As they prepare to go on stage in Amsterdam, Peter Silberman, lead singer of indie rock band, The Antlers, speaks to Sinead Scully about their current tour, the ever changing music scene and the comfort of releasing flawed music
Only two shows into The Antlers’ world tour, lead singer Peter Silberman is already enjoying being back on the road. Silberman describes the “adventure” of touring as they currently take in most of Europe. “Everything is so different and unfamiliar. I think it’s kind of eye-opening and mind-expanding. It’s a really interesting circumstance to be in.” He seems genuinely enthusiastic and pleased about returning to Irish soil, playing the Olympia at the end of the month. Having last played in the Academy in 2011, Silberman recalls the last time they played in Ireland. He reminisces about the crowd being “completely insanely enthusiastic in a way I’ve never seen before, it was amazing.”
The Antlers hail from Brooklyn, New York and formed in 2006. Yet in an industry known for its fickle audiences and increasingly changing trends, Silberman isn’t all that concerned with staying relevant. The Antlers tend to march to the beat of their own drum. Dismissing the pressure of staying relevant, Silberman feels, “I think relevance is such a fickle thing by itself. It doesn’t really last for very long. I think what’s relevant to one person isn’t relevant to another. I think we just try and stay relevant to ourselves personally.” Silberman becomes almost a role model as he stresses the importance of staying relevant to yourself rather than “what feels relevant to the mass population.”
The band released their fifth album, Familiars, earlier in the year. When asked about the process of recording the record, Silberman has to pause and think for a moment. Starting out as a solo artist and having been recording albums since he was in his formative teen years, he admits that he’s almost lost track of how many he has worked on. He refers to his ever-changing creative process. “I think depending on where you’re at in life, your creative process changes and I think for me it’s become very different in the past couple of years in terms of getting a methodology down and a process.” He notes how each band member has their own idiosyncrasies when recording, yet over the years they have come to “sharpen and hone” their processes and now all three band members “have a way of locking in together”.
Pressure and developing as a band are two subjects Silberman is very happy to elaborate on. He feels no pressure as such to create a certain album or to move in a set direction. He alludes to pressure in terms of a question, “I think it’s always a question of do you want to stay the course or do you want to throw a surprise in there”. He, thankfully, feels The Antlers do a combination of both. Never to be a mundane outfit, they let themselves be taken on whatever path seems most natural rather than deciding from the outset that they are going to work a certain way. This spontaneity and free-spiritedness is something Silberman seems pretty passionate about.
The conversation turns to the current state of the music industry and the treatment of new and upcoming artists, such as Marika Hackman, who is supporting the band on tour. Unlike many music cynics out there, Silberman sees the way things are happening now as “really cool”. “I think there’s a lot going on, it’s a very crowded field, probably in a way it hasn’t been before. But at the same time I think there are way fewer barriers to entry now. There’s more of an accessibility to be able to release your own music and connect with people out there than there was several years ago. I think it must be making a positive impact in some way.
Silberman manages to explain something of the rawness of The Antlers music when he is asked when, if ever, he knows that a record is good enough to be released. “I don’t think I ever feel certain that anything is good. I doubt it all the time but I think that’s part of my process. I don’t know if there’s ever certainty, there’s just more of a moment when you know it ought to be done, you know to finish something and wrap it up.” He believes in imperfections. “I like to let something go while it stills feels kind of flawed.”
Proud of his Brooklyn roots and accepting of its influence on his own creative juices, Silberman feels that getting the opportunity to absorb music from all directions makes it “so much easier to discover new, strange music”. Although he says that there is no direct influence from any one artist or genre, it is the eclectic mix which so often defines New York that Silberman feels helps him produce the music he does.
When reflecting on The Antlers’ journey as a band, it is evident that fame and celebrity status is definitely not what Silberman is interested in. Referring to the progression of the band, Silberman likes to think of it as being “a pretty sort of natural evolution”. He accepts the fact that they have been a slow, but constant, burner in terms of coming to popularity. This assessment of the band’s popularity does not seem to trouble Peter as he states “we’re not trying to take another leap forward, but we just travel at our own pace with it, if more people discover it then that’s great”.
With nothing only some well-deserved time off in the pipeline after this round of touring, Silberman and his bandmates will be keeping eager fans waiting. However, Silberman coyly admits that the most “unpredictable” things seem to happen during their rest period, one can remain hopeful that the end is not yet nigh for The Antlers.
The Antlers played the Olympia on Oct. 30th.