Q&A: Leighton Antelman of Lydia

lydia

Arizona-based indie-rock three piece Lydia announced their upcoming fall headliner, The Run Wild Tour. The North American Tour features dates across the country with a quick stop in Canada, and will be the band’s first headlining run since their sold out Illuminate Tour back in early 2014. Lydia will also be expanding their current discography as they gear up to drop their next full length album this fall; coinciding with the tour. The band just released their new single, “Past Life,” and it speaks volumes about what we can expect from the group’s new album. As they gear up for their busy fall, frontman Leighton Antelman took the time to chat about the new album, touring, and his favorite fall activities. 

Planet Stereo: Hey Leighton, how are you doing?

Leighton Antelman: I’m doing good, thanks.

PS: You’re headed out on a fall headliner, The Run Wild tour, and as it gets closer, are you getting excited for it?

LA: Yeah, absolutely, we’ve been making the record for quite a while now, and we’ve just been behind the scenes, and no one’s been able to see what’s been going on. So it’s cool to be able to put stuff out there and let people experience what we’ve been doing for, you know, the past year and a half.

PS: Yeah…and I mean, I’ve been looking at the pre-order bundles online, and you guys are selling coffee with one of the bundles. Where did that idea come from?

LA: [laughs] Um…our management just sent that over, because I kinda had the same reaction you had. I was like, “Coffee, huh? Oh, okay that’s cool.” I mean, it’s awesome, I like it a lot, but I certainly can’t take credit for it. I wish I could.

PS: [laughs] It’s very creative. I saw the coffee beans on the picture, and was like, “Is that really coffee??”

LA: [laughs] Me too!

PS: It’s an interesting marketing pull. I think you’ll sell a lot of those, because people are always trying to find a good cup of coffee.

LA: Yeah, we’re bringing them on the road with us too.

PS: Cool! I’ll have to pick one up [laughs]. I was also going to ask you; is there anything you can tell us about Run Wild, and what the fans can expect?

LA: Um…I guess, I think I’ve said this before, but it’s definitely darker than our last release, Devil, and, um…it’s not like we set off to write a certain type of song, it just came out a little bit darker. I don’t know, I guess we spent time on it, we took our time, we didn’t try to really rush it. People have expectations to start with, and as they’re listening, so I try to let them do their thing and I just try to do my thing, ya know [laughs]…If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t. At the end of the day, I can’t do anything about it either way.

PS: Well, you guys just released the single “Past Life,” right?

LA: True, we did.

PS: It was really good, so, if that’s how the rest of the album sounds, I would say you’re going to get good feedback for it. But you’ve said that this is a lot darker than your previous release. Do you think that’s the only difference between this new material and your previous material?

LA: I guess…we’ve put out darker material in the past, but I try my best to just let it happen. So this one just turned out a little darker. But I think sometimes, people take “darker” to mean “heavier,” and…I don’t know, almost like, evil-er or something.

PS: I didn’t find “Past Life” to be too dark, although, whether or not that’s me listening wrong, I don’t know. I can understand now, looking back at it, what you mean by saying it’s a little darker, but you’ve still maintained this very…happy energy that you guys have. It was impressive.

LA: Well, we’re actually releasing a second song tomorrow morning, and that one is definitely not as dark, it’s like, a more upbeat sound to it, with a darker undertone. So I guess people are going to have expectations going into that one.

PS: Yeah, definitely. Going back to touring, you’ve got this big tour coming up, and it’s your first headliner since the Illuminate Tour, I mean, is there a bit more pressure, or do you feel more at home being the headliner?

LA: Wow. I didn’t even realize…Is this really our first headliner since the Illuminate Tour?

PS: Yeah…I’m pretty certain…I hope.

LA: Yeah, oh wow. It is. I didn’t even notice that. Sorry! [laughs] No, there’s no more pressure, I honestly like headlining more, but, I mean, there’s pros and cons to both headlining and supporting. But since we haven’t been [headlining] in over a year, I am really excited to be back headlining. It’s more fun. I feel like the fans kind of feel more connected and just want to hang out and talk, and want to come more to the show when you’re headlining, but there’s cool parts of supporting as well.

PS: The last time I saw you guys performing was when you were supporting The Maine, and you guys looked like you were having an absolute blast; it just looked like everyone got along.

LA: Yeah, we do. We’re on the same management, and we’ve known those guys for years, so that was a bit of a special circumstance. But yeah, it’s cool. All of the people you meet on support tours are awesome. I mean, twenty guys, that are all musicians, on the road for a month-and-a-half, cool, random stuff is going to happen.

PS: So you’ve been a band for about ten years, which, in today’s scene, is basically unheard of. How do you think you guys have navigated that? What do you think is the main reason you guys have stayed together so long?

LA: Hmm…I don’t know. I mean, not to be cliche or anything, but if we didn’t have fans coming out, we wouldn’t be a band still, so that’s, I guess, what it all boils down to. The fans just keep allowing us to do this, so as long as they allow us to do it… We were going to make music regardless, but it just depends on if people are gonna give a shit or not, and they have for ten years, so it’s cool.

PS: Speaking of making music, during the songwriting process, do you find collaborating with your bandmates, to come with ease, or is it a bit of a struggle, like, “Let me just write it, and you can add stuff later”?

