Wednesday, July 22, 2009
After the UK
Its now 930am on Wednesday and according to my hazy math, makes that around 530pm in the UK. Safe to say that I am crazed, cracked out and very jet lagged. I think I remember eating pizza last night w/my girlfriend but that might have been a dream?
We(Local Natives) embarked on our first ever UK dates about 10 days ago. First impressions are important and we had tightened our belts and tied our shoelaces in hopes of leaving a good one.
Day 1 landed us at a small flat in Knotting Hill. We stood outside the cab gazing up at four flights of the steepest and most narrow stairs I had seen in awhile. This fourth floor flat would become our home for the next week and these stairs would become our morning and evening calisthenics. After proclaiming our corners and each taking a European bath of deodorant and chewing gum, we started formulating our plan of sleep and relaxation to prepare for the first show.
Day 2 and 3 was a combo of jet lag non-sleep and exploring our surroundings. We were met by our newfound friends and touring partners Mark and Chris early on day 3. They pulled up in a beautiful white rented Sprinter w/no bumper. Inside was a stack attack of rental amps, drums, converters etc.. Before our first gig at The Lexington we had to report to BBC 6 for a live session w/DJ Cerys(spelled right?). We were crammed into a small room and I remember looking at the microscopic monitors and thinking "how the hell are we going to record full band and still be able to hear ourselves through these monitors?". A volume twist here, a reposition there and I quickly learned that everything actually sounded amazing. We were asked to do 3 live songs followed by a very pleasant interview w/DJ Cerys. We arrived for sound check at The Lexington perfectly on time, which was a new feeling for us. An hour and a half later a fevered sound check was finished and a few monitors had been replaced. Our nerves were now eased and it quickly became set time. I can't say how amazing it is to play our first ever gig in the UK to not only a filled room but to a filled room of people who are singing the words to your songs. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a cocky eyed rock star moment. The room was small and our set was short, however everyone there was incredibly welcoming and their energy fed all our stomachs during the show. We hung out w/some new found friends and finished off the night with "digestive cookies".... its a UK thing
Day 4 would bring us to the "famous in our eyes" Shepard’s Bush Empire. We had heard nothing but great things about this beautiful venue and on top of that we were opening for Of Montreal. Sound checking alone would probably been enough to make us happy at this point. The only question I had burrowing through my head up until show time was "would fans the fans of Of Montreal like our sound?". I was guessing there might be 15 people there who wanted to see Local Natives and the rest would be checking their watches, yawning up in the air and impatiently waiting to see Of Montreal. The venue itself is like a giant upside down spiraling pit. Walking out on stage was like being swallowed into the neck of a giraffe lined with 2000 people. We finished our first two songs with ease and at our first pause Kelsey’s nerves were hitting their peak. I'd be lying if I said we weren't all a bit nervous particularly about this show. One of Kelsey’s drumsticks fell out of his hand and hit a key on the synthesizer letting out a giant "buahhhh!" just as he was approaching the mic to address the crowd. His voice managed to quiver out "Um, we have, um an ep for sale in the back...." and at that point I busted into laughter. Kelsey is usually very comfortable on stage and I don't think most of the people there even noticed his flub, but for some reason seeing him so out of character struck my funny bone w/a hammer. I spent the rest of the set trying to keep it together w/out bursting into laughter thinking about it. The crowd seemed from my vantage point to be very warm to us and we were pleased with how welcoming the OM fans were. Of Montreal put on a great set including a cover of Bat For Lashes "Daniel" which we also love.
