When we called Local Natives’s Ryan Hahn, he was warning a bus mate about bumping their head because of their driver’s “crazy” mountain driving. Winding roads aside, Hahn told us all about Hummingbird before Local Natives plays two sold-out shows—tonight and Monday—at the Neptune.
SW: Hummingbird seems less urgent than Gorilla Manor . Was that intentional?
Hahn: Maybe not intentional, but it’s reflective of where we’re at musically. We’ve grown up a lot since writing that first record, and we wanted to push ourselves to do something different. We wanted to write songs that developed in different ways. They may take more time to settle in.
What different things did you try?
Taking different parts and changing instruments with them. There were guitar parts that were transformed into keyboard parts, a lot of different drum ideas…more electronics, more experimenting; trying out new instruments and new ways to arrange songs.
Can you see that “anything goes” style working again in the future?
Definitely. We always want to feel like we’re moving forward, doing new things and pushing ourselves as musicians.
Tell me about building your own rehearsal space.
We were looking for a place to rehearse, and in L.A., it’s difficult to find a big enough place where you won’t get in trouble for playing music. We serendipitously ran into this person that had a garage. We grabbed some power tools and cleaned the place. With our first record, we were in this old avocado warehouse and could play 24 hours a day. It was a very similar situation this time because we could make music at all times.
Did you often find yourselves writing at odd hours?
Definitely. You’d go in and work on something really late at night and then when the guys got there in the morning, we’d work on it some more. Having that ability to do that was really helpful.
How was living with producer (and Nationals primary/producer) Aaron Dessner?
We were excited to live together again. There’s something special about completely surrounding yourself with the recording process and being able to shout down the hallway when you have an idea. It was the perfect way to make a record.
No cabin fever?
At this point, we’re like family so we’ve gotten to the point where we can stand to be around each other [laughs].
What does the rest of 2013 hold for Local Natives?
We’re basically on tour until Christmas. Me and our bass player gave up our apartments. There’s no point in having a place because we’re gone so much.
What happens when you get back home?
I’ll hold off for as long as I can and become a couch surfer. My poor friends [laughs].