Sounds Like Winter
- Post-Punk Gothic Dark Alternative
In this (amusing) episode we hear from Ant Banister of Sounds Like Winter. Ant has been active in independent underground music scenes since the 1980s - with numerous bands as well as co-managing a record label/collective. Firstly, here is a link to hear and download a free copy of the Sounds Like Winter track "Hollow" which is featured on the "S.I.N.G.E.D. 2" compilation album. The track is also here on youtube. There are links to many more songs further below.
Interview by DJ Robot Citizen:
Question: If you were caught behind enemy lines and under interrogation they implore: "You will describe to us this Sounds Like Winter in around 50 words or less!"... what would you say?
Ant: Sounds Like Winter is an enjoyable musical escape for five people of like minds, but anyone else is welcome to come along for the ride. We are unified by a sound that has roots in the Post-Punk period 1978-83. We really like Bats and when our Mums ask us to finish our supper, we tell them to piss off.
Robot: lol... Well I certainly appreciate a strong stance in support for our fellow animals and also against evil oppressors...
Along with a passion for the Post-Punk period what else brings Sounds Like Winter together?
Ant: We are all extremely passionate about music and we are in it for fun as well. Rehearsals are always a riot. Andi is a natural comedian and we always end up riffing on some comedic bullshit that has us in tears more often than not. Unless we are on stage... then it's black and serious... until one of us fucks up, then we crack up. We really like graves and when our Mums ask us if we want juice, we tell them to piss off.
Robot: Am noting: do not offer juice to SLW, particularly in a maternal manner - likely to be rebuked...
Who else is involved with Sounds Like Winter?
Ant: The core band is Ant Banister, Andi Lennon, Tommy Webbster, Jamie Pajuszok and Leticia Olhaberry. Ash Rothschild a founding member still writes with me from time to time and is all over the early songs. We have a team of supporters that believe in what we are doing and they have really helped us go a long way in a short time. One important example would be Michel Rowland from Disjecta Membra, who has been a promo machine and put together our recent NZ tour as well as helping push the Bats comp. There are also a strong core of specialist radio shows worldwide that play our stuff on a regular basis and we thank them for their vital support. We all sleep in coffins and when our Mums try to tuck us in, we tell them to piss off.
Robot: I keenly anticipate a forthcoming SLW anthem for coffin-sleeping youth who don't want to be tucked in, at least by their juice-offering mums.
Speaking of songs, I gather you're busily recording and working towards your official debut release?... And unless they're Top Secret what are the plans for that?
Ant: The debut album is close and expected to be ready for a late Nov/early Dec release. We have re-recorded all the demos and included some changes to the songs that playing live has inspired. The results are harder and darker than the demos. We are really pleased with the results so far. It will be a digital release but there will be some physical CD's made. We have been known to drink blood and if we stain our pajamas we all tell our Mums to piss off.
Robot: I had wondered about the pyjamas; glad for clarity.
You currently have numerous (imho release-ready-high-quality) "demos" recorded - where are they available from?
Ant: Thanks very kind. Now most of the album is done, we may debate the quality of said recordings that were mostly written and recorded in a rush haha. They are all up at http://www.soundcloud.com/sounds-like-winter-demos for a short time you can download them, but not for much longer. We hang around graveyards at night...well until at least 7:30 when our Mums call us home...... we do tell them to piss off under our breath... really!
Robot: Well I confess I had had some doubts, heard rumours, about the veracity of your stance on that. You have aptly dispelled those doubts...
I see some of your tracks are featured on several compilations - anything you'd like to say about those?
Ant: Getting on "For The Bats II" comp was a real coup. We submitted but did not expect anything but they were really enthusiastic about the track and it was one of the most played comp tracks by radio shows promoting the release. We got a lot of great networking done as a result of appearing on "For The Bats II". Then we were invited to go on your great comp "S.I.N.G.E.D." which was a real honour and then shortly after For The Bats asked us to go on number III... We are well hard and only ever wear black and our Mums even wash us with black washcloths in a black bath... well the bath may not be black.
