While on the trip to Morocco, was there anything you learnt about the country or the lifestyle of the locals that maybe does not reflect in the UK?
Jack: There were two main things which stood out to us as being different to the UK… Firstly, music is much more of a social event on an everyday level – families get together outside and play music in drum circles and tell stories regularly, it’s not a special occasion. It seems that music is generally much more a part of everyone’s daily routine in Morocco rather than that just being the case for musicians.
The second thing was how friendly and welcoming everyone was compared to the UK. I think we default to keeping to ourselves and being more reserved but out there people often invited us right into their homes after only chatting for a few minutes.
What has the reception been like for the concept of the music video for ‘Stop the Rain’?
Jack: The reaction has been great, lots of people have said how inspiring they found the video, which is obviously an awesome thing to hear. It seems to have provoked some thought about how we approach different cultures, which was our aim. I think it’s also helped people understand why our band sounds the way it does now, which I can understand may have been a little confusing beforehand.
What can we expect from the upcoming second album that the first album may not have represented?
Jack: Sonically, this album is very different because we gave ourselves an infinite amount of creative freedom. Musically, Indoor War’s melodies are all lead by electric guitar, whereas on the new album there isn’t one lead instrument, sometimes it’s a marimba, sometimes a synthesizer and sometimes a drum loop. I think we’re a lot more comfortable with our musical identity now and so our tastes and influences are represented in a much more prominent fashion. As well as our song-writing ability I think our skills as musicians’ shine through more on this album, you really get to hear what Jim is capable of vocally, for example.
From the first release, single or music video, how do you think Natives have grown as a band and as individuals?
Jack: I think we’ve become much more accomplished in our song-writing and a lot more confident in our own ideas and identity as musicians and as a band. I recently listened to the original demo for the ‘Stop The Rain’ chorus, which was written years ago when we were demoing for the first album. The lyrics originally read “I’m stuck in a place where no one’s listening, it feels like I’m trying to stop the rain from falling”. They’re now “Let’s go to a place where no one’s listening, somehow I know we’ll stop the rain from falling”. I think that sums up our attitude change and how our confidence has grown.
The band’s music taste ranges from artists including Paul Simon to Michael Jackson, through to John Mayor. Would you say the music you grew up listening to has played a part in the upcoming album?
Jack: Definitely! I think this album is the culmination of all of our musical influences so far in our lives. We rarely actually name any influences when we’re writing together but this was the first time we’ve ever felt completely free to write without boundaries and so we were less worried about including things which wouldn’t be seen as ‘cool’ as we have been in the past.
Was there any advice that you were given at the start of the band that has stuck with you till now?
Jack: I met Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro years back and he gave me some amazing advice. He said that the more time you spend worrying about what other artists are doing, the less time you’re spending working on your own music. He really encouraged us to do our own thing and said that’s the key to being happy making music. That really struck a chord with us and we’ve always tried to follow his advice.
For anyone who may feel discouraged in terms of not being where they want career wise, what advice do you have for them?
Jack: I’ve never been particularly career minded, I just try and spend as much of my time as I possibly can doing things which I really enjoy doing. It’s easy to get really worried and stressed thinking too long term, I think if you can make yourself happy in the present, things will work themselves out in the future.
What lessons have you learnt on the road that you feel you may not have known if you were pursing another career?
Jack: The internet is brilliant, but there is no substitute for a real, face to face conversation. Music and Football truly are the universal languages of the world. Learn to stop and appreciate special moments as they’re happening or you’ll look back with regret that you didn’t appreciate how good they were at the time.
What was the first song you wrote that made you feel that pursuing a career in music was for you?
Jack: I got to the end of college, where I’d studied music and I’d had enough of education for a while, I just wanted to go on tour. Without realising it at the time, that was the moment which set me on this path, rather than a specific song writing moment. I will say though that for me song writing is my favourite aspect of what we do. I love playing music and I love touring, but writing songs is my number one passion.
What 3 albums remind you of your times at school or teenage years?
Jack: Blink 182 – Self Titled
Hot Hot Heat – Elevator
The Killers – Hot Fuss
What artists have Natives been enjoying listening to recently?
Jack: We’re loving Beatenberg, Brandon Flowers, Madeon, Vacationer, Panama Wedding, Mura Masa. We have a Spotify playlist on our profile with songs we listened to in the studio whilst making the album, check that out here!
What would you like to see more of within the music industry?
Jack: I’d love to see more investment in grassroots touring and music venues in the UK. When you tour mainland Europe, you see a vast difference to the UK because the governments in those countries invest in venues, promoters and events. It means bands get looked after on tour, which makes it possible for bands to get out there and tour which in turn means those countries get better shows and tours to go to, everyone benefits.
I’d also like to see more of an effort made to fairly compensate artists for recorded music. Right now the general public has shifted to legal streaming which in a way is a step forward from illegally downloading mp3’s, but services like Spotify run at a massive loss and royalty rates for songwriters are so low. I worry about the long term effect this will have, both in terms of de-valuing music and discouraging young acts from pursuing a musical career.
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for the band?
Jack: We’ll be putting more new music out and slowly revealing more about our album and its story. We start touring again next month, which is a big deal for us as for the past two years it’s all been about the writing and studio side of things. It’s been a lot of work in the practice room figuring out live arrangements of the songs, but we’re at the stage now where we’re almost ready and very excited to get on stage again!
Find out more about Natives on Facebook
Interview by Sarah Akomanyi.