Recently I spoke with Dawn Barger of Post Hoc Management and manager of The National, Nicole Atkins, Evangelicals, and The Antlers. According to EarFarm.com, The Antlers are one of the 10 Brooklyn bands that you should hear right now [1.12.2010].
With their new album Hospice set to drop March 3rd – and with long-long-time Antlerphiles like Pat from Pop Tarts Suck Toasted already proclaiming it as a frontrunner for best album of the year – The Antlers are putting all the chips in for 2009….well, based on the two songs we’ve heard from Hospice it certainly sounds that way. With this concept album, penned by frontman Peter Silberman as an explanation for his exile in NYC, the band aims high, skywriting their missives on a murky skyline…”we are Antlers, hear us roar!” We like it.
What did Dawn have to say about managing the band?
The Antlers have only been a band for about two years. How did everything (touring, releasing a second CD, and having a full team of representation) happen?
I think everything is based on writing an incredible album. If you write really incredible music, I think everything will come and then you can just amplify that. And that’s what they did. Then it’s just putting a good team around it and working hard. They have toured tirelessly. They have done a billion interviews. They work really diligently. They’ve opened up for bands, they’ve headlined, they’ve co-headlined.
They’re on the road all the time. They’re doing a lot of festivals this summer, in U.K. and United States. They’re also having a headlining tour of the U.S. During some downtime over the summer they’re going to have time to write their new record, release an E.P. this fall and release album in early 2011.
How did you meet the band?
I know people on their record label. I was having dinner with one of the people at the label, and I mentioned how much a fan I was of the band, and how I always listen to their record. He mentioned that they didn’t have a manager and that shocked me so I went to the show (they were playing a couple of days later) and went up to the band. And we started talking and had general meetings.
You’ve known the band since August of 2009, but you only became their manager in October. How do you build their trust?
You have to love a band and you have to get along with people to have a certain amount of trust. You have to talk about what they’re experiencing, your ideas on how to keep their band growing and by getting to know each other this way, we begin to build a trust. I don’t know how to build a trust other than talking about who you are, honestly, and what you can do. If you’re a good fit, it feels right on both sides. I’m not the type of manager that walks into a room and tries to sell people. I can’t walk in and say, “I’ll make you famous, kid.” There are certain things: there’s the hard work and there’s my philosophy and if the artist agrees with it.
What’s your philosophy?
It’s mainly about how a career should unfold and trying to build it as long-term and something to immediately cash in, but making good, long-term decisions so that in the end, they don’t have to have a day job because that is the end goal as a musician. You have to look at your band as a brand on some levels. You have to make sure that you’re creating a unified identity behind all of your artwork and live performances, and the music that you put out. There are more day-to-day ideas like where do we tour, and when? How do we effectively get into markets that are over-playing or under-playing them? What festivals do we want to perform in the upcoming period? What kind of press have we gotten? What kind of radio have we gotten? And where are the holes?
We made a timeline. They hadn’t plotted out the next 12-15 months of where they’re going to be when, but when you have a structure you can become more creative about where you’re going and when.
Why did you want to become a manager?
I think it’s the most fun part of what you can do in the music industry. I love being in that relationship with artists—being with them and helping them get a lot further in their career. You get to be part of the inner-workings of the band. Not only do you run the business side, but you also spend a lot of time on the road with them. Its not like you’re doing one job over and over again, but you’re making a trajectory and helping people achieve long-term goals.