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zondag 22 april 2018
ANTLERS: Beyond Atmospheric Blackened Realms

Interview with Ntx of Antlers by Vera in April 2018

In the large amount of black metal bands with an open vision to other influences, it is always fine to meet with one of those unexpected gems with inventive aureole. That happened recently, when we had our first encounter with the sophomore album of German outfit Antlers, entitled ‘Beneath.Below.Behold’. The foundation is harsh black metal indeed, but many interesting sidesteps really amazed us. Thus it was obvious that we took some action in order to have a chat with one of the musicians. Ntx (guitar, keyboards, vocals) guided us through the world of Antlers with pleasure…

Since you are quite a new name in the scène, let’s start from the beginning. Antlers was founded in 2013. How did you meet each other and how did the band come into being?
Antlers was started a bit earlier, around 2011 when Pablo and I met again in the city of Leipzig. We had played before for many years in some other bands and wanted to do something together again without having a very specific idea, mostly the plan was to do a band where we would enjoy playing guitars together and having no restrictions about what we would do style-wise. Then after trying like six or seven different drummers and three other bass players, we met Mts to join us on the bass and through him we got to know M. who finished this line up which is solid since 2013.

What were the biggest influences for the musical direction you pointed out for Antlers in the beginning?
A lot of black metal of course, but as well different styles of music like folk, doom or even punk. Then the songs were getting their own shape as long as we were working together in the practice room. Mostly I would say that we are heavily influenced by a lot of Scandinavian nineties bands.

I see that you all have a wide range of experience in other bands. Can you tell something about that?
All of us have other musical projects, some of them way more extreme than Antlers and some others stepping aside of metal music. As well some of us have many years on our backs playing in bands of a lot of different music styles. Maybe all this help us to move better between different kinds of sounds and put them together in a dynamic way and sounding kind of natural.

In 2015 you released independently your debut album ‘A Gaze Into The Abyss’. What were the reactions and the things you achieved after this first ‘sign of life’?
Independently? If you mean that we self released our first album that´s not right. ‘AGITA’ was released on vinyl by Vendetta, on tape by Into Endless Chaos and on CD by Pest Productions, then after a couple of pressings Vendetta took the CD release as well. The reactions and feedback in general were very positive. In my opinion it could have worked much better with a little bit of promotion, pretty much I did personally all of it for the first album, writing and sending promotional copies to magazines, radios, fanzines on my own.
Since the release of ‘AGITA’ we did three European tours in three years, which were working each one better than the one before. Looking forward for the next one with the new album, but no plans yet.

How do you look back now – in terms of musical development - on this debut in comparison with the new work?
We are very proud of our first album still, specially of the result we got being an album recorded in our practice room, Tobias Häussler did an amazing job there, no doubt about that.
On this second album we tried a lot of different stuff we didn´t have on the first one; about different kinds of riffing, drum beats, clean vocals... As well this is the first time we have some collaborations from outside in some songs. I think in general ‘Beneath.Below.Behold’ is way richer and more compact as a whole piece, while I see the first album more like a handful of songs put together on a record.

How do the mostly lengthy songs come into being? Is there a main composer or is it a real band effort? Mainly result of jamming in rehearsal room or other way of working?
Most of the music for ‘AGITA’ was written by Pablo, there is no doubt that he is the one who brings more of the riffs to the band. ‘Beneath.Below.Behold’ is more of a common work, Pablo has been the one who wrote more of the riffs, but there are a lot of my riffs and melodies as well on this album and Mts and M. worked way more on their own parts than on the first album. Some songs like ‘Metempsychosis’, ‘Theom’ or ‘The Tide’ have a lot of hours of collective work in the practice room and in my opinion these are the ones that got the best ending. As well on this album, it is the first time that Mts wrote a lyric for Antlers, all the other lyrics on both records are written by me.

