Nonstop Sound already spoke with The Antlers on the band’s Saturday show at Webster Hall. Not to hype a show too much, but we also spoke with opening act Suuns. The band’s Max Henry answers the phone in a short decompression between Suuns’ fourth trip to Europe this year and their trek down to New York City for Saturday’s Webster gig.
Nonstop Sound: What excites you about playing New York?
Max Henry: "New York is a music town. There’re always enough people to feel like you’re outside of a niche. There’s no danger of playing over or below the audience."
NS: So this band is all about communication?
MH: "Absolutely. It’s not something I really want to bludgeon to death. But there are a few of us in the band who’re jazz musicians. And that’s a kind of cerebral music that demands a cerebral audience. Rock music is a folk art with no institutions tied to it. You don’t really have to worry about why an audience likes the music or why they don’t. The more time I spend away from the jazz pedagogy and the cult of the idol, it’s nice to be immune to the idol worship that goes on in that school."
NS: How concerned with you are the undercurrents of either of those scenes?
MH: "I mean it’s a really complex issue, especially because jazz isn’t an institutionalized form as much as classical music has been. But academic jazz is kind of a difficult meter. I’ll put it like this: If you go to a jazz show, playing really crazy, the audience member has to allow themselves to like that music. And you know he can play really controlled. But you never see someone ask a band to play like Buddy Holly."
NS: How did you get involved with Breakglass Studio and Jace Lasek [of The Besnard Lakes] who recorded your album?
MH: "Montreal is a pretty small scene, so everybody kind of knows each other to begin with. I recorded at Breakglass before and ended up working as an intern there. He’s a wonderful presence in the studio. He’s very open minded. When I see a Besnards show and I see the guys talking in between songs, goofing around, that’s the Besnards I know. Jace isn’t a stone cold empiricist. Keeps everyone in high spirits."
NS: You just put out this new video for “Red Song.” How did singer Ben Shemie make his nose bleed?
MH: "That’s funny, for a long time, Ben was saying 'I have to make my nose bleed.' He didn’t actually end up doing punching himself in the face or anything. But it starts at least subtly which is effective. It was very much Ben’s brainchild. It was a dance.
NS: What is it about vintage keys that you think speak to this generation?
MH: "I think analog has been given this mystique it doesn’t really deserve. When people talk about what they like about analog gear, they flowery and vague things about analog. Warmer, more human, which it very well may be in a subjective way. But I can say things that are bad about analog synths in an objective way: oscillators go out of tune which makes them harder to ship, they’re heavier. Analog is just different from digital."