Four years ago, with instruments literally in hand, the little known at the time L.A.-based band Local Natives raced from bar to bar to, well, pretty much anywhere that would have them at the sprawling Austin, Texas, music festival, South by Southwest.
The hard work paid off. After performing about 10 shows in a couple of days, Local Natives left with buzz and, eventually, a recording contract with Frenchkiss Records, home to bands such as Passion Pit and The Dodos.
This year, even after selling more than 117,000 copies of their debut LP, Gorilla Manor, and releasing the follow-up, Hummingbird, to critical acclaim, things were only slightly different.
“You [still] have to hustle,” Local Natives drummer Matt Frazier said. “This time we did five shows, and they were spread out enough so it wasn’t like grabbing hands and running across the street.”
Frazier, who spoke to Alive prior to Monday’s show in Nashville, said the raw hunger that led to Local Natives’ hectic South by Southwest inaugural showing and that was so evident on Gorilla Manor songs like “Sun Hands,” is not gone. If anything, that drive simply wasn’t captured on record like it was the first time around.
“[On] the first record, we were a new band and were playing songs from Gorilla Manor for months on end,” he said. “We were used to figuring the songs out live in a room. … [On Hummingbird], we didn’t necessarily learn how to play every song live. We just tried a bit more experimentation.”
That experimentation was inspired by Hummingbird’s producer, Aaron Dessner, of The National. Dessner, Frazier said, encouraged the band to make mistakes and accept first takes to end up with a looser, more human feel to the record.
Now that the band’s touring heavily for Hummingbird, those songs are opening up and taking on a greater sense of urgency.
“We tend to have more energy live than on record, and that translates to the audience,” Frazier said. “We feed off that.”