In mid-2009 a duo of musical veterans from Columbus, Ohio, teamed up to form The Black Antler, a return to their metal and hardcore roots. And considerable roots they had, guitarist/vocalist Adam Lowe, and drummer Alex Weinhardt cut their teeth in a buttload of celebrated indie and underground bands including Six Gallery, The Phantods, Inept, To Dream of Autumn to name a few. Earlier this year, they added Ryan Moya on bass and began recording their debut, which will see release in early 2013.
Ghettoblaster caught up with Alex Weinhardt to talk about the forthcoming album with Alex Douglas from Old Son Studios (recording), Jon Fintel from Relay (mastering) and Greg Lahm of Struck By Lightning (artwork). This is what he said about it…
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
Me and Adam began writing music together in 2009 as The Black Antler. It has been a long slow road putting this record together. The band has seen many hiatuses because of my previous bands, Six Gallery’s rigorous tour schedule. When SG broke up in 2010, The Black Antler hit the ground running and continued to write, started playing shows and eventually added Ryan on bass.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
None of the songs were particularly difficult. As far as recording the instrumentals, most of them were done together live. We overdubbed some guitar tracks later, but most of the stuff we were able to lay out in 2-3 takes being able to keep the bass and drum tracks.
The vocals were a different story however. Adam and I wrote all the vocals for the songs when we were just a two piece (guitar and drums). What we wrote was molded around what we would be capable of performing live. For myself, I felt very restricted in what I could do vocally given the intensity of the drum work, and that was reflected in some of the songs.
While in the studio however, we had more freedom to play around with back up parts, and for a few songs re-wrote a few parts. Since the addition of Ryan, I am no longer doing vocals and can focus solely on drums. He has taken my vocal duties and that allowed us to re-work some of the stuff while in the studio.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
Aside from some of the vocals changing a little bit, the songs didn’t change very much during the recording process. Of course over long periods of time playing some of the songs, little things change here or there. For the most part though, we’ve been playing some of the older material just as we wrote it 3 years ago.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
We had Ryans 9 year old (I think) son sit in on one of the vocal sessions. His parts didn’t make the final mix however.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Alex Douglas at Old Son Records engineered, recorded and mixed the album. I’m not sure that he did much to change the face of the record, but he is responsible for the way it sounds.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Not really. This whole thing was an experiment. This record is an example of two really close friends wanting to play heavy music, and kind of just making it up as they go along. Because the songs were written over the course of 3-4 years, there is a noticeable progression and change in writing style. If you pay close attention to the record, you can probably pick out which songs differ from one another. That’s because they were written years apart.
Unlike other bands who abandon older songs for newer ones, we refused to let the older ones go before we could record them and show them to the world because we really, really like them. I think the next record will have more cohesion to it, and now that the lyric writing duties primarily fall on Adam, there will probably be more of an overarching concept.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We’ve been playing these songs since we started playing shows back in the fall of 2011. We’ve written a few since then that we’ve thrown into the mix. I think the newer stuff has been going over exceptionally well. But then again, people are stoked on the older songs too. I guess it’s hard to tell. We’ll just have to wait and see which single tops the Billboard Charts first.