Jack Antonoff explained how the legends of the 80s inspired his music, in terms of style and substance, backstage at All Star Christmas.

One listen to Bleachers’ music will bring you straight back to the 80s era of Joy Division and Depeche Mode. That’s a connection Jack Antonoff takes as a compliment. “It’s sad music,” he said, a statement that applies equally to those greats of the past and his own musical project, who released a sophomore album Gone Now earlier this year.

So how does a guy born in the mid-80s discover and so perfectly capture a sound that existed before he was even born? Jack has some ideas on that evolution. “I got into the music of the 80s in the 2000s,” he explained. “I was born in 84, so by the time I became conscious, the 90’s were happening, so my first music memories were Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. In the late 90s, music got really weird, so I got into a lot of indie rock. Then in the early 2000s, I started [to discover] Depeche Mode and Yaz and Erasure.”

But he’s not ruling out that maybe he was subconsciously influenced by the new wave/ synthpop sound much earlier. “It’s very close to my heart, maybe when I was in the womb that stuff was pounding in?” he speculated. “Maybe when I was a kid, like two years old, I was hearing it without knowing what I was hearing?”

Bleachers isn’t just going for style, though… Jack is equally interested in capturing the themes behind the lyrics of bands like the Cure and Joy Division. “I love the sound of big, anthemic songs that are rooted in sadness,” said Jack. It’s another statement that describes his own music as much as the artists who inspired him.

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