Antagonist A.D. are one of the few, if not only, bands that come to mind when you think of hardcore music in New Zealand. A healthy work ethic, solid international touring schedule and an acknowledgment of the costs involved has seen the band succeed. The heavy-hitters are proving that our trans-Tasman neighbours are much more than just the location from Lord of the Rings. New album, ‘Haunt Me As I Roam’ marks itself as some of the band’s best work yet. Killyourstereo.com recently chatted with vocalist Sam Crocker.
Hey Sam, I know I’m the only one today, thanks for your time today.
Yeah, no worries man.
What you up to right now?
I just walked out of a cinema in L.A. I’m just with The Amity Affliction at the moment. We were trying to watch a movie; it either just finished or is about to.
What’d you see?
Chappie, it sucked (laughs).
That’s the movie with Die Antwoord, right?
Well, I thought I’d like it cause I like Die Antwoord and District 9, but it’s basically a movie about Jar Jar Binks (laughs)
(Laughs) Ah man, that’s disappointing, Jar Jar Binks sucks.
Yeah, everyone’s bummed out now.
Now, ‘Haunt Me As I Roam’ is a much more personal record, built around death/loss/suicide of someone quite close to you…
It’s about that literally, and as I was writing the album, I had just come out of an eight year relationship, which really weighed into it. It’s the sentiment that everyone in your life stays with you, if that makes sense? Any kind of relationship, or person or thing, that will stick into your memory, that’s basically the theme of the record.
During the writing process, I did a lot of finding myself and that’s why it’s a lot more introspective. The fact that everything that I’ve done, good or bad, is in the back of my mind and I’ve gotta live with it.
I definitely felt a lot of that when listening through the album, especially with ‘Old Love’, ‘For Anyone That Hurts’, and the title track. I’d be right in saying that it was very cathartic then?
Oh 100%, it was really hard to record. I don’t want to say that the previous releases have meant less to me; it’s just that this album is so personal to me, recording these was so horrible man. I didn’t think it was going to be so hard, it was like two weeks of weird, therapy torture. But it was also good at the same time.
Good to air out the demons so to speak.
There was definitely some exercising of some demons, that’s for sure.
Where there any breaking points, where you might have wanted to stop or put the album on hold?
Doing the song, ‘Haunt Me As I Roam’, about one of my friends who passed away, we did that in a couple of tries. That was too much, in re-living the moment too much. I thought that because it was causing me so much anguish and emotion, that it was probably a really good thing as it all was very real, raw and honest, and I prided myself on my previous lyrics, but now that I’ve dug so deep to pour it out, I thought I reached a new level.
I was taken aback when I first heard the album. With Antagonist A.D., I think of songs like ‘War Crimes’ or ‘Paul Allen’ as it’s all quite aggressive lyrically, but here it felt really fresh with this lyric content.
Oh, thank you man. That’s what we were going for. I really liked ‘Nothing From No One’ and the process of it, but I don’t want to write the same album over and over. I want to keep growing musically and as a person. I think this is a great step for us as a band.
I agree, I hope to see a lot more of this side of Antagonist A.D. in the future. When looking at the album’s track listing, I felt like I was looking at the new Stick To Your Guns album as there’s like four guest appearances on it out of 11 tracks…
(Laughs) Yeah… In all my years of touring, I’ve made a heap of friends and I asked a whole bunch of people if they wanted to be involved and everyone said yes. Like with ‘Dogs Blood’ having JJ [Peters, Deez Nuts] on it. When writing we thought that he would kill it on a song like that so we asked and he did it no problems. We had just finished recording, and I was on tour with Architects and Sam Carter asked to listen through some of the songs. When we were on tour with Amity, Ahren actually told him that he and JJ were going to be singing on the album, and so he asked if he could sing on one of them. I was like “Dude, you’re like the best vocalist in this music, if you can sing on the song, then please be on the song”. Andrew [Neufeld] from Comeback Kid also sang on the album, and he’s one of my favourite vocalists, ever. Just having him on the album is making 17 year-old Sam’s dream come true.
Everyone just wanted to be a part of it and all wanted to make it happen.
Definitely, Andrew kills it on everything he does. Plus, he has a huge list of guest appearances and all of them rock.
Oh man, he’s just one of those people who is one talented dude.
And Jacob Bannon from Converge did the artwork for it as well as Will Putney working behind the desk.
Jacob Bannon is one of the reasons I’m in a band, I mean, I’ve got some Converge lyrics tattooed on me. I’ve been listening to them nearly my whole adult life and we’ve wanted to work with Will Putney since we heard of The Banner. So it’s all, very, very cool for us.
Do you think it’s almost confirming your status as a band when you can call on a lot of your peers to help out on an album, like having the recognition and the pull to do that?
Yeah I guess it does, I never actually thought of it like that (laughs).
‘Nothing From No One’ had major influences from American Psycho, are there any other influences of literature or film in this album, in other Antag releases, or just in your personal life?
Looking forward, we thought of doing something with this album, with having sound bites to suit it thematically. With ‘Nothing From No One’, it really fitted the theme of American Psycho – that kind of vanity and self-loathing. This one was so personal that it needed to stand alone, as opposed to cross referencing it with something else.
You guys signed with UNFD recently, which is a massive boost for you guys in terms of getting the band out there. Now I see a lot of people and articles saying the same thing – that it’s extremely difficult for a band from New Zealand to make it, and I want to know if it really is that tough?
Australia is easy enough for us to get to, but even getting there, the cost involved enough. Being a band from Australia is hard enough, getting all the flights booked, a van, accommodation, and once you leave the country, there are all these other costs involved. So coming from New Zealand to Australia, those costs are there, and to go even further costs more.
People want to hear from bands from America or from Australia, but not a band from a small country because it’s not as cool. It’s not as smooth as being a band from L.A. or Brisbane or Sydney.
I can imagine it’s an uphill battle. Some people only know of New Zealand cause of Lord Of The Rings…
Oh, for real man. It’s tough. We had no one to say to us, “When you go Europe do this, when you go to America don’t do this, talk to this person” – it was just us working, touring, an making friends with bands who toured other countries before. We were one of the first bands to come out from here to tour the world. It’s not very ideal.
But having those extra pressures and obstacles makes the here and now that much more worth it?
That’s it. We’ve never wanted to turn away from the challenge, the fact that we’ve toured around the world, gone to these places, met all these people, played with all these different bands, have kids on the other side of the world sing back our songs.
I can see that as being one of the most humbling things to see.
Oh, it’s so insane. The fact that it’s also happening back home.
At the time when we were touring, it was our peers going on tour, who are now our friends. Now we’re getting more kids posting up things like us “Carrying the flag for New Zealand hardcore”, like that’s sick. That makes me feel wild to think that we’re helping and showing all these kids that they can do this too. I grew up listening to NOFX and all I wanted to do was tour the world in a band, and man, to do it now is so cool.
Being the progenitors of a new generation of bands, that’s something very few bands can say they’ve done. I think we’ll have to leave it there, thanks again for your time today dude.
Thanks a lot dude, really appreciate it.
And I’m sorry to hear about the movie.
(Laughs) the movie fucking sucks. Tell people not to see that shit. No one wants to see a movie about Jar Jar Binks as a robot.
(Laughs) take it easy Sam.
See you later man.
‘Haunt Me As I Roam’ drops on March 27th via UNFD. You can pre-order the album here.