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5th November 2013

Interview: Crystal Antlers

On the eve of the eagerly anticipated album Nothing is Real, Californian rockers Crystal Antlers spared a moment to talk to Harry Cooke about the importance of keeping your chimney clean and why they won’t be wagging their finger at those who prefer to illegally download their music

To many, Long Beach California is a location synonymous with rap and RnB thanks to the city’s vibrant musical heritage, being the home to many distinguishable rap artists, Snoop Dogg anyone? But in recent years the city has witnessed a resurgence in counter-culture music with many underground bars and venues humming to the tune of psychedelic riffs and heavy rock bass lines. One such band leading this revolution is Crystal Antlers…

Despite being on a near constant touring schedule around California and America, Crystal Antlers find themselves unable to shake off the need for a regular “9 to 5” job to keep their cheque books balanced – “Work Sucks! I would never work if I had my way. But me and the guys had to work chimney sweeping on and off again and here and there”. Despite the obvious strenuous nature of their day jobs the band was quick to affirm that touring too is “hard work, with never enough sleep and never enough time in the day”. It was on one of their regular touring circuits that they encountered the now de-funked Manchester band WU LYF and fellow west coasters, the indie-pop band Cold War Kids, who they later shared a tour with. “Touring with them bands was fun” Andrew the band’s bassist reminisces, “they were cool peeps”. When asked whether there was a clash between the obvious music stylings of the three bands Andrew leapt in defence of the tour, “Yes we definitely don’t sound anything like them bands, and yes their music is probably easier to listen to for some people, but were out there to turn people onto our thing. To open their minds. I think it’s important for bands to play in front of different audiences”.

Since the bands inception in 2006 the exact genre of Crystal Antlers has eluded most journalists, are they psychedelic, are they noise-pop, are they indie rock? Well the answer is quite a simple one for the band, “Crystal Antlers aren’t tied down to any scene in California, and we could not corner ourselves into any particular genre”. Despite their own fluid description, neo-psychedelic is their most common labelling, “depends on who you talk to, [Psychedelic] is a big word with a lot of different meanings. It comes in many forms to me, it is hip-hop, reggae, jazz, dub, electronica and so on”. Whatever their genre one thing is for certain, audiences are enthralled by their music and onstage antics. With three albums under their belt a fourth awaiting release this month, we ventured down memory lane to discuss a fan-favourite – sorrowful album Tentacles. The band accounted this particularly emotive album unsurprisingly on “daily life, the struggle, the hate, love, relationships, death, religion, family and everything else that actually influences the outcome of one’s decisions”.  Hastily bringing the conversation back to their impending album, the band recited methodically the dates of their album, “our new album Nothing is Real  comes out on 15th October on Innovative Leisure, with ‘Rattle Snake’ being our first single and ‘Licorice Pizza’ the second”. When asked if they had plans beyond the autumn and winter tour dates, the once stern business rhetoric was swiftly replaced with the ambiguous and humourous declaration that they and a renowned dub master, The Scientist, intend to “rid the world of vampires, evil demons and space invaders”.

Upon talking to Crystal Antlers it is apparent that here is a band with a genuine appreciation for the music they make and an appetite to continue producing music, as long as there are those who want to listen – A refreshing notion in an industry soured by its commercial and financial interests. It is not surprising then the bands indifference towards cyber theft or illegal downloading of their music, “People gotta do what they gotta do” retorts a understanding Andrew, “I would prefer to go to shows and buy records from them directly, especially as we enjoy getting to know our fans and becoming friends with them, it is important to us that they come to our live shows”.  So why illegally download when for a small price you can have a worthy cd for your collection and have a friend for life? A pretty irresistible offer hey?


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