Andy Hamm has no time to think. One thing he knows: This is a good thing. The whirlwind of tour dates and promotional appearances surrounding Hamm and his bandmates in Local Natives happens once or twice a year, when a buzz band rises above the here-today-gone-tomorrow hype machine to sustain the momentum indefinitely. Rest assured, we’ll be hearing about them long after 2010.
That’s because the L.A.-based folk-rock band conjures comparisons to indie heavyweights like Fleet Foxes, Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear and Yeasayer, depending on the review. Their February debut, Gorilla Manor, scored high marks with critics and earned tour dates with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and placements at Pitchfork Music Festival and Austin City Limits. In short, the swell continues to grow.
“We haven’t really had any time in the last year to put any kind of perspective on it,” says Hamm, the band’s bassist. “I think it’s just one of those things where we’ve just worked really hard at it and that we’re lucky to be where we’re at. We want to keep doing what we’re doing, keep working hard and hope that people will notice that. So far, it seems like it’s going well.
“I think it’d be hard for me to say, ‘Oh, we realize this or this,’” he continues, “or to say, ‘Well, upon looking back, this was a good thing and that was a bad thing.’ We’ve been on the road for one year straight. Pretty much since the album came out, we’ve just been going and going and going. That’s a good thing, so we’re not overanalyzing too many things or doubting ourselves on too many levels.”
Hamm says the band’s natural tendencies are just that — to question and scrutinize every little aspect. So it’s a good thing the busy schedule keeps the guys from taking the time to breathe.
“We know that we’re busy and that’s a good thing,” laughs Hamm. “If we weren’t busy, that probably wouldn’t be a good sign that we’re progressing forward. I think that’s probably a great thing. Even thinking over this last minute, it’s good we haven’t overanalyzed things or asked ourselves why things are working or not. We’re that type of band that’s really hands-on and likes to nitpick, but we haven’t had the time to do that yet, so that’s probably a great thing.”
As they kick off their current tour that comes through Boulder on Tuesday, Local Natives start by playing their hometown of Los Angeles for two consecutive nights. It’s the only time the guys get ner vous, at least according to Hamm, given the hometown audience.
“We never really get nervous for shows,” he says. “I think the only time I do start feeling the nerves is when we come back from tours and play at home. The guys all have family or friends that show up. There are also the fans that have seen us since we first started as a band. Those are definitely the most intimidating people to play for, because they know the music, next to the band, the most. So there’s some nervousness and excitement that come with that. These are the two biggest shows of the tour kicking the whole thing off, so we hope we have all of the ducks in a line and have a good show.”
For Hamm, the playing is the hardest part. He’s naturally drawn to the studio side of the musician’s life, so the relentless touring has been a bit difficult. Yet after this tour, the band plans to settle down and work on their followup. And he also knows that they’re lucky to have the audience that they do in such a short amount of time.
“Touring has been a harder one for me personally,” Hamm explains. “I’ve always been very attracted to the music. Even bands that I’m a fan of, I’ve always been attracted to their music. So the performance side for me was sort of secondary. I always wanted to hear the music live, and so seeing someone jump up and down or go crazy was a secondary thing.
“I think I’ve realized more and more the importance of one main thing: As long as you’re being honest, that’s what matters,” he continues. “I think people can sense that. If you’re up there putting on a show, and if I was jumping around, but inside my head I wasn’t feeling the show or felt miserable or whatever, people can sense that. It comes off as a gimmick. Whereas if I’m up there and we’re really into it, the crowd will be receptive there, and that makes you move. That’s when the performance clicks.”
On the Bill
Local Natives play at the Fox Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Doors at 8:30. The Love Language and Union Line open. Tickets are $14 in advance/$16 day of sale. 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443- 3399.