What can you tell about the lyrics on ‘Beneath.Below.Behold’? What are the main topics that inspired you?
Most of the lyrics for ‘AGITA’ were written in a really dark and depressive period of my life, the only one that had a different approach was ‘Memories Of The Extinct’. The first lyric that I wrote for ‘BBB’ was “The Tide”, in that moment I could realize about the different tone of what I was writing and looking back to ‘AGITA’ I could see that this was an album where Earth was the main element and in a completely natural way Water was coming next. So I began to have kind of a concept for ‘BBB’. The ideas or sketches for ‘Theom’ and ‘Heal’ were there right before the music itself. This came together with a process of internal healing along with a series of dreams and visions through meditation. Actually the title of the record is kind of a route to follow to reach a special place where a lot of the essence of the spirit of this record comes from. ‘BBB’ is not a conceptual album, but there is a thread that brings together the whole thematic, which is Water and its symbolism, fluctuation, healing and the rise of the spirit over the matter.

What about live performances until now, because I see you did not play live from July 2016 till May 2017. Why?
So far we have nothing more planned for this year after playing Vendetta Fest in Berlin in the beginning of April, because of personal reasons and commitments with other bands we won´t be able to play live until the fall of 2018, hopefully then we can come back on the road and do a proper promotion of this record. But now as well let´s see how is the feedback and what kind of offers we get. No hurries.

But on the other hand you got positive feedback on the shows you did so far. What were the highlights until now?
We played more than fifty shows to this day and there were many highlights. My personal ones I would say that were specially our first concert around the solstice of 2014, it was a long way to get to play our first show and a big effort of not giving up. Since the day that Pablo and me began the band, for some time it was seeming impossible to meet with the right people and get this band going. Acherontic Arts III in 2017 was a great one, despise all the technical problems we had. The last one we played at Vendetta Fest this year felt just great after almost a year without playing live and dealing all this time with the recording and mixing for ‘BBB’. The tour we did with Addaura in 2016 was a great experience in all levels as well.

You are upgraded now when releasing the material – on CD as well as on vinyl – by labels. This might make it a bit easier to spread your music, isn’t it? How do you see the pros of this inking some deals?
Well, as I said before both albums have been released by different labels, we have been lucky enough to don´t have to release material and specially to have to distribute it on our own. On the other hand it would be great to have the economical resources, time and energy to be an active part in the releasing side, I think this is a necessary step in order to survive as a musician today, and the technological resources nowadays make it way easier than some years ago, but as I said this demands a lot of dedication and time which sadly enough we don´t have.

I think Tobias Häussler is an important sound guru for you, since he mixed (and much more) both of your albums. So tell us a bit more about the recording process of the new CD?
We met Tobias Häussler when we played our first show in Leipzig and that was a very lucky day for us. He did an amazing work with the few resources we had for our first album. For ‘BBB’ we went with Tobias to a proper studio (Time and Dust in Chemnitz) for a bit less than a week to record all the music with the assistance of Jan Weidauer and then we recorded the vocals in the basement of my house. Until there everything went really excellent. When things began to get tricky was with the mix, everything began to get delayed and we were not able to get a point where everybody would be pleased. It took long to reach it, too long maybe, we went through some complicated moments but we didn´t give up, we stayed together and now we are all very pleased with the final result of it. Tobias Häussler is a great professional, an excellent musician and the most important, a good friend.

Are visual impressions important for Antlers? Are there plans to shoot a music video clip?
Not that much until now, this is something I would like to work on in the future. I have some ideas for doing a video clip, but we will see.

The artwork from Markus Wolff is astonishing. So please few more words about this artist and the artwork…
I totally agree, I love the artwork that Markus Wolff did, he kind of saved our ass after being left down by another artist. Pablo brought his name on the table, since they are friends and it sounded like a great idea for the rest of us. He worked in the past with bands like Agalloch or Neurosis for example. He was fast and professional and made all this artwork based on some indications I gave him, but with total freedom to interpret them. I find as well absolutely great the work of our good friend Noctvrna Tzoledath who did the whole booklet for the album, a really beautiful handmade work.

What are the plans for the near future (also on playing live)?
It has been a long and tortuous way to get ‘BBB’ in our hands, since we began to record demos in the practice room one year and a half ago, until it got released last month. Now it is a moment for the label to promote it properly and then hopefully as I said before, do some touring at the end of this year. Some musical ideas and lyrics for whatever comes next are beginning to sprout already.

If there is anything you’d like to add, feel free to so it here…
Thank you very much for your interest in us Vera. Solve et Coagula.

Geplaatst door Vera op zondag 22 april 2018 - 15:55:30
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