Sweet, Savory, and Deceptive: A “Breakfast” Interview with Anteros

RIYL: Alvvays, HAIM, Fleetwood Mac, Arcade Fire

Save your sorrows you’re wasting daylight
There’s no tomorrow’s we’re chasing tail lights

It’s safe to say that in most contexts, deception is generally considered a not-good thing. People don’t like being deceived: It makes them feel inadequate and naive. This makes sense.

Why is it, then, that deception is such a lauded artistic device?

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare: poet, playwright, and Master at deception

One of William Shakespeare’s greatest assets was his ability to accommodate the stratified working-class and upper-class audiences in his writings. His plays were highly intellectual, but also vulgar and profane, and he weaved worlds together in such a way that members of both cultural extremes could enjoy his works, albeit from significantly different perspectives. Deception was a friend to his art.

Deception presents itself differently in music. There are the more blatant examples, like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” a heavy critique of America’s military actions that is so anthemic and “merry” in its appearance that President Ronald Reagan misguidedly attempted to co-opt the song for his 1984 presidential campaign. Plenty of sad songs disguise themselves as happy numbers, and plenty of joyful songs are masked in sorrow. The human experience is complex and confusing: There is no right way to feel an emotion or sensation. Senses don’t work on definites; rather, they fluctuate on spectra.

What better way to invoke this, than through deception?

Listen: “Breakfast” – Anteros


UK indie outfit Anteros know a thing or two about deception in art: Since Laura Hayden and Josh Rumble first joined forces over a year ago, the band have released three – and now four – songs that excel at deconstructing the human experience into its sundry, often conflicting elements. They were last seen questioning the stability of love in the intellectually dense, melodically fragile “Lonely Tonight.” Before that, they were observing the ecstasy, temporality, and emptiness of unrequited love on “Fade to Grey.”

“We love to disguise sadness behind happy songs,” says frontwoman (and reluctant mastermind) Laura Hayden. “If you’re sad, the best medicine is laughter, so we like and have fun with our songs, regardless of the subject matter. We call it Bitter Dream Pop.” Instead of looking at a rainbow and seeing reds, yellows and blues, Anteros see the undefined hues in-between.

Their latest release is called “Breakfast,” and just like the name itself , the song is a well-balanced meal that, to some extent, sugarcoats a much bleaker subject. On the surface, “Breakfast” sounds like a happy-go-lucky pop song: A bouncy bass-propelled backbeat breathes an air of positivity over glittery, tempered guitars and Hayden’s sweet, easygoing and good-natured voice. “Why don’t you tell me over breakfast? ‘Cause I don’t wanna know now,” she sings. A rush of energy pours over the fast-paced, jumpy chorus, beckoning the casual listener to join in on the musical reverie.

Screenshot from Anteros' "Breakfast"

sweet and savory turn nasty and disgusting in the “Breakfast” music video

At face value, “Breakfast” can be played off as cute. Innocent, even. Of course, the song isn’t that at all – not by a long shot.

“I was seeing someone who only wanted to stay up and talk about his problems all the time, especially at night,” says Hayden. “One night I realized this wasn’t going to go anywhere – there was no need to dwell on it, or talk about it for hours.”

In point of fact, Anteros’ lyrics are pretty much a tell-all for the song and its depth.

Save your sorrows you’re wasting daylight
There’s no tomorrow’s we’re chasing tail lights
Say you wanna talk, wanna work it out

Well good luck ’cause my head just touched the clouds
It’s not that you are boring

It’s just I’m tired of talking for tonight…

Screenshot from Anteros' "Breakfast"

Laura Hayden in one of four different shots within Anteros’ “Breakfast” music video

Hayden poetically admits to being in a dead-end relationship, with little interest in helping (or listening to) her doomed lover. These are the words she can never speak aloud, but instead must reserve to herself – repeating over and over again, as she lulls herself to sleep. The song’s music video cleverly follows both sides of the song, depicting artistic and colorfully seductive breakfast-y settings that gradually overflow, like the narrator’s own pent-up internal emotions. It is a beautiful yet sinister concept – one that fits almost too perfectly into Anteros’ Arcade Fire-meets-Alvvays sonic design.

Pop music doesn’t need to be shallow or simple, but subtlety and risk-taking unfortunately seem to be things of the past for the world’s most “radio-friendly” genre. Anteros reject the latter notion, crafting spellbinding music while addressing deep subject matter. In doing so, the band cater both to those seeking a feel-good pop tune, as well as to those looking for deeper insights or inspiration.

Cause all we should be isn’t all that we need and I don’t need to know why…

“Breakfast” is deceptive in all the right ways. Read our full interview with Anteros to learn more about Hayden and co.’s current status. Anteros is most definitely an artist to watch over the coming year: If their first three songs somehow didn’t impact, then “Breakfast” should prove Anteros to be not just a force to be reckoned with, but a legend of artistic deception in the waiting.

Watch: “Breakfast” – Anteros

 

A CONVERSATION WITH ANTEROS

Atwood Magazine: You seem to have a penchant for deceptive cheer in your songs - and what I mean by that is, these seemingly happy songs are really quite sad. I heard it first on “Anteros” and then on “Fade to Grey” - a distinct melancholy behind the cheery pop?

