“Drunken gods at a birthday party”

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

for Bearded Magazine

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. Read more . . .

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