Antler Family: An Album Born from Dissonance, Interview

Antler Family talks new album and influences.

Antler Family, a band known for its experimental edge in music, has recently made a noteworthy return to the scene with the release of their new album on January 26, 2024. The lineup features Mia Dean from Blood Moon Wedding, Tom Flynn with his extensive background in bands such as Fang, Melvins, Star Pimp, and Suboptics, Stark Raving Brad of SRB and Hellbillies, and Tom Dean, contributing his talents from Blood Moon Wedding and Code of the West. Antler Family’s recent album emerges as a clear reflection of their adaptive and evolving musical approach, shaped significantly by the challenges and transformations of recent years.

How did the global challenges of the past few years influence the creation and release of your debut LP?

Mia: The pandemic completely shut down our efforts for quite some time. We had just recorded our album, were playing loads of shows, we opened for The Obsessed a couple weeks before the lockdown. When lockdown happened we all retreated into our own safety zones. Our drummer, Brad, took off for the desert and was gone for ages. We weren’t sure he was ever coming back. Everything was put on hold for a couple years until we could sort out our future. Tom Flynn and I continued to get together and write music from time to time, and we all worked on other projects in the meantime. When Brad came back it was all go, and here we are. 

Tom: Yes, the pandemic really screwed up the band. Feels good to get it going again.

The sound of Antler Family is described as a blend of “dissonant goth noise punk” and “pagan waltz metal.” Can you explain how these elements come together in your music?

Mia: We certainly have a lot of influences, and there are a lot of elements we have been striving to incorporate into our music. Once is the juxtaposition of melodic vocals and loud, dissonant music. There is a back and forth of the vocals and guitar fighting for dominance, this is intentional, and we find it really interesting. Waltz is mentioned and it is quite literal, we have several songs written in 3/4 time, we also use the effect of triplets over 4/4 time, which provides a similar effect. My lyrics are pretty witchy, and touch on darker themes, death, blood, and love being favorites. 

Tom: Well those descriptions should probably be taken more impressionistically rather than literally. There’s definitely a darkness to our band, and I try to throw in some dissonant noise into everything I play. And who doesn’t like metal?

ANTLER FAMILY © Kristin Cofer

Mia, having transitioned from opera to fronting Antler Family, how has your classical training influenced the band’s sound?

Mia: The main influences of opera in relation to our sound are in the melody, but mostly in the technique it takes to sing over such loud, chaotic music. I implement the ideas and techniques I used singing opera to maintain the power and stamina it takes to sing in this band, and carry the vocals over a wall of sound. I am very grateful for that solid foundation. It keeps my voice healthy, in such an extreme situation.

How do you tune into the right vibe and decide on the musical path to take when creating a new song?

Mia: When I start a song I present it with lyrics, a melody, and a basic chord structure. This doesn’t mean it won’t continue to evolve when we get together, it very often does. When Tom starts a song, he usually has our entire guitar parts written from start to finish, and then we arrange a melody. We each have a musical voice, and we have a combined one. I think we are both really tuned into each other’s playing and what our skills and capabilities are. The real magic happens when we get Tom Dean and Brad in the room, then the songs take shape then and come alive. That’s where the real vibe is formed. 

How do you think being based in Oakland has influenced your music and the band’s identity?

Mia: Oakland has a thriving punk, doom-metal, and darkwave scene, with a lot of really creative people living here that are playing all over the world. We are all friends, playing in bands, and supporting each other’s bands. It is hard to describe what the Oakland sound is, but there is a lot of crossover between these genres, which I think is also represented in our sound. 

ANTLER FAMILY – self titled LP
ANTLER FAMILY – self titled LP

Tom, you sought to maintain a balance in the album by incorporating complex guitar elements to ensure the songs didn’t become overly harmonious. How do you strike that balance without overshadowing the vocal melodies?

Tom: I guess it’s just trial and error to see what works. Sometimes if the chords underneath a melody sound too “normal” to me I’ll try to change them while keeping the melody the same. So things will sound a little surprising (for better or worse!)

Each of you brings an eclectic mix of previous band experiences to Antler Family. How do these past experiences influence the dynamics within the band?

Mia: What I love so much about this band is we are really four individuals who have strong musical personalities. When we get together we are very much playing ourselves, if that makes sense. What comes out of that is big and wild, which is what Antler Family is. 

With your raw and electrifying sound, who or what would you say are your biggest influences?

Mia: For me, mostly guitar based bands like The Dream Syndicate, grunge bands of the 90’s, PJ Harvey, The Church, Wovenhand, Big Brave, Chelsea Wolfe, Jucifer. There are many others. 

Tom: David Bowie and Cardiacs for unusual melodies and chord changes; early Flaming Lips for noisy music with great, simple vocal tunes on top; and Black Flag and Flipper for pure guitar damage. 

Now that your debut LP is out, what are the next projects or goals for Antler Family? 

Mia: We are working on a couple music videos, I am very interested in video media. We are planning a West Coast tour, and also have eight new songs we are currently arranging, after we write a few more we are gonna want to get back into the studio. 

ANTLER FAMILY © Kristin Cofer

Photos courtesy of Antler Family, © Kristin Cofer

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by retrofuturista

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