THE ANTLERS

PURSUING PERSPECTIVE

Rightly, The Antlers reign as part of indie-pop roy­alty. Born out of a solo project, which involved front-man Peter Sil­ber­man record­ing mostly in his bed­room, The Antlers mor­phed into a fully-fledged band in 2009, coin­cid­ing with the release of Hos­pice, the album that brought them to the core of indie consciousness.

While Silberman’s early solo efforts were rather lo-fi, The Antlers’ lat­ter releases are char­ac­ter­ized by care­fully lay­ered tracks that demand a start to fin­ish lis­ten, it’s the antithe­sis of dis­pos­able pop. They’re also pretty heavy in terms of con­tent. Death is a con­stant theme and Hos­pice, osten­si­bly set in an oncol­ogy ward, was actu­ally a metaphor for abu­sive rela­tion­ships. While for the most part the album cre­ates a down­trod­den atmos­phere, ‘Famil­iars’ comes as some­thing of a relief. Sure it’s bleak to start, but it ends on an almost upbeat note. That doesn’t mean that it’s any less thought­ful though.

Silberman’s quite open about the fact that a “per­sonal phi­los­o­phy” dri­ves each album. “The goal with this record in par­tic­u­lar was to get a bet­ter under­stand­ing of aspects of my per­sonal phi­los­o­phy, specif­i­cally relat­ing to mem­ory, the value that we place on mem­ory and how much we allow mem­o­ries to guide our present actions,” Sil­ber­man muses. “I think it’s a pretty com­mon belief that you should learn from your mis­takes and keep them with you, but I think there’s another side to that. You can hold onto mis­takes and pun­ish your­self with them. Where do you draw that dis­tinc­tion? It’s dif­fer­ent for every­body. When you come to real­ize that you’re reliant on your past to inform who you are in the present, it’s not always a good thing. Some­times you need to begin again or give your­self a blank slate to move forward.”

It was also a painstak­ing project. Unlike the gonzo lo-fi days (Silberman’s been known to lay down albums in less than a day, and recorded The Feb­ru­ary Tapein a lazy hour in the bath­tub). The Antlers took over a year and a half to fin­ish Famil­iars, and Sil­ber­man tweaked and pol­ished the shit out of it. Clearly, the end prod­uct was worth it, but does he ever get a han­ker­ing for the ease of the lo-fi days? “Yeah I do,” he admits.

“That stuff is still a part of my life and my cre­ative process though. I don’t spend as much time record­ing in the bath­tub as I maybe used to, but I still do make a lot of lo-fi record­ings, the only dif­fer­ence now is that I don’t release them and don’t nec­es­sar­ily fol­low them through to the final stages of song. It’s usu­ally sketches of things or dif­fer­ent record­ing exper­i­ments, but I still love record­ing the wrong way. It’s kind of a habit that I’m simul­ta­ne­ously try­ing to break myself free of and also just let myself do for fun.”

Given that the project was Silberman’s baby for the first few years, The Antler’s grad­ual tran­si­tion to a three piece band (together with Darby Cicci on key­boards and Michael Lerner on drums), required a men­tal gear change. “It’s a really dif­fer­ent way of oper­at­ing,” Sil­ber­man reflects. “When you’re writ­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple. It’s less about you going com­pletely into your own world, and more about pulling pieces of ideas out from that sub­con­scious place and shar­ing them in unfin­ished form with other peo­ple and join­ing your cre­ative minds around shared ideas.

“I find it more chal­leng­ing to work with other peo­ple, than to work by myself, partly because other peo­ple hold you account­able and chal­lenge you. It requires more co-operation and tact than work­ing by your­self. It’s been a really inter­est­ing ride so far, the way that the col­lab­o­ra­tion among me, Darby and Michael has evolved over the years. I played in bands grow­ing up as a kid, but it’s a bit like the rela­tion­ship you have when you’re at high school ver­sus an adult rela­tion­ship. The lay­ers of com­plex­ity increase when you’re older or you’re doing it pro­fes­sion­ally or when it becomes your life.”

Things have been pretty hec­tic for The Antlers, Famil­iars was released in June and the band’s pretty con­sis­tently toured off its back since. So what’s next?

“Right now, not a whole lot offi­cially,” Sil­ber­man says. “We’ve got some more shows, but we really just got back from a long tour and we’re try­ing to give our­selves a break and take a lit­tle bit of time off before our next moves. The future is feel­ing pretty wide open, which is cool. It’s nice to be in a fresh place where you feel that there’s a solid amount of work behind you and you don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to go in one direc­tion or another. It feels very open and free right now.”

The Antler’s Aussie tour is amongst the remain­der of their shows. They’ve been here before for the Laneway Fes­ti­val back in 2011. We made a good impres­sion, because Sil­ber­man described the expe­ri­ence as a “sub­lime time” and he’s look­ing for­ward to com­ing back.

“There’s some­thing about the first time you visit a place that can be very mag­i­cal,” he laughs. “The sec­ond time is always com­pletely dif­fer­ent, but it’s cool because it’s not com­pletely unfa­mil­iar to you – you have this aware­ness of what a place is like and it feels a bit like time travel.”

 

The Antlers are play­ing Laneway Fes­ti­val in 2015. For more infor­ma­tion visit www.lanewayfestival.com.

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