ATP: The Antlers: ‘I’m Expecting Reality Transforms Into Something Else’

Ahead of their ATP performance this weekend, we catch up with The Antlers.

After releasing two gut-wrenchingly gorgeous and emotive records, 2012 may have seemed slightly quieter for The Antlers. But that’s not exactly the case; they may not have released an album but they’ve been busy playing a lot of shows and releasing the gorgeously maritime themed EP – ‘Undersea’, which seemed soaked in a watery calm.

This fixation on the nautical should help them as they head to Camber Sands at The National’s request to play ATP. We shared a few words with the band about how excited they are to play, their reciprocal love of The National and how touring so much can be ‘magical and revelatory’.

How has 2012 been for the band?
It’s been an interesting year.  We’ve kept pretty busy, and there’s been quiet changes in us occurring throughout. It’s a difficult feeling to put into words, but it’s good.

How excited are you to play ATP?
On a scale of 1-10, I’d say our excitement is somewhere in the realm of 10-15 and our drowsiness is around a 4.

You played ATP in New York - are you expecting something different at Camber Sands?
I think this ATP will be entirely different.  That New York version was on a pier by the Hudson River. We were only on-site on the day we played.  But we’ll be living at Camber Sands for the weekend, and I’m expecting reality transforms into something else.

Can we expect any surprises when you play?
It might turn out that we were ghosts the whole time but didn’t realise it til the end of the weekend.

Are you good friends of The National? How did they get in touch to ask you to play at this?
We’ve known them for a few years now and they’ve been so supportive.  It’s surreal when a band you love reciprocates.  I don’t really remember the circumstances around the invitation, but official word came via singing telegram.

You seem to have quite a lot in common both sonically and lyrically – do you feel that?
I think it’s inevitable to be influenced by music you love and for it to show up in your own work.  But we write about very different ideas and with very different styles, because we’ve lived different lives. We have pretty distinct goals and leanings built on different histories and different futures. But yeah, I’d say ultimately we’re all on the same team.

Which other bands are you excited to see?
Pretty much everybody.  A bunch of the bands are friends and a handful are strangers, and I want to see them all.

You seem to tour a lot – does it ever get too much or is that the thing the band enjoy the most?
Sure, it gets to be too much, and it can be stifling, alienating and exhausting when it’s not magical and revelatory.  But I remind myself that so many jobs have zero magic, no joy and no fulfilment. I think the sacrifices of this life are entirely worth it.  Touring forces you to really own what you’re doing and test what’s legit in your work beyond the comfort of an insular world of writing and recording.  And there’s something unusually beautiful about experiences that at once force you to grow up while keeping you childlike and curious.

What are your plans for 2013 – have you started writing the new album?
We’ve been taking some time off.  We’re getting ready to make another record, and part of that process involves all of us getting to know our lives again. For me, a big part of that has been about reconnecting to creativity and feeding that part of me, finding new ways to channel that.

You’ve previously said that ‘Undersea’ presented “a newfound freedom to change the subject” – will the new album be different again?
It’s been my experience that everything inevitably changes.  I’ve never found a compelling argument for doing the same thing twice, though it can be seductive to cash-in on things that have worked before.  But I guess the past few years have made me especially suspicious of calculation and I try to call it on myself whenever I feel it happening. If we’re not constantly changing, I start to feel like we’re impersonating ourselves.  

And finally, do you have any resolutions – either musically or personally – for 2013 you’d like to share?
I’ve been pulling away from the internet, in the interest of being more present in my actual life.  I remember the world before the internet and I’m trying to return to that place without logging-off completely.

The Antlers play ATP curated by The National at Pontins Camber Sands, between the 7th and 9th December.