By Erin Wolf WMSE Published May 12, 2016 at 4:06 PM

Antler House – featuring Sean Anderson on guitar, bass and vocals, John Johnson on guitar and John McCabe on drums – first appeared on the Milwaukee scene in 2014. Their full-length "Through The Dirt" garnered positive local press for their magnetic qualities of subtle folk-pop artistry and pensively youthful lyricism, evoking early influences like Grizzly Bear and creating an audio space of growth and contemplation that many local bands at that particular time were looking to shatter.

The band’s latest, "Across The Waves," features a similarly expansive folk-rock sound to that first release, but consciously chooses to shift speeds for a more frenetic and agitated sound than that more easygoing debut, adding clearly-pronounced electric guitar elements and amped-up vocals. Antler House cites the local rock scene in Milwaukee being one of the biggest components of this change – one band, in particular: Absolutely.

The new, more tightly-wound songs and the production work – compliments of Milwaukee’s Howl Street Studios’ engineer Shane Hochstetler – propels everything to create their desired, harder-edged sound. Yet, even with the pedal to the metal a bit more, the new material doesn’t completely derivate from the band’s earlier material; Antler House simply seems to have figured out their true direction of sound and then poured all their energy into creating that audio feel, making their songs even tighter and more earnest.

On Tuesday, May 10, Antler House played on WMSE’s Local/Live, and at the end of Local/Live, for the "This Is Your Song" segment where the musical guest chooses one musician or group (and one song) that has influenced their own music, Anderson talked further about how Milwaukee post-punk trio Absolutely got them to shake up their own sound from their first release to their second.

Catch the full segment in the WMSE archives, and below also peek at Antler House's frontman Sean Anderson’s take on how Milwaukee’s Absolutely got them to take the plunge into rock-ier musical territories.

The lowdown

  • Musician/Band: Antler House
  • WMSE’s Local/Live Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
  • "This Is Your Song" pick: "Bummer Nation" by Absolutely (from the album "Learns to Love Mistakes," released in 2011)
  • Interviewed: Sean Anderson (guitarist and vocalist)

What/when is your first memory of hearing this particular song?

I don’t remember if I saw them play it live first, but for my birthday – a few years ago right after we started Antler House – Johnny Mac, our drummer, gave me their vinyl. It’s a really cool LP, all purple "bowling ball" style. The first time I spun that record, I might have seen them live already, but playing that particular record was the first thing I really remembered.

Was it the first song you listened to from this musician or group?

John (McCabe) again said, "You’ve gotta check out this band," and before I actually saw them, he showed me a video of them at the Cactus Club, playing "Pinocchio Paradox." I was like, "What is this music?"

In what specific way does this song or artist influence your own music?

Well, we’re pretty different bands for sure (our sound) but honestly, after seeing them, we just wanted to be louder. But we didn’t want to be loud just for the sake of being loud; we wanted to be loud with still some taste and still in a style that was ours because we couldn’t just transition straight to a post-rock style … I’m too much of an indie kid (laughs).

If you could ask this artist only one question, what would it be?

Could you play another show? Please?

Have you ever seen a live show, and did it meet your expectations?

Yes. And yes. It was a show they played a while ago at Quarters Rock ‘n Roll Palace in Riverwest. It was just really rowdy … we all got pretty rowdy. They were playing with a bunch of out of town metal bands. There was one song John wanted to hear, so he yelled, "YOSEMITE!" and George (Ananchev of Absolutely) was like, "Keep dreaming kid." We just laughed because we were all like ... "Kid?" We know you! It was just funny.

Local/Live on WMSE airs every Tuesday on WMSE from 6 to 7 p.m. Listen live, in the archives at or simply tune your radio (in the Milwaukee area) to 91.7 FM at the 6 o’clock hour.

Erin Wolf WMSE
Erin Wolf has written about music and culture since moving to Milwaukee in the late '90s – at Vital Source Magazine, VenusZine,, the Shepherd Express and the Onion's AV Club Milwaukee just to name a few – along with also hosting WMSE's Rockleidoscope program since 2004, playing all sorts of new independent music every week. In 2011, she took on the role of WMSE's Music Director and, in 2013, became producer and host of WMSE's Local/Live program, alongside Cal Roach.