Monday 18 December 2017

Q&A: The Antlers' Peter Silberman

On channelling a lifetime of hurt into your music, and what you need to do when you're ready to move on

Ed Power

Ed Power

Your mortality-obsessed last record, Hospice, was the mother of all head wreckers. So we were surprised to slap on the follow-up and discover it was kinda groovy actually.

I don't mean to sound pretentious, but it's really a meta album.

Really? We aren't hearing the Iron Maiden influence, to be honest.

No, a 'meta' thing. It is informed not by the success of Hospice but by Hospice itself, by my relationship with that record.

Woaah, dude. That's pretty deep for 8.30 in the morning.

With Hospice, I spent a lot of time living in the past. While I don't regret it, you need to move on. Where do you go next, if your past doesn't feel relevant anymore?

To the future! Sorry, got a bit carried away there. Let's stay with Hospice for a moment. It was a concept album about a woman dying in hospital. And, as is well documented, it was informed by events from your private life.

By the time I made Hospice, I wasn't reliving those events. I was turning them into what felt to me to be a fictionalised version of true events. Because audiences responded to that in a such a strong way, it really became their story and not mine.

Still, it must have been a wrench to tour that record for two years.

It was a world I found myself in every night. I wasn't reliving those events but I was still in a universe of despair. I was really eager to move on. However, I had painted myself into a corner. Going into the new album, I wanted to get past all that without necessarily forgetting it. It was me making my peace with Hospice and finding my bearings.

You were also relinquishing creative veto. Hospice was written as a solo project, whereas Burst Apart was a fully collaborative project with the rest of the group.

This was us writing an album together from the ground up. As I've mentioned, we toured Hospice for a loooong time. By the time we were done, we had a much better sense of who we were as a band and as musicians. We had definite ideas about how we wanted to sound. Rather than going back to how Hospice was created, we wanted to do something more democratic.

Plus, you didn't have to worry about the over-arching 'concept' making sense. You were free to write songs as you saw fit.

Well, I was still worried abut that stuff. I was definitely thinking about it, but the over-all approach was different. It was me letting the record reveal itself rather than trying to control it. There was no map, we wrote the songs to see where things would lead.

Burst Apart is out now. The Antlers play Academy, Dublin, and Cyprus Avenue, Cork, in November

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