Don’t call it a comeback…

…although Native won’t mind if you do

By Tim Anderl
Photo: Native will perform at The Southgate House Revival on March 20; photo credit: David Summers

Hailing from northwest Indiana, Native is comprised of four friends who came together after realizing they were each the most serious about music in their respective former high school bands. The guys decided to retire their childhood groups and instead come together to form Native in the summer of 2007.

Word of mouth about their live shows and their EP caught the attention of U.S. label and management company Sargent House who went on to sign the band and who has since re-issued their debut EP. Native have continued to tour non-stop, building quite a following in a short time through their unforgettable live shows and well-executed musicianship. Native recently finished recording their second full-length album, Orthodox, with Greg Norman (Russian Circles, Pelican) in Chicago. Sargent House will release the album in summer 2013.

Dayton City Paper caught up with guitarist Ed O’Neil before the band launches a tour with Caspian to discuss the band’s roots and new direction.

Are you guys still living in Indiana?

Three of us do. I’m actually living in Chicago. Our hometown was essentially a suburb of Chicago, so we all still live around the same area.      –Ed O’Neil

Do you think that coming from a Midwestern background has lent itself to how you developed your work ethic?

We really just try to push forward no matter what. We’ve been doing this for a really long time; coming up on six years now. I think we have a spirit of perseverance and the mindset that if you stumble, you pick yourself up and keep going. -EO

Has Native ever been challenged with the question of whether to continue or call it a day?

Without a doubt. Last year and the year before we were really struggling. We had so much of our identities wrapped up in the band and the people in the band were changing, but the band wasn’t. We had a lot of serious conversations about this. We believe that the band should represent what you feel and want to achieve and if it isn’t doing that, then there’s no point to continue. We realized that it wasn’t doing what it was supposed to, had a lot of really awful long talks and breakdowns. Fortunately, we were able to cleanse it, detox and get back to it. -EO

Is there a commonality in terms of where your passion for creating music comes from?

I think that’s the main component of Native. We have a lot of passion when it comes to creating songs. There is no primary songwriter. Each of us has a 25 percent stake in this and we grind out the songs together. That is one of the reasons it takes us so long to write. -EO

What was working with Greg Norman on your forthcoming release like?

We wanted an album that was more simple sounding, but also captured the rawness of the new songs – the little, subtle things. He was awesome to work with and he bent over backwards for us. -EO

How did you decide that Sargent House was the right label for Native?

They are really fair to their artists, a lot more fair than a lot of other industry people. They also totally love the bands that they sign and back them. They’ve created a culture that is sympathetic to the artist. Some people have the wrong idea about touring musicians – this isn’t a vacation, it’s another job. When people realize that and approach it with that mindset, it makes it a lot easier.   -EO

Will you be playing a lot of material from the new record when you are on tour with Caspian?

We are going to pretty much stick to new material and play one or two old songs a night. We wouldn’t play any old songs if it was up to us, but that isn’t fair to people who haven’t seen us. We made the mistake of not relearning any old songs prior to our first trip to Europe and a lot of people were disappointed. We didn’t intend to slap people in the face with it, but playing our old songs is really just paying lip-service to them. It isn’t really where we are at now. -EO

You are probably more emotionally attached to what you’ve done recently, too …

That is a great way to put it. We are extremely emotionally attached to the new stuff and not so much anymore to the old stuff. -EO

Does that lend itself to a stronger performance too?

Absolutely. That was a huge problem with the older stuff. We just couldn’t get into it. It was obvious to us when we played. This is way more real and we have a lot more fun with it. It is more unhinged than the last stuff. -EO

So it is like that LL Cool J song, “Don’t call it a comeback,” but it really is sort of a comeback?

(Laughter) I love that. I’ve been waiting for an LL Cool J reference with regards to Native for years and you just nailed it. -EO

Native perform on Wednesday, March 20 at The Southgate House Revival, 111 E. 6th Street, Newport, Ky. Caspian and Dessa Sons are also on the bill. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 DOS. Doors at 7 p.m. For more information, visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at

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