Local Natives will perform at Auckland's the Tuning Fork on July 22. Photo / Supplied

Local Natives Return Home To L.A's Violet Street With Fourth Album

Get to know the indie rock band, who are set to perform in New Zealand for the first time

With a sold-out show at Los Angeles’s Palladium theatre, Local Natives, Californian’s indie rock heroes, wrapped the American leg of their worldwide tour with an explosion of confetti.

Taylor Rice, one-fifth of the band and lead singer, is just pleased they’ve pulled it off this time.

“We usually mess it up and put the L.A. show right at the start of the tour,” says Taylor.

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“It happens when we don’t know how to play the songs yet and have to perform in front of all our friends and family. We finally put the big hometown show at the end and it was just incredible — more than we could have asked for.”

Local Native’s fourth album, Violet Street, released in April, features L.A as an important character. Songs are inspired by the realisations the band had trailing Big Sur’s rugged coastline and situated on top of Elysian Park. 

Two years since their last album, Sunlit Youth, it pushes new experimental sounds led by super-producer Shaun Everett, who is known for his work with Alabama Shakes and Kacey Musgraves.

The band spent over two months making the album at Shaun’s studio — that kind of time is a rarity for bands these days — in the arts district of downtown Los Angeles right off Violet St, which the album is named after. The band’s global ‘Spiral Choir Tour’ is named after one of Shaun’s modern production techniques.

“Lately we’d been flying all over the world to make records where you get to leave everything in your life behind. You get to live just in the music. Shaun’s studio became that space for us to live and breathe the record but it was in our home. We were returning each night to our family and friends and I can feel that in the music. It’s more grounded and less detached from our life as a result,” says Taylor.

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With band members now older, hitting 30, and settling into adulthood, the album explores the importance of relationships.

“It’s about figuring out the things that connect us in this very chaotic world. Mostly it’s our relationships, our home with family and friends. There’s expression and freedom on the record but also a feeling that comes from being older, of being tied to the people that we love,” says Taylor.

The track, When Am I Gonna Lose You, which has hit over six million Spotify plays, is a direct example of that, he says, and was inspired by his love for his wife, Mara Roszak. After 49 versions, the song found new life by its completion.

“It began life as a stripped-down song about the feeling of having an incredibly beautiful thing that almost seems too good to be true. There’s a recurring loop that tells you there is no way that this is going to last. Fate is going to intervene or I’m going to mess it up. Over the months of completing it, the song became more triumphant and hopeful,” says Taylor.

With gratitude for their success, Local Natives credit over a decade in the industry to their own band dynamics. Some of its members trace their bond back to school days.

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“This was always our dream as kids and were still living it out. We don’t take it for granted and spend a lot of time on our relationships with each other. We're like family,” says Taylor.

“For us Violet Street has really returned to the roots of us being a band, playing live and improvising off each other in the space. Something that couldn’t be done any another way but being in each other’s company. That’s in the soul in a lot of this record.”

Taylor Rice's current favourites; Weyes Blood Titanic Rising, Fleabag, Piha Beach. Photos / Supplied


Listening: I’ve been hearing how amazing the new Weyes Blood album is and I’ve just started listening to it — it’s so great. I’ve also been obsessed with the Billie Eilish album since it came out. I’ve had to make myself step back a little bit now but just like the rest of the world have had it on repeat. I just think she’s amazing.

Watching: I just finished watching seasons one and two of Fleabag and it’s so genius. I hadn’t even heard about it until this year and now everyone is talking about it. Beautiful, staggering and so smart and funny.

Looking forward to: I’ve never been to New Zealand before and I’m so pumped. My whole life I’ve wanted to go, so most of the band booked a couple of extra days off to extend our visit.

• Local Natives will perform at Auckland's the Tuning Fork on July 22. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster.co.nz

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