BNB: As a relatively young band, how has your day-to-day life changed since the release of your album, and it debuting in the Billboard top 200?
Taylor: I guess it seems kind of quick and almost out of nowhere, perhaps, from an outside perspective. Like, all the sudden and album comes out and it’s on [the charts], but we’ve been on the road for pretty much a year and a half straight. So, we were touring before the record came out. It just came out in the states in February, so what does that make this? It hasn’t even been a year yet, but we have been on the road solidly for a year and it’s just been like a really steady progression. That’s been incredible. So the day-to-day has changed very slowly. Its just show, after show, after show, with a new venue and a new city, but there definitely has been this amazing progression over the last year where we’ve gone from playing, even as little as a year ago, still supporting for bands. I guess if you go back a little further, like a year and a half or even two years, we were playing for ten people. We booked our own tour and played for ten people all over the nation, and then from that it was like, “OK, now we’re supporting and playing some legit venues,” and then we did our first headline tour in March. That was after the album came out, and that floored us because we booked those venues and they were all pretty small, they were all about this size (Soho), and they were all sold out all over the country. We had no idea that was going to happen, and so that was just incredible. I would say that was the biggest impact, just people now at our shows singing along to our songs, and that has changed things so much from a performance perspective. Now it’s really great to engage with an audience, and they know your music already, so they come and they’re on your team. That’s been a slow transition because we were so used to being this band that nobody ever heard of and we were there to win over a crowd, and that’s the position that we are very comfortable in. Now its really cool because we get to a show and it might be sold out, and people are really excited to see us play. So our first headline tour was all small venues, and now fast-forward to this tour only a couple months later, and this is the smallest venue on this tour. In Los Angeles, we just played two nights at the Henry Fonda, which were sold out, and that was just such a moving, incredible moment for us, especially being from Los Angeles and playing there. That’s definitely been the most intense change.
BNB: The change from winning people over ten at a time to preaching to your own choir?
Taylor: Exactly, yeah. That’s come about in very strange ways. We spent a lot of time in Europe this year, and our album actually came out there first, and it was so interesting because things took off for us in the UK initially, and we headlined like a 2,000 [capacity] room in London back in June, for example, and its like we are just now kind of catching up to that point here, and maybe even going past it. People were singing along to our songs in countries where sometimes they didn’t even speak English fully, you know? That was really trippy, and we were always just hoping that the states, as our home country, would catch on, and they have. They’ve embraced our album and our music, as I said, totally surpassing our expectations of what that could have been for us.
BNB: With all this touring here and all over Europe, where has your favorite stop been so far?
Taylor: So hard, man! That’s so difficult. I mean, we played probably 20 festivals this summer in Europe alone, and so many of those were so incredible. But if you’re making me pick one, I guess just because it was the most extraordinary/super crazy weird experience was when we played Fuji Rock in Japan in August, and we actually got to spend about five days in Japan, with three days in Tokyo. It really was another planet. Everything about everyday life was so flipped on its head from what we’re used to being from America and touring Western Europe extensively.
BNB: Speaking of Japan… who was it that taught abroad in Japan? (Pertaining to the lyrics of the song “Airplanes”)
Taylor: “Airplanes” has been a song that has really connected with a lot of people for us, and just been one of the most enthusiastically received songs live at a lot of our shows. People tend to know it, and its so interesting because it’s a song that was on the chopping block originally when we were making the album. We were like, “It’s not coming together, I don’t know if this song is going to make the record,” and then last minute everything came together. It’s just been, I think, one of our strongest songs in terms of that connection, its kind of immediate. Kelcey wrote that one, and its about his grandfather who was actually an engineer for Boeing, which is why its called “Airplanes.” Kelcey’s dad is a pilot, and so his father was an engineer for Boeing, and Kelcey kind of got to learn about his grandfather who died when he was very young, basically a child and he didn’t really know him. But he got to know him through these stories that his father would tell him, and he taught abroad in Japan. He was that guy, where if you had a question about anything, he was always so super interested in it. He just relayed the stories to me, and its kind of been that experience. So it’s a song about kind of losing somebody that you never really got a chance to know.
BNB: The name of your album Gorilla Manor, is supposedly the name of a house that you all shared? Is that true?
Taylor: Yeah, exactly. So the story behind that is that we have been a band for a while. Me and the other two guys that sing, Ryan and Kelcey, have been playing together since high school, probably about eight years now. The whole band, the five of us, [have been playing together for] coming up on five years or four and a half years together, but we all had jobs. I was going to school, some of the other guys were going to school and what happened was I graduated from college, and everyone just hit this point where we said we really want to go for it and strive to see if we can make music be a lasting thing for us. We really believed in the relationships that we had as a band. We moved in together in Orange, which is in Orange County, and we moved into a house there and that’s where we holed up and wrote, I would say, most of our record - the first half, to the first 70 percent of it. Its really where we found our voice, we came together and things just coalesced for our band there. We got in the studio during that time and it just became so clear to us that it was time for a new start. We actually had a different band name and we changed it to Local Natives, and with this record, it was just such an important thing. Everyone was saying, “we are going all out for this.” No one had any money, we were living off of one-dollar burritos from El Pollo Loco, I’m not joking, seven days a week. That’s all we could afford. We really just believed in trying to go for it, and started booking our own tours, and booking our own shows. We were doing everything on our own. We really made an effort to have everything done by the band, and we still do, even now that we work with a lot of people. But anyway, that first house that we lived in had this nickname “Gorilla Manor,” and it just stemmed from the fact that it was this crazy transformative time for us where we were trying to be professionals and trying to actually make a career out of our dream, which many people would say is this crazy, ridiculous pursuit. At the same time, we were kids moving in together making music, you know? We had a lot of crazy times there, and parties and food fights. You know, all the crazy stuff that would go along with a bunch of kids in their early 20s moving into a house together. We felt that name encapsulated that time for us. We moved to LA, again all together in a house and the spirit of Gorilla Manor kind of went with it there. That’s the story, and that’s why we named the album after the house.
BNB: So for future recording, do you think you might just all move back into a house together?
Taylor: We are getting to that point now, we are approaching the end of our touring until we really want to focus on writing our next album. I’m not sure how we are going to do it yet. People have moved out pretty much just out of necessity, literally I think we have been home for a total of a month and a half over the last year, so there was no point in paying rent. Some of the guys are homeless, some of the guys are kind of figuring it out and sharing rooms and stuff. So we haven’t talked about it yet. Our band is very collaborative, probably more so than most bands with our writing process. Someone brings a song to the table, but everyone really gets involved with it and the song changes and molds and changes shape so many times from the first incarnation until the last. To do that is very tedious, and sometimes pretty tense, but its important that we can really focus and be together. So either we will probably need to do that again, or we will need a space that is ours that we will spend a lot of time in together as a unit.
BNB: Have you started to think about new material, or have you been too focused on touring?
Taylor: Our schedule has been super intense, just super intense. We have not had a lot of time to write in the way that I talked about – fully together. All of us are just the antsy type of kids who will always be doing something and always be writing, so there are lots of seeds of songs and lots of ideas floating around. I have a bunch that I am excited about, I’ve heard a bunch from Kelcey and Ryan. People have started to write individually, we just haven’t gotten to that collective point yet. I think that’s good for us, I think from our first album we have just learned so much and grown so much as a band that its kind of nice to let everything percolate on the individual level before we jump in and start smashing everything off the walls together in one room, which is what usually happens.