Anteros: We love to disguise sadness behind happy songs. If you’re sad, the best medicine is laughter, so we like and have fun with our songs, regardless of the subject matter. We call it Bitter Dream Pop.

What was the inspiration for “Breakfast”?

Anteros: We wrote this song last summer. I (Laura) was seeing someone who only wanted to stay up and talk about his problems all the time, especially at night. One night I realised this wasn’t going to go anywhere – there was no need to dwell on it, or talk about it for hours. Then we wrote “Breakfast.”

Do you think (the story behind “Breakfast”) is what comes through to the listener?

Anteros: We’d like to think so! Sometimes we worry too much about how to word songs, but we wanted this one to be straight to the point. Sometimes you’ve got to tell it how it is.

I read a review of the song that played it off as a happy-go-lucky tune, and was absolutely flabbergasted. But perhaps that's the glory of letting a song go without too much explanation - it's free to be interpreted however people want to interpret it! What are your thoughts?

Anteros: It’s cool to see people reacting to it in different ways – which we guess are more relatable to them. At the end of the day, we aim to connect with listeners… so everyone is going to have a different take on our songs.

I believe the first lines to a song are often the most crucial. Where did “Save your sorrows, you're wasting daylight” come about?

Laura: Those first two lines are always such a headache! We can’t say the same for this case, though. I was just humming words along to the melody, and told Josh exactly what I wanted to say (I was looking for a prettier way of saying it). Josh asked if that’s what I wanted to say, and said we should roll with it and be as honest as possible.

"Breakfast" single art - Anteros

“Breakfast” single art – Anteros

You seem to be getting really into the “Breakfast” theme in promo. Trying to embrace the most important meal of the day?

Anteros: Who doesn’t love breakfast? Breakfast is a funny one: you watch commercials / films and you always see an idealistic representation of what breakfast is meant to look like – but rarely happens. I usually nibble an apple on my way out of the house, Josh downs his bowl of cereal in record time. But really, the happiest days are those where you actually share and enjoy breakfast. No emails, no calls, just you, him / her… and FOOD.

But “Breakfast” is, at the end of it all, a metaphor for something. Isn't it?

Anteros: It’s a metaphor for enjoying the present whilst it’s still there.

What is it about metaphors and this fanciful imagery that you're attracted to?

Anteros: It’s easier to say the truth behind beautiful words and imagery.

It’s easier to say the truth behind beautiful words and imagery.

Anteros are Laura Hayden, Joshua Rumble, Charlie Monneraud, and Harry Balazs

Anteros are Laura Hayden, Joshua Rumble, Charlie Monneraud, and Harry Balazs

Why not attack a subject head-on? Have you done that before? What was the outcome?

Anteros: We try and balance real with metaphors, we find that’s when you (get your) best outcome.

I suppose embracing “Breakfast” isn't all that bad. What's your favorite morning food?

Laura: EGGS ’cause they remind me of the weekend

Joshua: Weetabix and a gallon of coffee

Harry: crumpets

Charles: baguette, baguette, baguette (he’s French)

Transitioning a bit, Anteros' releases have been relatively scarce and very far apart. What kept you in the dark for so long?

Anteros: We’ve been growing up and finding our feet. We want to release music that’s true to us and where we’re at. This said, we’re already working towards our next release…

Any chance we'll start seeing some normalcy / a steady schedule coming into place?

Anteros: Yes, in the foreseeable future.

I wrote about your band name - Anteros - when reviewing “Fade to Grey.” How do you feel about your name, and what was your mindset when developing the band?

In Greek mythology, Anteros is the god of requited love and the avenger of unrequited love, born to Ares (god of war) and Aphrodite (goddess of love). The name literally translates to “love returned” or “counter-love,” a powerful emotional construct that speaks volumes to the importance of passion, recognition, and reciprocation in the canon of the human race. How fitting, it then seems, that a band named Anteros would write a song about unrequited love through the eyes of a lover.

Anteros: When we wrote the song “Anteros,” it was a defining moment for our sound and identity (Anteros being the statue in Piccadilly, London). The name means the space and time where everything came together for us, and holds a special meaning to us.

How have Anteros grown and developed over the past year and a half since your formation? How does the Anteros of today differ from the Anteros of last year?

Anteros: I guess you could say we’re less shy. We’re more sure of who we are, and where we’re headed as a band.

Atwood Magazine: What can we expect from you moving forward?

Anteros: Another single is on the way, just in time for Summer.

Atwood Magazine: Let's end on a good note - what is your favorite part of “Breakfast”? What makes this song so special for you?

Laura: Josh loves the middle 8, I quite like the sassy build in the last chorus.

"Breakfast" single art - Anteros

“Breakfast” single art – Anteros

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Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks

Anteros UK 2016 Tour Dates

7 April 2016 – London, Dingwalls w/ High Tyde
11 April 2016 – Cambridge, Portland Arms w/ High Tyde
12 April 2016 – Leicester, The Cookie w/ High Tyde
13 April 2016 – Stoke, Sugarmill w/ High Tyde
30 April 2016 – Live at Leeds
19 May 2016 – The Great Escape Festival
03 June 2016 – Cheltenham, Wychwood Festival
02 September 2016 – Cambridge, Lodestar Festivalf

Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com