Review Fix Exclusive: Leighton Antelman Interview

Two women stand together in white dresses in a white background, a blonde in a gas mask and a brunette in a ski mask. Black words spell out “Lydia” and red words spell out “Devil” over their head. But don’t judge a music album by its cover art. Let the music speak for itself.

Lydia is an independent rock band that has produced excellent songs since their debut in 2003. The band recently released their new album “Devil” as of March 2013. Songs such as “The Exit” and “Devil” were instant crowd pleasers.

Leighton Antelman, the lead singer of the band, says that “Devil” is one of his favorite tracks off of the record. This also helped in deciding the name for the album.

“I honestly just liked the way it rolled off the tongue,” Antelman relates. “It was short and to the point.”

The name of the band, however, is not as meaningful as the album’s title. Lydia’s christening was nothing symbolic or dramatic, more of just a quick suggestion that was met with instant approval.

“It was pretty simple, actually,” Antelman recalls. “We had our first gig at a pizza parlor, and right before we went our guitar player said, ‘How about Lydia?’ Everyone agreed, and we went on stage.”

The band’s beginnings were simple enough. The original band members met in high school and formed a group, later on adding friends and other musicians when former members dropped out. Antelman currently write lyrics for Lydia and thoroughly enjoys it, even though the strains of recording can be difficult.

“I have this mind that loves to second guess anything it can.” Antelman jokes. “So usually a song will take me anywhere from an hour to a year to properly finish.”

The drawn-out process of songwriting for Lydia’s new album was a factor in how the album came out. With a different team than the last record, Lydia’s tracks came out more upbeat than previous album releases.

“I brought two new people into the write process,” Antelman says. “I think that had a big impact on how Devil came out.”

And come out it has. Songs like “The Exit” are upbeat and happy with light piano, deep guitar and soulful lyrics. “Back to Bed” has a sleepy Hawaiian theme, with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and clapping in the background. The lyrics are relaxed and unhurried, like a puffy cloud on a summer day. “Knee Deep” has a sadder tone, with a reminiscent feel to the words. Again, piano and guitar accompany the vocalist, but there is an darker undertone, like a quiet rebellion.

The song titles are taken directly from the song or something that the song represents. This makes the song name easier to remember if the lyrics are already present in the song. “Knee Deep” drops the “F” bomb a few times, but not in a violent or profane way. Rather, it’s more a harsher reference to “messing up” a certain part of an action. Antelman prefers to refer to the music as “sort of calm, with heavier parts here and there.” Some of Antelman’s work was written just to dabble and not even seriously considered for production.

“I just try and write music I like,” Antelman explains. “I’ve written music for every genre there is, but a lot just for fun and were not released. I try and not stay in one genre.”

Music has influenced Antelman in several ways, much of it is not his own work. Artists such as Kimba, Regina Spektor, and Rocky Votolato are some of Antelman’s favorites and do much to relax or inspire him Sometimes a single note or a chord from a song on the radio can inspire him. Other times whole songs play and he barely notices that the radio is on at all.

“My brain turns into a machine and an entire song gets worked out before I even got home,” Antelman says. “It really depends on what mood I’m in.”

Antelman relates that most of his work is about 80% completed before he presents them to the band. Through collaboration and suggestions, the band works out the remaining 20% and the song is ready to record. This is a different approach than having the entire band sit in a room and put together the sound. Yet this method works well for Lydia and until the band sees a problem with it, this will continue to be how Antelman writes the music for an album.

Antelman admits that there is definitely a “statute of limitation” when it comes to listening to the band’s music. He listens to the track over and over again until it has the feel that he wants, right up to the point where they are ready to “be finalized and mastered/pressed.” Even then, he still finds things to change and improve, much like a mother hen.

“I have to let them leave the nest and out into the world.” Antelman explains. “Whoever the engineer is usually hates me because I have last minute changes on the regular.”

Once the songs are finalized onto an album, then there comes the daunting task of performing to a live audience. Antelman laughingly says that the paparazzi haven’t become an issue as yet and that being a popular band has not really affected their everyday lives. Yet performing is a rush that Lydia, as well as many other artists, live for, especially in front of large crowds.

“As weird as it seems, to me, it feels the exact same performing for a crowd of 200 compared to 2000.” Antelman remarks. “I honestly get much more nervous playing to a few people. Five to ten people is way worse, I don’t even know why.”

As far as plans for the future, Antelman has nothing immediate set in stone. Getting music written and performing with Lydia is good enough for now.

“I’m going to keep writing and performing music until it’s not something I enjoy anymore.” Antelman states. “And I don’t see that coming soon.”

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