‘It’s up to the younger generation to fight back.’ – Hanging out with Local Natives at British Summer Time Hyde Park

The fourth headline show at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park has been a sizzling summer sell-out. Headlined by the iconic Kings of Leon, the line up was formed of rock legends and the hottest alternative bands alike.

LA-based indie rockers Local Natives boasted a mellow set in the sunshine, spreading positivity with songs from their latest album Sunlit Youth. We caught up with them as they came off stage.

You’re fresh off the stage at British Summertime Hyde Park, how was that?

Taylor: Hyde Park really is one of the most iconic places that you can play. We were super excited when we got the offer from Kings of Leon to come and play with them. It was very hot on stage, but so beautiful at the same time.

What are the main differences between U.S. festivals & UK/EU festivals?

Taylor: The UK have so much more heart, they really go for it. There’s more passion and cider and wellies.
Nik: I like a good rain festival. Because it’s pretty rare for it to rain in the U.S.
Taylor: Yeah, if it rains at a U.S. it’s like ‘festival over’. But not in the U.K., people just accept it and go crazy. We feel especially connected to festivals in the U.K. I don’t know if it’s historically accurate that festivals started in the U.K.? With Glastonbury…
Nik: They were born 300 years ago, in the U.K.
Taylor: You think so? Our very first festival was Latitude Festival, that we played before our first record came out. So U.K. festivals are always going to feel special to us.

Talking of lack of rain in the U.S., you guys recently made a documentary about the Colorado River drought. Is that a topic close to your heart?

Taylor: Yeah, we chose talking about the Colorado River and the water crisis there because it affects us (being from Los Angeles). Los Angeles and a lot of the West and the desert wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t for the Colorado River.
Ryan: We’ve been pumping water there for so long, we didn’t necessarily plan for all the millions of people living in the cities. The West is kind of place where humans aren’t supposed to be living.
Taylor: Most people seem to know that climate change is this important issue that we need to be aware of. But it’s cool to zoom in on one particular area and look at how the Colorado River affects the entire water supply of the West. Working with VICE on that documentary was an incredible learning experience for us.
Nik: Yeah, I think in general it’s an important time for us to do anything small we can to help. Rather than just be like, ‘we’re doomed – we’re doomed’.

Is that why Sunlit Youth is such a positive record?

Taylor: Yeah. I think at some point you realise that the world is only the way it is today because people made it that way. It is very complex, but these things we take for granted – it’s up to the younger generation to fight back and say, this is the world as we see it.

Tell us more about the inspiration behind new single ‘I Saw You Close Your Eyes’?

Ryan: The inspiration came from a place of looking around at all these things that are going on, all these issues that we would love to be proactive with. But not doing anything to act on it.
Taylor: There’s a really interesting back and forth between cynicism, optimism and realism.
Ryan: Sometimes people stay quiet when they need to speak up, for political reasons. It’s about that internal battle. Do you do what’s best for everybody? And speak up? Or do you save face?

Are you finding the time to write while you’re on the road?

Taylor: We’ve just begun writing now – more at home than on the road. We do have a trip planned to Mexico to do some writing. We really love writing in that way. Going to a new culture, completely disappearing and living and breathing music together is such a cool, fun and magical way to dedicate ourselves to making music.

Are you open to experimenting without guitars again on the next record?

Taylor: We’re actually having that debate now. Are we going to get more experimental, or less experimental? Writing trips help you detach from all of these pre-conceptions. I think we’re open to following that as a guideline, attempting to be in the moment.

Are there any new artists on your radar that we should be aware of?

Nik: I’m really enjoying SZA. Then there’s a Belgian guy from a band Balthazar who we toured with, who’s released his own solo project called Warhaus, you should check that out.
Ryan: Another singer from Balthazar has released solo material too, just last week, his name is J. Bernardt.
Taylor: So both those guys, Warhaus and J. Bernardt. Go check them out!

What advice would you give to anyone starting out in a band?

Nik: It’s a wild time, it’s changed so much since we started out.
Ryan: There really aren’t many bands anymore, which is an interesting concept.
Nik: It’s kind of exciting, because the “game” has changed so much. It’s changing all the time with streaming, etc.
Ryan: As far as advice goes, try and spend as much time practicing live and getting your live show ready. So many bands get thrust on these massive festival stages so quick. The more ready you are, the better.
Taylor: For us, playing live is always how we’ve gotten fans.
Ryan: And make sure you’re good friends with the people you’re starting a band with! It’s a miracle we haven’t killed each other.
Taylor: Yeah, friendship first above everything else.