Monday, November 29, 2010

Antillectual: 'We can't force people to listen to the whole album'

With a right wing government cutting on everything cultural and environmental friendly it's good to have a band like Antillectual around who still struggle for a better world by singing about change. Their new record 'Start From Scratch' recently came out one more labels than there are documents published on Wikileaks. Without further ado read what drummer Riekus has to say about downloading, guestsingers and punk.

You have spammed the international punkrock community a song a week for the past months. Besides getting some attention from everywhere this also might make people judge the record as a whole based on the snippets they hear. Aren't you afraid of that?
People will always judge a band by individual songs, there’s no use denying that. Whether it’s that one song they hear on your myspace page or the lyrics of a particular song, certain songs will stand out more than others. As a band, we like to think of an album as a whole, more than just the songs by themselves. Not everyone will share that opinion, so be it. We do encourage people to listen to the album as a whole, for example by putting a full stream + free download of our album online after the release date. We can’t force people to listen to the whole album rather than just their favorite songs, nor do we intend to force them. I guess the most we can do is offer the whole package and allow people to listen to it in whatever way they prefer.

'Start from Scratch!' is the record title. Do you also see it as a new beginning for Antillectual, it being the first record with a new bass player?
The album title is a quote from the first song, which is about the crises we are facing these days, and how we feel these crises allow us to improve things or start over. We chose the album title because this theme recurs in quite some of the songs. Of course, we as a band are also facing a somewhat new start, with Yvo leaving the band and Tom joining, and we feel this ‘new start’ has presented us with a lot of opportunities to change and evolve, but that’s not the reason why we chose the title.

As a political band with a somewhat left-wing ideology you guys must be very happy with the new Dutch government. Finally there's something to really be angry about. Or do you rather see a total leftist government?
There is no government like no government! But the new government sure provides us with enough inspiration for a whole new album, if not a double album! But it would be rather cynical to praise the new government for being inspiring for revolt. I’d rather see a government taking care of ALL its people in stead of the already wealthy white males. A total(itarian) left wing government doesn’t sound very appealing to me either, China and Cuba don’t seem very nice places to me. I don’t think any government can fulfil my needs, let alone all people in one country, but I’m sure we can easily do better than what we came up with now. On the other hand, why worry about politics when commercial enterprises have so much more influence on our daily lives than any government can ever have?

I guess working with thousands of different labels on the release of 'Testimony' paid off for you guys, since you have even expanded the amount of labels releasing the new record. So what are the benefits and what are the negative aspects of doing things this way?
Working with several independent labels on “Testimony” payed off really well for us, indeed. The main benefit of working this way is that each label is extremely specialized in their own region. They know where to promote our album, where and how to sell it, and where to book shows to promote the album. I don’t think any one (European) label can cover the areas we cover all together through the different labels, from the USA to Europe to Russia. On the downside, working with 10 labels at the same time requires a lot of time and communication, to have everyone on the same page, and have the same agreements with everyone. With the experience we have from releasing “Testimony”, it has become easier to arrange all this, and in the end we’re extremely glad to have the support of all these labels. The benefits are definitely bigger than the negative aspects.

One of the new songs features Chris Hannah of Propagandhi. From a commercial point of view this is a good thing, because more people got to know the name of Antillectual. But being a punk band wouldn't it be more logical to ask the local tramp to do some screaming? Why of all people you could have asked did you go with Chris?
I don’t really see how ‘being a punk band’ makes this a strange decision? Chris has been in a punk band for years himself. We like to aim high, but we never counted on it to actually work out. When it did we were happy as little kids. Having said that, we also have our local hero Heleen from Midnight Menace doing guest vocals, but I don’t think she would appreciate being called a tramp ;)
On a more serious note: Propagandhi is a band that has inspired us for years and years. To have one of their members contribute to our album is a dream come true. We didn’t ask Chris to contribute from a commercial point of view, and if we had done that i doubt he would even have considered helping out. Actually, according to the Propagandhi Facebook it cost us 7000 dollar to get him to sing on our album, from a commercial viewpoint a very bad idea.

Whereas you probably could write a record full of punkrock hits, you choose the difficult way. Why?
Interesting! We feel this album is a pretty big leap towards a more accessible, poppy sound. Compared to “Testimony”, the songs on this album are far less complicated or technical, and more melodic, so it’s interesting to hear that we still choose “the difficult way”. I guess it has never been our intention to produce only punkrock hit songs and anthems, and honestly, that would make a pretty boring record. We are not such good songwriters that we can actually chose or decide to write hits or not, it’s more trial and a lot of error in our case. Let’s leave the hit albums to the Pennywises and Bad Religions (pun intended!). We enjoy a lot of styles of punkrock, hardcore, orgcore and emo (even some metal), and i think those influences find their way into the styles we play on this record. Difficult? No. Variation? Yes.

You must have done some interviews already about the new record. What was the most original question, and what did you answer?
We’ve been getting quite some creative questions lately, but i think the weirdest one must have been an interview from an English magazine we literally got this morning containing only 1 question: “What was the one thing that has completely changed, or ruined your life? Please use around 500 words”. The answer was a pretty obvious one: this band. On the other hand we got an interview from the Incubate Festival website asking us if we had played in Holland before and, if yes, what was our experience.

What are the plans from here? Touring, touring, touring? Any new countries you're going to explore?

Yes, touring, touring and more touring! We sure wish to play at least all the countries where our record is released, and that includes the USA and Russia, of which the latter is new to us. Besides that we are planning to play shows and festivals in places we haven’t been before, Slovakia for example. We’re always interested in going new places and returning to places we’ve enjoyed playing. Willem will be doing some acoustic shows too, something we haven’t done for a while. And we will be doing everything we can to get our record out to people. To begin with, we’ll be offering all our music for free download at as of November 1st. Please go on, download and enjoy!

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