Hard work, determination and the belief in your dreams is understood no better than by Melbourne-based rock outfit Antiskeptic. A resilient attitude built through the highs and lows of a 14-year career, has given birth to the fittingly titled, third studio album – Stare Down the Ocean. With only a couple of weeks until its release, we sat down with drummer Nick Coppin to chat about the album, art and working with Forrester Savell.
By Mark Plummer
You’ve got a new album – Stare Down The Ocean – coming out September 19th, can you tell us about it; what did you want to achieve both lyrically and musically?
We are so stoked and excited about it! It sounds really cliché when bands talk up their new record as their ‘best yet’, but we can honestly say this is the album we’ve always wanted to make. It sounds huge! We were able to secure Forrester Savell as producer who he really helped take the production and sound of the record to a new level for us. He’s worked with a heap of amazing bands (Karnivool/Dead Letter Circus etc), so we knew we were in good hands and that he would achieve the results we were after.
It’s an anthemic rock record, so lyrically and musically we really honed in on making it relatable for the listener and something that could hype you up for a night out, pump you up for a surf or keep you company on a drive. We really wanted it to be a dynamic listen and take you on a journey, but something you could sing your lungs out to without over-thinking things.
You worked mentioned working with Forrester Savell on this album was there anything he did that helped to bring out your creative sides?
Forry was fantastic to work with and has a great ear. We spent a lot of time working on sounds and trying different things, which we’d never really had the luxury of doing in the past. He really knows his stuff, so we were like sponges soaking up as much as we could. There were a lot of little, subtle changes that we made through his direction, that really brought parts to life. Some of my favourite drum parts on the record were spur of the moment ideas that happened when riffing off direction from him. As I mentioned previously, it’s the album we always wanted to make and this is largely due to the sound and direction we were able to get with Forrester on board.
What’s it like to release an album where your fans have had a massive financial input? Does it add any extra pressure to the process?
The whole crowd-funding process has been key to this whole project. To know we’ve had so many people backing us and believing in our vision for the album has been incredible, especially after being away for so long. It has really got fans invested in the whole project and made them feel part of it all. It’s like we’ve created an army that’s now bigger than just the sum of us, who are prepared to promote and share the word about the record. This belief and positivity has been massive for our creativity, not something we’ve felt pressured by…it really helped fuel the whole project.
Having been on a hiatus, how does this reflect on your new material? Does having the time apart as Antiskeptic help each individual member to grow and bring new life to the machine?
The hiatus gave us plenty of time for reflection and personal growth. One thing was for certain, that Andrew and I both felt that there were things left unsaid with Antiskeptic and our time had ended when we were really hitting our straps musically and as a live act. When we reconnected, it was clear that we both missed Antiskeptic and still had that fire in our belly to give things another crack. We knew this time around that we needed to approach things differently, as in the past we’d be limited by certain constrictions, which resulted in us ending things prematurely due to the drain, emotionally on the band. We made some clear-cut decisions and have been living by the motto that everything we do has to be fun, instead of taking things too seriously. This has worked really well for us and made the band as energetic as we were jamming in our bedroom 15 years ago!
How easy is it to pick a lead single; was Hey Dissident a song that you wrote from the offset to be the first single?
It’s really not easy picking singles at all! For us it was just a matter of going with our gut. Hey Dissident was a band favourite and seemed to be one of the faves from a select bunch of friends and industry crew. It wasn’t written as a single, but we felt it was the best reflection of our newer material and a great way to reintroduce ourselves to the music scene and our fans again.
The name of the album along with the front cover, suggests a lot of power and the idea that this is an album about fighting on and never giving up. What’s the story behind the album art and how it reflects in the material?
You’ve just hit the nail on the head with what you’ve said about the cover. This is exactly what we want to evoke when people see it. We’ve been through so many ups and downs as a group, but there’s a real fighting spirit to this band and you can hear it loud and clear on this record. We really wanted artwork that was powerful and reflected this ‘never give up’ attitude. I worked really closely with my friend and one of my favourite artists Pat Fox from Apollo Collective. Pat is amazing at listening to a concept and taking it to a new level. We couldn’t be more stoked with how it’s turned out – it represents the album and band perfectly!
The Back to The Future music video is excellent, please tell me that hover board was real? That aside, what was the idea behind putting your own twist on a classic film?
There’s actually a great story behind the hoverboard. I put the word out on Facebook to see if anyone by chance had a hoverboard, not expecting to hear anything! Within ten minutes, we were contacted by a fan who knew someone who could get us one! Sadly it didn’t actually hover, but it was a legit replica Mattel hoverboard – we couldn’t believe our luck! To be honest, this kind of stuff happened throughout the whole pre-production, we were able to get a DeLorean, props, costumes, a flux capacitor and about 40+ extras decked out in 50’s gear ready for the ‘Enchantment Under The Sea Dance’! It was incredible how it all came together on such a small budget!
We really just set out to create something that was fun to watch and thought it would be great to pay homage to one of our all time favourite films. It was such a blast to make and we spent two days absolutely geeking out, having the time of our lives!
For your next music video, you’ve got a zombie filled affair, quite a departure from Back To The Future; what was the creative idea behind this next video?
Again, it was all about creating something that was fun to watch and not a typical band performance video. I’d come up with the concept of a lone boy in a post apocalyptic, zombie infested world and his battle for survival. It probably sounds a lot darker than what it actually is, but we’ve taken a bit of a B-Grade, Grind-house humour approach to it. It’s slightly cheesy, but going to look super cool. The band has never looked more bad-ass!
You’ve got your album launch shows at the end of September and start of October, are there any tracks in particular that you can’t wait to play live; anything that you feel will be amplified by a live venue?
It’s going to be great playing some of our newer songs like Hey Dissident, When The Night Comes In & Reach For The Sun – they’ll be bangers to play live! With that being said, we’ve really delved back into our back catalogue and brought out songs that we haven’t played in years. It’s felt so rad, playing some of the oldies like 60% Intentional, Change My Ways & Jimmy Was Always Thinking. There’s an even spread of songs from our entire career, so I think new-school and old-school fans are going to love the show. I’m hoping it’s one big sing-a-long!
Finally, Aussie veterans Bodyjar have come back with a new album last October, now yourselves. Being two bands from Melbourne, what’s the music scene currently like in your home city? Do you feel that there has been an injection of interest with first the Bodyjar album, and now yourselves coming back to the forefront?
Melbourne seems really healthy at the moment, there are plenty of rad bands going around like My Echo, Ceres and The Sinking Teeth to name a few, which is super exciting! I was wrapt that Bodyjar have done a new album and have been touring hard. Those guys are legends to us! Great bands can only mean good things for the local community and the Australian music scene in general. We can all feed off and gain inspiration from each other, which in turn fosters more creativity, better music and a stronger scene. I’m just super-stoked we get the chance to do it again and be part of it all.
Many thanks to Nick for taking the time to chat to us. Stare Down The Ocean is released on September 19th.