The debut album from Anteros has been a while coming. When we met them at their label Distiller’s Distillery studio in the Somerset countryside in the spring of 2018, they told us of plans to “find freedom without being scared” in the album. “Fear has held me back a lot in the past,” vocalist Laura Hayden told us. “I’ve had to think ‘Oh, I’m not going to say that too loud because it might cause a reaction’ but actually, through letting go and understanding how your voice works, and where you fit in, you end up finding that peace.”
This idea permeates everything about the quartet’s debut album ‘When We Land’, out today (22nd March). Coming with a firm sense of dancing through adversity, the album is a companion through tough times, and an ode to seeing the bright side.
With the album out now, the band have given us a track by track guide to their debut effort.
Listen to ‘When We Land’ in full as you read the guide below.
Call Your Mother
‘Call Your Mother’ describes the sentiment we entered in our 20s, that moment where everything you’ve been taught falls flat on its face. You’re technically an adult, but have no true adult experience. You’re out on your own, navigating through waves of self-inflicted chaos.
When we took it to the studio we wanted it to mimic that sentiment. The choruses had to explode into something sweet, with a hint of chaos. We recorded bass, drums and guitar in a tiny room together so that everyone would be completely locked in and feed off of each other’s
energy. The track was called ‘Twisting 21’ for ages, and we had to push to get it changed to ‘Call Your Mother’ (our managers didn’t think it was cool enough.)
‘Ring Ring’ was originally released a B-side to ‘Breakfast’. We wanted to contrast the upbeat, punchy nature of ‘Breakfast’ with something a little more sultry and relaxed. This is a track that we have always come back to live, which is what opened the discussion about bringing it onto the album. We felt that, because we had only released it as a B-side demo, we hadn’t had the chance to do it justice. The idea behind ‘Ring Ring’ came from a waiting room at an NHS GP in West London. Laura had been struggling with depression for a year, and after trying to hide it by writing “happy songs”, this was the first time we turned it around and tackled that vulnerability
head on. It became an extremely powerful and cathartic process. Once it was mastered, it turned our 10 track album into 11.
Everyone wanted ‘Honey’ on the album, but there were many versions, and none of them seemed to click until we went in and recorded it with Charlie Andrew. Harry (drums) spent an afternoon banging different objects in the studio (including some metal stairs, which you can hear at the very start of the song), and recorded multiple takes of racing tambourine. The driving
percussion defined how the rest of the track would unfold. We wanted the synths in the chorus and bridge to feel uncomfortable, to mimic bees in a hive. The guitars, the buzzing and backing vocals get louder and wilder as the track progresses, mimicking the nature of this desperate, angry love song.
We found our feet with ‘Afterglow’ after attempting a second demo during a day off on tour, at Nottingham Trowell Travelodge. Months later, it was the first track we recorded on the album. Charlie wanted to tackle it first because it was upbeat, and would cover a few bases - sonically speaking - and he was right. Josh (bass, synths) found the rumbling synth that would create the ominous feel throughout the track. It is important to state that no song was completely finished until the very end of making the album, so we could tie any loose ends between tracks. This was essential to ‘Afterglow’ for example, as the gang “oohs” - which are now a defining element in the track - didn’t come until the very last day of recording. We are really excited to play this one live.
The four of us were kind of unexcited at the prospect of recording ‘Drive On’, because we’d tried demoing it so many times before and it never felt right. When the day came, it exceeded anything we’d imagined. We sat in the studio jamming for ages, playing it at different tempos. The fastest seemed to be the one that got everyone enjoying themselves playing it for the first time since writing it, and it is now one of our favourite tracks on the album. The meaning behind ‘Drive On’ also carries importance. Where we have usually wanted our music to create a sense of escapism, this does very much the opposite: a cry for change, to take responsibility for our impact on the planet, and work towards a sustainable future.
“Where we have usually wanted our music to create a sense of escapism, this does very much the opposite: a cry for change, to take responsibility for our impact on the planet, and work towards a sustainable future.”
It was a little scary approaching this track, as until recently it has been the one that has been the introduction to us as a band. Ironically, it sounds less polished than the original, especially the vocals. When we first recorded it in 2016, Laura wanted it to be perfect: every single word and note she sang had to be in place. She drove herself to tears, because it wasn’t up to the
standards that she’d built up her head. It wasn’t until people were dancing and singing to it live that Laura was able to shake off those memories, and turn them into positive ones. We carried these new, happy memories that had been given to us live when we approached it for the second time. This time, we didn’t chase an idea of what it was meant to sound like. Instead, we wanted it to be raw and pack a punch and most importantly, to be confident and honest with it.
This track got a 180 degree makeover. When we wrote it, we recorded the demo on iPhone’s Voice Notes. There were three elements: vocals and two acoustic guitars. That’s all we had. We didn’t know how to approach it without changing the sentiment. Originally, it was meant to be recorded with just an acoustic guitar and minimal percussion. When we tried it in the studio, it just sounded wrong. The lo-fi magic from the writing demo had completely disappeared, so we went back to the drawing board. We sat in the studio and jammed for what felt like an eternity, and just as we thought about calling it a day, Josh and Charlie came up with the synth part that took the track into a completely new direction. Everything after that just fell into place.
This track we recorded for us. It is our celebration of having the chance to make the record that WE wanted to make, versus what people thought we should sound like. It came together when we went away for a week for album pre-production, just the four of us. We had one concept in mind: to have FUN with it. From experimenting with drum machines and disco-style percussive elements, to Jackson’s hooky chorus guitars, the bass and synth lines, to gang vocals with everyone in the room, to Laura dancing the whole way through vocal performances…every single part of the process was just that. We feel like that comes across in the final recording. See you on the Wrong Side.
Let It Out
A moment of release and vulnerability on the record. This was the first song Laura had written solo with an instrument, so everyone treaded a little bit carefully at the start. We started building it up in pre-production, as the demo was just piano and vocals. As soon as we took it to Charlie, he heard strings and trombone - and that’s how it all unwound. It definitely took the song to another level. Recording strings was probably the most emotional we got during the album recording process, it’s an amazing experience to hear someone external’s take on your song. ‘Let It Out’ went from being shy, introverted to a self-declaration of confidence.
Restless sleep, blurry days under the full moon. It was the song that took the longest to get right. We spent so long on getting bass and drums right, as it was important that these be completely in sync in order for the verses to hit the sweet spot. We changed the bass feel about five times! Charlie sent everyone into the drum room to dance around Harry as we recorded drums. We went through so many takes and guitar parts, synth parts… to the point where we almost gave up and walked away from it. On one of our last days in the studio, we decided to re-record the bass part in the bridge, which we completely transformed the track. We’re glad we took our time with this one, ‘Fool Moon’ is so much fun to play live.
We couldn’t think of another track to best book end our debut. Being our namesake - and the inception of us as a band - there was no question ‘Anteros’ was going to be the last track on the record. Everyone enjoyed the process of recording ‘Anteros’ this time around, probably due to how much we’ve played it live. We have so many wonderful memories of every time we’ve performed this song that we are so grateful for. It still feels surreal that the making of this album has been our lives for the past year, our project, our secret. Now we let go, seatbelts on, ready for landing.
‘When We Land’ is out now via Distiller.