For the first time in seven years, a new album from The Antlers is set for release this month. Over the last few years, songwriter/vocalist Peter Silberman moved from Brooklyn to upstate New York, worked through a debilitating hearing issue that contributed to a deepening meditation practice, released a solo album, and much more.
Green To Gold takes on a more personal stance than previous efforts from The Antlers — where Silberman is usually writing about human experience through a mythological lens, his new songs are more or less a reflection of the last few years of his life. The album is full of sparse, roomy arrangements that mark a triumphant return from the duo.
To celebrate the new album, Silberman sat down to talk The Beatles, listening to oldies radio, and Home Alone 2, in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
The answer really depends on who’s asking. For example, if it’s a TSA agent at the airport, I’d probably say something like “Uh you know, like, mellow, kinda psychedelic, folk stuff” and then they’d suggest someone totally different sounding and I’d be like “Yep, sure.”
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that by 2050, AI will be producing an enormous amount of music, and dominating whatever algorithms determine popularity (this is already beginning to happen). But I hope music made by people occupies a big enough niche that it can continue to thrive, even if it’s thought of as a novelty or a nostalgic throwback. Best case scenario, it’ll be valued for its rare humanity, and I hope our music lives on in that way.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
It’s hard to point to a city where the shows are consistently great. But what comes to mind is any show where the venue is close enough to the ocean as to be able to walk on the beach after soundcheck.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
From the earliest days and most consistently throughout my life, that would be my parents. My mom’s a writer and editor, and my dad taught me to play guitar. So I’m continually talking to them about things I’m working on or projects I’ve just finished.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
In recent memory, it was at a Spanish restaurant in Copenhagen in 2019. Of course I don’t remember the name of the spot, but it was a rare luxurious tour meal.
What album do you know every word to?
Probably many, but Abbey Road comes to mind as one example. I listened to so much Beatles as a kid that most of those albums’ lyrics are probably imprinted in me.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
One of the best was certainly seeing Animal Collective play a tiny show at Bennington College to maybe 30 people, when they were touring Sung Tongs in 2005. It was wild… I seem to remember them throwing an amp through a window.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
I like to keep it really simple – in most cases, a plain dark grey t-shirt. I’ve come to appreciate the ability to pack ten of the same shirt for a tour and not think about it.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
That’d have to be David Shrigley. If you know his work, then it’s obvious why following him on Instagram is so great.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
I always used to put on Yo La Tengo’s “Night Falls On Hoboken” as we would make our return drive back into NYC. It’s calming and very long, and eases you through the transition from the highway back into the city.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
“Convert polyphonic audio to midi.” Based on my search, it doesn’t sound like the technology’s quite there yet. But if anyone out there reading this has a good solution for that, hit me up!
What album makes for the perfect gift?
Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou’s Ethiopiques collection. Everyone who knows this album loves it, and I think it’s something nearly anyone can get into.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
Long ago, we had to take an overnight ferry across some channel or sea in Europe. Little did we know it doubled as a party casino boat for bachelorette parties and other
people heading to whatever city to go wild for the weekend. All of that wrapped up earlier than you’d think, and it became somewhat of a ghost ship after midnight, and we wandered around the empty decks til late. It was a weird vibe.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
Not my first, but one of my favorites is an illustration of my childhood home, done by the incredible Annie Lloyd several years ago.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
There’s an oldies station up here that mostly plays doo-wop. Sometimes I know the artist but much of the time I don’t. But in any case, it’s easy to leave on.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
I mean, my parents bringing me into this world and raising me was pretty generous of them! I don’t think anything could top that.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
“Try to figure out for yourself who you are before the world has a chance to provide an inaccurate description.”
What’s the last show you went to?
I saw Bonny Light Horseman at Levon Helm Studios outside of Woodstock, about a month before lockdown began. I hadn’t heard their record at the time, so it was all new
to me and I just fell in love with it. They just seemed like such a solid group of players who loved making music together.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
Like a lot of people, I don’t have cable or broadcast TV anymore, so it’s only if I’m visiting my folks that a movie would just appear like that while flipping through channels. I associate that with the holidays, so I’d have to go with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
What would you cook if Obama were coming to your house for dinner?
Cooking for Obama would be way too much pressure, I think I’d be too stressed to cook and I’d surely ruin whatever I made. So I’d opt for takeout.
Green To Gold is out March 26 on ANTI-. Pre-order it here.