When I hung up from our call with The Antlers’ frontman Peter Silberman, it felt almost as if I’d been speaking to an old friend. The reason being, Silberman is nice - in an easy, thoughtful, genuine way. The Brooklyn-based singer songwriter shared his childhood memories, his inspirations, even his “homeopathic” remedy for a broken heart. (We’ll give you a clue: time cures all.)
We were wondering if you could offer some insight. It seems like almost every cool band is based in Brooklyn. Why do you think that is?
I think New York’s always been that way. I think what’s happening now is that these people are getting pushed out of the city because the cost of living here is just so ridiculously high. But I think people are still flocking here and the community here is has spread out… and with that, the creative environment is changing. There’s a lot more collective creative spaces being founded and these micro scenes popping up. I think people role with the punches and meet the challenges of living here and they’re creating pretty cool things as a result of it.
You’re touring Australia soon with your latest album, Familiars. What are you favourite and least favourite things about being on tour?
I think I like the exploratory aspect of being on tour, getting to meet these places, meeting lots of random people along the way. It’s sort of like every day is by default kind of an adventure. I think what I like least is just missing people back home, wanting to be able to see my family and friends, see my parent’s dog, that kind of thing (laughs).
Does it feel different touring with Familiars to how it did touring with your last full-length, Hospice?
Yeah it feels totally different. I mean, when we toured Hospice it was just three of us, and it was also like five years ago. Touring was new to us and we really toured that record into the ground. It was all exciting and there were a lot of firsts that happened along the way. Touring Familiars, we’ve now been doing this for a little while and we kind know the ropes… and with that comes some flexibility. We have more of a solid idea of what it is that we do individually and collectively.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you grow up and what was your introduction to music?
I grew up about an hour north of New York City in a town called Somers, on a farmhouse actually. It wasn’t like a fully operational farm but… there were a lot of fields behind it and a lot of nature nearby. I don’t exactly remember my introduction to music because it happened very early in my life because my dad plays guitar and was always... teaching me guitar. I had varying levels of willingness to learn until it suddenly became this constant fixture in my life. It became pretty much what I would spend all my mental energy on. Ultimately that’s led me to where I am now.
Do you remember when you started writing music?
Um, probably like eight or nine - just writing really ridiculous songs on this little cassette recorder that I borrowed from my dad, trying to record over whatever cassettes that I would find around the house until someone would take me to RadioShack so I could buy a couple of blank cassettes.
What does the album, Familiars signify for you?
Um, I mean, I don’t know if I could answer that without talking about it for a very, very long time but I think it signifies a lot of things for me. A very general word I attach to it is change or transformation… which I think was what was experiencing when we were working on the record, and that’s a process that continues to happen as we tour it and as life goes on. Familiars is like my keen awareness of that transformation that’s happening and me doing my best to articulate it.
What inspires you most?
Um. Everything? (laughs) That’s a tough question. I don’t know. A lot of the time it’s contemplation. I guess you can look at it in a lot of ways but life is this thing that just keeps happening to you and you keep responding to it. You kind of collaborate with chance, and I guess that inspires me.
This one’s slightly personal, so you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but what’s the best cure for a broken heart?
(Laughs) Ah, God. Time… and like, decisiveness. I think the worst thing you can do for a broken heart is be ambivalent or hold on to an attachment that is dead. That coupled with time, because with time the immediacy of that feeling just goes away. So really, it’s a homeopathic cure.
The Antlers are playing at The Brightside in Brisbane on February 11, Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on February 13, Melbourne Recital Centre on February 14 and Perth International Arts Festival on February 15.