(This interview was originally published around April 30th 2018. Everything is as was except the photos)
When did Sounds Like Winter Start?
Sounds like Winter initially emerged in 2012 but didn’t find a stabilized lineup and start gigging until late 2013. There was a lot of shuffling of members early on but Ant kept the lights on til the band really found their feet. By the time Andi and Leticia were on board we had a solid trio and we have kept building since then.
Is there a meaning behind the band’s name?
We’re all big fans of Edgar Winter and albinos in general. But seriously, the name was thought up by the first line-up, I guess in general it’s meant to evoke the intended song writing direction. Dark and cold. A little nod to synesthesia.
What type of music genre is Sounds Like Winter?
There’s really two answers to this. The pretentious one is that we don’t really like to categorize our music as it is evolving all the time and that we feel labels are limiting. The truthful answer would be to say goth. We’re a goth band. Dark post-punk. Although there are a range of influences across the board we all revere that certain period and a certain sound.
How many band members are there and what are their stances?
At present we’re a four piece. Four gives us both power and space and the right mix of personalities. Ant Banister is on lead vocals, his stance is legs slightly apart, straddling the lip of the stage with occasional dad dancing, then we have Sian on bass guitar, (he only has one name like Prince or Madonna), his stance is a classic legs apart rock and roll stance for maximum thrusting power. Andi Lennon plays guitar and does backing vocals, his stance is teetering tipsily to one side, and keeping the engine running is Leticia Olhaberry on drums, she doesn’t really have a stance as it’s generally easier to play drums when sitting down. Maybe her stance is ‘arms flailing, octopus style’.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band through the years?
Keeping our bass players. We’re onto our 5th or 6th now. The first one was laid low by super herpes, the second two both fell into a wheat thresher (on non-consecutive occasions), the fourth discovered a discipline called ‘cosmic ordering’ and now lives in a pyramid shaped structure called ‘the centre’ and the last one was sequestered after writing threatening letters to Prince Phillip. We’re lucky to have found Sian though, he plays real good.
What has been your favorite place to play?
Locally it would have to be our spiritual home, ‘The Townie’ in Newtown, it has great sound and it’s always nice playing to our home crowd. (Shout out to the regulars!) We’ve also been lucky enough to play some great international supports for the likes of The Chameleons, Pop Will Eat Itself and Voltaire, which gave us a chance to work some bigger stages and was totally worth all the bags of hot stinky cash we used to bribe the promoters. Finally, both of our tours of New Zealand were fantastic with great crowds and great people involved. Turns out it’s more than just hobbits and bestiality over there.
If you could play at any venue anywhere, where would it be?
We’d love to play in Europe, South America or Japan. We have a big following in South America in particular and the crowds down there have a reputation for being amazing. But we aren’t fussy, as long as people want to see us we’ll play. Promoters, get in touch!
Who writes the lyrics?
Ant writes the ones about being depressed and Andi writes the ones about sodomy.
And the music?
We like to think that the variety in our songs comes from the fact that we not only have two strong songwriters that write together and separately, we also come up with new songs by jamming as a band. There’s no real set rules as how we come up with a piece and it’s always a blast experimenting with what we have, swapping instruments and just trying to come up with something that resonates.
What are your band practices like?
We usually get together once or twice a week and either jam and write or go through variations on our sets to prepare for gigs. Fortunately not much of the dialogue is recorded cos that shit could totally be used as evidence in a court of law. We jammed just last night and came away with a great new track which is always the best result. When everyone is firing on all cylinders and the connection is there it’s the greatest feeling in the world. Sometimes Andi even remembers to bring a plectrum.
Do you have a motto for the band? Or a superstition?
I guess our motto would be to always enjoy what you are doing and not take life too seriously. Music can be many things to many people but in a group, when you’re creating or playing live it’s always best when it’s in service of a good time, no matter how dark it is. Remember “it’s always darkest before the super darkness.”
Does the band have anything new coming out?
We do! Our second album ‘Sticks and Stones’ is about to be released on delicious 180 gram coloured vinyl. This release is initially limited to 250 copies so get in quick via our bandcamp page. We also have a new run of shirts coming out and are writing and recording for a new EP that will hopefully be unleashed by the end of 2018. Keep watching the skis.
When is your next gig?
