Sunday 07 April 2019, 7pm - 10:30pm
The Waterfront Studio
Anteros take their name from the Greek god of requited love, the perfect moniker for a band whose buzzy indie-pop is this easy to fall for. Coming up at a time when guitar music is once again in rude health from Shame and IDLES to Wolf Alice, this London-based four-piece boast influences that range from Blondie to Brandon Flowers, Motown to disco. “We sound like tequila mixed with bananas and a bit of cinnamon”, jokes frontwoman Laura Hayden, a half-Spanish, half-British tour de force and former MTV Spain VJ who helms this self-proclaimed “travelling circus” alongside Harry Balazs, Josh Rumble and Jackson Couzens. The last few years have seen this young outfit hit the road with the likes of Two Door Cinema Club and White Lies, open Glastonbury’s Other Stage, and gain major radio support, garnering the approval of tastemakers including Annie Mac and Phil Taggart. In print, they’ve also been hotly tipped by the Guardian and the Independent, with alt-rock bible DIY noting that they “turn sorrow into something you can dance to”. And, as they prepare to release their debut album, it’s easy to see why so many are already under their spell.
In a time of social media fakery and inauthentic artists, Anteros aren’t pretending to be anything they’re not. ‘We’re definitely not trying to be cool,” says Balazs, a BRIT school graduate who discovered his tribe in Anteros following a stint as a session drummer. Their upcoming debut album When We Land is a collection of sparky, often bittersweet musings on twentysomething life - not least Call Your Mother, a song about the pressures of youth whose relentless, anthemic bassline and jangly, Cure-ish momentum meld with Hayden’s dreamy, Debbie Harry-esque vocals. For bassist Rumble, the line “lightweight young hearts waiting to break” sums up his own relationship with growing up. Elsewhere, other tales come cloaked in a blitzkrieg of grungey electro-pop (Afterglow), at other times via introspective folk-rock earworms (Ordinary Girl). What unites them is a rich sonic palette and poetic lyrics that celebrate the highs and lows of being young in 2018. “My favourite lyric on the album is ‘you don’t know how close you were to being number one [from Ordinary Girl]’”, explains Couzens, a former guitar tech who cut his teeth working with Manchester heavyweights Blossoms. “At that point in the song it kind of lifts up as it goes from minor into major. For us, it represents getting knocked back but coming back and trying harder the next time”.
Indeed, while Anteros have had an impressive few years (Balazs joined in 2015 and Couzens in 2016, while the others had been working on material for some time before) they have, of course, faced the challenges of post-adolescence, and then some. The new band lifestyle has of course involved much time on the road while travelling in cramped vans, and trying to stay true to themselves has at times seemed like a battle in a polished and Instagram-ready age, something Hayden understands better than most having worked as a presenter and model. Besides, they’ve been keen not to be seen as a continuation on a theme. “I do think this is something that happens more with female-led projects, where you get compared to stuff a lot, or put up against other bands,” she explains. “We're trying to just see it as us, not wanting to be part of a fad, but making stuff that will find its own place”.
Since signing with Distiller last year, Anteros have only become more secure in their identity as a group, thanks in part to an “amazing” period recording at the label’s in-house studio in Bath alongside Mercury-winning producer Charlie Andrew (Alt-J, Bloc Party, Marika Hackman). The version of Anteros we meet on When We Land is confident without feeling cocky, retro while also sounding current. There are even dancefloor-ready moments in the mix, with Hayden describing heady, Moloko-ish single Wrong Side as “disco with a side of rock”, and Rumble - who has experimented with synth bass on the record - adding that it’s “disco recorded in a Motown style ... [that period] was gritty sonically”. It seems no coincidence, too, that the coyly funky Ring Ring shares a title with an ABBA song. A highlight for Hayden is fan favourite Breakfast, which “feels more grown up, it was a writing demo when we released it, so this was a chance to do it properly”. Couzens, meanwhile, is a fan of Honey, an “upbeat, dancey, sassy” track that gives way to a darker meditation about a toxic relationship. Similarly, Drive On, inspired by Hayden’s time in LA and realising the limitations of the “Hollywood dream” feels like a fresh coda to the edgy Americana of Hot Fuss.
Whether during their electric live shows or on record, Anteros strike the perfect balance of deeper themes and varied grooves you can’t help but move to. And it seems they have no plans to change their eclectic ways any time soon. “We don’t want to get too comfortable”, adds Hayden with a laugh. “Otherwise it would get boring. We want to make our own space”. And, as they continue to craft it with class, we’re sure to be lending Anteros our hearts as well as our ears.