California dreamin' with The Local Natives

Maybe I have a soft spot for West Coast bands but, well, here’s another one that’s caught my fancy, The Local Natives, one of the bands on the NME Radar Tour, along with Golden Silvers, Marina and the Diamonds and Yes Giantess. A stark contrast to the predominately electronic line up, this five-piece band brings a little L.A. love to the wet and rainy U.K., thrilling audiences with their brand of West Coast feel good music. I caught up with them before their performance at the Manchester leg of the tour and here’s what they had to say for themselves.

MF: I’ve got two members of The Local Natives here with me, would you like to introduce yourselves?

I’m Kelsey.

And I’m Ryan.

MF: How has the NME Radar Tour been going so far? How has the reaction been?

Ryan: It’s been incredible. This is, what, the third night?

MF: So where were you before?

Ryan: We played Oxford first, and then Sheffield last night.

MF: And it was good, a good reaction from the crowd?

Kelsey: Yeah, I think everybody’s like getting into it. I think we’re a pretty different band on the bill.

MF: Yeah you are. You’re quite a contrast.

Ryan: Yeah, I think we’re the only band that has guitars. But it’s really cool for us to watch all these guys on their keyboards.

Kelsey: But I think the kids that maybe came out for Golden Silvers and Marina and the Diamonds they seem to be able to appreciate what we do as well as what everyone else is doing.

MF: Do you notice a difference between British audiences and American audiences? Is the reaction different? Are they noisier, or do they shout more, or are more reserved?

Ryan: Where we’re from, in Los Angeles, people mostly stand with their arms crossed.

MF: Too cool to show.

Ryan: Exactly.

Kelsey: We play a lot of like 21 and up shows out there, so the crowd we’ve been seeing is like 14, 13 and up, so…

Ryan: I don’t think that’s possible. Maybe 16 and up, I don’t think they’d be allowed to…

Kelsey: I think so. I think some are…

Ryan: Sneaking in, sneaking in.

[Both laugh]

Kelsey: Maybe.

Ryan: But they seem to be enjoying themselves and that’s fun to see.

MF: Can you tell us a bit about the band? So you say you are from L.A. How did you guys get together, and how long have you been together for?

Ryan: In some form or another we’ve been together for about six, seven years. I’ve known this guy (points to Kelsey) and Taylor since high school, and even before that. So, as we are now with Matt and Andy, I’d say it’s three years.

Kelsey: Yeah we’ve been playing with everybody that’s in the band for three years, and we’ve been playing under Local Natives for little over one year.

MF: How would you describe your music? To me, when I hear it, and it’s really hard to explain this to people, but to me it sounds very West Coast. I hear it and I’m like “That’s a West Coast band” Maybe because I’m West Coast myself.

Kelsey: Are you?

MF: I’m from Oregon. And so it just seems West Coast music has a, I don’t know, a warmer, kind of laid back open space kind of feel to it. That’s what I see when I hear your music. Big four lane highways and lots of space.

Kelsey: It’s funny you should say that. It’s like people have been saying that and we just never really thought about that before, but maybe it is a subconscious….

Ryan: ... effect of our surroundings.

MF: I think people are….I mean, there’s the big Manchester music scene here and I think maybe where you live, where you create music, must have some kind of affect on the kind of music you play. But you say you haven’t really noticed, it’s not something you really thought about, it just comes from inside?

Kelsey: It’s not really like a conscious effort to sound like a California band. We’re from our area, Southern California, and I guess it just comes through. Like you say, it’s not very….we didn’t really grow up in a super urban area surrounded by small spaces. It’s all very wide. The roads are huge. Big wide sky. It’s really something that translates to being able to play around the campfires. Not too much like electronics. It’s all very organic.

MF: Yeah it is, it’s a very organic sound.

Ryan: When you think about the Laurel Canyon bands from the late 60’s or whatever, they’re an influence of ours. That’s where that sound came from.

MF: Actually, you’ve just segued really nicely into my next question.

(Kelsey high fives Ryan)

MF: Very good! Brownie points to you. So you said the Laurel Canyon bands, can you name some of the bands that inspired you?

Kelsey: I think there’s a big CSNY (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) influence to it, and obviously we do a lot of harmonies so you hear The Beach Boys immediately…

Ryan: Buffalo Springfield

MF: So more like 60’s, 70’s type groove to it?

Kelsey: Right.

MF: It’s interesting because, I don’t know about Stateside because I’ve been away for so long, but people seem to be going back to the 80’s kind of sound, and it’s nice when there are some bands skipping that era and going back more to like the 60’s and 70’s which to me is a bit more organic.

Ryan: Sure, yeah.

MF: So you have an album coming out soon, is that right? When can we expect that?

Kelsey: November 2nd. In the UK it’s being released off of Infectious Music and it drops the 2nd. The single ‘Camera Talk’ drops on October 19th. And we’re really excited. This record has been in the making for the last six years.

MF: Oh really? A labour of love then.

Ryan: Yeah, we recorded most of it over a year ago, and then we funded it ourselves. And we had pretty much a year talking to people, talking to managers and all that and getting it going. And in the meantime we were writing songs, so we’ve since recorded four more as recently as last month. So finally we got the label situated over here, and finally it’s going to be released over here, which is nice.

Kelsey: And all we’re looking for now is a label to release it in the U.S. And hopefully that will be early next year.

MF: Fantastic. Because what I’ve heard so far I really love and I’m really looking forward to hearing more.

Ryan: Thank you.

Kelsey: I think people from Oregon will like it.

MF: Yeah. I think everyone is going to like it.

Kelsey: Thanks.

MF: I don’t know, to me it just feels like an album from home. Maybe one of the reason why I like it. But also it’s just beautiful music. So your future plans, to get the album released obviously, and what else?

Ryan: We’re busy. Which is exciting.

Kelsey: Yeah I would imagine that we’ll just be touring and touring for like the rest of time [Laughs]. I mean, this is the career that we wanted, it’s starting to rev up. We’re touring up until the beginning of December and then mid January we come back out here, in this area, and then from there, who knows?

Ryan: We do have some definitive plans, which is cool. We’re going to CMJ (New York's CMJ Music Marathon), as soon as we’re done with this run. And were going on tour with The White Rabbits, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but they’re a group we really like and we’re going to do a couple of dates on the West Coast. And then a nationwide tour with Edward Sharpe and Fool’s Gold.

Kelsey: Both L.A. bands. So a lot of L.A. love. Spread our L.A. music around.

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