The Antlers - Peter Silberman Interview

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Interview By: Jim Markunas

I just recently got into The Antlers after my angriest staffer told me that he actually liked them (and he doesn't like much... not even me). I figured they had to be pretty good. I asked our friends @ Tell All Your Friends for a copy of Hospice and the rest was history.

The Antlers spent a few years making this album, a concept record about the birth and death of a relationship. Under normal circumstances, I (and the rest of my staff) would call that concept 'cliche,' but The Antlers not only tread new musical territory on Hospice, but the fact that they've morbidly compared a relationship to a place people go to die appeals to my dark sense of humor. Kudos, Antlers! Kudos!!! We caught up with Peter Silberman for a quick interview.

Jim: First, I'm a big fan of your record “Hospice.” I like the sound you guys are going for. For our readers who are unfamiliar with The Antlers, can you tells us a little about your band- the music you make and why they should buy it?

Peter: The band was really focused on this record. We made the record over the course of a few years and was it released a few months ago. The album tells a story, basically detailing a relationship between two people. It's atmospheric and narrative. It’s post-rock and electronic.

Jim: That makes sense. I liked (I have a dark sense of humor), the fact the record is about a relationship and you called it “Hospice,” a place where you go to die.

Peter: Thanks.

Jim: Can you tell us why this record took so long to come out?

Peter: A lot of stuff with this record took a long time. The writing took a long time and went through a lot of editing, so that the story would make sense. We wanted it to flow from start to finish. You have to be careful that there are no plot holes. Recording Hospice involved a lot of parts on top of another. We would take time away after recording a song to make sure we were happy with it and that the song worked with the others. It can be frustrating. It was either totally working or totally failing. The lyrics had to make sense to make sure that the story work. After recording, we were happy to have a break.

We finished the album in August/September 2008 and that was when we started touring. We became a solid three piece. We took the album to a couple of places and in the beginning of 2009, we just wanted to get the album out, so we self-released it in March. It gained momentum. We signed with French Kiss in May and they re-released in August. So the album has been alive for about a year. We are surprised it has lasted this long and we are touring and moving forward in a positive direction.

Jim: We totally wanted to catch you live to see how the music translated, but we fell off the guest list.

Peter: Really? When was that?

Jim: It was the last time you were in LA- about a week-and-a-half ago.

Peter: Oh, there was a fiasco, where we had a guest list, and we gave it to the promoter, and it never made it to the door. A lot people could not get in, and we didn't find out until after the show. We're not pointing the finger at anyone. Sorry about that and we will be back!

Jim: We definitely want to see you guys live the next time you're in town.

Peter: Sure, we will make sure you are on the list. It was nothing personal.

Jim: No problem, it happens in music! (laughs)

Peter: It’s a cluster-fuck!

Jim: That leads to my next question. What’s it like working with Syd Butler and FrenchKiss Records? What kind of experience has that been? (No offense to Syd or FrenchKiss, this just happened to be my next question!!!)

Peter: It's been really great! They are great running a label. It is a fair relationship and they're fair people. We got really lucky with them. I can’t think of a better relationship a band could have with a label.

Jim: That’s good. You don’t often hear that from musicians. It’s refreshing.

Peter: Yeah, it's been great, and I could have never expected to have this experience. They are great people!

Jim: What are some of your influences? What is in your CD player now? What has helped influence the sound of The Antlers?

Peter: Well, we were into indie rock while we were recording Hospice and we were listening to Sigor Ros, and stuff like that, but now we're on a big electronic kick. We're a little tired of indie rock. We went into another direction. We're in a van now and Mouse On Mars is on the stereo and they're good.

Jim: Are there any bands you toured with that you like?

Peter: We got lucky and we are having a great time working with other bands. They are a pleasure to watch. Holly Miranda for example, is so talented and wonderful and her record is about to come out and it will be a big deal.

Jim: Is Holly a label mate?

Peter: No, she's on XL. Check her out.

Jim: I have some silly questions that my writers wanted me to ask. If you were to attend a baseball game and buy a hot dog, which condiment would you prefer- mustard or ketchup and why?

Peter: Definitely ketchup. I hate mustard! I have always hated mustard. It’s weird.

Jim: In Chicago (where I’m from) you would never catch anyone putting ketchup on a hot dog. That's blasphemy!

Peter: It’s a NY thing too. My mom was always on me for having hot dogs with ketchup.

Jim: What was the last good movie you guys have seen?

Peter: I just saw “Synecdoche, New York.” I thought it was incredible.

Jim: What was that movie about?

Peter: It has Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener. It was directed by Charlie Kaufman. It’s hard to describe, and I'm still trying to get my head around it. Basically, Phillip is a play director and he constructs a world within a world. He discovers he has a rare medical condition and he starts to lose touch with reality. As the movie progresses you can’t tell what's real and what's in his head. It is amazing.

Jim: Is it more or less confusing than a David Lynch film?

Peter: It makes more sense than a David Lynch film. It's not as absurd. When I used to watch "Twin Peaks" there would be random things that didn’t make sense. I ask myself, “Why is that there? There's no reason for that.” Sometimes, David Lynch's films are weird for the sake of weird. In "Synecdoche," there's a reason why things are happening; you just have to figure it out.

Jim: I'll have to check it out.

Peter: Yeah, check it out.

Jim: There is anything you would like to say to our readers or your fans?

Peter: I can’t think of anything off the top of my head.

Jim: Thank you for the interview.

Peter: I hope we can see you the next time we are in LA.

Jim: Of course! Like I said, "We're on a mission."

Peter: Thank you and take care.

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