Here’s an interview I did with The Antlers’ Miachel Lerner. We chatted about influences, evolution and sneaking into girls sauna…
You played in Bristol last night, how was that? Was there a good crowd?
Yeah, we played at Fun On The Boat (Bristol) You know that place? It’s docked and it was cool. And then we went afterwards to a cider house that was also on a boat. So everything in Bristol you do has to be on a boat.
Yeah, Bristol’s a really fun city.
Yeah it is, but its nice to be back in London
Have you managed to see some of London while you’ve been on tour here?
We get to spend a lot of time here. It’s good, I’m comfortable in London.
How did you find Brighton?
I liked Brighton a lot, I wish that when you’re there, being a seaside town, you could get some sun. We’ve played there a few times, at Conchord two (check) and one of our old TMs lives in Brighton so it kind of feels like a homecoming.
You played loads of festivals over the summer, any that stood out for you?
Around the UK? Yeah, we had really good fun at Green Man. I think there’s that family vibe, its chilled.
Yeah it’s a lot more chilled at Green Man, and you played Reading and Leeds as well, which is a little less chilled shall we say…
Yeah, but for us, not being on the main stage, its a lot less hectic. It was fun, the shows went really well. But I don’t really feel that there’s anything that stuck out as bad. We were in Mexico City a few weeks ago and that was as good as you think it would be. We’re really fortunate.
Talking about the new album Burst Apart, because Hospice was a concept album were you conscious of trying to move away from that or was it more an evolution of the band?
We thought, maybe, that we would see if we could have a go at it and do another concept record, have a go at it. But pretty much from the get go we felt that it would feel forced. The way it was written before by Peter [Silberman] and now it was us as a band, so we thought that wouldn’t fly. It was nice to be able to say creatively, we’re going to literally anything, try anything and then you pick up good bits and build on that.
Did you feel like you had more freedom writing Burst Apart as with writing within a concept its a lot more strict?
Yeah, although in the abstract freedom is good and freedom is bad. In my opinion there’s positives and negatives to both. When you freedom provides more risk taking but puts more pressure on you to make it good. The other way is simpler for me, as Pete would give me an idea of what he was looking for and I’d say we could try this, or this…I enjoyed both really.
Yeah, different experiences but both good?
I didn’t think Hospice this was [pete] telling me what to do, it was still a collaborative process.
On Burst Apart, listening to it there’s so many different styles in there. On I Don’t Want Love is more kind of California soft rock, Parentheses has a trip hop vibe to it and Rolled Together is kind of soulful. Is that something you did together or do each of your bring something to The Antlers?
Again, probably a bit of both. I mean, as a band on tour, when you’re not jammed into your ipods, everyone’s going to discover ‘hey, oh you like this record?’, cool, so we figured out what we didn’t know about our musical tastes. But each of us didn’t always discuss everything that was in our head, sometimes I’d have a concept and try and sneak it in here and there. All of that, good music filters through you and hopefully comes out as something original. But certainly the influences that you said and then some.
Talking about influences, what artists influences you and when you are on the road what are you listening to?
Today, for example, I didn’t really listen to it when it first came out but I listened to that SBTRKT record, like that one. Listening to the new Feist one, which is good but I mean she’s always good, she’s consistent. I find myself going back, and probably before we wrote Burst Apart, I rediscovered a lot R&B. Not just the older stuff, I mean the older R&B I’ve always listened to I’ll never fall away from that, but the more new soul, neo soul. Things like Sade and D’Angelo, at first I thought it was a bit cheesy and I kind of went away from it but then I just realised I shouldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.
You can’t go wrong with a bit of Lauryn Hill.
There you go, she is f***ing brilliant.
Hospice was a very do-it-yourself record. Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians to get their music out without the backing of a record label?
First off, its a blessing now that the internet has become everybody’s tool. We had a few people discussing releasing Hospice and we decided it would be the best idea for us to self release it and giving it away for free. If you have no fans you can make zero dollars, I think not being afraid of giving something away for free and get it into as many ears as possible. If you’re interested in being a touring band, when the time is right get yourself out there. But if you go too soon you can be in a bit of a vacuum and no one has come out to see you and that can be depressing and tough.
Yeah, I’ve been to those gigs.
That’s going to be for anybody starting out. We’ve had gigs playing to three people. They suck but you power through and you learn a lot from them. Then you appreciate them a lot more when you’re not doing them.
You’re about to release the companion EP (together) on the 22nd November with collaborations, alternate versions and that awesome cover of The xx’s VCR. I love a good cover, do you have more covers planned for the future?
Yeah but I’m not sure I can let you know about that yet. We’re definitely thinking about throwing some into the live set but I’d love to be able to cover something and release it.
2011 has been crazy for you, what have been the highlights, any things that you’ve got to do that you never thought you would?
Yes, well last year we played at Radio City Music Hall with The National so that was a dream come true and playing with them was a dream come true as well. This year, I would have to say playing on Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon. That was a ‘wow’ moment for me. And all the places that we’ve been that we hadn’t been to before.
What’s the plan for 2012, having a rest, more touring, back in the studio?
I don’t know what rest means…for the holidays we’ll have a bit of a rest. But because we have our own studio, its easy enough we just press the record button and we’d like to get some new ideas down and getting ready for a new release. Besides this EP, in theory we’d like to release something without having to wait so long between releases.
Have a couple of questions that The Guestlist Network ask everyone…If you could fill a swimming pool with anything (except water) what would you fill it with?
I think maybe those gold coins that are actually chocolate. They’d probably melt though…
You’re stranded on a desert island and you can take three famous people, dead or alive, with you, who would they be and why?
Three, no pressure there. I would take George Clooney, it’s stupid, but I feel like his lifestyle suits me…Ricky Gervais is hilarious and how about Jon Stewart. So it would be a bit political, a bit hilarious and for once I wouldn’t be the funniest guy in the room.
Nice. If you were invisible for a day, what trouble would you get up to?
I don’t want to say anything cheeky…I wouldn’t want to be anywhere where I thought anyone was talking about me. Sneaking into the girls sauna…or maybe, I don’t want to say anything too dirty…I might wanna sneak in on someones chat session to a therapist. I mean yeah I would sneak into the girls sauna, but my official answer is the therapist one.
Do you have an exclusive for The Guestlist Network?
Just lots of exciting things coming up and the EP (together) that’s out November 22nd.