Indie rockers Local Natives look beyond the buzz

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJune 12, 2013 

BRYAN SHEFFIELD

  • WHEN: 8 p.m. June 18

    WHERE: Music Farm, 32 Ann St., Charleston

    COST: $20; $22 at the door

    DETAILS: www.musicfarm.com/event/234823-local-natives-charleston

After the release of their successful -- and self-funded -- debut album, "Gorilla Manor," put Los Angeles-based indie rock quartet Local Natives on the map, one might assume the band would feel the weight of lofty expectations as they headed into the studio to work on their second LP.

But guitarist Kelcey Ayer said the band paid little attention to the Internet buzz or to bloggers eagerly awaiting details about their followup effort.

Any pressure they felt came entirely from within New York recording studio where the band worked on its second LP, "Hummingbird," which was released in late January, he said.

"The only pressure was the pressure we put on ourselves," Ayer said. "It was really about the four of us in a room ... and you hope it goes well and that people like the record and it's well-received but, for us, it was more about doing something that we'd be stoked about and we feel really good about the record. It's a good step forward for us as a band."

Co-produced by Aaron Dessner of The National and recorded in Dessner's New York City studio, the album has what "Rolling Stone" magazine music critic Jon Dolan called "an undercurrent of stormy emotionalism" and "vents pillowy angst in vivid detail as minimalist synth surges." Fans were similarly taken by the album, which sat at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 last week and No. 3 on its Independent Albums chart.

The band will perform July 18 at the Music Farm in Charleston as part of a brief U.S. tour before heading overseas to play Europe's massive summer music festival circuit, including gigs at Glastonbury and T in the Park in England and Sweden's Way Out West Festival.

Ayer discusses playing those festivals, re-creating some of the more synth-heavy songs on "Hummingbird" in concert and Spotify.

Question. The new album features some pretty minimalist synth sounds on certain songs and some other, darker elements that were more or less absent from "Gorilla Manor," have those songs been hard to replicate live?

Answer. You know, they have been easier to create than I would have thought. We were able to figure things out and work out some samples and some different parts on the drums. To be honest, the process of trying to re-create (the album) is really fun.

Q. Do you have a favorite song off "Hummingbird" to perform?

A. I really love playing "Bowery" right now. It's got a lot of emotion and intensity when we play it live. There are even parts that don't even have words or lyrics ... just the flow of it gets me every time. There are parts of that song that feel really huge and parts that feel really small and quiet that really puts me in this place where I kind of get lost in the song. Those are the best moments during any show.

Q. You guys recently recorded a session for Spotify while in Sweden, what do you think of services like Spotify?

A. It's such a hard thing. Yeah, it would've been much easier to be a band 15 years ago when you could make a record and play live and get money from both. That's not how it is now. We don't rely on record sales at all and sure, Spotify might have something to do with that but on the other hand, I use Spotify. It's really awesome to use to check out bands and having all of that music at your fingertips. Sure, you could opt not to put your stuff on Spotify but they're trying to get people to listen to music and we'd never want to get in the way of that. Someone might hear your stuff on Spotify and decide they want to buy a ticket to see you live. It's a give and take.

Q. You guys are playing a lot of huge festivals this summer, including Glastonbury and Lollapalooza in Chicago, do you like playing those dates?

A. There are so many great things about playing those festival dates, but we're fortunate enough to do those shows and do club dates, too. I'm a huge sucker for slow jams, and festivals are not the place for that. I prefer club dates to festival. We can do more deep cuts from the record because we know the people there bought tickets for that show and we know we're playing for our fans and to people that know the music. You're not playing to people that maybe you have to win over like you do at a festival where it seems everyone came to see a different group of bands.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.

Watch Local Natives perform "Breakers" on "The Late Show With David Letterman"

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