In The Middle with Anteros

Being in your 20s is weird. It’s like being caught in the middle of two milestones. You’re not a kid anymore, but don’t feel quite ready to embrace the term ‘adulthood’. There’s this expectation that you have your shit together, but you feel anything but that. “Music is like therapy for us,” Laura Hayden, the front-woman of Anteros tells me. “I always thought of music as a way of getting a piece of mind, without having to spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds of therapists.”

If you haven’t heard of Anteros yet, then take note. The self-proclaimed pioneers of ‘bitter dream pop’ are just that: therapy. From singing about failing relationships (‘Breakfast’, ‘The Beat’) to everyone’s best friend/arch nemesis alcohol (‘Drunk’), they are a band that have a knack for transforming the hardships of life in your 20s into intoxicating songs of celebration. 

“At the end of the day we’re all in our 20s, we’re writing about things that we’re going through. If you’re going to write about something sad, if you’re going to write about something affecting you, we feel it’s a lot better if you do it to a happy melody. It almost gives you power and strength on stage and you’re taking back those moments, but at the same time celebrating them in a way.”

Josh Rumble, the band’s bassist adds: “I think it gives you power over those situations. The whole idea of a ‘positive mental attitude’ doesn’t mean that you’re forgetting about the stuff in mind.”

Indeed, with their pop-infused melodies and 100mph guitar lines, there is the sense that the band are on a mission to cure the world of heartbreak and hardship. ‘I think at times like these when the world is in such a complicated situation, it’s nice to go to a gig and reflect, but at the same time just let it out, see the positives and how there’s so many people who have it so much worse,” Laura says. “When I go to gigs I like to dance, I like to use that as therapy for myself. We want to make people dance at our gigs. We want to make them feel like they can unleash that as well.”

Despite having not yet released an album, the band have already played The Other Stage at Glastonbury, supported Two Door Cinema Club on tour, and been the Guardian’s band of the week. To say it’s been a busy year is an understatement: Josh describes how, “for the first four or five months of the year, even between tours, we had about five days off – at a most.” Laura adds, “it was really weird, we had one weekend when we didn’t have a festival and it was like ‘Oh we’re at home, oh shit’.”

I ask about the strain of living such a hectic lifestyle, and Laura replies, “it’s weird not seeing your family or friends for such a long time and playing catch up.” Josh adds, “hearing everyone’s in-jokes that you have no idea about is always really strange; when you come back to the conversation and there’s jokes and references to things that you haven’t got a clue what they’re about.” It’s a sobering moment, and Laura responds after a pause: “Getting used to not being as hectic is weird. It’s important as well to try and find some time to stop. Regain some mental sanity.” Josh is our guru of self-care for the day, and he comments “people often forget that actually you need to stop otherwise you can’t start again” –a piece of advice that we could all perhaps learn from. 

Earlier this summer, Anteros were selected to co-headline the NME Under the Radar gig – a gig designed to showcase the latest up and coming talent. For audience members, it was a gig with a pure-party atmosphere. For the band, it was a moment of self-confidence: “it was great to feel like we’re not doing this alone. With anything creative you’re constantly flooded with self-doubt, so when someone like NME comes along, you’re not going to say no.” With Anteros being a female fronted band and their co-headliners, urban hip-hop band The Age of L.U.N.A., being the antithesis of the bands typically associated with NME, the gig was a celebration of talent and diversity.

Image: Ben Bentley, NME

And undoubtedly, Laura is the frontwoman that every girl growing up in the early 2010s wish they had: she is perfectly and unashamedly seductive, a glitter clad queen that knows how to rock a stage. “I think 100% there is still an issue,” she comments in reference to the dominance of white boys within the indie scene. “But it’s getting a lot better. We went on three tours this year, and I was the only girl in one of the bands, which says a lot about the industry.”

However, despite the obvious issues that are still apparent, she is keen to stress that the industry is changing: “there are so many female fronted projects or bands, like Wolf Alice – what they’re doing is amazing. Yonaka as well are great, and Girli. There are a lot of women coming through, it’s whether or not the boy’s club music industry is actually going to-”, she pauses. “They’re going to have to make way, they’ve got no other option.”

So, what’s next for Anteros? “Hibernation album mode starts where we’re just banging our head against a wall all the time,” laughs Laura. Having just embarked on their first headline show, the band are set to tour with Yonaka and Stereo Honey later this October. And why should you go see them? “Come down because it’s fun! Come party with us! Come along and see how you feel, sing along, let all the shitty stuff out – we’d love to have you there.” 

Anteros are the predrinks, the party and the afters all stirred into one – don’t be the last one to turn up to this glitter and bitter dream pop parade. 

Juliette Rowsell