The AU Interview: Pete Silberman of The Antlers (US)

Brooklyn based trio The Antlers took the world by storm with their glorious LP Hospice back in 2009 and are continuing to win hearts across the globe with the recent release of their follow up record Burst Apart. The AU review caught up with front man Pete Silberman to find out what it’s all about.

Hi how are you going?

I’m good. I’m in Toronto at the moment, we’re playing a show in a couple of hours.

How did you meet Darby & Michael and start playing together?

We started playing together a few yeas ago. It was kind of a friends of friends type thing. I’d been playing shows by myself for awhile and we kind of just found each other in NY and started playing music together. Over time it became more collaborative and we started writing together and made this record.

Hospice received rave reviews around the globe, did you feel pressured at all when creating material for the follow up record?

I think it’s natural to feel pressure following up something that’s made a career for you, there’s no denying that. We were relieved in a way as we’d decided not to make another record that was like Hospice at all. It wouldn’t be something that we were into or that we could stand behind. It felt like Hospice was self-contained and the story was over. So there was pressure but it was exciting pressure. We realised we could do whatever we wanted with this.

The lyrics and story on Hospice was very led and with Burst Apart the lyrics are more obtuse and metaphorical. Was there anything in particular you were wanting to convey through the music?

I think Burst Apart is intentionally less specific than Hospice. Hospice needed to sound like a novel because it’s about a very specific story. Burst Apart is more intended to be open to interpretation so everything’s a bit more vague. Hospice was about me but I think Burst Apart could be about anybody.

What was the writing process like for Burst Apart?

We moved into our own studio. We’d finished touring for Hospice after touring for about 2 years. We took 5 – 6 months off and went into the studio every day and started messing around and trying things out and experimenting. Letting the songs build on their own and put down a drum pattern and put down guitar and then synthesiser and things like that. The music kind of grew on its own and eventually we just decided we were done. We’d reached the end. It was actually right before we came to Australia.We got to play a few of the new songs in Australia which was nice, but now we’re playing the entire record live and it’s exciting. We decided we wanted to have it done before we went on this month long tour. It was cool. It was the first time we’ve ever written songs together and recorded in the same space. It was nice recording in the same room because Hospice was recorded so differently.

Any plans to come back to Australia for Burst Apart?

I’d love to but it’s really about getting invited. We’re hoping that happens either early next year or the end of this year. We loved Australia when we were there

Was that your first time in the country?

Yes. It was all of our first times visiting. We got to do a little bit of sight seeing. There was so much flying around between shows. We spent a bit of time in Sydney, we went to Manly beach and the Opera house and did a lot of walking around. We actually had a bunch of days off in Perth so we spent a lot of time at the beach. We went to a park a couple of hours outside of Perth and saw some kangaroos. We went swimming at kind of natural springs. It was a really nice way to end the trip.

You toured with Laneway Festival during your time in Australia – do you prefer the festival sets or your headlining shows?

They’re too different to have a preference. Our own shows feels more like our domain than a festival just because we’re the ones in charge, but festivals are like a really weird dream world, which makes them pretty great in their own way.

What do you enjoy most about the live shows?

I’m starting to have staring contests with people in the audience to see which one of us looks away first.

What’s your personal musical background?

I started playing guitar when I was really young, I was about eight years old and my parents started teaching me how to play guitar. It’s pretty much been the focus of my life. All the way through I never really focused on school and work as much as I focused on guitar. I started doing it by myself after my parents broke up and I started singing because I didn’t have a band to play with. I started playing solo shows and have been doing it ever since.

What are your personal musical influences?

During Burst Apart I was listening to Portishead a lot early on, and the last couple Beatles records. Really I was listening to a million things but these are what come to mind now. These days my tastes are changing again and I find myself listening mostly to older records. Right now I’m listening to the Chi-Lites.

Future plans for The Antlers this year?

We’re going to tour for a really long time and hopefully go surfing at some point.