Antithetic Records are relatively new kids on the block. After a beautifully packaged release from LURKER’s favourite release of 2009, Shawn’s label has gone from strength to strength. Focusing on vinyl, Antithetic’s upcoming release list looks more like my very own ‘releases that need to see the light of day on vinyl’ – with luminaries from these very pages like Terzij de Horde and Wildernessking (formerly Heathens) and our own favourite, Kayo Dot, leading the assault. Inevitable then, that LURKER and Antithetic became good friends.
With the pre-order for Kayo Dot’s latest EP on vinyl, Stained Glass, going live sometime this week (click here to place an order), which promises to be as aesthetically and sonically pleasing as anything Antithetic put their names too, LURKER and Antithetic have put together a competition and a full article. Here I present an introduction to this incredible label, including a short interview with its creator Shawn, a competition to win a test press copy of the upcoming Antithetic release of Kayo Dot’s ‘Stained Glass’ and Shawn’s own biographies on the bands he has chosen to support.
-How did you make the move from fan to supporting and representing bands that you felt an affinity toward?
The transition came out of my somewhat recent affinity for collecting vinyl, and wanting to get some of my favorite albums pressed that were only available on CD. The initial 3 releases I had hopes of working on were The Postman Syndrome – Terraforming, maudlin of the Well’s discography, and Irepress – Samus Octology. I set out to see what kind of interest people had by sending some emails and waiting for a response.
The first reply came from Toby Driver. He was interested in working with me, but there was a small catch at the time. Dark Symphonies (the label who released the first three motW albums) would not release the rights for a vinyl license, so the only album on the table was Part the Second. I decided to move forward with it, and the label was born. I learned so much with that first release. It was great having Toby’s help along the way. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with or a better album to release as my first!
-Tell us about how you got into this music, what were some gateway bands, any moments of epiphany/realisation?!
When I was young, my favorites were Metallica, Tool, Pantera, Gwar, and the like. I have an older cousin that got me into “real” music at a very young age. This quickly evolved into extreme metal and everything in between. The first true extreme metal bands I listened to were Strapping Young Lad and Dillinger Escape Plan. The Albums were “City” and “Calculating Infinity”. City was just amazing to me. So brutal, yet so memorable. I’ll admit that DEP were a bit too intense for me at first. But, after time, I grew to love that album, and appreciate all the subtle characteristics that aren’t necessarily evident on the first few listens.
I was also very much into the early 2000’s hardcore scene with bands like Poison the Well, From Autum to Ashes, Skycamefalling, Hopesfall, etc. This led way to more styles where there weren’t any clean vocals to speak of, and the emotion was felt in the pure intensity of the music. I’ve always felt somewhat alienated by my love of this music, but I’ve found that there are plenty of people out there who share this passion, and I’ve only come to realize that I’m not alone now that I’m able to share this through the label.
-What’s your standpoint on artwork for releases? So many labels seem to settle for anything these days, from badly photoshopped/pixelated images cached from Google Images to redundant, overused black and white iconography.
I feel that artwork is critically important to the release, almost as much as the music itself. When working on the Part the Second vinyl, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to find a proper place for all of the art that was available. Toby had a specific piece of art for each song on that album, plus the cover art. He came up with the idea to use the song specific art for the vinyl labels, which turned out great in the end.
The artwork in a vinyl release plays a huge role in the overall package. You’re working with a medium that is nearly triple the size of a CD jacket, and something you can look over and admire as you listen to the vinyl itself. It’s a very tangible thing, and not something to be taken lightly. I also like it when the vinyl release has different art than the CD version, it just adds another layer and makes it that much more special.
-What does the future hold for Antithetic? Any bands you’d love to work with?
Its hard to say at this point. 2011 was huge for us. I seriously never anticipated getting so many great bands to work with us, and I’m so thankful for it. I would like to continue to expand the roster and offer even more releases by bands that we enjoy.
For bands we’d love to work with, that’s a hard one. I have a sort of “wish list” of albums that I would love to press/repress. At the top of that list would have to be the last two albums by Hum, the self titled album by Tomahawk (such a huge Mike Patton fan!), and Cynic’s Focus. I went through great lengths trying to get a license to do the Cynic album, only to find that another company has the rights to all vinyl reproduction for Roadrunner Records. Maybe one day I can convince them otherwise! The Tomahawk guys said they plan to press that album themselves at some point. I hope it happens!