Day 5 we didn't have a show scheduled but we also weren't off the hook. A little station called BBC Radio 1 wanted us to come into the studio and record four live tracks. The band was about to set foot into the legendary studio where John Peel captured live sessions from too many great bands to name. We were greeted outside the studio by a security guard we’ll call Mr. Fuzz (he is an important part of this story and I forget his name). Mr. Fuzz kindly instructed us to load our equipment into the freight elevator, jump in and ride it down to the basement where we were to load out. Everything was running as planned. As Ryan, Kelsey, Phil and I entered the packed elevator; Phil had made a remark about how he found it was odd that there were no interior buttons for us to descend floors. The steel gates slammed shut and Mr. Fuzz proceeded to press the outside button and we started our decent into hell. Surrounded by stacks of amps, grey brick walls and close enough to each other to get whiffs of unclean pits, our enclosed caged prison came to a screeching halt in between floors. We searched the elevator for a call button or a phone and instead came across a dusty sign which read: Absolutely no persons are allowed in freight elevator at anytime. Mr. Fuzz yelled down to us and we yelled back. Our accent was foreign to him as was his to us. Nothing was running as planned. An hour and a half later the jam was fixed and all of us had become a bit closer. The session itself went very smoothly. Our engineer knew what he was doing. No questions asked and the final mixes were incredible. Not sure when these will be broadcast, but we'll let you know.
Day 6 was a headlining show at a venue called The Borderline in London. Before heading there we stopped by for an XFM live session. This was by far the smallest room we did a session in and was also the first time we could really hear each other’s voices as most of the instruments were done DI and Matt was in a separate room. It was a little weird for me playing some of our more energetic songs and really only hearing the vocals while the tape was running. Great practice for all of us though to hear the ins and outs of certain harmonies. We had just released our first single through Chess Club and they helped put on the show that evening at The Borderline for us. The venue itself felt was like an underground Pirate bar. The crowd was great and I think the set went very well.
Day 7-10 meant Latitude Festival. We had all been to our fair share of festivals in the states, but none of us had played at a festival before. The best way to describe Latitude is like a wonderful Forest filled with the happiest people you'll ever meet. You can camp there, bring all the food and booze you want, pints are less than $8 and everyone there is simply having a good time listening to music. Nothing against the festivals in the states, but can't we please take some pointers from this......please? We were playing at the Sunrise stage the first day of the festival at 630pm. After wondering the grounds we found ourselves literally in the middle of a thick, almost neon green forest where just down the dirt path laid a giant open white tent with our stage inside. The setting sun shot through the tops of the trees like little laser beams and light bulbs strung from branch to branch suddenly lit up. How the hell did we end up in this wonderful place? As we started to line check my stomach cringed up as despite the surroundings, only 40 or so people in the crowd had found us. We all grouped together, shrugged our shoulders and were ready to start the set. Fast-forward to song three and the tent was packed. Like bees to a honey comb people heard music and starting swarming. I could hear Taylor's excitement seeping through as he let everyone know this was our first ever-festival show. I wish there was another Latitude festival next week.
Up until now the band as a whole had been pretty well behaved. Voices needed to be in tip top shape, hangovers were out of the question and "well rested" was the theme of every evening. However, with our last show successfully finished, it was time to let the beast out. As I brought my guitar back to the van, everyone was bursting with a high from our last show. I think our manager actually ran up and hugged us all? and if you know our manager he's not the hugging type of guy. A $5 bottle of scotch/whiskey was passed around the circle and slowly I think we could all feel the barbells being lifted off our shoulders. We rounded up the crew and celebrated back at the meal tent with warm ciders, warmer lager and laughter...lots of laughter. All of us stumbled our way out into Mother Nature, quickly finding refuge in the local 'Peace Pipe TeePee Tent'. We sat in a circle and all planned on having no plans at all for the remainder of the festival.
Highlighted bands for us included Bat For Lashes, Wild Beasts, The Doves and Thom Yorke to name a few. The weather at the festival was odd. Literally in a matter minutes scorching sunlight would turn to treacherous rain and then back again. This meant for us Yankees that at least 3-4 times a day we would change out of our shorts and tees into long pants, parkas and wellies. While the locals danced in the rain with flip flops and tank tops, we would be coated head to toe in water proof material running to the drink tent for another lager and some coverage. By day three of the festival we had made so many new friends and wavered from tent to tent, band to band with quite the large crew of people.
All in all, an amazing trip. Thanks again to everyone who came to see us play for the first time out there. We hope to see everyone we hung out with during our stay in Knotting Hill as well as at Latitude when we return in September. I wish I could go more into detail about all the shenanigans and people we became friends with, but I fear I've rambled on too long already. We'll talk to you soon.
ps. I don't think I'll ever get used to the concept of drinking 'cider' all night. Its all beneficial.
Posted by Local Natives at 4:22 PM