Meet Natives – a ground-breaking band hailing from the New Forest in Southern England. Currently on the cusp of releasing their second album and also supporting Busted on a massive nationwide tour, Natives are causing waves in the music scene. Merging together pop-punk riffs, tribal drums and ethereal electronic beats, the band have crafted an eclectic sound quite like no other. I got the chance to catch up with guitarist and keyboardist for the band, Jack Fairbrother, to discuss their new album, their dream and all things Natives.
Firstly, where did you guys get your name from and did it form the basis for the image/style of the band or was it the opposite way around?
There’s no real intentional link between the two, the name came about at the end of our old band. We took things back to basics and when we removed all of the distractions it became clear what kind of band we naturally were.
We’d been thinking a lot about where we’d come from, both literally (geographically) and figuratively – all of the experiences we’d had together in music up until that point. We’re fascinated by the idea of people from all walks of life/backgrounds coming together and forming a community, regardless of their origins. Natives seemed to fit with this idea nicely. The only other consideration we made when choosing the name was trying to give ourselves the best chance of not being pigeon-holed by people before they’d heard any music. I think we did a fairly good job of that – I don’t think our name hints at our sound before you’ve heard us, but I think it makes a lot of sense once you have.
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You guys have your new album in the next few months – what is it called and what can people expect from the record?
We haven’t announced the title yet but we’ll be releasing it in two halves. The full album is twenty tracks long, with the first ten coming in May. We’ve put out four tracks from the new album online so I guess that’s the best way of describing some of what’s to come – although I do think there’s a whole bunch of different vibes on the album which we haven’t revealed yet. The album was written more like a musical or a film soundtrack than a pop album.
How does it differ to your debut album ‘Indoor War’?
I think it’s a fairly big jump to this album from Indoor War. Sonically, we’re using a much wider variety of instruments and sounds this time around which obviously has a big effect on the sound. Both albums have been based on narrative concepts, but this time around that’s much more apparent and at the forefront, whereas with Indoor War it was always there if you looked for it, but was less obvious if you didn’t.
Writing and recording this album has been the most liberating and incredible experience of our lives – it’s a completely uncompromised piece of art. I don’t want that to sound poncey or stuck-up, I just mean that we didn’t think about anyone other than the five of us (band + producer Jake Robbins) when we were in the studio. We just made the music which pleased us the most and didn’t think about the commercial side of being in a band at all, or what anyone else would think.
The last big difference is that a much higher portion of Indoor War was written in a room with all of us jamming together, whereas this time we didn’t do that at all – we treated it like composers working on a score for a film together.
I hear there’s talk of a book also to accompany the record’s release?
During the writing process we realised that we had so much more story to tell than we could fit into three minute songs so we decided to write our own novelette to accompany the album. The plan is to release the book with the second half of the album. It’s been a real learning curve – I’ve no experience writing books! Lots of the lyrics in the songs are lifted straight from passages in the book and vice-versa. It’s been an amazing experience getting lost in the world we’ve created.
Your new single ‘Warpaint’ just came out – talk us through that tune and its reason for being released now?
Warpaint tells the story of one of the final chapters in our narrative. It’s about standing together as a community to protect what you’ve built. We wanted people to have the chance to hear as many songs from our set on tour as possible, so that they could familiarise themselves with our music before they saw us as a support band and so they can could home and listen to the recordings after seeing us live.
We treat the live show and recordings as separate things and that’s particularly apparent with Warpaint: live, the track is very tribal and percussive and on record it’s a little dancier. Putting it out as a single gives us a chance to show more of what our band is about.
So you guys are currently on tour with Busted touring their new album, how did that scenario come about and what’s it like being on the road with those guys?
A few years back Matt walked into one of our gigs in Camden and afterwards tweeted that he was a fan. We kept in touch online and ever since he’s been a supporter of the band. When they announced the new tour he messaged us asking if we’d like to support! We didn’t expect it to actually happen! We’re being treated so well on the tour, we‘re very grateful.
This has been our favourite tour ever. We’re playing huge venues every night and in places we’ve never been to before. We love the challenge of trying to win over audiences, 90% of whom have no idea who we are.
Side question – were you a Busted fan growing up or a McFly fan?
I wasn’t really into either band growing up but I think the new Busted album is really cool so i’m going to say them!
What is the dream for the band – do you want to headline Wembley, play Glastonbury or get a number one album (for example)?
I’m not sure anymore. I mean we definitely want all of those things but most of all we just want to please ourselves, write the best songs that we possibly can without compromising anything to please anyone else. We want to be the best, purest version of our band and if people like it and we get opportunities out of that, then we’re living the dream!
What is your group inspiration – do you all admire one artist in particular or is it more drawing together different vibes and genres?
Everyone has their own tastes. The inspiration question is always difficult because it’s never a conscious thing – we’re never actively trying to emulate other artists. In the studio we were listening to lots of Michael Jackson, Vacationer, Coldplay, Paul Simon’s “Graceland” & “American Beauty / American Psycho” by Fall Out Boy, so I guess those were all strong influences.
What are you listening to a lot at the moment?
I’ve been listening to the new Bon Iver album a lot. I love it when I can’t understand how someone has written a piece of music, that always feels magical to me and this album is definitely one of those. I’m also loving the new John Mayer songs, the latest Naked and Famous album and the new Busted album too!
Final question and moving away from music talk – what was your new year resolutions and have you kept to it?
I’m not sure about the other guys but I wanted to make conscious effort to spend more time outdoors. I really enjoy trail running and that’s how I usually spend any spare time away from making music, but I hurt my knee on tour last year and haven’t been able to run since then, and so i’ve ended up indoors way more than I’d like. Since the new year has begun though I’ve been making a big effort to take breaks from music to walk the dog and get some fresh air – new surroundings are good for inspiration!
Natives will embark on a UK headline tour in support of their new album in May and the complete list of tose dates and general ticket information can be found here: https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/natives-1
10 – Cambridge Portland Arms
11 – Norwich Waterfront Studio
12 – Southend Chinnery’s
17 – Birmingham 02 Academy
18 – Nottingham Bodega Social Club
19 – Newcastle 02 Academy
21 – Newcastle 02 Academy
15 – London Camden Assembly
17 – Bournemouth Winchester