After garnering serious acclaim with their stunning, profoundly heartbreaking albums Hospice and Burst Apart, The Antlers have finally found their happy place. It’s under the sea—or Undersea, if you will. Sadly, no singing lobsters involved this time, but on this four track release, they haven’t at all wavered in their ability to make music that causes all kinds of shivers. Pete Silberman’s voice still an aural elixir you could happily drown in, this time surrounded by more intricate (but no less beautiful) arrangements. The raw emotion of past records has been left far behind, and things are woozier and much less urgent on Undersea. Listening to it it envelopes you with the same feeling you get when you lie by the water on a really, really hot day; reality slowly creeps away and time begins to melt and loosen as even your heartbeat slows, hushed.
I caught up with band members Darby and Pete briefly backstage at a festival in Lisbon—aptly, one by the sea—to find out a little more about why they created a four track album and whether this change in musical tone is a permanent change of direction.
So, is it a record or an EP?
Pete: It is an EP, we’re just being difficult...
Darby: EPs have this connotation of being haphazardly thrown together. For a lot of people, it can be a single with two alternate versions or remixes. We wanted to be very clear that it was four songs.
Did you always intend to do something of this length? It seems like a stopgap or sea change, if you will.
Pete: We didn’t really know what it was going to be going into it. I think a month into recording, we started to feel this connection to the songs and the sounds with this oceanic, aquatic feeling—this patient, calm vibe—and went with it. We knew we were going to make a full-length, so this was a nice way to experiment. We didn’t have to make anything. We’re going to have a new record out next year, which would have been totally fine, schedule-wise.
Darby: I think we had a lot of pent up creative energy after touring on Burst Apart for a year and feeling like we wanted to hit it and this was our chance to do that with no expectations or pressure. It was so free. We’re just making something underwater.
Are you going to carry on creating music with a less visceral, more subdued feel?
Pete: Every time we make something, we’re trying to make it just be very honest as far as where we’re at musically and conceptually. I don’t think we actually expected to make something that was in the conceptual realm, it just kind of happened. The past records have been intense and dramatic so we wanted to make something with the opposite intent, like calm. To be mellow.
Give yourselves some breathing space?
Pete: Yeah, to not have to revolve around intense darkness, but try something different.
Is that something that came out of your collective personalities shifting a little?
Pete: I think so. We’re pretty zen people in a lot of ways. Especially when we’re recording and playing music in our studio. It’s all about feeling at ease and feeling comfortable and like there’s no rush.
Darby: We started stretching every morning before music. It’s like, there’s got to be a half hour of stretching just to force yourself into a mental state that keeps the rest of the world out of the studio.
You can purchase the very zen Undersea L(E)P here:
The Antlers are currently on tour:
08-03-05 Katowice, Poland - OFF Festival
08-17 Biddinghuizen, Netherlands - Lowlands Festival
08-18 Kiewit, Belgium - Pukkelpop
08-31 Stradbally, Ireland - Electric Picnic 2012
09-01 North Dorset District, England - End of The Road Festival
09-08 Dallas, TX - Untapped Festival
09-14 Victoria, British Columbia - Alix Goolden Performance Hall
09-21 Hudson, NY - Club Helsinki
09-22 New York, NY - All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival
09-25 Toronto, Ontario - The Great Hall
09-26 Rochester, NY - Water Street Music Hall
09-27 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
09-28 Cincinnati, OH - MidPoint Music Festival
09-29 Pittsburgh, PA - Altar
09-30 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
12-07-09 Camber Sands, England - All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival
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