An Interview with Leighton Antelman from Lydia

Leighton Antelman, vocals

I had the opportunity to be a part of the North American Pioneer tour not once, but twice! Opening for The Maine on the North America tour is a long time friend, a band by the name of Lydia. I’ll admit I had never heard of Lydia before the line up for the North American Pioneer tour was announced. Leighton Antelman, lead singer was kind enough to fill me in on all things Lydia. For those of you who have yet to listen to Lydia, I encourage you to read on about this dreamy sounding band.

Salak: Can you tell me a little bit about your background, such as where you’re from and how Lydia got started?

Antelman: From a little town called Gilbert, AZ, which is kind of a suburb of Phoenix. We just started playing about senior year of high school so I was maybe 17, 18 somewhere around there. I actually went to college for about a year at Arizona State. The only reason I went to college was because our guitar player was just a year younger than me so his senior year I was in my freshman year of college. I went to a year of college to kill time cause he couldn’t tour yet. And then when he got out of high school we just started touring. He actually isn’t in the band anymore but we went through a few lineup changes and yea it’s kind of just me and the drummer now and we are at the music together.

Salak: I briefly met the guitarist and bassist in Chicago and noticed their accent—can you tell me how you met the Australians?

Antelman: We’ve done two tours in Australia; for the first one the opening act they were in the band and we just really hit it off and became really good friends and the second tour we did over there we had them play for us as hired musicians. We are all just super good friends. They had never been to America so they knew we were doing a tour coming up about a month after we left and just really wanted to come and asked if it would be possible. I just wanted to let ‘em see America and come over so we just had them come over.

Salak: If it’s only you and the drummer, are you the main songwriter then?

Antelman: Yea. As of the last album it’s mostly just me and then Craig collaborates on certain things but mostly it’s just me. He’ll come into the studio and lay down the drum tracks and we will both structure songs. Then he’ll leave and I’ll finish the record by myself. For the next record we are actually bringing on a few more musicians that are in the band right now like the keyboard player and the guitar player. It’s kind of slowly becoming more of a group band thing than just a solo act.

Salak: Can you tell me a little bit about the bands that have most influenced your writing?

Antelman: When I was younger and just starting out Bright Eye’s had a very influential impact on me. I always liked earlier Death Cap stuff but umm…who else? From when I was four or five with my dad he doesn’t listen to any music. He’ll not listen to any music and He’d rather kind of have the radio off and maybe listen to talk radio more than anything but there is one band he’ll listen to which is the Beatles. So since I was a toddler I was almost brainwashed by the Beatles.

Salak: If you had to describe Lydia in three words, what adjectives or words would you use?

Antelman: I would just say…three words? I would say we are a take on a little bit Indy/Rock and Roll.

Salak: When I talked with Jared and John from the Maine, John described your music as being cinematic. Would you say that’s a fair description?

Antelman: That’s a pretty fair description. It’s kind of cinematic just in the way that it really fluctuates from soft parts to really heavy parts, which I have always really liked in music. I really like when you go in big waves and when a song is kind of really different. With epic highs and lows.

Salak: I’m intrigued by the cover art from your CD’s, can you tell me how the art reflects Lydia as a band?

Antelman: To be honest we always get a friend to do a painting or some sort of drawing for it. I obviously put an input but I basically just call up a friend, and I have a few different friends who are really good artists, so I just say ‘here’s a few of the tracks from the record…just paint something that you think this sounds like’. That’s kind of how every record has gone because I’m a terrible artist; I can’t literally draw a stick figure so I don’t even attempt to give them lessons. So I just give them a few songs and they come up with good stuff.

Salak: Before coming on this tour, did you know or have a relationship with either the Maine or the Arkells?

Antelman: Us and the Maine have actually known each other for a very long time. We are basically from the same city and so umm we kind of almost grew up together playing local shows and what not. We’ve known all of them for quite a while. The Arkells on the other hand I just met them on this tour. I don’t know if John O. told you this but we did warped tour maybe four years ago and uh John O. actually did merch’ for us and now we are touring with them again so it’s cool.

Salak: What are your plans after the North American Pioneer tour wraps up?

Antelman: We’re actually going to, right after we get off this tour, be writing for a month and then um try to record a new record about August. Then we will be doing a fall headlining tour.

Salak: The Maine has a strong following. How do you feel the fans have reacted to Lydia? Would you say being on tour with the Maine has opened up Lydia to a new, or larger audience?

Antelman: The reaction from the Maine fans has been really well. I obviously didn’t know what the reaction was gonna be because they are trying to get out of that world but we are coming from two different kind of worlds but we are getting closer together. Their reaction has been awesome. You can tell they haven’t heard that style of music before so they are a little more intrigued in just watching and every time after the show everyone has said “I really liked it” and that’s cool.

Salak: Do you know who else you are planning on touring with in the fall as the headlining band?

Antelman: It’s just in the works right now. We are definitely going to be headlining in the fall but it’s still in the works right now.

Salak: The North American tour is coming to an end; do you have a favorite performance or place you have been to on this tour?

Antelman: I always really love Chicago. Chicago is just awesome, I really like Chicago; one place we didn’t actually go on this tour was New Orleans. Probably my two favorite cities are Chicago and New Orleans. I haven’t ever stayed there [New Orleans] for more than one night but it’s a lot of fun. Chicago, New Orleans, and probably the North West are just gorgeous.

As Leighton said, the Maine has been moving in a new direction with their music over the last couple of years. Personally, I think having Lydia as an opening act was a very complimentary choice for the tour. Lydia, and specifically Leighton’s voice, resembles that of a grown up lullaby. As Lydia works their way into the highs and lows of each song you can hear the emotion that goes into every note, making their songs all the more dramatic. On stage, Leighton’s body language only emphasizes the feelings of passion and anguish of each lyric. Once you’ve listened to Lydia, I highly doubt there is any other band you would rather be serenaded by. This Indy/Rock group is unique, dreamy, and definitely epic. Lydia’s lyrics, sound, and attitude can definitely be described as cinematic, which is why they may pop into your head the next time something grand happens in your life.

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