Local Natives on New Album Hummingbird: "It's A Very Personal Record For Us"
Mushrooms and vines: those were the things poking through cracks in the walls and crawling out from underneath the sink when Local Natives began to clear out the abandoned bungalow on Sunset that would eventually become their new studio space.
Formerly a tattoo parlor, the seemingly forsaken spot had immense potential for Taylor Rice, Kelcey Ayer, Ryan Hahn, and Matt Frazier when they did some detective work shortly after returning to Los Angeles from tour. "Basically, the landlord was this musician who came over from Ireland 15 or 20 years ago, and he owned a bunch of bars in LA," says Rice. "It didn't make sense for him to rent it, but he saw us as these musicians who could really use his help. He worked with us to clear the place out. We worked on the place for two months and completely rehabilitated it. It's not a common thing for us to be out there with power tools and 2x4s, so that was a great exercise for us to do before we got into a creative space again."
After soundproofing the walls and lugging the gear into the revived abode, Local Natives set about writing Hummingbird, the follow-up to 2010's Gorilla Manor. Extensive touring--treks to Japan, a handful of Radio 1 tapings in the UK, supporting gigs for Arcade Fire and the National, laps on both the international festival and late night television circuits--kept the guys out of the studio, as every presented opportunity proved to be more tempting than the last for the up-and-coming indie band. Eight months at their spot on Sunset and a few sessions with Aaron Dessner (of the National) later, Hummingbird was ready for open ears exactly two years after the release of their debut .
Stylistically, Hummingbird picks up where Gorilla Manor left off, with the playful banter of guitars, dueling falsettos and a dependably hyperactive barrage of sharp drum hits keeping the pulse up in between meditative sojourns. "There are these really bare moments where there isn't a lot going on and a ton of space," says Rice of the differences he hears between the two records. "A couple of songs don't have any harmonies on them at all. At the same time, we have a couple of songs that are by far the most expansive and layered and orchestrated of anything that we've done. We've pushed ourselves outward in both directions musically."
See also: Rob Harvilla's Top 10 Albums Of 2010