Tiptoe: The Antlers

Behind the scenes of 'Burst Apart'
The Antlers.jpg
Midnight. Screen On The Green.

The Antlers take to a London stage to perform their new album ‘Burst Apart’ in its entirety. The setting – and time –seems perfectly appropriate, with the twilight hour wrapping itself around the band’s dark yet transcendent songwriting.

“I think we were just looking for different kinds of ways to do a show, to do something small and intimate. We had a lot of different ideas kicking around, all kinds of different spaces we could play in –theatres and so forth” laughs Peter Silberman. “When this came around we thought it was perfect”. For a long time the sole creative force in The Antlers (indeed, the project began as a solo venture) ‘Burst Apart’ is the group’s first stab at becoming an actual, proper band. Touring their breakthrough album ‘Hospice’ into the ground, the trio exhausted themselves as Silberman re-lived the all-too-personal inspiration onstage every night. “I came out of it really fucking tired and needing space from it, needing to put it to bed, basically” he sighs. “It was good to have something new to start on but at the same time this record is me processing all the stuff that happened. I’m still doing that every day, there’s not really a lot of downtime.”

Re-grouping in the studio, The Antlers were faced with the prospect of working as a unit. The trio began jamming, endlessly toying with ideas until something clicked. “There wasn’t a lot of planning went into it, that was what we had to do – we just had to let go and see what the songs became. Once they revealed themselves, when they had some kind of shape that’s when I went in and put vocals on, put lyrics to them. We found out that this worked a lot better than me coming in with a fully written song and us trying to arrange it” the singer explains. Yet Silberman wasn’t entirely secure, and initially yearned for a sense of control. “It was a little bit scary. This is the first record we made together – ‘Hospice’ everybody played on it but it wasn’t the same thing. During the first half I didn’t know what to do with it as I didn’t know where my place in it was. But it freed me up in a lot of ways. I could just focus on guitar and singing, not trying to be the architect of everything. Which at the time I don’t really think I could have done without freaking out.”

Going right back to basics, The Antlers found inspiration in some unusual sources. Dealing solely with sound, the band began absorbing electronic music and found that their entire approach to songwriting was flipped upside down. “I think it just allowed us to let songs repeat. Let them go and breath. I think there’s a very different feeling to a lot of electronic music where you stop looking at the clock, you stop measuring different sections. Things like that” he describes. “I think that went into our songwriting process – just letting things go, letting them repeat and stop being so concerned with the pop structure of writing a song.”

The newfound confidence is obvious within a few seconds. ‘Burst Apart’ is a stunning return, matching the emotional tug of ‘Hospice’ yet with a redemptive edge – sure, black is still there but it’s a beautiful noir rather than ceaseless tragedy. Musically, The Antlers flourish with the trio adding colour to their otherwise slate-grey palette. “I think we found out a little bit more of who we are as a band on this record. We didn’t know that until we started touring” the singer insists. “Basically, we started off touring on something that I had made. We kind of had a sense of who we were as musicians but when we started writing together we had to figure out why we as musicians belonged together. We found a common thread – we had a tendency towards certain feelings in certain songs. Songs feel and move in a certain way and I think that the three off us really locked in.”

For so long a solo venture, painstakingly pieced together in a Brooklyn bedroom, The Antlers have now roared into life. Returning to London for a one off show, the concert at the Screen on The Green demonstrates a band in full control of their faculties – and more importantly, having fun. “Everything day something good happens is an encouragement to keep doing it” beams Peter Silberman. “I was doing this for a few years when it wasn’t working and you spend a lot of time struggling to quit or not quit while you’re doing it.”

“The older you get the more it becomes a particular feeling, especially if you play a show and nobody’s there and you make records and nobody hears them it’s hard to motivate yourself to keep going. You have bad days and good days – the good days are great and the bad days just make everything feel hopeless. Everything that has happened over the past few years has been a huge instilling of confidence. That’s how I think we felt when we went into ‘Burst Apart’ and when we approach writing and recording from here on out it’s a feeling of confidence. I just feel like we can just do whatever we want now, basically.”

'Burst Apart' is out now.

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