A simple bedroom project becomes an entirely new powerhouse on "Get Well Soon."
“People are scared to love the Beatles,” says Ross Farbe, vocalist and guitarist of New Orleans dream-pop, rock ‘n’ roll band Native America. “Along with that, the Beach Boys. Another band that everyone’s afraid to like. We adore them.” Get Well Soon, the band’s newest full-length, proves they aren’t afraid to show a little love to their predecessors. The record is ‘60s-era pop-rock with Beatles-esque harmonies, strong, straight rhythms, and a little extra fuzz and reverb. Native America plays Circle Bar tonight.
Farbe and St. Cyr are familiar faces to the New Orleans indie rock scene as current members of Sun Hotel, and drummer Ray Micarelli played with New Grass Country Club. The three were close friends but hadn't created music together until their later college years when Native America began to take shape. “In Sun Hotel, Tyler would come to us with songs,” Farbe says. “I love his songs, but I had this void where I wanted to express these other ideas. I decided to write and see how they would flesh out.”
In the beginning, Farbe went at it alone with no intention of releasing his material. “I thought that maybe I’d find some friends to play it with one day,” Farbe says. “But the band started as me recording stuff by myself, and I didn’t have any plans.” This soon changed. Farbe titled his project Native America and made the decision to release his 2010 five-track EP Dancing About Architecture. It’s a collection of bedroom experiments with spacey, melodic, sometimes psychedelic textures that differ from the Native America heard on Get Well Soon. “We used to show people the first EP and say, ‘This is nothing like what we sound like now,’” Farbe says. “Get Well Soon is way more of what we do live. We did experiment and do some strange things on the recordings, but it’s a live sound.”
The new record solidifies Native America as less of a project and more of a band. Whereas early Native America recordings showcase lush, layered noises and reverb-heavy vocals, the collection of songs on Get Well Soon make the same idea punchier, almost punk in places. This is no longer a one-man-band. “Get Well Soon has a few songs where I started them myself, and John and Ray added layers on top,” he says. “But most of them, we started by recording the three of us live and then layering on top of that. It’s more rooted in the full-band thing.”
Even in Native America’s evolution, the soundscape is similar. Take the whopping nine minute long track “Pictures,” for example. Its humble beginning– more reminiscent of earlier Native America tracks– explodes around the six minute mark, a wall of gritty, thick sound that wouldn’t be the same without St. Cyr and Micarelli’s contributions.
The tracks on the new album were recorded over the course of a year or more, St. Cyr says. Much of it was done at the band’s practice space, but more spontaneous recording sessions occurred in various homes and inspired a few of Get Well Soon’s subtle quirks. “I was home for Hurricane Isaac, and the power went out right after I recorded the noisy guitar part in ‘Pictures,’” Farbe says. “You hear it on the recording. It cuts out. I couldn’t even listen to it because my computer died. It was a crazy little thing that got stuck in there. I was really scared I had lost it, but it auto-saved itself.”
With the record’s release now behind them, Native America has focused on gigs more than anything else– the usual along with the slightly unusual. “My old gym coach called me, and he’s like, ‘You’re still in a band, right?” Farbe says. Just like that, Native America had booked a gig at a local middle school lock-in. “When we first started playing, the kids were very attentive,” says St. Cyr. “They were sitting cross-legged and clapping after every song. Ray had the idea to have a dance competition with them, and the kids started partying. They partied so hard. They were just old enough to care about music, but not care about being cool.”
“It was the perfect thing,” says Farbe. “Get ‘em while they’re young?”
“We’ve got to get this interview in Highlights.”
"Get Well Soon" is currently up for free download on Native America's website.