Whilst “enjoying a nice day at home in LA”, Ryan Hahn from Local Natives takes some time to speak to Tone Deaf’s Natalie Foster about life, inspiration and band dynamic. While the band have spent their time splitting up the interviews, Hahn got Tone Deaf and was “stoked”.
Hahn, and the rest of the Local Natives haven’t been to Australia as a band before but Ryan’s visit during his childhood suggests that for him, the tour means nothing but excitement. They’ve “always heard Australia is a great place for bands and [that] people just love new bands and go wild for new music in general”.
Making an odd segue, you can’t help but ask for meaning behind the evil koala at the end of their Wide Eyes film clip. He laughs and says, “It stems from a silly idea I had. I’ve just got this irrational fear of sharks and that was the directors’ idea at the end to bring in another animal and what better than an unassuming, cute, little koala? I think I saw one at a zoo when I was there. They don’t seem very frightening.” For all the diehard fans, if you look at the video carefully, you’ll see a few of the boys hanging around at a pool party playing extras.
When Local Natives released their album, “Gorilla Manor” it became the top pick for so many in 2010. But it’s not just the music that makes this album so incredible – the cover art was self-designed and it is really fucking cool. The creative mind behind it was Andy. He designed the album artwork and Matt helped him with placing text and stuff. We all do our own posters and what-not. I think Andy did a great job” [on the album art].
However, the poster that comes with the record was designed by Matt. “I don’t know who took the photo but he had it on his computer the day after we had this giant food fight and he just fucked with it and made it look like his head was exploding.”
Of all the things you can read about Local Natives, it’s surprising to hear that that the band “don’t live together anymore”. As it happens, “That was just for the writing of the first record. It’s kind of weird to be honest – everyone lives apart. We all live within a mile of each other but everyone has their own housing situation right now. Andy and Matt still live together but they are the only two guys”.
You kind of have to wonder “Was it a constant jam session?”
“It was. That was the beauty of it – it was our first time living together so anytime you wanted to work on something you’d just be like “oh I have this new idea”. You’d basically just sit down in the living room and hash it out for a few hours because everyone in the band is right there.”
When hearing their own music, Hahn can’t remember the last time he sat down and listened to the record. “But we’ve been kind of fortunate because we’ve had a lot of people remix our songs and that’s been really fun to hear them in a new light.” If you head to the Local Natives website, you can actually download the stems to the songs on their album, remix them and upload them for the band and others to hear. Hahn says that he and his bandmates “love hearing that!”
On working together and developing their sound, Ryan, Kelsey and Taylor had been playing together for a few years already. “We knew what each other were about musically [and] we know each others voices [so well] that we write out a harmony and already know who’s going to sing what part. I think while we were living together it got more cohesive and we figured out the things that were strong points for us – the harmonies and the drums and the different rhythms. I think that’s when we realised we had something cohesive and unique. I like that fact that we switch off lead vocals so that different songs can have a different texture.”
When it comes to influences, Ryan is sure that Animal Collective played a big role for every member of the band. “When we all started listening to them, [they became] a huge influence on the drumming side of things but we wanted to do it without the use of electronics” So with Kelsey and Matt being two of “the best drummers [Hahn has] ever seen”, they create some of the most epic drum breakdowns you’ve ever witnessed and to help them out, Hahn and Andy are also pretty good on the drums themselves. “When we used to practice in the early days, everyone would leave their equipment at my house so I would come home from school and just play drums for an hour and then play bass for an hour and just knock around on all the different instruments.”
Local Natives are one of the hot bands on the amazing line up at the Laneway Festival around Australia over the next week, as well as headlining their own shows in Melbourne and Sydney.
Tuesday 8 February CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE 18+
Ticketek 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au
Corner Hotel 03 9427 9198 or www.cornerhotel.com
Thursday 10 February METRO THEATE, SYDNEY 18+
Ticketek 132 849 or www.ticketek.com.au