Last year, Local Natives battered SXSW with nine shows in three days, ultimately leading to a record deal in the U.K., followed by a tour. This year, the L.A. five-piece is gaining traction stateside, thanks to a debut album stocked with sturdy indie-rock arrangements and a touring schedule that slots them in multiple states on the same day.
The Local Natives start with a foundation of sunny melodies worthy of their home town, then craft a style that bleeds northward for a sound that is distinctly West Coast: On Gorilla Manor the band lays out three-part harmonies reminiscent of fellow Angelenos Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, bolstered by propulsive, tribal beats akin to San Francisco's Dodos, with woodsy vocal rhythms that recall the Pacific Northwest's Fleet Foxes. We stole a moment recently with Colorado native Andy Hamm in the midst of a hectic tour to discuss Los Angeles, the art of collaboration, and moustaches.
Westword: You're closely identified with the borough of Silver Lake; how would you describe that scene?
Andy Hamm: Like New York or Austin or any big city, there are so many musicians and artists in the area. You get these certain parts where everyone groups together, and Silver Lake is one of those very artist-friendly parts of Los Angeles. There's always some art event or concert or social gathering going on, so it's treating us very well.
You all live together in the same house. Does this lead to a constant collaborative approach to making music?
We've been friends for a while, and we'd been making music together before Local Natives was ever born, but we all lived in different places, and our priorities were different. We just realized that if we were going to be a band together, we needed to be around each other. We make our best music when we're constantly writing and constantly bouncing ideas off each other, so we all moved in together and hunkered down for a while, and the album came out of that experience.
Your album art, website and blog have a unique visual feel. Do you do all of your own artwork, and did you design it to say something about the music or the band?
Yeah, it's all done by us. I think the album cover really embodied something that we were going through as a group, which I guess on the surface is just our heads exploding. But it was more the idea of balancing our friendship with this passion for making music; it's not really the easiest thing to mix those two. There's a lot of butting heads and trust issues and nervousness. I thought that the imagery conjured up the fun that we had producing these songs while acknowledging that we were complicating things by taking this chance and putting this together.
Which one of you has that bitchin' moustache?
That's Taylor Rice.
Is there a name for that style of moustache?
I have no idea what you call that.