
VM: What do you like about playing at festivals, as opposed to playing regular shows? Which do you prefer?
TR: At a festival, you’re dealing with this huge mass of kids before you who did not necessarily buy a ticket to see you play. There’s a willingness there, but they won’t just give it up for you; you have to win them over. I like feeling that edge in and amongst a big crowd.
KA: Festivals give you a chance to play in front of bunch of new people, so that’s fun to bring your A-game and try to prove yourself. I prefer regular shows though, because you get to have your own lights, all your own equipment (if you’re flying into a festival, you have to rent amps/drums you’ve never used before), you can play whatever you want instead of cater to a crowd who has never heard you; you basically get to put on, what you think in your head is, the perfect show. Our fans are there and on our side, and it just doesn’t get better than when you feel in absolute unity with the audience, and everyone is going ape-sh*t.
VM: You have a little over a week between Shaky Knees and your next show in Santa Barbara – what are your plans during that time?
KA: We’re trying to get our practice space in Los Angeles up and running again so we can start writing for the third record. I’m not sure how far we’ll get this week, but it helps that the next show is in Santa Barbara, so that’s super close to us.
TR: We’re making music, getting ourselves ready to bring another album out of the mist.
VM: How has response been to Hummingbird in comparision to response to Gorilla Manor – how are the albums different? Some bands consider their new material to be a continuation of the same sound, while others are constantly trying to evolve/experiment/change their sound – which mindset do you relate more to, and what is your writing process like?
TR: Hummingbird is a more intimate album. It was a very cathartic record to make for us, and deals with facing some existential crises we were going through; realizing that the music we make is now our full time job, long term relationships falling apart, and death. We relate more to feeling that our style and music is always evolving and changing. We have a constant need to push each other and ourselves to do something we’ve never done before. That’s all done within the small universe of who we are, so I’m sure there are lots of similarities between records.
KA: We definitely relate more to evolution. I think that’s pretty obvious when comparing the two albums; they were written in very different times in our lives, and we just look up to artists that don’t have a consistent sound. The Beatles, Bowie, Radiohead, Damon Albarn; guys like that, who find their genius by fucking with the formula. I love that. Comparing the responses between a debut record and a sophomore one seems like apples and oranges to me. On your first record, there is an excitement, because you’re a new band who no one has ever heard before, and they can’t compare it to anything you’ve done, because it’s the only thing you’ve done. But on the second album, everyone already has expectations and has the first record to compare it to. I think people weren’t expecting Hummingbird, so it threw some people off, since it’s a bit darker in content and sonically less ‘plug-in-and-play’ and more ‘plug-in-and-add-something-then-f*ck-with-it.’
VM: What is next for Local Natives?
KA: We’re doing a few smaller festivals over the summer, but the main focus is going to be trying to work on the third record. I’m over the moon about where we are in our career, in our heads, mentally, and just about overall life. I think that’s going to show on the record. It feels time to be happy again.
TR: It’s time to conjure another record out of ourselves, and we’re getting set up for that. We’ve already teased out a bunch of pieces.
Emily is an over-enthusiastic lover of music, books, movies, fashion, and culture in general. Her love of music spans across all genres (what is a genre anymore? she waxes poetic to herself), though she was nursed on true punk and will never understand “redneck country” music – tractors are not and cannot be sexy. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and considers herself to be a great wit, though she is still waiting on validation from a credible source.