As for other bands to work with, I would certainly like to be involved with the next full length by Terzij de Horde, and anything that Kayo Dot is involved with. There’s plenty of others out there, but I’ll reveal those when the time comes.
-There’s a pretty eclectic mix of bands in your release list. Is there any underlying connection?
Its funny that you ask. When I first set out to come up with a name for the label, I asked a small group of friends for their opinion. I got mostly joke answers, but one asked what styles I enjoyed most. I said that I really enjoy music that features harmony, but I also enjoy music that is completely disorganized and almost noise. Being that these two are opposites, he offered the name Antithetic, which means directly contrasted. I loved it, and decided that was the perfect name for the label.
I grew up listening to several different styles of music, most of which have stuck with me to this day. Classic rock, 70’s prog, 80’s thrash, 90’s alternative and grunge. I’m a huge fan of all these styles, and don’t want to limit my label to one specific sound. If it’s something I find truly interesting, original and enjoyable, I’ll be glad to promote it and release it. I’ve had the privilege to work with some fantastic artists thus far, and can only hope that I get to work with even more in the future.
maudlin of the Well / Kayo Dot – I would imagine that most people familiar with our label are also familiar with these two bands. maudlin of the Well being the amazing progressive and avant garde metal band from the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and Kayo Dot being the continuation of that band that has continued to morph into something altogether different, yet undeniably beautiful and awesome. They are both quite abstract and difficult to categorize. This is what makes them so special. It has been fantastic working with them over the past year. (http://www.kayodot.net/ , Our interview with Toby Driver)
Terzij de Horde – This is a band that hails from the Netherlands, and they play an amalgamation of black metal with elements of doom and hardcore. Their name comes from a line in the Dutch poem “Einde” by Hendrik Marsman. They really connected with Marsman and his style, and felt that having a name in their native tongue would express their deeper meaning as a fierce and passionate band. This passion is clearly evident in their music. Their drive comes from the idea that there is nothing outside our reach, and we are to make every second count. They are truly 5 of the coolest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to and working with. Johan and Richard in particular have been just great, not only sharing their artistic input on their vinyl EP release, but personal stories and the like as well. I’ve even had the privilege of getting personally translated interviews emailed to me. These guys are seriously top notch, and aren’t to be missed. (http://terzijdehorde.blogspot.com/ , Terzij de Horde on LURKER)
The Postman Syndrome / East of the Wall – Where to begin. The name changes have been plentiful over the years. In 2002, The Postman Syndrome released Terraforming and even though I didn’t listen to it until years later, it still stands as one of the most important metal albums I’ve ever heard. The majority of these players have morphed into the band we now know as East of the Wall, and they still exhibit many of the same attributes, while adding a few more that come with experience. Their 2009 album Ressentiment was fairly controversial as it was the first album as East of the Wall to feature vocals, and quite a lot of them at that! Their latest album The Apologist is their first to be written by the entire group in their current formation. It promises to be more in line with the earlier EOTW releases, while continuing to expand upon some of the ideas and elements showcased on Ressentiment. (http://www.eastofthewall.com/)
Wildernessking (formerly Heathens) – I heard this band after reading a post made by Lurker Richard giving praise to their single “Morning”. I was so impressed with this song upon my first listen, but it was only after several subsequent listens that I truly came to realize what potential this band had. I contacted them about working with them in the future, and came to find that they were working hard on a full length worth of material. They are pulling out all the stops for this album, from the mastering engineer to the cover art and the recording methods, it will be miles ahead of their recordings as Heathens. I’ve had the privilege of hearing one demo from “The Writing of Gods in the Sand”, and it is crushing! You’ve been warned. (https://www.facebook.com/Wildernessking , Heathens on LURKER)
Young And In The Way – This is a band that hails from North Carolina, and draws some comparisons to the likes of Cursed, Converge and Trap Them. These are some big names to live up to, and they do so with ease. These guys are just punishing. Their 12” “I Am Not What I Am” quickly became a favorite of mine, along with many others who I’ve shared it with. I went out on a limb contacting them to see if they would have any interest in working with my label in the future, and they happened to be in the midst of writing material for a new EP. We discussed a few details about the physical package to be put together, and another great release was born. Due by the end of the year, expect nothing less than an absolutely raging set of songs from this talented group. (http://www.youngandintheway.com/)
Kayo Dot – Stained Glass competition:
COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to Brad Cryan.
Please get in touch Brad: firstname.lastname@example.org.