LA: We’re actually all really good about that. When we’re all writing, we all just call each other out, so there’s no passive-aggressive, “I don’t like this part, but I’m not gonna say anything” attitude. I mean, there’s just three of us writing, and so, if one person has an idea, and we all like it, we go with it. If one person doesn’t like it, we find a different route to take it. It’s a really healthy way. The only time we get into trouble is when you add in an actual producer, because you haven’t lived with them in close quarters for a month-and-a-half, and for a whole year at times, so you don’t know them too well. But just collaborating with artists in general is a cool experience, and that’s the cool part about it, cool things come out of the unknown, I feel; like not knowing their personalities, or just people you haven’t had personal relations with.

PS: That probably makes it easier to separate yourself and take ego out of the equation.

LA: Yeah, well, that’s the cool part. We get the songs to a certain point in our group, when we’re all happy with them, and then when we go into the studio with a producer, it’s not all scatterbrained, and everyone’s fighting, it’s just easier. If that makes sense?

PS: Yeah, that does. The thing that always fascinates me when talking about the songwriting process, is where do you guys find time to write, especially when you’re constantly on the move?

LA: Yeah, we are, but it’s kind of something that if you’re a painter or a piano player or a whatever you like to do, if you really like to do it, you find time to do it. At the end of the day, at this point, it’s kind of my job, and it’s something I enjoy doing. Even when we’re on the road, there’s a lot more down-time than people realize; there’s soundcheck and interviews, and then you play, but other than that, which takes up maybe 4-6 hours of your day, there’s a lot more of the day left. I like to write when I’m on the road, and then, when we get home, that’s kind of all I do…just write.

PS: So it sounds like you guys have a set schedule, and since a lot of our readers are going back to school, and I like to stick with the seasons, I have some Fall/Back-To-School questions for you.

LA: Sure, let’s do it.

PS: What was your favorite class?

LA: Hmm…I don’t know if it was my favorite class, but I always enjoyed math, if I’m being honest, just because there was always a certain answer, and there was no wiggle room. It seems weird in my profession, because music isn’t a math, but, I don’t know the reason, I just always enjoyed math when I was in high school.

PS: Does that mean that if music hadn’t worked out, we could have been seeing you as an engineer?

LA: [Laughs] I don’t know! I wish I had one of those fall-back careers, that I could be like, “Oh, if this doesn’t work out, I’m gonna go do that instead,” but I don’t. I probably should have…That would have been a smart way to go about it.

PS: No way! Your back-ups are always a bad idea anyway! Dreams first! We’re all very glad you chose music.

LA: [Laughs] Well thank you.

PS: What was your soundtrack in high school?

LA: I love the band The Ataris. They were great in high school and had just come out with this record called Endless Forever. We just played a couple of festivals with them and I was like, high school fan-boying a little [laughs]. It was weird because we were playing on the stage next to theirs directly after them, so our sets kind of overlapped, so I only got to see the first half of their set. Who else did I used to listen to…? I can’t really think of who I used to be super into in high school.

PS: Favorite fall activity?

LA: Hmm…Depends on where in the country you are, I guess. Fall here is still pretty hot. I guess on the east coast, it’s pretty cold.

PS: Well, I mean, here, Florida stays pretty hot. It’s not really until December that we get a chill…

LA: I don’t know then. What’s a fall activity in Orlando?

PS: To be honest, it’s like, “Oh, I can go to a concert with a scarf on!” [laughs]

LA: That’s the difference? You just add a scarf and it’s fall [laughs]?

PS: Yeah…It’s that and going for coffee with friends. I don’t know.

LA: I guess in Arizona the fall activity…well, I live in a place called The Valley, and we’re surrounded by mountains, so everyone goes hiking, because it’s when the weather stops being intensely hot.

PS: That’s lucky! Okay, last one; homecoming or prom?

LA: I think I’d go homecoming just because it’s like…fall/winter time, because summer is brutal in Arizona and homecoming is a hometown favorite.

PS: So stepping away from the fall questions…What advice would you offer to young musicians just starting out; maybe that you wish someone would have told you before you got started?

LA: I don’t know…it’s a weird industry. I don’t know if I’ve ever necessarily learned anything that was true 5-10 years later; it’s a pretty evolving industry. I’d just say maybe reconsider? [Laughs] I mean, if you’re going to do it, you’re gonna do it, and I’m not gonna say anything that’s like, “Oh, I never thought about it that way!” If you’re going to do it, you’re gonna do it regardless of whatever anyone says. Just do it. [E/N: Nike, please don’t sue us!]

PS: Now, this is my last question, and I ask it to everyone. I have to put an asterisk on this though…This is in no way a threat on your life; it’s merely a philosophical question. If you knew this was your last conversation/interaction with another human being, and you could choose your last words, what would they be and why?

LA: [Laughs] Jesus.

PS: I know, it’s heavy right? [laughs]

LA: Yeah [laughs]. I don’t know…I mean, I’m never good with goodbyes, so I don’t think I have much to offer. But I want to ask a rebuttal question; what’s the best thing somebody’s said to you when you’ve asked them that?

PS: I’ve had a lot of really good ones and a lot of really random ones. One was like, “See you on the other side, mother chucker.” The best was probably, “Not in the face!” The worst was, “YOLO.”

LA: They said “yolo”? No!

PS: Right? I kind of died inside.

LA: I’m sorry. I wish I had something prolific to say…

PS: It’s okay! You know what, I have to say this, because it’s quite funny, you say things like, “Oh, I don’t think I have anything to say for this,” but within that, you normally say something quite memorable, like, “I’m never good with goodbyes.” That’s actually really cool!

LA: [Laughs] You can put that then!

PS: Thank you so much for doing this interview. I wish you the best of luck on the Run Wild Tour.

LA: Hope we see you out there!

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