With a new album under their collective belts and an ever growing fan base, Anberlin are at the forefront of the indie/pop rock (or whatever you want to call it) explosion.
Front man Stephen Christian spoke to us about “Cities”, their upcoming tour with Copeland and why naming your songs after “the city of churches” is a good idea.
Stephen, how you doing today?
Really good man, how are you?
I’ll be honest with you,
I’ve got food poisoning so I’m feeling a little sketchy, ha ha.
Oh man, that sucks. I’m so sorry
to hear that.
That’s the price you pay
for eating spicy Indian food man, ha ha.
Ha ha, man, I love Indian food.
I feel for you.
Where are you guys at the moment?
Well, it’s about 9pm in the
evening here, and we’re in central Florida, well actually the coast
Am I correct in assuming that
you guys have been on the road since
“Cities” was released a few months ago?
Yeh, we’ve been on tour since
February 20th. We just got off the road 2 days ago and we
have about a 10 day break – well maybe a little less than 10 days
and then we head over to Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore!
This tour has just been amazing!
It’s easily my favourite tour that we’ve been on so far. We’ve
met so many nice people, been in so many great cities and played with
so many great bands. It’s just been a phenomenal run!
Has this all been through the
Yeh, it’s been through the US
Man, the Canadian shows were so
great, it’s easily the best response we’ve ever had there! Cities
is actually the first album that we’ve had locally released there
so it’s just been tremendous. The people are great! The weather’s
been a little gloomy but the tour has just been incredible!
I actually spoke to George
from Alexisonfire last week and he said the same thing
– which the Canadian shows are just amazing and the smaller towns
and the people from all the fishing villages are great.
Oh man, I’d love to do a tour
like that. Up through the fishing villages and playing places around
there! That sounds amazing.
“Cities” has only been out for a short period of time, the response
from fans and critics alike has been huge – were you expecting such
positive feedback so early on in the piece?
We had no idea we’d get a response
like this man. We just do each record and make it as great as we possibly
can. We just set out to make an awesome record.
The response has been amazing
and surprising at the same time man. As good as it is to get a good
review from the critics it’s the fan response we care about. I’ve
been reading different websites to see what the kids think of our new
record and the feedback has just been overwhelming.
At the end of the day, the fans
and what they think is way more important than the critics.
A lot of people view a band’s
third record as “make or break”
– was this something that you guys were conscious of when it came
to writing the new album?
At the end of the day, we just
did the best we could. We wanted to write a great record and develop
our sound and style, but we didn’t want to experiment to the point
where people didn’t even recognize us. That’s all you can really
Was the writing & recording
process for “Cities” different to
how you approached your two previous albums?
Yeh man, definitely.
Firstly, we recorded at London
Bridge which is this great studio in Seattle, Washington). We hadn’t
recorded there previously so that was a huge difference.
Even though we used the same producer
we ended up getting a different guy to mix the record, someone else
to master it and a different engineer as well!
At the end of the day, we didn’t
want to write “Never Take Friendship Personal” part II. We used
way more keyboards, a boy’s choir, heaps of strings to make it a bit
Like I said, we wanted to develop
our previous ideas and improve our songs but we didn’t want to change
everything beyond recognition and not be Anberlin anymore.
Given that you are a more than
competent guitarist, do you handle a large chunk of the band’s song
writing – or is it more of a collective effort?
Well, I write most of the lyrics
and the vocals but our lead guitarist Joey is great and really loves
writing, so usually it’s just the 2 of us getting together and writing
Our new guitarist Christian is
amazing though man. He was actually in Acceptance…
Are you serious? Man, I love
that band. That dude is amazing!
Yeh dude, the guy is a great guitarist
and an amazing song writer. He was actually the primary song writer
in Acceptance so we can’t wait to write an album with him! Even the
new stuff that he and Joey have been playing is blowing everything away
that we’ve done before, so yeh, we’re excited!
You guys were down a guitar
player shortly after the completion of
“Cities” – has a permanent replacement been appointed yet?
Yeh man, Christian is definitely
in! He will be our last guitarist ever. He completes the band. The guy
sings great, he writes great songs and he puts on a great show so with
all of those things combined there’s no way we’re going to lose
Did losing Nate affect your
chemistry as a live band?
I’d actually say it improved
The thing about Nate was that
he wanted to be in a hardcore band, that’s what he was good at, he
was proficient at writing those kinds of songs. So it felt like he was
unhappy with Anberlin live shows. You know, we’re just regular rock
n roll and he belongs in a hardcore band.
I think with Nate being happy
and moving on it’s made us a lot happier too so it’s definitely
working out well!
Some bands NEVER come to Australia
yet you guys are about to grace us with your presence for the third
time in as many years – what can we expect from the upcoming shows?
Oh man, you have no idea!
We’ve been planning and talking
about this tour for ages! Wanted to come back in January but our label
(Stomp) thought it was a better idea to wait until the new record was
We’re just so eager to get back
to Australia man and we really wanted to bring over the biggest stage
show that we possibly could from America. And we get to bring our friends
Copeland over as well. They’re just great guys and an amazing band
on Columbia records that you should definitely check out!
Having Christian in the band now
is just going to make it a better show man. Like I said, the guys great
on guitar and puts on an awesome show so yeh, it’s going to be amazing!
We’re still blown away by the
response to the shows man. The fact that some of the shows are selling
out when we’re a few weeks out from tour is ridiculous!
