Women in Music 2016

Local Natives' Taylor Rice Reacts to Presidential Debate: 'It's Turned Into Reality TV'

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Taylor Rice of Local Natives performs during the 2016 Forecastle Festival at Waterfront Park on July 16, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Rice, who wrote the politically driven song "Fountain of Youth," chimes in on Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump's first showdown.

Even though Local Natives are on tour, vocalist and guitarist Taylor Rice made time to watch as much of Monday night's first presidential debate as he could. For anything he may have missed, he combed through the countless recaps, listicles and think-pieces inspired by the event. 

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Local Natives' most recent album, Sunlit Youth, is not only their most forward-thinking to date, it also inserted them in the politically geared dialogue for the first time. "We've never had socially conscious ideas on a record," Rice tells Billboard. "These were just things that I think were on our hearts and on our minds. So I felt prepared and excited to be a part -- some small part -- of a dialogue that hopefully has some effect."

Over the summer, the L.A. natives played a rally in support of Bernie Sanders when he was still in the running, though they've since shifted their support to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Rice wrote the song "Fountain of Youth" from the latest record, which has since become an anthem of sorts for change both in politics and elsewhere, as it includes the statement-making line: "I have waited so long, Mrs. President." 

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While Rice thinks the debate went better than expected for Hillary -- "[She] is a very very qualified, super smart woman who’s dedicated her life to public service and is a policy wonk and all these things that I would want my president to be" -- he acknowledges the deck is often stacked against her. 

He says absurd pressure is placed on Hillary to "pull off this ultra-complex showing of all these different personality traits -- be really relaxed and poised and happy but also really tough, but not too tough because people don’t like tough women," while all Trump had to do was "not be a complete lunatic and to appear presidential." Though he believes Trump even failed at that.

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He says Trump showed himself to be "ultra rude" and "incoherent" and that as a whole, "He's not really a capable human being to be president." Rice also blames Trump for the devolution of this election cycle, saying, "The whole thing has become a circus," adding that this election has veered away from professionalism, policy and facts "because of Trump."

This stance isn't a new one for the band, or more specifically Rice. During Local Natives' performance on Conan in July, Rice debuted a guitar that read "Make America Afraid Again." The guitar has since become a staple on their current tour. He says that now during the shows, he has also been making a comment about the election, noting how important it is and letting the audience know that everybody’s voice, though tiny alone, does sway the world in one direction or another when joined together. He says the band encourages everyone to be informed, be a part of the process, and vote. The nonprofit HeadCount has also been joining the band on tour in certain cities, setting up a booth or passing out information at the shows.

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Despite the concern, Rice still remains enthused and hopeful for the election's outcome. While he says Hillary's voters include populations of people that are growing, such as youths and minorities, support for Trump represents "this last dying gasp of fear of losing control." He acknowledges that this election is close -- which he says makes him nervous -- but he has his sights set on victory. "From my perspective, there is this clear path that I see to what will be a better world, and I just have a faith that that is inevitably going to win out."