In just a handful of years, Northwest, Indiana’s Native have quietly built themselves a large word-of-mouth following in the underground as an incendiary live act. The iconoclast group’s impeccable musicianship, ominous chords, apocalyptic vocals and innovative rhythms hit with an intensity that can only be described as akin to a white-knuckle thrill ride.
There’s as much suffocating darkness as there is thoughtful focus to Native’s intricate song structures and pensive lyrics. There’s a dark foreboding in the guitar lines simultaneously pushing and pulling, the whole band embracing and tearing apart musical convention with the unpredictability of a protest gone awry.
Their most recent effort, Orthodox (which dropped August 20 via Sargent House) was recorded by Greg Norman (Russian Circles, Pelican) in Tolono, IL and in Chicago throughout 2012 and 2013. The album’s taut eight songs were eventually chosen out of nearly 20 tracks written over a grueling couple of years of writing and reworking ideas in near seclusion. Native’s critically-acclaimed 2010 debut full length Wrestling Moves was also issued by Sargent House. The band’s self-released EP We Delete: Erase in 2008 got the attention of Sargent House, who then signed the band to management and label.
Ghettoblaster caught up with guitarist Ed O’Neill while Native are on tour throughout the U.S. with O’Brother. See complete tour dates below. This is what he said about Orthodox.
When did you begin writing the material for Orthodox?
We began writing Orthodox late in 2010. We had been struggling to find any sort of spark creativity since finishing our previous album and kept working with the same three parts with no real way to link them together. Finally, after just one tiny adjustment, we wrote all of the first track “Word City” in one night. We then took the next two years slowly writing the next seven songs.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Good question, I suppose I’d say “Books on Tape”, due to the fact that it went through so many rewrites and cuts before we were really happy with it. I feel like we are still making adjustments to that song even to this day. I feel like that song will always have quite a bit of tinker room to it.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
This isn’t something we had too much experience with on this album. With our old material, I felt like the songs always ended miles away from the direction we started with, but we had very specific goals with the songs on Orthodox, so we stayed on course as much as possible with the songs concept and note choice.
Who produced the Orthodox? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
For this album, we went with Greg Norman from Electrical Audio. We recorded sporadically in Tolono, IL at Earth Analog Studio and at Greg’s house in Chicago. We had to break up the sessions due to both parties having various obligations. However, I believe that this helped the album in a lot of ways, it gave a lot of breathing room and time to reflect on ways to make the album sound closer to what we were striving to do. Greg was an absolute pleasure to work with, making suggestions and offering input, but always hearing us out and letting us try any ideas we were thinking. He really helped in capturing the raw sound that we wanted the album to have.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
For this album, we had a close friend Dave Summers, who also shot the album cover as well, do a couple vocal tracks, the guy has an insane range, which is something both Bobby and I lack (ha ha), but also has played such an integral part of this album’s process. It seemed only fitting that he be a part of the record both in his craft and ours.
Is there an overarching concept behind the album that ties the record together?
I would say that this album isn’t so much a concept album, but rather just a statement from our band. There are a lot of societal ills we see in the world around us, and there is not nearly enough aggressive, intelligent conversation going on about them, especially in our generation. While we don’t pretend to have the answers to complex questions, we do have opinions we would like to be heard, and wanted to strive away from being self indulgent. This album strives to cover things that matter to us deeply, and we were seeking to adequately portray those emotions.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We have! In fact, we are only playing songs off this album from this point forward. We went through a pretty serious rough patch the last couple years, and felt that this album and the proceeding touring are a time of reinvention for Native. While we appreciate all the support people have given us over the years, it’s in the best interest of our band to push forward and grow away from previous material. As far as reception goes for the new album, people have been extremely welcoming across the board for the new songs, which we are very grateful for. It’s been a wonderful experience playing this new material for people, and we hope the trend can continue.
(Check out live video of the band playing “Kissing Bridge“ in Paris, from their recent European headlining tour. Watch video HERE.
Catch Native live here:
Aug 26th, 2013 – Portland, OR @ Backspace *
Aug 27th, 2013 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret *
Aug 28th, 2013 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey *
Aug 29th, 2013 – Boise, ID @ The Crux
Aug 30th, 2013 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
Aug 31st, 2013 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive *
Sept 1st, 2013 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar *
Sept 3rd, 2013 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
Sept 4th, 2013 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews *
Sept 5th, 2013 – Chicago, IL @ The Bottom Lounge *
Sept 6th, 2013 – Akron, OH @ Musica *
Sept 7th, 2013 – Howell, MI @ Pike Room @ The Crofoot *
Sept 8th, 2013 – Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck Bar *
Sept 10th, 2013 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE *
Sept 11th, 2013 – Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon *
Sept 12th, 2013 – New York, NY @ Santos Party House *
Sept 13th, 2013 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
Sept 14th, 2013 – Hamden, CT @ The Space *
Sept 15th, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary *
Sept 17th, 2013 – Washington, DC @ The Rock And Roll Hotel *
Sept 18th, 2013 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 *
Sept 19th, 2013 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Sept 20th, 2013 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement *
Sept 21st, 2013 – Nashville, TN @ The End *
Sept 22nd, 2013 – Charlotte, NC @ Casbah @ Tremont Music Hall *
* w/ O’Brother)