Local Natives drummer discusses creating band’s unique sound


After playing nine shows during 2009’s South by Southwest (SXSW), the Local Natives garnered enough attention for their music careers to take off. 

Local Natives drummer Matt Frazier said it is hard to put a label on the band’s sound, though they are often compared to Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear.

“We go under the umbrella of indie band, whatever that means,” Frazier said. “It is hard to define us. We are very percussion driven. We don’t really have a lead singer – we have three guys that sing in unison, quite a bit in harmony.”

Though Frazier couldn’t define the group’s sound, due to the group’s success gained at 2009’s SXSW, others seemed to have no trouble latching on. Local Natives’ debut album, “Gorilla Manor,” debuted on the Billboard 200 chart and was able to capture the No. 3 spot on the New Artist chart.

Frazier said though there was some buzz and expressed interest, the band was not prepared for the reception by the music world and its success.

“There is no way to prepare for it,” Frazier said. “You just kind of hope that it happens, and it did for us.”

Though “Gorilla Manor” was a self-produced album, the band pulled in The National’s guitarist, Aaron Dessner, to help produce the second album, “Hummingbird.” It’s a move Frazier said he and the band are happy they made. 

“We toyed with the idea of having someone come in and produce, but it can be a little daunting to bring someone else into the process creatively,” he said. “We did a short run with The National and we really hit it off with some of the guys. While on the road, we picked Aaron’s brain a little bit and he had a lot of insight and a lot of things to offer us.”

Now, a little over a year after their sophomore release, the group is still finding new ways to create music. 

Local Natives is known for being a collaborative band, from its music to the album art. The band not only took the step of bringing a producer in for the second album, but they are now also reaching out to fans to collaborate with. 

On the one year anniversary of “Hummingbird,” the band put the stems of their songs on their website and called out to fans to remix them and leave a fan stamp on their music. 

“It has been really cool to see people get excited and want to collaborate and make new music using our songs. There has been some really good music to come out of it,” he said. “We did something a little similar on our first record, but we are just doing it on a grander scale this time. The biggest thing to us was getting fans involved and engaged and keeping them interested.” 

The band hopes to further increase its fan base as it is now on tour, opening for Kings of Leon. 

“These are the biggest shows we have ever done before,” he said. “The awesome thing for us is that it puts us in front of a bunch of people who might not have heard from us and hopefully there are a few new people walking away from the show as fans.” 

The band usually performs in smaller state arenas and festivals. 

Frazier said it is hard to choose whether he prefers performing in festivals or being on tour because they both bring different exciting experiences.

“Festivals are awesome,” he said. “It is almost like a band summer camp where you see all of the same people and play with a lot of other awesome artists. The festivals usually involve a lot of large crowds and it is kind of similar to what we are doing now with Kings of Leon.”

He said though there is a lot of unique experiences involved with festivals, there is something he finds even more appealing in smaller venues.

 “There is this incredible energy in the room when we perform in a smaller venue,” he said. “Everyone has heard your music and you can tell they are really excited.” 

The band will perform at State Theatre in St. Pete on April 16. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance or $22 at the door.