Local Natives Interview: Establishing Gorilla Manor


Every member of the Local Natives is local to Los Angeles except for one. It’d be hard to decide which of the best of buds who all live together in their “Gorilla Manor” (also the title of their debut album) is the exception—so we thought we’d help. The transplant bassist from Colorado, better known as Andy Hamm, spoke with SFCritic in a phone interview. The group performs two nights in San Francisco, once at the Rickshaw Stop on June 2nd, and also at the Bottom of The Hill on June 3rd.

SFCritic (SFC): So you’re the only transplant, did you have any preconceived notions of what to expect in LA?

Andy Hamm (AH): I think just the usual notions, because you know if you’re in Colorado you sort of pick them out, like snowboarding and skiing is stuff I did all the time, and people in Southern California were asking me, “Tell me about the mountains! Snowboarding and how awesome it is!” I thought of the beach that way, it was such an iconic place.

SFC: I’m sure you’re familiar we have our Nor-Cal and So-Cal rivalry, you know, we have our stereotypes about So-Cal.

AH: I think that living in Newport Beach opened my eyes to the really conservative, and flashy side of Orange County, and all that super old money–the really darker side of that area. The other side was that there was a really cool skate, surf, and art people that I met in Newport Beach and they were all great people.

SFC: So how did you meet the rest of the group?

AH: I was working valet at this super cheesy Huntington Beach nightclub, called Scorpion Nightclub, believe it or not. It was exactly what everyone, what your preconceived notion probably is of Southern California: young kids with rich parents that were pulling up to this club with fake breasts and beach blond, rolling in brand new BMWs even though they were only twenty-one years old.

I was the poor valet guy who was working off the tips. I had to take the money that mommy and daddy gave to them and they didn’t know what to do with. One of the other guys I valeted had heard of the guys, and that they were looking for a bass player. I listened to the music and it was pretty good. It was a different style though.

SFC: What were you used to before that?

AH: When I was in seventh, eight, and even ninth grade I was a metal head. I loved punk music, and I was playing in those types of bands.

I wanted to do something different and then I found these guys, and it seemed like they were just into writing good music.

SFC: Do you have a good story from The Scorpion Club?

AH: The girls would come out of the club and be hitting on us and your mind would be really on trying to make money and go home and get to sleep, so that was one adventure. We would charge $75 a spot for these guys that just wanted to have their H2 in the front spot. I had a blast because it was just me and five of my other buddies getting to drive Mercedes and BMWs, when I had 1990 Jetta that got rear-ended.

SFC: Do you consider yourself a local of Silver Lake where you reside now?

AH: I think I’m still earning that. Especially where we live in Silver Lake, there is a very close knit music culture and art culture, and we’re surrounded by writers and actors and everything that is LA. I would hope that we slowly but surely earn our keep.

SFC: In the Gorilla Manor, your house, who is the gorilla and who is the chimp of the house?

AH: I usually get the title from the other guys the more stern, and pretty brutally honest and the first one to say no to something—so, that would probably throw me in the gorilla. The chimp? I don’t know what the chimp would be. Depends on what you categorize the chimp as?

SFC: Well, I’ll leave that up to you.

AH: I’m trying to think how I would relate it. I think Ryan, the youngest out of everybody. He’ll be the chimp in our story.

SFC: How did you get the name Gorilla Manor for the house?

AH: Gorilla Manor is just a funny couple of words that Ryan thought of. We wanted to name the album based on the fact that we did all choose to live together in this house, and write these songs. We had spent so much time on it, while all that song writing was happening we were having way too much fun. It was that juxtaposition of Gorilla Manor, we thought that visual alone really fit what we were going through.

It was never an actual thing, and we would be like, “Let’s take this party back to the Gorilla Manor!”

Local Natives play on June 2nd at Rickshaw Stop, and June 3rd at the Bottom of The Hill. Tickets at the Rickshaw are $12. Doors open 8pm. Tickets at the Bottom of the Hill are $12. Doors open at 9:30pm.