We have a show this Saturday the 5th of May with local acts Cap a Capo and Howl. Then we have about three more booked over the next month or so leading up to the launch of our vinyl at the Oxford Art Factory. We’ll be mixing up the songs from both albums and throwing in a new one as well so tell your friends, family and lovers.
Who has done the cover art for your albums and logos?
The first album cover ‘Initiate’ was designed by Ant and depicts his obsession with bridges both literal and metaphorical, he has an eye for both sturdy construction and delicate brickwork. Sometimes he’ll stand on a bridge for hours contemplating feeling depressed. The ‘Ossuary’ EP was designed by Andi and is inspired by doomed expeditions like those of the Endurance, Erebus and Terror. The sodomy, the dysentery, the amputees and all that good stuff. Finally ‘Sticks and Stones’ was drawn by local artist Richard Brownhill who has also done some work for local band Howl. All his stuff is hand drawn ink on paper and has a really distinct style that highlights the ugliness we crave. If you’re interested in hiring him get in touch with us and we’ll pass on your details cos he’s really skinny and could probably use a sandwich.
Were any of you guys in bands before?
Yeah we’re all old so we’ve been around the block a few times in bands like Thatch Noir, Nanotech, Lunar Module, Howl, Def FX, True Love Chaos and more. We remember when you could catch a trolley car to the picture show for thruppence.
What are your Favorite books?
Ant: I am always reading. My favs lately were Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Under the Skin by Michel Faber.
Leticia: I have read many books that had a big impact on me, so it's really hard to choose - I can think of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Dark Tower series by Stephen King and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
Andi: Books I have only ever read two perfect books. The fist is ‘Narziss and Goldmund’ by Herman Hesse which is the perfect distillation of the human condition. The second is ‘Fucked By Rock: The Unspeakable Confessions of Zodiac Mindwarp’ which is the perfect distillation of why you should never ever join a rock band. Other authors I really enjoy include Haruki Murakami, John Steinbeck, Robert Anton Wilson and Susanna Clarke.
Sian: I dont read books lol
Have any of you been in other bands?
Ant: Sounds Like Winter is my twelfth band or so, I have been in cover bands, punk bands, electronic acts and post punk bands. The better known acts would be Def FX and Lunar Module. Lunar Module (my synthpop/new wave) act is still going and we are recording an album right now and planning on a short tour in Europe during October.
Andi: I was once in band of gypsies. We slept in a caravan, bathed infrequently and stole people's children. I also play in Thatch Noir and Howl who will be releasing a new record shortly through Batcave Productions out of Europe.
Sian: - Sain In shadows
-True Love Chaos
-Creatures Walk Among Us
Do you believe in re-incarnation?
Ant: I have believed in different versions of re-incarnation since I was in my 20’s. These days I am sitting on the fence between two versions: A. That we are re-born over and over through DNA and B. The possibility that life has an over-arching spiritual aspect (outside of time) that expresses itself through living individuals, separate and united at the same time.A Buddhist king was asked by one of his soldiers if it is the same “you” that re-incarnates each time? The King answered, “when you light the lamps along the wall every evening, is it the same flame each time you re-light a lamp or a different one?”
Band Member 1: No, I'm one of those people that think that humans are just like other animals on this planet and don't posses any special qualities that makes them nature's chosen ones. Life is impossible without death, and so everything that is alive must die. That includes us, and I don't think nature has any reason to give humans the higher purpose of afterlife.
Band Member 2: I don’t believe in reincarnation no. That’s far too convenient and human a concept to really take seriously. However, I do believe that everything that is here has always been here in one configuration or another and will always be here in that same sense. The fundamental building blocks of life endure, so although we won’t be reincarnated with some sense of personality intact or ongoing celestial lineage, we do fertilize the earth and become part of the ground which in turn becomes part of the worms, then the birds and so on. So I guess that kind of counts. We can also live on via what Robert Anton Wilson calls the ‘Time Binding Semantic Circuit’ which is basically a fancy way of saying ‘we encode our personalities, knowledge and life experience in sets of symbols that can be transmitted over time’. For example, we can still enjoy the works of Plato or Jimi Hendrix even though they aren’t here anymore. Conceptually they remain real as long as they remain a part of our experience.
Any last words?
Have fun and stay hydrated.
You can listen to our music here:
Links to Sounds Like Winter