’Antigone Rising’ :: Playing Better Than The Boys
Antigone Rising achieved national prominence back in 2005 with a major label debut that landed them in the top 20 of the "Billboard Heatseekers" chart for an entire year. Since then the group have gone from strength to strength.
Formed by sisters Cathy and Kristen Henderson, the all-female and out country rock band has always maintained the same philosophy -- "Play better than the boys and make sure the fans feel like part of the family.'" Citing the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac as creative influences, the success of Antigone Rising's has, quite literally, been driven by the overwhelming support of their fans, with two fan-funded albums, including 2013's critically acclaimed "23 Red." Certainly, according to their website, "The fans are the lifeblood of Antigone Rising. They've always been the most critical part of the formula."
Highlights of the band's success include sharing the stage with musical heavyweights such as The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and Rob Thomas, and acting as "cultural ambassadors' for the United States" in the Middle East. Indeed, their enduring success ensures an average of 280 shows annually. Perhaps even more significant still, founding sister Kristen Ellis-Henderson was featured on the cover of Time Magazine's groundbreaking marriage equality issue back in April - a move which testifies to the out band's queer friendly and socially progressive vibe.
The band are now poised for an exciting and busy 2014, with the release of their forthcoming EP and new video, "That was the Whiskey." EDGE caught up with the band head of their gig at the The Stage, this Friday (January 31st), in Miami, Florida.
Telling stories with song
EDGE: Can you give us some background - how did you guys get started?
Antigone Rising: My sister and I formed the band just after college. We went to school in central PA and moved back to New York City after graduating. We got our start in the coffee houses up and down Bleecker Street in the West Village.
EDGE: Can you talk about your musical style and sound? What are you guys trying to achieve with your work?
Antigone Rising: We’re trying to make music people will like listening too. We love writing songs that tell stories, but we also love arranging moments in live shows that will make people want to come back out and see us again.
EDGE: Can you name some influences?
Antigone Rising: The Beatles, The Allmans, Jimi Hendrix, Shawn Colvin, Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac...
Fans keep them going
EDGE: Your philosophy is: ’Play better than the boys and make sure the fans feel like part of the family’- Can you speak more to that? What inspired that philosophy?
Antigone Rising: We’ve been an indie band our entire career. Even when we were signed to a major label, our indie ethic always remained strongly intact. Our fans are our family. They kept us alive on tour for years, traveling with us from city to city. Giving us places to sleep. Handing us gift cards for gas or food while we toured.
There’s a connection that you don’t get when you’re coddled on a major label from the beginning. And because we have that connection with our fans, it enables us to keep going.
EDGE: Can you talk about some of the highlights of your career thus far?
Antigone Rising: Touring with The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers and Aerosmith are big ones. And our recent trip to Israel and The West Bank as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. would be my biggest career highlights to date.
EDGE: Would you say that your music is appealing to queer audiences?
Antigone Rising: I believe that because we’re out, and we’re vocal advocates for the LGBT movement, that we are appealing to queer audiences. But I also think living honestly is appealing to all audiences. I hope that’s the case.
Bridging cultural gaps
EDGE: Is your music well received in more socially conservative areas?
Antigone Rising: We’ve yet to be run off any stages or festivals. I believe that when people see us perform, we bridge a gap of understanding. I don’t think we’re saving the world, but I do think people appreciate the music. And we’re happy to play for everyone.
EDGE: You travelled to the Middle East as cultural ambassadors for the United States - how did that come about? What was that experience like?
Antigone Rising: It turns out we have a fan (who is now our friend) who works for the US Consulate in Jerusalem. She asked if we’d be willing to travel abroad as ambassadors and we jumped at the opportunity. It was life changing for us as musicians to be allowed to travel and spend time in that part of the world. We definitely came home with a very different perspective than what you see on the news here.
We met real people, not just Palestinians or Israelis. We connected with people through our music and we gained an understanding, and I believe they gained one as well. It was a mutually awesome experience.
EDGE: Kristen Ellis-Henderson (one of the group’s founding members) was featured on the front cover of Time Magazine’s groundbreaking ’Marriage Equality Issue’ - what was that experience like?
Antigone Rising: It was an honor to be chosen as the couple on the cover of Time Magazine. To be part of the cultural shift is not something my wife and I take lightly. We will continue to show up for our community until there is Equality everywhere.
Heading to Florida
EDGE: You have a gig this Friday (Jan 31st) in Miami, are you excited to be going down there? What can audiences expect?
Antigone Rising: We cannot wait to get out of this freezing cold NY weather! We can’t wait to get to Miami. Audiences can expect an energetic live show - our lead singer, Nini Camps, is from Miami, so it’s going to be an extra special performance. It’s going to be a special night.
EDGE: You have a brand new video - ’That was the Whiskey" - how did that project come about? Was it an enjoyable filming experience?
Antigone Rising: We filmed the Whiskey video in our hometown of Sea Cliff, NY. Our good friend and film-maker, Mikki del Monico, offered to do it and we jumped on it. One of my best friend’s in town offered up his bar to shoot in and it was just a massive collision of awesome favors from friends. I think you can see and feel it in the end result. The video is basically a time capsule of our town coming together for us.
EDGE: Can you tell us more about your new EP? What highlights can listeners expect?
Antigone Rising: We are releasing 2 EPs in 2014 - Whiskey & Wine Volumes 1 & 2. Volume 1 will be out in late March, and volume 2 will be out later this year in October. We’re doing things very differently with these releases, and we plan to put a laser focus on each and every song on the 2 EPs. So fans can expect videos, behind the scenes footage, alternate mixes and versions, it’s going to be a wild year with loads of Antigone Rising content!
EDGE: What is next for you guys? Any exciting projects coming up?
Antigone Rising: Whiskey & Wine Volumes 1 and 2 are the major projects we are working on currently. We are in the midst of a major crowd campaign in support of the marketing and promotion of what we consider the re-birth of how our band releases our music. To find out more about the project, you can check out our Pledge Music page: http://www.pledgemusic.com/antigonerising
Antigone Rising appears on January 31, 2014 at The Stage @ The Stage, 170 NE 38th St, Miami, FL 33137.
They are featured as part of the Equality and Leadership Caribbean Cruise! @ Olivia Travel Holland America Cruise from February 1-8, 2014 that leaves from Ft.. Lauderdale, FL. Also appearing on the cruise are Indigo Girls, Maya Angelou and Edie Windsor
Other upcoming appearances are on Saturday, February 15, 2014, Happy Valentines Day Show! @ Stanhope House, 45 Main Street, Stanhope, NJ; Friday, March 7, 2014, Church of Boston, 69 Kilmarnock Street, Boston, MA; and Saturday, March 8, 2014, Iron Horse, 20 Center St., Northampton, MA