Bursting apart, coming together

Antlers front man Peter Silberman talks creative process amidst resounding success

Critically-acclaimed indie band The Antlers released its fourth album, Burst Apart, last year. Supplied

After moving to Brooklyn, Peter Silberman met Michael Lerner and Darby Cicci, two of the men who would join him in the formation of The Antlers.

Nearly five years later, and following the success and critical acclaim of two full-length records, the band’s chief songwriter reflects on the past, and what’s vaulting the group into the future.

“It started off with just me,” Silberman recalls during a recent phone interview. “I moved to New York to get it started in a real way ... Darby and Michael stuck around (and) we continued to play music together.”

The Antlers’ third album, 2009’s Hospice, was released on Frenchkiss and met with almost unanimous praise. Critics cited the album’s haunting ambiance and post-rock flavour among its strengths, while its allegory of an emotionally abusive relationship also received attention.

Silberman attests to the deeply personal elements of Hospice, ones that are directly informed by his own life experiences, but says he never expected the type of reception the work eventually garnered.

“We had pretty modest ambitions at the time,” he says. “We didn’t really know what we wanted to do and couldn’t expect what happened. The record picked up quite quickly even though it was a very personal story for me to be telling.”

Enigmatic lyricism and nuanced, expressive instrumental segments came to characterize The Antlers who released their fourth LP, Burst Apart, just over a year ago.

“After touring we thought, what do we want to do? We had an opportunity to capitalize on something successful, a chance to make something that we were excited about,” Silberman says.

“We were in a state of change, struggling to keep up and make sense of it all.”

Burst Apart, while diverging from the conceptual rigidity of Hospice, established a strong rock foundation with electronic elements, broadening the group’s sound and inviting a remix EP in the same year featuring Neon Indian and Bear in Heaven called (together).

“Musically, I thought we were trying to push ourselves in new directions,” he says. “Burst Apart is about self-destructive tendencies, and I think it’s a common feeling to be your own worst enemy sometimes.”

Silberman is excited to play his first show in this city as part of the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival. He does not go into great detail when discussing the band’s next album, though.

“We just finished working on something during January, February and March,” he hints. “I’m trying to stretch out creatively, explore new ideas, and be relaxed with the whole process. I have the feeling of a blank slate, and I’m thrilled to start writing.”

While new material is in the works, listeners and fans alike can expect great things from Silberman and the young Antlers, a group that has certainly grown through an artistic process fuelled by creative impulse and a refreshing outlook on the music industry.

“I like to think we’ve been ourselves throughout this process, and we try to hang onto that,” Silberman says.

Published in Volume 66, Number 27 of The Uniter (May 30, 2012)

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