May 29, 2009

Interview: Peter Silberman of the Antlers

I've written about the Antlers before. The band, the creation of singer/songwriter Peter Silberman, has released one of this year's best and most complete albums in Hospice. In the midst of preparing for his summer tour, Silberman found the time to speak with Everybody Taste about finding success in music, transferring Hospice to the stage, and my favorite, if his band were an animal, what kind it would be.

ET: What was the first song that made you want to play music?
PS: "Within You Without You" by The Beatles

ET: Your first concert?
PS: I'm thinking it was Raffi, and I'm hoping it was Raffi, because if it wasn't, it was probably Warped Tour many years ago.

ET: Every musician starts out as a fan. Was there a moment writing or recording when you realized you could really follow through with and make a career out of music?
PS: The first album I recorded by myself (when I was 17, I think) was really electronic, but sort of like a harsher, druggier, weirder & lamer Hospice. Making that album was some of the most fun I've had in my life. I worked on it for months, staying up til 5 drinking coffee and learning how to record on a glitchy pirated copy of Acid Pro. I always wanted to be able to make a career out of music, but never, ever thought it was likely.

ET: Did you ever hit the wall and think about pursuing something else?
PS: All the time. Music has "good days" and "quit days", and usually more of the latter of the former. But any time I try to seriously pursue something else, I realize I'm terrible at it, or that I don't care about it nearly as much as making music.

ET: Using only five words, describe the difference between In The Attic of the Universe and Hospice?
PS: It - is - a - longer - album - !

ET: Was making a concept album something that was planned in advance or did it develop more organically?
PS: It happened right away. The idea for Hospice came before any songs were written, so the songs were written alongside a story, built to follow it and fit into it.

ET: Hospice feels very much like a headphone record--it's incredibly intimate. What's it like transferring those songs to the stage in front of a room full of people?
PS: Well, we work on creating a big sound. We try and fill the room up with a huge amount of sonic space. There's more keyboards, and more building up to explosive things. It's all a bit looser, too, not necessarily confined to follow the record exactly.

ET: How did you find your bandmates Darby Cicci and Michael Lerner?
PS: Michael and I found one another when I was looking to stop playing solo and get a band started. Darby joined the band playing only accessory parts, but in the past year has become the booming, massive sound of the band. He was a friend of someone who used to play bass in the band.

ET: I really enjoy your version of the Magnetic Fields' "Nothing Matters When We're Dancing." It seems like a natural song for you to play. Whether you're at home, recording, or in concert, what's the criteria for picking a cover and do you have a favorite to play?
PS: I think the most important thing about a cover, whether in recording or performing, is changing it. Simple songs are the best for this because you've got the most legroom to drastically change it while still making it recognizable.

ET: Hospice is by far one of my favorite records of the year so far. What's been buzzing in your ears?
PS: Thanks! I think I over-listened the new Dirty Projectors. I loved it too much and needed to take some space from it. I've found myself listening to Knock Knock by Smog everyday for about 2 months as well.

Quick fire round:

ET: What's in the plastic cup while your perform: whiskey, beer, or water?
PS: Usually beer in one cup, water in another. If there's a third cup, it'd be whiskey, but probably not on stage.

ET: Pick one: a sober, drunk, or high audience?
PS: High audience

ET: First album cover art that pops in your head?
PS: The cover of the new Bowerbirds album. It's beautiful and I've listened to it probably ten times today. It completely surprised me.

ET: Finish this sentence: "When not making music, you can find me..."
PS: On my new roof, or building Ikea furniture (I just moved). Or walking around Greenpoint.

ET: If the Antlers were an animal, what would it be?
PS: A dog with bees in his mouth, so that when he barks, he shoots bees at you.

The Antlers - "Bear" (from Hospice)


  1. "A dog with bees in his mouth, so that when he barks, he shoots bees at you." <<<< i wish I'd said that!

  2. It's a awesome Simpson's quote -- a friend's band of mine was named "Dog Shooting Bees" before they renamed as "Bring Me the Boy" (another Simpson's quote :)

    Great interview -- amazing album.

  3. Ha, good call. Didn't know that.