Robot: lol (and sigh!) well I am sure that our readers are greatly relieved to know that. Although some may be disappointed the bath may not be black. I like to believe that it is, at the least after use...
You've been busy doing live shows in many locations - where have you performed?
Ant: In the last 18 months we supported Pop Will Eat Itself in Sydney, played Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney a few more times and Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand. It's been fun and really helped us cement a final line up of awesome band members and mature our sound. We collect headstones and crucifixes and skulls and stuff and our Mums stitched awesome capes for us shortly before we told them all to piss off.
Robot: (Note to self: ask later for SLW's mum contact details to enquire about price and availability of capes)...
Regards the live shows in numerous cities, that's very adventurous for an ANZ band in these genres and also very inspiring. What are some of the joys and challenges of playing live and of touring?
Ant: Touring and playing live is just so much fun. We all get on so well, every tour has us all laughing our heads off the whole time. Everyone has been really nice and we have met and played with so many awesome bands. One challenge would be the cost, you never make back your money. The other main one is getting a good live sound. You have a 45 minute window to impress and entertain people and if the sound is bad, then months of work is wasted.
Please tell us more on how Sounds Like Winter came in to being? What led you to this project?
Ant: SLW started as a Post-Punk style songwriting project between Ash Rothschild, Ryan Mortimer and Rob Finder in 2013. I was invited aboard shortly after, then Rob moved away from Sydney. Ash and I moved to my studio and started writing songs. We wrote really fast and had nine songs ready in three months. We decided to form a live band to perform them and got Ryan, Jorden Brebach and Rueben Sakey to play guitar, bass and drums. We rehearsed for a few months and released "The Dark" with a video clip, but Ash, Jorden and Ryan got too busy with other responsibilities and had to leave before our first show. It sucked, but then I got Andi Lennon and Tommy Webbster on board and then Jamie and Leticia came to replace Ryan and Rueben. We have not looked back since. Andi and I have found it really effortless to write great stuff, with Andi and Tommy playing off each other and now Jamie and Leticia are contributing as well. When we grow up we are all going to live in a castle and our Mums are going to drive us around in hearses.
Robot: It's interesting and inspiring how a project can form, dissipate and then re-form. And I am glad to know there's a plan for future employment of family members...
Recently what is inspiring you to create?
Ant: I am a social person and a healthy scene is what inspires me. A full dance floor is quite transporting, just watching or playing a great live show, hanging with like-minded people that share a similar taste in music and the feeling that it is happening everywhere really fires me up. The upsurge of interest in Post-Punk and Deathrock has been really exciting. There is nothing better than knowing your hard work and your passion have a potential worldwide audience. We all have pet bats. Mine is called Satan and is well hard. He once bit the head off a moth.
Robot: R.I.P moth... On the music front, as you point out, it seems many people are seeking a more human element, that edge, in music (again) ...
You've been involved with several music projects in the past - what were those? Anything you would like to say regards them?
Ant: I have been active in the underground music scene since 1984. I started out in Darwin's alternative scene in punk bands, holding events and DJing, and then in Adelaide I played in bands and did sound for The Mark Of Cain . I went with them on tour to Sydney and ended up moving there soon after. Then I worked for Boxcar and then Severed Heads, helped establish the Clan Analogue label and collective, while in electronic acts Eidolon, Nanotech, Pempek, The Flow and Lunar Module over a period of ten years or so. My last act Lunar Module being synthpop, brought me back into the Goth/Alt scene again.
Regards performing live: how do you go about that as a crossover live-instrument-and-electronic act? Do you seek to emulate the studio recordings or achieve something different?
