17.07.2019

Almost 15 years together and immersive rockers Local Natives are stronger than ever

Words by Anna Rose

They called the writing experience their most collaborative yet, but for Local Natives vocalist Taylor Rice, latest album Violet Street had far more personal connotations.

Being able to return and rediscover one another not only in terms of their friendship but their professional creative directions, Local Natives, Rice says, stand together in a different way these days as a musical unit. “A lot of it is how we as people change in our relationships, and we’re so close now, we’ve been artistic collaborators for such a long time that’s just such a primary part of our relationship to each other.

“That’s as big as any part of what it means for us all to say, ‘Okay; what is the next era for us as a band?’ In that discovery process, we have to be vulnerable and take each other’s hand and go into that together.”

In talking of discovery and the next era for the band, Local Natives have been rolling out some remixes of their amazing single, ‘When Am I Gonna Lose You’. It’s already an incredibly luscious song, but according to Rice, the song was capable of living in other domains. “This song, especially for me, was such an obsession – I also got our producer, Shawn Everett to go down the rabbit hole with me – there were over 40 exported versions of it before we finalised it.

“It has so many different expressions and we were excited to see what other electronic artists would do with the remix. The song ended up having a hopefulness and expansive energy to it – but the song started really stripped, really sad – a song of heartbreak and regret.

With such personal and coveted links to not only that one song, but the entirety of Violet Street, it’ll be interesting to see how it transfers to the live stage, particularly when Local Natives perform at Splendour in the Grass and a few sideshows along the way. So how exactly does Rice expect to approach their live shows? “We’re just finishing a US tour,” he begins. “We have a philosophy with performing songs live that we allow the songs to be their own entities. We let them have their own life and tell us where to go.

“A lot of times songs become way more energetic and wild and unhinged, then sometimes it’s the opposite – sometimes a song will really mellow out, maybe stripped back to just a piano and singing, it really works well.

“Each song takes its own journey and evolves over the course of a tour.”

Here it’s not just a question of writing a song and putting it out, over the journey, Local Natives are constantly rediscovering their own music, whether it be from Gorilla Manor or as recent as Sunlit Youth. “You work so hard in an album and have heard it a thousand times while you’re making it, it then comes out and you’re doing it all again.

“Say a song from our first album, I’ll hear it come on somewhere and I’ll barely recognise it – it’s so weird, because the song has changed so much. The first day of its life is when it comes out, then I don’t recognise it over the years, it’s grown up.”

Local Natives drop Down Under for a special show at The Espy on Saturday July 20 (sold out). They’ll also play Splendour in the Grass when it goes down from Friday July 19 to Sunday July 21.