Antlered Man Interview and Gig Review

Here at Whatculture, we’re always on the lookout for the hottest new bands, and following our review of their debut album earlier this year, we caught up with the guys in Antlered Man.

Here at Whatculture, we€™re always on the lookout for the hottest new bands, and following our review of their debut album earlier this year, we caught up with the guys in Antlered Man a few hours before they took to the stage for the first night of their Villains and Vigilantes tour in the intimate setting of Southampton€™s Joiners.WC - Hi guys, cheers for coming, can I just get a quick band introduction before we get going? Sam - I€™m Sam, I play bass. Danny - Danny, I play guitar. Ollie - Ollie, drums. Damo - Damo, I€™m on vocals. Old dirty Damo, they call me. WC - Hahaha, first things first then, the name Antlered Man, where does it come from? Danny €“ Well, we wanted something that sounded really formidable and cool. There€™s too many clichéd names out there, so we just thought we€™d go for something different, and it€™s been really fucking detrimental ever since. It even got a mention in a Guardian piece by a guy who used to play in Scritti Politti who was talking about band names that are hard to understand. We€™ve never even been reviewed in the Guardian and it said €˜take a band like Antlered Man for instance€™ and we were like shit, we€™ve hit the pages of the Guardian for all the wrong reasons! We play a lot of gigs in Germany and trying to explain it over there€ Damo €“ It has two meanings over there, either you€™re a man whose wife is cheating on you, or you€™re a man with antlers. I think it€™s an easy name for us to use because we do all different kinds of stuff. If you€™re called Blue Thunder, you know what kinda thing you€™re getting, but if you€™re called Antlered Man you don€™t know what it€™s gonna be, it could be folk, it could be heavy. Sam €“ Antlered Man is often followed by €˜€sorry?€™ WC - So, talking about your sound, whenever I mentioned to people I was chatting to you, people asked me what you sound like and I€™ve never really had a full answer€ Ollie €“ Go on then, what did you say? WC - Well, the best way I could put it was a British System Of A Down, I can hear bits of System, Faith No More, I guess alternative noise rock, what would you guys say? Ollie €“ That€™s kind of accurate, we have nothing against System, we have nothing against Faith No More, they€™re both really cool bands and to be honest we find it difficult ourselves to say how we sound, but really it€™s just what we like. Danny €“ We€™re more interested in projects, like the idea of Queens Of The Stone Age as a band, constantly expanding and changing members, that€™s a really cool idea. We have home demos and we€™ve recorded so much different stuff, softer stuff, really heavy stuff as well as somewhere in the middle, so we couldn€™t quite put our finger on it, but we knew we wanted it to be more expansive than our previous ventures, we wanted it to be big and epic. Damo €“ I think it has to grow on you a lot, some crowds don€™t really get it. Danny €“ We€™re still trying, in things like press releases it asks how you want to describe this set of demos and we€™re like ah, shit. Ollie €“ I think the sound is a bit random, especially with a band like us having one album to look at, it€™s all a bit fucked up. If we were to end now people would be like €˜what was that?€™ but hopefully two or three albums down the line we€™ll somehow get a sound that people know. At the minute, every day we€™re trying out new amps and new pedals so we€™re just trying to build a sound. When you get a new band and they€™ve been writing for a year and the songs all sound similar, we didn€™t do that, we just picked the best songs we all liked, the lighter ones, the heavier ones and it just worked. Damo €“ When people listen to the album, they come and see us live afterwards and they seem to get it a bit more, watching us do it live. After listening to the album it can be confusing and listening to it again, it can grow on you, but people somehow think we wouldn€™t be able to do it live, it€™s just a bit too weird. Sam €“ I don€™t think we ever set out to find a sound, we were just thinking of what would make a cool song, then the next week we€™d have another idea to throw in a whistle or a flute and try and make a song around that. Danny €“ There€™s nothing worse than listening to a band just peddle on with the same kind of sound. But then at the same time, like the rest of the guys grabbed me this morning and said €˜did you see Muse on Jools Holland last night? They really sucked€™ WC - Did they do that