Bearded’s Guide To… Bristol: An Interview with ANTA

Cloudrunner chats to ANTA

Posted on Aug 17th, 2012 in Features and Interviews, ANTA / By Cloudrunner
ANTA For those who think prog-rock died in 1974, think again. Like every genre or style, it has been re-invented, re-interpreted, fused, abused and confused. Such is art, such is life, and it is no bad thing. In this post-post universe, it’s wise not to fear your post-parallel self; remember that ‘shelving’ and parentheses are organisational tools, and the collective biography of humankind will not be entitled ‘Eats, Shits, & Dies’. Do It Yourself, and be wary of idle journalists telling you what to think. ANTA; the four-piece of Joe Garcia (JG), James King (JK), Stephen Kerrison (SK), and Alex Bertram-Powell (ABP), do Bristol, and themselves, proud with their exquisitely well-measured art. This is not music either to love or to hate, but a beautiful and bruising encounter with highbrow musical journeying, and one that’s available to all – for music is atom-less and cannot be trapped in magazines, or hung on shelves or brackets; music lives in the air and in the mind; free and open, and occasionally transcendent.

Bearded: ANTA are known for a live sound that is visceral and yet brimming with intellect. What is the mission statement for your performances, and what do the all-black ‘uniforms’ signify?

ABP: I don't think we've ever nailed down any concise sort of mission statement, but there's been a consensus from the start that we should have this larger-than-life sound. Before ANTA was a thing, James, Joe and I all made music together in various configurations and we developed this mutual preference for "big", both sonically and literally; we all ended up with comically oversized equipment that sounded great as well as horrendously loud. So artistically the mission became to write music that made good use of that presence rather than simply occupying it, like a lot of instrumental rock bands tend to do. Immense music to suit an immense sound. Recently we've reached this other consensus that the music we write should possess a sense of enjoyment - it should sound like we're having loads of horrible fun with it, which we definitely are. Someone once said that we sounded like "drunken gods at a birthday party", which may sum up our intentions better than I've just done.

As for the clothes, we wear black because we do. If and when we try to negotiate a more specific wardrobe we inevitably return to the conclusion that four guys in black is ridiculous enough.

Bearded: How much is your music influenced by the sub-genres it resides in, and how much by the intuitive, natural way, that you play/write together as a unit?

JK: I think individually we're all influenced by the various awesome bands we love, and this definitely informs the ideas we each bring into the studio, but as a band, it's less relevant. We throw away probably 90% of what we write, but we've never abandoned an idea on the basis that it's simply "not prog enough", or "not stoner enough", or whatever – "not good enough", perhaps! Usually the ideas we keep and develop are those that everyone in the band doesn't hate. We're not setting out with a plan to sound like anything specific, we're just playing stuff we all enjoy, and the result is what happens when four people with somewhat differing tastes and preferences only play stuff that they all enjoy. Especially when those four people all at least agree on “loud”.

Bearded: Do you each have defined roles in ANTA, outside of the instruments you play? Does the band have a leader, or leaders, or a collective ‘savoir-faire’ approach?

JK: We all work hard to get stuff done. Booking a tour is definitely a group effort. Aside from that . . . Alex does artwork, me and Joe do the recordings. Steve is the sexy one.

Bearded: How does the writing process work?

ABP: By consensus or quorum, instinct, rationale, arguing and absenteeism.

JG: Tea, cookies, and ales go in one end. Riffs come out of the other. It's a surprisingly simple process provided we do not run out of those three ingredients.

JG: . . . or get the ends mixed up.

ABP: We also have a whiteboard.

JG: . . . and pens now too.

Bearded: Please can you give us a few examples of key bands/records that have informed your work to date? What do your selections mean to you?

JK: Seeing Guapo in about 2008, and the subsequent purchase of all of their albums, was a pretty major turning point for me. A few years before that I had a similar experience with Earth. Adrienne Davies is the most underrated drummer in the world.

SK: I recently re-listened to Queen’s Wembley ‘86 concert and was surprised by how much of my guitar playing style I’ve stolen directly from it.

JG: Sitting down with my mum when I was 10 and going through her old records and hearing King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, Can and Neu! for the first time just blew me apart. I remember thinking it was funny how everyone else's parents seemed to have such crappy records and how much I’d lucked out.

ABP: Béla Bartók’s ‘Mikrokosmos’ for sure, and Gil Evans’ ‘Out Of The Cool’, both for being utterly, bizarrely arresting in their composition and arrangement, respectively. I’m seconding both Guapo and Adrienne Davies, too.

Bearded: Do you have a favourite piece of musical equipment that you either own already or aspire to?

SK: My guitar currently only has one neck, which is something I’m looking to rectify in the near future.

JG: For me, Guild+Ampegs = HAPPYPROGFACE. Oh yea, lots of pedals help too.

ABP: IF synths = X THEN synths = (X +1) GOTO 10. Also a Rhodes, a B3 and an Oberheim Four-Voice would be nice, if you're offering.

Bearded: What is this quintessence of dust?

SK: You’re a quintessence of dust, mate.

Quite . . . So, fancy something “big”? ANTA takes to the road at the end of the month, and you’d be a square-note neume to miss it. Apologies to the band however, for Bearded has no spare organs etc, or any spare cash for them either.

Sun 26th: Fat Out Fest @ Islington Mill, Manchester
Mon 27th: Big Spaceship @ Santiago's, Leeds
Tues 28th: Kneel Before Zod @ The Chameleon, Nottingham
Wednesday 29th: Behind The Wall Of Sleep @ Mello Mello, Liverpool
Friday 31st: Green Park Tavern, Bath w/Fairhorns
Saturday 1st: Cube Cinema, Bristol w/Knifeworld