MAAP In The Field: Matthew Frazier

Words:
Jonathan Cookson w/ Matthew Frazier
Photography:
Various Contributors
A while back we sat down with Local Natives drummer Matthew Frazier to discuss all things from touring to his upcoming 4th studio album to his passion for cycling. This is MAAP In The Field.

Q. Matt. Thanks for joining MAAP to tell your In The Field story.
First and foremost, what's news from the studio? Is “LP4” close?

Thanks so much for having me! After a year or so of being in and out of the studio, we are currently mixing the record and very close to completion. Really excited to get this thing wrapped and out into the world.


Q. Local Natives have been compared with Fleet Foxes and The National in the past, with Aaron Dessner producing your second album. How would you describe your sound, how has it changed over time, and what can we expect from “LP4”?

I think we’ve always tried to avoid being pigeonholed to a particular sound, so that’s a hard one to answer. At our core, we’re five musicians who love creating and collaborate well together in a room, and this album really captures that live element. On our last record, we experimented with our sound in new ways, but stepped back a bit from the more prevalent vocal harmonies and layered percussive elements of the first two records. With LP4, I feel like we’re embracing our strengths as a band and have hit this really sweet spot between pushing boundaries and exploring new soundscapes while also bringing back those heavier, sweeping harmonies and drums.

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Q. You guys recorded "Hummingbird" in Brooklyn and Montreal, and "Sunlit Youth" in Central America, South East Asia and Hawaii. Have you stuck closer to home this time?

For the most part, yeah. Our producer, Shawn Everett has a warehouse studio in DTLA so we’ve been holed up there for the better part of the last year. I love traveling, but it’s actually been really nice to just exist here for an extended period of time. LA is home and has played a big role in making this record. Admittedly though, we did venture down to Mexico in October of 2017 for a month of writing before we started recording with Shawn. We’ve found there’s something special to immersing yourself elsewhere when starting a new creative process.


Q. You're all local natives of Southern California right? Is that how the name came about?

We are indeed. Los Angeles has been home for 10+ years now, but I grew up about an hour east out in Chino Hills, Kelcey/Ryan/Taylor down in Orange County and Nik in San Diego. And haha, no not quite. As we were finishing up our first record, we decided it was time for a rebrand and started throwing new names around. To be honest, Local Natives was just the one we hated the least, so it stuck.


Q. Renowned for tight harmonies, collaborative song writing, and having shared a house when working on your debut “Gorilla Manor”, you guys seem pretty close. How did you all meet?

We definitely are very close. Ha, I think a lot of people are often surprised that we frequently hang outside of band related activities. Sharing a house together before we started touring heavily really helped us in the long run and bonded us in a unique way. I feel fortunate to be able to do what I do alongside four people I really love and respect. As for beginnings: Ryan, Taylor and Kelcey started making music together in high school. In my early 20s, I was looking for new people to play music with and discovered the guys through some mutual friends. They happened to be looking for a new drummer at that time so naturally, I did what most people did in the mid-2000’s and hit them up on MySpace. After a few meetings and a bit of jamming together, they asked me to join up. That was 2006.

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Q. You started drumming when you were 9. Which drummer had the most influence on you growing up?

I did. Pretty early on in life, I sensed a pull towards music, but wasn’t quite sure what that meant for me yet. I briefly tried my hand at piano and trumpet, but neither stuck. Once I discovered the drums, it quickly became something I had to figure out. I got my first kit around 10 and found myself coming home from school every day trying to play along to whatever album I was obsessed with at the time. Like anyone’s taste, my list of influences has evolved over the years, but there’s been a few that have stuck with me. Keith Moon and Buddy Rich were two that caught me in high school and served as a sort of gateway to music/drumming outside of the adolescent bubble I was living in at the time. In their respective ways, they both had a sort of controlled chaos to their playing that I was really drawn to.


Q. Are you one of those “throw a TV out of a hotel window into a swimming pool” kind of drummers, or more introspective?

Ha, definitely the latter, I’ve always been pretty introverted. After 10 years of touring a lot, I’ve grown to really appreciate trying to keep a balanced life on the road. Staying healthy and getting a decent night’s sleep whenever I can has far taken precedence over a big night out. Not to mention it gives me more time in the morning to ride my bike.


Q. You guys have done a lot of writing and recording out in the desert, particularly at Joshua Tree. Is it to escape the noise of LA, or just an inspiring place to work on the music?

Both for sure. We definitely enjoy getting out of town to write somewhere that feels different, inspiring and lacks the distractions of home. It being just a two hour drive from us, Joshua Tree is a convenient and beautiful option for that.

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Q. What drew you to cycling?

To be honest, initially it was just an attempt at another form of exercise. In my late 20s, I started running a lot. I got really into the idea of pushing your body past the point you think possible, so I decided to train for a marathon. I started cycling occasionally to cross-train while I ramped up my mileage but, after being introduced to some of the local LA routes, quickly realized there was so much more to this cycling thing than I expected. “Wait, you mean I can ride my bike on carless roads throughout Griffith Park? Or ride from my front door all the way up to the Mt. Wilson Observatory? WHAT. That’s insane, but yes sign me up.” A whole new world had been put in front of me. It gave me a sense of community and brought more balance to my life. As an anxious person, it can be easy to feel unbalanced, so whenever you discover something that counters that and allows you to be in the present moment, you damn well hold onto it.


Q. How’s riding in LA? Car centric nightmare, cycling utopia or somewhere in-between?

Somewhere in-between sounds about right. It really depends on where you’re at in the city and what time of day you’re riding. There are some absolutely amazing places to ride in and just outside LA with little to no cars, but since I prefer to ride from home I’m often weaving in and out of traffic to get there.


Q. What’s your favourite LA loop?

I think Mt. Wilson will always be one of my favorites. It was my first “big” ride when I started cycling, so there’s probably a nostalgia factor there, but it really is a beautiful and fairly convenient escape from all the noise. If I want to do something quick, I live in Silver Lake between Griffith and Elysian parks, so I frequent those often.


Q. Solo, rollout with a couple of mates, or mixing it in a lung-busting breakaway?

With my work schedule being so all over the place, I often find myself riding solo, but do love a good group ride with buds when time allows.


Q. Do you listen to tunes when riding, or is it about taking stock and a timeout from the music?

As much as I’d love to listen to music on my rides, I’m often on busy roads so I never do. I got hit by a car in 2015 while riding and have really tried to take all precautions necessary to prevent it from happening again. Besides, I’ve grown to really love the silence and sometimes meditative state cycling can offer.


Q. Which legend got you into MAAP, and where do we send the cheque?

All thanks would have to go to my buddy, Zack Pianko. Zack and I grew up together down here in Southern California and even though he’s up in the bay area now, we’ve remained good friends. Stoked to be a part of the MAAP family with him!


Q. With a typically full on global tour schedule, including some of the world’s biggest festivals, do you ever get a chance to jump on two wheels when on tour?

I do from time to time, but not as much as I’d like. With touring coming up again next year, I’m already scheming about out how to squeeze my bike onto the bus so I can ride as much as I do when I’m home. Must. Make. It. Happen.


Q. Is Australia on the list this time around?

Definitely planning on it. I think the last time we were there was 2013!? It’s been far too long and I know we’re all itching to get back there ASAP.


Q. Fancy a ride out with MAAP?

YES PLEASE.

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