The Antlers have created a world where a cheerful mariachi horn can be right at home with classic soul chord progression and the heady dystopian plodding of Pink Floyd.
“I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd for so long that I’m sure it’s in there in a permanent way,” says singer and guitarist Peter Silberman.
On “Familiars,” the band’s third official album as a multi-member concern (Silberman released several bedroom-recorded cassettes under The Antlers moniker in the beginning) the one thing that unifies all of these disparate sonic elements is patience.
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“That’s become my way of attempting to be present in songwriting,” says Silberman of the careful pace that defines the album, “and musically, I think that playing music is a much more present activity for me, and part of the reason that I tend to lean toward slower tempos is to negate the rush to the finish line. You know how when a song starts and it’s kind of catapulting towards the end of it? It’s something that lately I haven’t been interested in at all. I think you miss everything that happens in between with that approach. I enjoy patience in music and I enjoy trying to cultivate that for myself.”
Silberman says that the other members of the band not only exercise patience when they’re playing, but also when the singer is revising lyrics right up to the deadline.
“Through the last days of recording I was still changing words,” he says.
Although he is able to keep himself at a slower tempo when recording his words, he does speed up when he speaks about it, still obviously excited to discuss the music.
“I wanted it to be the truest album, but I think reaching some sort of state of ultimate truth is kind of impossible and I learned that over the course of this,” he says. “There is no such thing as perfection, and I was thinking of it as some sort of puzzle, and I wanted it to be a puzzle where all the pieces fit together perfectly. And I kind of just drove myself crazy trying to make that happen, and I got as close as I could get, but there’s really no way to do it, since by nature of being human it’s going to be flawed and have pieces that don’t quite fit together.”
Silberman says that although he is always tweaking his lyrics, he doesn’t often take them to the band.
“We don’t really sit down and say, ‘OK, this song is about impermanence’ and ‘This song is about a line of questioning yourself’ or ‘This one is about memories and the way that regrets can imprison you.’ We don’t really have those conversations,” he says.
But if he has a readymade phrase like “the way that regrets can imprison you” about one of the songs, then he’s obviously having these conversations with somebody.
“I’m mostly having these conversations with myself,” he says. “In order to figure out what that line is, I often have to write it out in plain speech, and less poetically, and say, ‘OK, what the f— is the point that I’m trying to make here?’”