Photo by Drew Escriva

Local Natives spin pure chaos cacophony into dreamy indie rock

The L.A. band takes on a new recording process and re-imagines album promotion with their fourth album, Violet Street.

Four years after their last album, L.A.-based indie group Local Natives are back on tour for their fourth LP, Violet Street, with a “new and freeing” recording and promotion process.

With no pre-production or recording, most of the album came from close collaboration, live jamming and musical accidents, re-imagining the songs as they came. On their second day of the Spiral Choir tour, guitarist Ryan Hahn said that the live shows will be similar.

“Everyone’s feeling good. I think the new songs are really fun to play live and we’re
honestly still kind of figuring some of them out,” he says. “It’s kind of exciting and kind of scary at certain points.”

Hahn says the nature of this album was collaborative yet personal in a way that they had never been before, where “everyone was so open to just seeing where everything went this time — it felt really freeing.”

Working with producer Shawn Everett, Local Natives experimented with sound transformation on Violet Street, specifically on the first track “Vogue,” where what Hahn describes as a “beautiful angelic sort of synth pad” is actually a note from the “pure chaos cacophony” of the band running around a microphone screaming and smashing trash can lids.

Equally unique as the band’s recording process was their promotion for the album. Taking over and rebranding Los Angeles establishments into thematic locations from the album like the Megaton Mile Car Wash and a Café Amarillo taco restaurant, their approach to promotion came from seeing bands they admire taking on unconventional venues for shows.

“No one wants to feel like they’re being advertised to,” says Hahn. “If we’re going to promote this record, let’s do it in a fun way that feels kind of in tune with the album.”

Not only giving back to fans with free car washes and concerts, Local Natives have always focused on giving back to a number or charitable organizations. Proceeds from the Local Natives taco at HomeState the day of the Café Amarillo takeover went, and continue to go, directly to PATH to find temporary and permanent housing for the homeless. Continuing their collaboration with PLUS1, a portion of ticket sales from various tour dates will go to support gender-based violence intervention and prevention programs.

“It’s this easy way for your fans to not really have to do anything other than buy a ticket to a show, and a way for us to feel like we’re contributing to help these causes we care about,” says Hahn.

Local Natives recorded their second album Hummingbird in Montreal, which Hahn says formed a connection between the band and the city, bringing back memories of “a specific time and place of where we were as a band and what we were going through.”

“I think it’s going to be a special show.” ■

Local Natives play with openers Middle Kids at the Rialto Theatre (5723 Parc) on Tuesday, May 28, 8 p.m., $36.50