Founding member, guitarist and co-frontman of Local Natives, Taylor Rice, joins Cindy Howes’ Basic Folk podcast for a conversation on the band’s history, their collaborative spirit, feminism and their newest EP Sour Lemon.
Growing up in Orange County, California Local Natives is known for spearheading the SoCal sound. Rice and his bandmates met at a very young age and ended up moving in together into a house called “Gorilla Manor,” which is also the title of their debut album.
Rice explains how that experience living together in college still informs how the band operates as a unit today and guides their deep desire for collaboration.
“[Gorilla Manor] really cemented the totally enmeshed democratic spirit vibe of like, we are all so connected and in this band…this thing is so vital to our souls on that level. Before that, we had been a committed band for a really long time. We had done self-booked tours, we had played hundreds of shows, so we’d already dedicated a lot of our life to the band. But of course, we were still going to school, I was in college, and it wasn’t 90% of my life,” he says.
“Then moving in together and being in that space where we could just wake up and at any moment be like, let’s work on that song, and just breathing that in day in and day out and living together as a unit really did enmesh the like spirit of what Local Natives and our band dynamic is.”
This idea of being democratic and wholly open to collaboration is key to Local Natives’ success as a group. Even so, Rice hints at the possibility of working on a solo side project in the next year or two.
Most recently, the band has released Sour Lemon, which features Sharon Van Etten on the song “Lemon.” Rice explains the effortlessness of writing the song together in only a few days and goes on to elaborate on the meaning behind the track.
“It was Ryan [Hahn]’s experience with his girlfriend and feeling so intertwined, but then how you can feel isolated within this companionship and how this domestic bliss, mundane thing can have this flip side. It can be so beautiful, but it can also feel isolating in certain ways.”
Beyond music is Rice’s newfound role as a father to his one-year-old son, Elio, and the difficulties of navigating the responsibility of raising a boy in a world where the idea of feminism is still incredibly polarizing.
“Being a father, it’s opened up my life in all these crazy ways that I was excited about, but couldn’t have really foreseen. It’s something that we’re both really excited about. And I’ve thought a lot about it and all the new songs that I’m working on are basically informed by new fatherhood and having a son and what that means at this time and in this world. It’s been really beautiful and it has given me a lot of hope.”
Still trying to figure out how to support women and women’s rights through advocacy himself, Rice explains the work Local Natives has done with Plus1, an organization created by the band Arcade Fire that donates $1 of every concert ticket to the charity of the band’s choice.
Throughout the rest of the conversation, they cover Rice’s range of musical influences, the band’s journey vocally, performing and much more.