“We’ve found what makes us happy”: An interview with Natives
Two years is a long time in pop music, and Natives are more than aware of that. Since releasing 2014’s Indoor War, the band have been tucked away in the studio writing and recording their upcoming long player, the aptly titled Back from the Dead. With a host of live dates and a tour on the way, Natives decided to finally break cover at Cargo last night, and thankfully The Upcoming was there to catch up with them. We discussed future plans, inspirations and a startling love for Michael Jackson.
Hey guys! First and foremost, what’s happening in the world of Natives?
Jack Fairbrother: Well we’ve spent the better part of two years pretty much in the studio and travelling about making a new album. The past few months specifically, we’ve been figuring out live arrangements of those songs. It was quite a studio project and the focus for the last few months has been how do we make this work on a stage with four of us? Hopefully we made it work!
Andy White: Fingers crossed.
Are you excited to show off some of your new songs?
AW: Yeah, well as Jack said, the time it’s taken us to write and to get to the live situation has been a long time, so I think we’ve all been very eager to get back out there. This is just the start of it and we are also going on tour with a band called Mother in September. We’re trying to fill the diary and it’s filling up so that’s always nice.
How has the success of the first album affected you as a band?
JF: We love being in a band.
AW: Being lucky enough to release music and albums and stuff like that is nice. The biggest thing is that we have learned a lot. Through shows and being in the studio and stuff we have definitely grown and honed our craft.
JF: We know who we are as a band now. We feel that we’ve found what makes us tick and what makes us happy. We know what we’re about.
AW: We’ve hit our stride musically and we are now much more confident.
There’s a lot of talk about the process behind the first album, and how it tells the story of Alvima. What was the idea and the inspiration behind the second?
JF: It’s based on a story again, which we are going to release as a novel alongside the album. The idea was sparked on our last tour: I was outside a venue in Manchester we were playing and there were some girls there that we had seen at lots of our tour dates. You get to know people who have come and seen you a lot, so I went over and said hello. We were just chatting and I, naively I suppose, presumed that these girls were all friends prior to knowing our band and were coming to our shows together. But they told me that they didn’t know each other before and that they met at a Natives show, and they were now good friends and coming to our gigs was something they did together. That kind of struck quite a chord with me, and when I told the band we all agreed that it was pretty cool that our band was the common ground between people who didn’t know each other. So that set our creative cogs spinning and we dreamt up this big story about community and common ground and culture. That was the inspiring moment, hearing that people had come together through our music.
You’ve got a lot of touring ahead of you, how do you guys manage to keep yourselves entertained?
AW: Playing shows is quite entertaining in itself, but there is a lot of downtime and stuff. On journeys we play FIFA quite a lot.
Greg Day: Well we did until the van got smashed into and they stole our Xbox.
JF: We are always quite interested in travelling somewhere that we’ve never been before. Culture and exploration is quite a big thing for our band. Often the travel itself is the entertainment. We love going to new places and seeing different things. It’s nice when it’s somewhere we haven’t been before or revisiting somewhere we really enjoy.
AW: Also with touring going into the next year, we are really looking into playing places that don’t have many concerts and stuff like that. We shot the video for one of our singles in Morocco and we are actually looking to go back there and play a show. Places that aren’t every stop like the USA and Europe. If we can bring that dream into a reality that will keep us more interested than anything else.
What is the place you are most looking forward to playing? And what’s the favourite place you have played?
JF: Well because we shot the video in Morocco, if we do get to go back there it would be amazing. That place was so inspiring for us – travelling around and learning about music – that if we could go and play a show there, which it looks like we would be able to, we are looking forward to that so much. That country has so much to give both musically and culturally. I suppose the Philippines was the one place that struck the biggest chord for us when we played there.
AW: It was just so far away and so different. Bringing it closer to home, we always have a good time playing in Scotland. It’s a very warm place for music and so we really enjoy it. So yeah, Scotland in this country and the Philippines in the world!
What music are you guys listening to at the moment, and what would you recommend to readers of The Upcoming?
JF: There’s a band called Beatenberg from South Africa who have an album called The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg. That’s an amazing South African pop record that we love. Ghost Beach’s album is called Blonde and we love that. We’re always listening to it.
AW: Coldplay come up quite a lot. We’re quite into them. Anything really, there’s so much good music out there.
GD: As a group we listen to quite a lot. Literally anything, just general music. Everyone has their own little thing and then there is stuff we enjoy together.
AW: I’d say the best album that’s been on the radio recently is by Glass Animals.
JF: Yeah their album is amazing actually. There’s three great bands there, Ghost Beach, Glass Animals, and Beatenberg.
You’ve been described as tribal pop, pop-rock and many other things, but how would you describe yourselves?
JF: Well the tribal pop thing was something Jim said because people kept asking us this question and it’s really hard to describe your own thing!
Jim Thomas: There was a deadline; I remember we were all on Whatsapp and we needed to define ourselves and I said “Tribal Pop”, thinking everyone else would say “what the hell are you on about?”, but it seemed to stick.
JF: It’s the closest thing we’ve found.
So you guys would consider yourselves the headline act of tribal pop?
JF: We’re sort of the only ones!
JT: We are curating that genre.
AW: We are the headliner, the opener, and the support.
If you could only listen to bands or artists starting from A-M or N-Z, which would you choose and why?
JF: Well, what are we in? Because I like making our music. N-Z, it has to be that because if we can’t listen to it then we couldn’t make it.
AW: But that takes us away from Michael Jackson…
JF: Oooh, that’s tough…
AW: You’ve split us right there!
JT: All those bands we just told you to listen to and enjoy, they are in the first category aren’t they?
JF: Well then let’s sacrifice Natives and we’ll go with A-M
GD: We’ll make the music but never be able to listen back to it. Just so we can hear other people’s music.