Well, your Melbourne overage
just sold out so we had to add another date!
Oh man, that’s insane! I can’t
even believe that. It just blows my mind.
I mean, we come from such a small
town – there are only 20,000 people – and at the end of the day,
we’re just 5 boys from a small town selling out shows on the other
side of the world. It’s so humbling! I just can’t fathom it.
Any stand out memories from
your previous trips down under?
Well, our first ever show in Australia
was in Adelaide and when we arrived we were told that the show had sold
out. We couldn’t believe it man, it was just incredible!
There are tons of memories though.
Just driving around in the bus
and seeing the sights was incredible in itself. The whole experience
of being on tour in Australia was just amazing.
The beaches of Perth definitely
stand out, there are tons! The actually cities of Sydney and Melbourne
are incredible as well!
The one place that really stands
out though is Surfers Paradise. It reminds me of home! If we could move
out here we’d do it in a heartbeat!
Is there any reason why you
chose to name a song “Adelaide” when Melbourne is clearly a better
Ha ha. Well, Adelaide isn’t
my favourite city BUT like I said, the first show we played in Australia
was there and it sold out so it’s a special memory. But we love Melbourne!
It just wouldn’t have been the same you know, if the lyric was Melbourne…
Starts singing Melbourne to
the melody of “Adelaide”
I’m not sure if you’re
aware of this, but the venue you’re playing in Melbourne is
more than double the size of the place you played last time
– how does it feel knowing that your band’s profile is increasing
at such a rapid rate?
Oh man, that’s crazy! It doesn’t
even feel real playing 3 Melbourne shows (and having one of them sell
out). If we could just move to Australia that’d be great! Our profile
in Australia is just crazy!
I’ve seen you guys 5 times
over the course of your last two tours and each show was incredible.
There was nothing choreographed about your set
– you just came out and put on a rad show without resorting to any
of the cliché’s that so many other US bands try and use on us. What
are your thoughts on bands which are more
“style over substance”?
Man, thank you so much for coming
to that many of our shows! That’s incredible!
This tour will be the best by
far, trust me! We don’t really headline much in the US but now we’re
at a point where we’ve really got our stuff together and yeh, it’s
going to be awesome!
In regards to the whole, “style
over substance” thing, I think it’s pretty clear to see when people
get on stage… well, people can see through people, you know. When
people start throwing around clichés people catch on pretty quickly.
We want our fans to feel like
they’re a part of our band and our music, that it’s not just a gimmick.
I mean, without kids buying the record and coming to shows we couldn’t
come to Australia! And we want to finish our career in Australia, ha
You know, we actually headlined
in Australia before we did it in the US so we definitely love Australia!
Anberlin built its (sizeable)
fan base through good old fashioned touring. How does it feel knowing
that you guys have become a recognizable band without having to resort
to using cheesy gimmicks?
It’s almost odd man. We didn’t
try to dump thousands of dollars into marketing and try and get big.
We just make sure we shake hands at our shows and play a great set.
That’s it. It’s just odd!
A lot of
bands say they try not to listen to a lot of music while they are writing/recording
so they can avoid being too heavily influenced by another group. Is
that something you can relate to?
Yeh I can appreciate that but
at the same time, I listen to a lot of music. Whether it is blues, rock,
jazz or indie rock I just like to listen because I’m a fan – I just
enjoy hearing new music.
You know, painters want to see
what other painters are doing, so it’s a similar thing I guess.
Someone once said to me “you
can listen and imitate a timeless record or you can make one”. We
don’t want to imitate man, we want to make a great record!!!
What or who are some of the
biggest influences on yourself as an individual and Anberlin as a whole?
Well, as a whole I’d say the
biggest influences are Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Jimmy Eat World.
In regards to myself, I’d say
The Smiths, Jeff Buckley and Jimmy Necko.
Who’s Jimmy Necko sorry?
That’s cool man. He plays in
this great band call “Ours”. They’re not big at all, but he’s
just an amazing singer/songwriter. Ours are kind of an artist’s band
Like a musicians band?
Yeh man, definitely. He’s just
The thing I love about The Smiths
is their song writing process. It’s like they’re telling a story
and you’re a part of it!
The Beatles… man, what can you
say about them. They just write amazing songs. Songs that 20 or 30 years
later are still playing on the radio. They’re just timeless and you
can sing along too them. They just wrote great music.
Who are some bands that have
caught your ear lately?
So many bands man. Like I said,
I just love music.
MEW who are a great band! The
new Jet record which didn’t really get a lot of recognition over here
in the US but I love it.
Umm, a band called Blonde Red
Head who are just incredible. Sparkle horse, Young Love… man, the
list just goes on. I just love music, ha ha.
Oh, I definitely love The killers
and Bloc Party! That new Bloc Party record (A Weekend In The City) is
just a great album.
Hey man, I’ve just been told
we need to finish up unfortunately.
Oh that sucks man. Do you think
we could finish talking at one of the shows?
Yeh man, definitely. I’ll
be at the Melbourne shows for sure so I’m sure we can tee something
That’d be great man. It’s
been really great talking to you Cameron.
Thanks a lot man, it’s been
Cool, well I’ll see you in Melbourne!
Anberlin (USA) Australian Tour
With Copeland (USA) and Angela’s
Dates up at www.myspace.com/anberlin