The melodic SoCal singers Local Natives have brought their A-game this year with the release of their debut album “Gorilla Manor” and an extreme touring schedule to boot. The band’s drummer Matt Frazier talked with The State Press about success, songwriting and his ideal collaborations.
State Press: How did your series of performances at the SXSW Festival (which takes place annually in March in Austin, Texas) help launch you guys into the spotlight?
Matt Frazier: Well, we had done it the past two years, and both times have been really beneficial in different ways. The festival itself is a really great thing for unknown and upcoming bands to network and get any sort of exposure.
In June 2009 we had just finished most of our album and we had this little five-song sampler. We had been playing across the country a little bit, but we were playing in tiny places with five people. We heard that SXSW was a good way to go about it, and so we went out there and played as many shows as we possibly could.
It ended up working out in a way that we never would have expected because a lot of people from the U.K. and European music industry came to a lot of our shows. We started getting a lot of attention over there, and we actually released our record there first.
In 2010, it was very beneficial because we had just released the record in the States finally. It helped us catapult into the tour of the U.S. It was a really great thing for us. I definitely would recommend it to any new bands.
SP: The band has an unbelievable talent for songwriting and harmonizing, which are both showcased very well throughout the whole “Gorilla Manor” album, but particularly on the song “Sun Hands.” How did that song come to be, and what was the process like when you guys wrote that songs?
MF: It’s funny … that song is actually the oldest song on the record. We wrote it about four years ago, maybe even longer. It’s just one of those songs that stuck the best; most of the other songs are less than two years old.
I think our whole writing process is a little different from most bands just because it’s such a collaboration. Five people are working it out instead of one or two [being] in charge of the song writing.
Taylor had a rough version of the song where he wrote it out on an acoustic guitar. He had the basic melodies. From there, we came up with the beat and bass line. I think the last thing we did on that song was adding the harmonies and the chorus and whatnot. Taylor brought the skeleton to the band, and we all kind of turned it into something very different.
SP: Let’s discuss the music video for “World News.” You set up a perfect looking picnic and a band of four old men that are led by a singing little boy. Meanwhile, the picnic turns into a party where these chicks are getting showered with red Gatorade. How did you guys come up with the idea for that video?
MF: It was a friend of ours, Matthew Lessner. He had done a couple of friends’ bands’ videos that we liked, and he was highly recommended by certain people. He had the basic idea, and then we collaborated on the idea and added bits and pieces. The video itself is borderline nonsensical. We had all these different scenarios, scenes and visuals that we wanted to incorporate and work them all together in a way that was somewhat cohesive.
SP: At the end of 2009, you toured with Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Is there anyone else you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
MF: There’s this band from Brooklyn called Bear in Heaven that we’ve been trying to bring on tour with us, but it hasn’t worked out because of their scheduling. They’ve become really good friends of ours. We really like them a lot. We’ve been talking about future stuff for hopefully the end of this year, or next year.
Personally, for recording purposes, I would love to work with Nigel Godrich, who produced all the Radiohead records. That’s something of a dream. I’m a huge fan of his work and I think he would be a really interesting fit for us.
SP: Speaking of collaborations, Lewis Pesacov of Fool’s Gold remixed your song “Wide Eyes” while you were on tour together. What do you think of having other artists remix your music and taking it to another level? Is it more of an honor or do you prefer your work untouched?
MF: We’re 100 percent supportive of that. We put up all of our stems on our site. We have a separate [page on our] site solely for stems and remixes. It’s free for anyone to go and download those stems and make their own version of our songs. We’re obviously really supportive of that. It’s a way to keep people interested and engaged. I’m just flattered that people are spending time to remix our songs. I find it to be an amazing thing.
SP: The band has played quite a few festivals this year, and you’re scheduled to play some more pretty soon. What’s the difference to you guys between playing to a festival audience versus playing to an audience at a typical gig?
MF: It’s totally different. Festival [audiences] tend to be much bigger, obviously. Usually at a festival, there’s a small group of people who know who you are really well, but the majority of the crowd is people checking you out for the first time, or people who have never even heard of you. That’s different from when you’re playing your own show, when everyone is there to see your band.
We’ve done a couple of festivals over the summer, and it’s really an amazing experience. We’ve been lucky to play some really amazing festivals. Just to be in so many settings and taking it all in and being on stage. … For instance, we were up in Washington [at the Sasquatch Music Festival], and that venue is just incredible. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to play a show.
I find it a little overwhelming at times to be at some of these festivals, especially like Coachella. We’re from southern California, and we’ve all been to Coachella before as fans. Getting to play Coachella is almost like a dream, so finally getting the opportunity to do it so was really, really exciting.
SP: You guys have a busy tour schedule ahead of you. What else do you folks have coming up?
MF: In September, we start a U.S. tour, which will probably be about seven weeks till the end of October. That’ll take us all the way from Los Angeles to New York. From there, we go back to the U.K. and Europe, and we’re going to do our own headlining shows for another month over there.
I think December is the end of the crazy straight year and a half of touring. Hopefully we’ll have some downtime in December or January to catch our breath and then start working on the next record. We’re itching to write again.
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