Composing a soundtrack for all our glowing triumphs, withering heartaches, and subdued disenchantment, the Antlers share liveliness in contemplation. Hospice, their latest album released in August, conceptualized sorrow and mourning in the loss of a loved one to bone cancer. The music and stories shared are intimate and genuine as they are graced by delicate instrumentation and placid vocals. Recently Ca Va Cool had a chance to speak with Peter Silberman and we discussed forgiveness, religion, and the future of the Antlers.
Jan: You mentioned that the writing and recording process for much of Hospice was done in isolation, what triggered the time alone?
Peter Silberman: Actually, Hospice wasn’t made in isolation. It was made while reconnecting with a lot of people I’d lost touch with over the course of a couple of years.
Jan: Do those reconnections underlie any of the tracks on the album?
Peter: Hospice more or less ends with a plea for forgiveness from people I’d ignored and been distant from. That’s what ‘Wake’ is about.
Jan: Do you feel disconnected with the themes covering Hospice now that it is in the hands of the public?
Peter: If anything, I think that’s helped the album become something entirely different, existing within other people, no longer just within myself. That’s what I wanted.
Jan: How did Darby and Michael get involved with the Antlers? How long have you known one another?
Peter: We’ve all known one another for a few years now. They got involved back when the band was first getting together, when it was a larger group. We scaled it back and decided we were happiest with it being a three-piece, then began touring and spending all of our time together.
Jan: Was it strictly a musical connection or were you friends before the Antlers started?
Peter: We met one another through playing music, but by nature of being in a touring band, you either become close friends or you completely fall apart.
Jan: Would you consider Hospice as an extension of In the Attic of the Universe, do the albums share any sentiment?
Peter: I don’t know if the two are related or not. I think in a way, they’re both records about being completely lost, but In the Attic of the Universe is about some kind of almost religious misdirection. In retrospect, I think In the Attic of the Universe is about finding the wrong solution to what’s going on in Hospice.
Jan: Can you elaborate on In the Attic of the Universe as a religious misdirection? Do you think that finding the wrong solution is part of the process to working out the themes of Hospice or more of a tragic turn of events?
Peter: While making In the Attic of the Universe, I really just thought I was making a record about my fascination with the universe, and to an extent, that’s what it was about. But really, it was made at a time that I was really screwing up my life and very unhappy, and for some reason was finding some kind of comfort in the enormity of space. I was really disconnected at the time. I think it’s normal for people to seek religious connection when their life is fucked up and they can’t find a real solution. I think that’s what I was doing, but with something that wasn’t a formalized religion. Hospice is about the failure to fix problems, the damage that results, and the reparations that follow.
Jan: What was the most difficult thing about Hospice?
Peter: I think the hardest thing about this record is the rare moments in which I regret ever having made it. 99% of the time, I’m overwhelmingly glad that this record exists and that it’s brought me where it has, but there’s some guilt too.
Jan: Could you describe this feeling of guilt?
Peter: The record doesn’t necessarily paint a flattering picture of the person who inspired it. I think it’s an accurate portrayal, but I have a conscience, and I feel weird about it.
Jan: The record has a steady flow to it, can you see the album as a single story rather than tattered memories tied together?
Peter: I think of it as a series of very specific memories that are part of a single story.
Jan: Is there a personal relationship you were in that was tied to Hospice?
Jan: With the themes of death, love, loss, and hope in Hospice do you think there are any topics particularly challenging to cover in music?
Peter: Politics. I think that’s the trickiest and I’ve always avoided it. But, I do think it can be very powerful if done well.
Jan: For an album that deals with terminal illness at what point did you feel the record breathe life back into you?
Peter: When the record was done, I felt at once rejuvenated.
Jan: Did you have any notions of what the album would become once released?
Peter: I really had no idea things were going to become this insane. It’s really wonderful, I’m happy that it’s taken on a life of its own.
Jan: What inspired you to share those stories through the long recording process?
Peter: I think I just sort of felt like this story needed to be out there somehow. I didn’t expect anything from it, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t feel as though I had much else of an option.
Jan: Are there any distinct projects you’d like to work on in the future, what’s coming up next for the Antlers?
Peter: Darby and I have been remixing some tracks for other people, and we’ve all been planning the next record, in a very preliminary way. I don’t know when we’ll get a chance to start some real, honest work on it.
Jan: Hospice took a year and half to record and then another half year to release, what caused the large gap?
Peter: When it was done, we didn’t really know what to do with it. We talked to a couple labels but nothing worked out. We went on tour, and by the time we came back, it was still sitting. We made the choice to release it ourselves, but that takes some time to prepare for.
Jan: Is some recording pressure relieved now that you’ve signed with Frenchkiss Records?
Peter: I don’t know that there was ever recording pressure. Oftentimes, bands come under more pressure from a label to record a certain way, but Frenchkiss completely respects our creative freedom.
Jan: What’s been the biggest change in your life since you’ve started recording with the Antlers or since Hospice was released?
Peter: This biggest change has been the touring, that I’m constantly going to new places and don’t have a real home anymore.
Jan: The Antlers have several dreamy moments; do you ever see yourself working on music without a vocal part?
Peter: Absolutely. We all listen to a lot of instrumental music, and most of Hospice was recorded and tinkered with instrumentally. It could happen.
Jan: Have you had any formal vocal training?
Peter: Nope, but I should probably go to a vocal coach because I’m sure I’m fucking up my voice.
Jan: What’s beautiful and ugly about music today?
Peter: Enthusiasm is beautiful, indifference is ugly.
Jan: What have you been listening to lately?
Peter: Low, Holly Miranda, Modeselektor, and a bunch of DJ Kicks CDs we were given by !K7.
Jan: Do you have any favourite lyrics?
Peter: This isn’t my favorite of all time, but what’s coming to mind now, because I was just listening to it, is from a Sparklehorse song, “I’m the dog that ate your birthday cake.”
Jan: Is there anything you couldn’t live without?
Jan: If you weren’t in music and income wasn’t a concern, what would you like to be doing?
Peter: Probably photography. I wish I was a better photographer.
Jan: Do you see yourself as an extrovert/introvert or pessimist/optimist?
Peter: I used to be a pessimistic introvert, but in the past six months I’ve become an optimistic extrovert. It’s weird.
Jan: If you had a couple of minutes to say something to the entire world, what would be worth mentioning?
Peter: Don’t waste your life doing something you’re bored with.
Jan: What is happiness?
Peter: Happiness is never wanting to sleep.
Tags: The Antlers