There are very few people in the alternative rock scene that won’t know the name Anberlin. In a career now spanning over a decade, the band have made themselves into one of the more prominent bands of their genre. The band are headed to Australia this September for a run of headline shows presented by killyourstereo.com. Lead singer Stephen Christian takes time out to chat and tell us all about it.
Hey Stephen, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us today.
You got it. Thanks for calling!
All right, well let’s kick this off, tell me a bit about what’s happening in the band at the moment.
Yeah, of course. Well right now we’re doing kind of an acoustic tour. We’re in Colorado Springs. It’s just a stripped down version of what we usually do. There’s a lot of b-sides, and songs that we don’t usually play, some of it’s old stuff, and a lot of it’s new songs off Vital that have been translated into acoustic versions, so that’s where we are and that’s what we’re doing at the moment.
Sounds cool. You guys are coming back to Australia for your first tour in two years this September. How are you feeling about it?
I’m feeling good, it’s about time. I don’t know why it’s taken us so long to finally get back, but you know. It’s our tenth time coming to Australia, and it feels so good. I just can’t wait to bring this record, and it’s gonna be a great tour with The Maine and William Beckett, and yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.
So, like you just mentioned, you’re bring The Maine and William Beckett along for the shows while you’re down here. Is there any kind of pre-existing relationship there?
Actually, no for The Maine, we’ve never actually even met them. It was just one of those things where it’s just mutual respect for one another and our music, and a lot of friends have said a lot of good things about them, and so we thought we’d give it a shot, you know? And William Beckett, we’ve actually taken him and The Academy Is… to Australia. One of our Australian tours was with The Academy Is…, and it was really incredible, and we really like William Beckett, and we really like his new album, so we thought we’d hang out with him a bit more and take him back.
Last time you guys came down to Australia, you gave us some pretty intense shows on the ‘Evening With Anberlin’ tour, with an extended set, acoustic segments, Q&A and all of that. Can we expect anything out of the ordinary this time around?
Well, I think this time it’s going to be kind of getting back to our roots. We want to bring back the electricity that we’re used to, so I think the biggest difference is just gonna be bringing The Maine, in that we’ve never bought a U.S support band before. So the shows are just gonna be a heaps electric, energetic night, and that’s kinda what we’re hoping for.
You mentioned the ‘Anberlin Lite’ acoustic tour you’re doing in the US at the moment, and this isn’t the first time you’ve done it either. What have they been like for you guys?
Really, really good. This is actually our West Coast leg. We did an east coast leg about eight months ago now I think, and we liked it so much we decided to bring it to the other side of the country. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s totally different. The songs end up translated completely differently, it’s quite incredible.
Are there any plans to bring that tour outside of the US?
Yeah, that’s what we’re kind of talking about now, that’s the plan. Trying to figure out how to take that abroad is just a logistical thing at the moment. I would love to do it. I think it just adds to the whole evening, and to whole persona of the band, so I would absolutely love to do it!
Are there any pre-show rituals in the band, or anything of that nature that you do before hitting the stage?
Absolutely, we all kind of have our own pre-show rituals. Christian goes off and plays guitar, Joey and Nate just watch movies, and hang out to chill before the show. Deon goes and he makes sure the stage is set up. He’s pretty into making sure the whole setup of the stage is to his liking, and I warm up vocally. And once everyone’s done that stuff, we all meet together and talk about the show and what songs we’re gonna play, and after that we all just kind have our own secret handshake that we do together, and the we just get up on there on stage.
You guys released your sixth studio album Vital last year. Having released five albums already before it, what do you think it is that sets Vital apart from the rest?
I think it’s just better songwriting, and the energy is just unmatched, and is just a lot purer than any other record we’ve released. That’s the difference, honestly. This album was meant to be a lot more electric, and we set out to make sure that every song on this record we would want to play on the stage, and we also wanted to make sure that every song is something that would absolutely get the crowd moving and get the crowd going, because that’s our favourite part of the whole show. We really feed off that energy that the crowd is giving us, so that was the goal, and I think that’s what sets Vital apart from any of our other records.
What would you say were the key influences on this album?
For this record, I think there was a lot of influence, particularly from the 80s. We love the whole keyboard/pad/synth sound and we wanted to incorporate a whole lot of different instrumentation that we haven’t used before, such as pads, trumpets, and experimenting was really one of the goals on this record. We just kinda let go and let loose and just saw where the music took us and I think it worked well. We were back with our original producer Aaron Sprinkle for this album, and there are a lot of songs that absolutely have his signature on it, like ‘Innocent,’I mean that was basically 100% Aaron Sprinkle, so he had a lot of influence on this record, and I think that’s really good when a band has enough confidence in their producer to just let go and forget about what outside sources say. So I think those were some of the highlights and influences on this record.
As a songwriter, where is it that you draw influence for your lyrics?
Life. Life, itself. Namely friends, family, and relationships, and just watching the other members of the band, and istening to other pepls conversations. I try to make sure that it’s real. I want it to be honest, I want it to be actuality and completely transparent, and I want it to be real. I don’t want to write a song that’s just a pop chorus, I want it to have some kind of meaning and inspiration.
So, six albums in, you guys have got a pretty extensive back catalogue of songs. How do you go about selecting what songs to put on your setlist?
Well we listen to fans, that’s number one. We listen to what their saying on Twitter, and we check out iTunes and Spotify, and stuff like that where people can give their two cents about what they think of the songs, and secondly we look for songs we’ve never played before. Whether that’s b-sides or random songs off of older records, they’re songs that can just kinda come out of nowhere, and they’re often songs that people love but have just never heard live.
All right, a few quick ones just before we finish off. What’s your favourite place to tour?
Besides Australia, my favourite place to tour is probably Asia.
What’s your favourite band that you’ve toured with?
Oh, favourite band that we’d ever toured with. That’d probably have to be The Smashing Pumpkins.
Good answer. What’s the best live band that you’ve ever seen?
I would think it’d probably be…let’s see…Probably Underoath back when they were really in their prime.
What’s your number one experience from being in Anberlin?
Wow. There are so many. I’d have to say, the number one recent memory, was probably experiencing China with my brothers in Anberlin. I never thought I’d be able to go there, given that it’s a communist country, usually closed to Americans, but they’re starting to open things up now, and being able to walk in there was just an absolutely incredible experience.
What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013 and the start of next year for Anberlin?
Well, first up is Australia in September then after that, we’ve got a full US tour, then we go to the UK and Europe. Then in December, when we’re done with that, we’ll start writing, and probably January be back in the studio. Then February/March we want to make our way back around the world, and April and May we’re hoping to take our acoustic stuff outside of the States. That’s all tentative though, you know. More of a ‘this is how we hope things turn out,’ but things are always subject to change. That’s how it’s looking right now though.
Any final words for the fans before we wrap up?
I’m so excited to be coming back to Australia, I can’t wait. I wish we we’re in Australia now!
Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. I’ll see you in September.
See you then.
Killyourstereo.com presents Anberlin on their headline tour with the Maine and William Beckett this September.