new Madness track? Ollie €“ Yeah! He had a KAOS pad on a twin necked bass and was playing bass just rubbing his finger around. Danny €“ They started off with a lot of promise and then for ages peddled that same sound, then tried to do dubstep and became a parody of themselves, that€™s what we didn€™t want to become. Like Sam said, it€™s just a different musical venture and it€™s continuing every time we get in the studio. Sam €“ When we were doing the album we didn€™t have anyone to please apart from ourselves, we were just doing it for each other. Danny €“ We did a Ye Olde English thing, it was some fucking weird medieval song. Damo €“ We were trying to write the Lord of the Rings soundtrack! Danny - Things started getting really experimental when we tried putting a strip of card in a fan and hook it up to an octaved mic and see what would happen, and it sounded shit. Ollie €“ Album number three mate, album three. WC - I€™ve gotta ask about the slide guitar on a platform that you use on stage, what€™s the deal behind that? Damo €“ We tried to expand and have other members in, but because we€™ve all known each other for such a long time they either couldn€™t keep up, or couldn€™t tour with us because they didn€™t wanna quit their jobs so we tried out a guitarist and it didn€™t fit, but we felt we had to have those parts live, so it was more out of necessity. Danny €“ Also you look fucking weird with a guitar round your neck. It€™s like full concentration in the face to the point of your tongue hanging out a little bit. Damo €“ It€™s like Oscar De La Hoya in a dress, it just doesn€™t look right. We put it on a table so I can use it for other things, I€™ve got a KAOS pad but I€™m not gonna put it on a bass guitar. I can use it for vocal tricks on the new album. Danny €“ I like the way that we call it a lapsteel to soundmen, lapsteels are really expensive, but it€™s just a souped up Epiphone on an ironing board. WC - You said you play a lot of gigs in Germany, how are the crowds different, do you feel like they €˜get it€™ more over there? Damo €“ They let their hair down a lot more, you see in some crowds they might be more reserved at first, but in Germany they just don€™t give a shit as long as they like it. Ollie €“ In England people don€™t wanna rock out to a band that they don€™t know but in Germany if it€™s good music, even if it€™s not good music they just go nuts. Danny €“ I think that we€™re more cynical in regards to English audiences because we€™re fromLondon. There€™s a level of dedication that used to exist in London that€™s now happening inGermany, ever since the wall came down they feel more liberated, it€™s like the 60s over there. We€™ve had people come up to us in Germany that said they heard us on the internet and drove for four hours to come and see us. Ollie €“ We played here just over a year ago with Exit_International before the album came out, a local band went on first and brought about 20-30 people, as soon as they left us and EI played to the sound guy and each other. Danny - And Exit_International are a three-piece, so they had one more crowd than us. Ollie €“ Since the album came out we€™re getting better crowds and slowly spreading, but in Germany we€™re getting so many more people, like five or six times bigger crowds. Danny - I think we€™ve always been conscious that we€™re a slow burning kind of band, we€™d attract a crowd of people who€™d really like it and really get it, as opposed to people who are sitting on the fence, but I guess that€™s our fault for being fucking stupid and putting bits of card in fans. WC - So, do you hope this tour is gonna make things bigger? Ollie €“ Maybe after the second album comes out, that€™s when you€™re able to do a few hundred people in each town, but on the first album you can€™t really expect to pack venues out. Danny €“ As long as you€™ve got more stuff to work with, more material, you can make a kind of buzz and then press agents can come out and do their job. It€™s not really as black and white as €˜band plays stage, comes back six months later and the room is full€™, there€™s a lot of stuff behind the scenes. WC - When can we expect album number two then? Ollie €“ We€™re demoing in December, hoping to have recorded it by February or March and then have it come out by September. If we had it our way we€™d bring it out as soon as it€™s done, but there€™s so much stuff to go through. Damo €“ We€™re gonna finish these dates, do a German tour then tell everyone we€™re done till March or April. WC - To finish off then, have you had any famous fans say hi at your festival gigs? Ollie €“ Well, we haven€™t exactly played poker with Bono or anything. Danny €“ Now would be an ideal time to spread our Paul Weller rumour€ Ollie €“ Right, we met Paul Weller this one time€ I really can€™t do this. WC - I€™m intrigued now! Danny €“ We were unpacking our drumkit at a gig, and you basically had to do it on the stairs, and Paul Weller walks past and was like €˜really good set guys!