Ant: As opposed to the electronic acts I have been in since 1988 or so, SLW is a rock band with some synth lines and percussion. I don't even have the keyboards on stage anymore. We use computer backing tracks for the electronic sounds and the drummer uses a click track. I am interested in emulating the recorded sound as that is how most of the songs were birthed, in a studio rather than a jam session. We have been jamming lately and some of the new material will be played totally live for variety, not by preference in my case at least, I like both. I also like graves, a lot, and cobwebs and big hairy spiders... as long as Mum is around to catch them in a container before the crawl on me.
Robot: That's very good of her! lol...
As you've been involved with the independent-underground music industry for several decades now, what are some of the things that have changed over that time: i) for the worse (if anything); and ii) for the better?
Ant: For the independent muso things have only been improving all along. We used to be alone, live shows only, street press, no radio and small releases if we were lucky. Then it got better with actual labels and magazines for alt culture and specialist radio shows on community radio. Then the Internet came along and Myspace and mp3 and now file sharing, net radio, digital releases, Facebook and Mixcloud. We have never had it better, anyone who is doing badly now, just needs to consider that music is entertainment, if nobody finds your stuff entertaining, move it to find people that do, or change it, work harder. One thing I finally learned is that you need to work really hard to get good at what you do, sitting around pissed off that nobody sees your potential is only going to turn you bitter. If your Mum tells you you can't go out in makeup and hang out in graveyards, just tell her to piss off.
Robot: And hope she'll still make the capes and catch the big hairy spiders...
What do you feel are some specific challenges that independent/underground musicians face today?
Ant: Their own sense of entitlement and laziness. If you believe in what you are doing, do it well and shove it in front of everyone's faces for long enough, it will pay off. You can get lost in the noise as there is so much going on, but again, if you work hard for long enough the good stuff will float to the surface and be recognised. There are plenty of people out there hungry for new stuff. I am always hungry for death and dark stuff like that, I was telling Mum the other day I really like using swear words and praising Satan, she took away my toy zombies.
Robot: I gather that's possibly for the best. I'm glad to hear Satan (the bat) gets the praise s/he deserves, though I am concerned for the moths... And yes I concur, as a long-time promoter of artists, about how some people's sense of entitlement can severely self-sabotage their artistic career...
Regards some of the challenges that indie-underground musicians face what are some potential solutions that can improve things?
Ant: I would like to see the end of the established gate keepers. There are TV and radio stations and venues and festivals that don't reflect what is going on in the pubs and clubs. The gate keepers and taste makers hold control of what gets through and that should stop. It is getting better though as everyone has wide taste now and want music of all kinds to flourish. There are so many healthy scenes now, Punk, Ska, Metal, Goth all going great guns. My Mum tried to throw out my collection of studded leather....... errr everything and I really gave her what for... then she grabbed my ear, it was all over.
Robot: The tyranny! More inspiration for more art I trust ...
Along with the debut official release what are some plans for Sounds Like Winter for the forthcoming year or so?
Ant: More of everything. I have really enjoyed making the video clips and am hooked now, so there will be more of that. We have a backlog of songs half written that we are really excited about and we want to play lots of shows. The plan is to hold album launch gigs in Sydney, Melb and Brisbane in the next few months. We will be going back to NZ again next year, we have plans to play with Disjecta Membra over there. There are plenty of invites from North and South America to come and play, we just need to find the cash to do it. I am off to Europe in July and will try to sort something out there. My dream is to take a group of Aust and NZ bands to do the Euro festivals, but that will take some doing. Anyone listening? I intend to live as darkly as Mum will let me with lots of graves n stuff.
Robot: :-) I wish thee the best with all those adventures. Thank-you Ant for a very amusing and informative interview. Dear Readers, there are several links below for Sounds Like Winter sounds and visuals.
= = = = =
There are links to other projects mentioned above on the links page. These include Ant's prior project Lunar Module, Andi Lennon's solo project Thatch Noir and Jamie Pajuczok's Techromancers.
And here's the index page for Interviews hosted on this site.
= = = = =
Sounds Like Winter
[ to top-of-page ]