With the last leg of Local Natives ‘ Spiral Choir tour landing in Auckland on Monday, the band couldn’t be more psyched to get here. With the tour having started halfway across the world in May, New Zealand is only days away from some rocking LA indie tunes.  We chatted to Taylor Rice, vocalist and guitarist in the indie-rock band.

Local Natives will be playing fresh tracks from their latest release Violet Street; a homage to the beautiful things that hold us together. Rice explained that the new record is a representation of “where we all get our sense of grounded nature”. Returning to their debut of Gorilla Manor, Violet Street is the embodiment of how “there are some things that don’t change”. When describing the process of writing and recording, “it’s really rare,” Rice said, “this super heavy collaborative effort”. 

And collaborative the 5-piece band have been since the very beginning. Local Natives began the day Rice and Ryan Hahn (vocalist and guitarist) sat together in their seventh-grade science class. As two kids hopping onto the garage bandwagon, they soon met Kelcey Ayer (vocals and keyboard) at their first gig; aptly hosted at Rice’s father’s house. Throughout high school and university, the three singer-songwriters lived out the emo/hardcore phase “thrashing around wildly”, moving into a house together, and finding drummer Matt Frazier in the process. Having grown up in Southern California suburbia, Rice recalls them as the music kids of their town.   

Four albums later, and here they are. Rice’s advice for aspiring musicians? “To not wait for anybody to give you permission, or access”. Just get into it, he says.

The progression of their music from 2009’s Gorilla Manor and 2019’s Violet Street is what Rice has described as “we’ve grown up”. Their music holds reflection; capturing a buoyancy of youth and a heaviness of heart. 

Their most recent single When Am I Gonna Lose You tells the story of Rice’s very own epic musical journey. “There were forty versions of this song initially,” he said. It was inspired by the inevitability of beautiful relationships failing to last, set against the backdrop of the journey he and his wife embarked on to get married – “it’s a really sad name for a love song”.

With the Spiral Choir about to come to an end, the disorientation of tour life is ending with it. Rice laughs as he compares it to living in a “coffin”, with no light and no time frame – and a persistent reach for morning coffee. But how does Rice feel about their shows? As “the best hour and a half of the day, ever”. 

Catch them on Monday 22 July at the Tuning Fork, Auckland. 

HANNAH POWELL is your local film and theatre gal gone hippie, complete with bangs and at least one pair of Docs. Music festival enthusiast, green tea drinker and avid horoscope reader. Will most likely be found at the next gig.