€™ so I went in for a bit of a hug and you know the highlight bits on the side of his hair? They smelt like shit! Ollie €“ So then Danny tells me about it and I want to smell it. So whilst he was chatting I went for a sniff, and the rest of the hair smells fine but the highlights€ it was like a mixture of Head and Shoulders and shit! Sam €“ And then me and Damo got in awkward situations because the boys told us about it and we wanted to see if it was true, so I kept going behind him at the bar to order drinks but getting a little bit too close. Danny €“ That sounds like the weirdest rumour, but I promise you it€™s true. WC - That€™s a brilliant story to stop on guys, €˜Antlered Man think Paul Weller smells of shit€™. Thanks so much for your time, and see you around!Make sure to check below for my review of the gig to follow€-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Later that evening, the guys took to the stage, but not before a three-band strong support bill, containing plenty of diversity that was befitting of the Antlered Man sound. Opening the gig was local boys Armature who crossed a weird divide between post-hardcore and post-rock. Instrumentally they were great, with a lengthy Maybeshewill-esque instrumental track being my definite highlight, but at a tiny venue like the Joiners, they needed to command the stage and move around a lot more. The performance was so static that they looked like they were having an awful time, there was a real lack of stage presence. Next up was the first band on the main touring bill, Birmingham based Romans. Their punchy but catchy post-hardcore was up there with the best from their genre, and their energetic stage show which included members ignoring microphones in favour of screaming across the stage at the small crowd, a drummer who pounded his kit like a man possessed and guitarists who took full advantage of their wireless leads to go on wander round the venue whilst playing. Their fun on-stage banter was engaging, even if the response was limited due to the tiny audience. With a bit of luck, these guys could be huge. Main support duties were handled by We Are Knuckledragger, encompassing a much heavier end of the spectrum, with pummelling hardcore combined with some math elements. It was the first outing of the band with their new drummer, but you couldn€™t tell that at all as their playing was ferocious but also completely on point. Carrying on through broken bass strings and with probably the most lovable lead singer in all of hardcore (apologising to a group of people that he kicked a Strongbow can over, a moment that looked rock and roll but was actually a huge accident) who was clearly so thankful to be playing in spite of the size of the crowd that had turned out (I€™d say it peaked at 15, most of that being the other bands on the bill), their set was fantastic, and I€™d definitely advise you to check them out. Finally came the headliners and the guys I was there to see, Antlered Man. One of the things I loved about this tour was earlier in the day I€™d witnessed a conversation between the bands discussing where they were going to play on the bill, as it€™s being promoted as a triple-headliner, and each band had no qualms about playing first or last, and said they were completely fine with changing it up every night. Playing what felt like a comparatively shorter set then the other bands, which was probably due to the longer length of Antlered Man€™s songs, they powered through some choice cuts from their debut record which made sure to incorporate the weirder parts of their songs; a slide guitar played sideways on a wooden platform and a tin whistle/vocal whistle trade off to name a couple. Regardless of the miniscule turnout, the guys performed as if they were playing to a much larger room, and weren€™t planning on toning anything down due to the size of the show. This was rock and roll in its purest form, a band giving their all no matter how many people they were playing to. Keep an eye out, all three of these bands deserve much, much bigger things.

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Multimedia journalism student at Bournemouth University, my dream is to one day be paid to lie in bed, listen to music, and go to gigs. Follow me on Twitter @dandonnelly_ or find me on @DanDy57.