Local Natives will play Kilby Court on May 22.
Local Natives are the indie darlings du jour. They recently signed to Frenchkiss Records, and have been receiving incredibly favorable reviews from just about every publication that writes about music. With melodic indie-rock boasting harmonies that even Grizzly Bear would be jealous of, it’s easy to see why they have become the talk of the town. Recorded in a little over a month, Gorilla Manor was released in the UK about six months ago, but has only recently been gaining much attention in the U.S. (much like Hasselhoff, Germans love them). The songs are sincere, catchy and certainly deserving of the attention they are finally receiving. While they have been traversing the dreary European countryside, we have been listening to their album preparing for the summer (and the festivals) to which they may possibly provide the soundtrack. As their European tour wound down, they found some time to talk to SLUG.
SLUG: You guys started as the band Cavil at Rest, I checked it out and it was surprisingly different than your Local Natives stuff for being so recent. What brought about these changes?
Ryan Hahn: We were like 18 years old. Maturity, getting older. Most of the stuff you probably heard, we were in high school. I think we changed the name because the songs we were writing were so different that they warranted a different name.
SLUG: “Sun Hands” (from Gorilla Manor) was on that first Cavil at Rest album. Did it appeal to your old fans?
RH: I think so, probably for different reasons. I think maybe the noisier element of it came across differently back then. It always went over well live. It’s kind of funny, that song is really old, I guess we kind of built the new sound around that song.
SLUG: I noticed the Talking Heads cover “Warning Sign” on Gorilla Manor. After David Byrne’s collaboration with Dirty Projectors, is that something you guys have thought about seeking out?
RH: We just found out through friends of friends that David Byrne heard our cover and that he really enjoyed it. So that was just mind blowing for us. Yeah, we would definitely like to do some collaborations. It has never really crossed my mind as a real option.
SLUG: You guys have been getting called afro-beat an awful lot (even by Rolling Stone) and have drawn quite a few comparisons to Vampire Weekend. What do you guys think of these descriptions?
RH: It is kind of silly. I don’t think any of us really have ever listened to any afro-beat music, and I don’t know if we can even name any artists. I don’t really see that comparison.
SLUG: Do you feel any pressure because of your recent critical acclaim?
RH: It has been amazing that people have been paying attention to us. Every show just seems more important and more exciting for us. We’ve been in Europe the past few months while the record was being released, so we haven’t really got to feel what has been going on in the U.S. It is really exciting.
SLUG: How did you guys come to be on Frenchkiss?
RH: There are two guys on Frenchkiss that run it, and they came to a couple of our shows, one that we played in New York and at SXSW. They came and saw us when we played in England, and we just sort of developed a relationship. The guys that run it are just awesome. They really get it, it’s a perfect fit.
SLUG: You guys are on the festival circuit this year, any dates you are particularly excited for?
RH: All of them, it sounds cliché, but it is a dream come true. We’ve all gone to Coachella growing up ... so I know that will kind of be a milestone for our band.
SLUG: You guys recorded this album pretty quickly. Are you working on anything new for 2010?
RH: Yeah, we were just talking about it. We are always writing, and there are a bunch of things floating around, but we really haven’t had any time to work on them. We were talking about maybe sitting down after SXSW and working on some stuff, maybe demoing some stuff.
SLUG: You guys started to build a following and taste a little success over in Europe. Any place overseas that you were particularly well received?
RH: Holland, Sweden and France. We’ve been playing to packed rooms, in Holland of all places.
SLUG: Excited to be coming back to the states?
RH: I have never felt so homesick, it’s going to be great, even just to see the sun. It has been raining like 90 percent of the time we have been out here.
There will be droves of the Pitchfork hipster types listing Gorilla Manor as one of their top albums of the year, and for good reason. Their music displays a wide-eyed optimism, not to be confused with naïveté, and it is certainly infectious. Come check them out at Kilby Court on May 22.