For 12 years, Anberlin have been doing significant things in the alternative rock scene. Now, after six albums (with a seventh on the way), the band has decided that it’s time to call it quits – but not before one last tour. Ahead of their final visit to Australia this September, we chatted with drummer Nate Young about their final record and world tour.
The obvious talking point is the fact that at the start of this year, you guys announced that you would be breaking up after one last album and one last tour. You guys are doing Warped now, and then you’ve got your farewell world tour. What’s going through your head with regards to all of that?
There’s a lot, actually. Obviously, this is a pretty big year for us. We’re doing our last ever Warped Tour, although that’s not part of the farewell tour because we’re going to come back and do a proper run of dates across the US to finish up. Obviously there’s mixed emotions and a lot of different feelings. Mostly good, though. We’re really pumped that we’ve been doing this for this long. We’re excited to finish up.
Tell me a bit about the process that led to you guys deciding it was time to finish up?
Honestly, there’s a lot of different factors, but it was mostly just that we all hit a point where it felt like it was time. We’ve been a band for 12 years, and we’ve always talked about how we wanted to go out when people still cared and when people were still into it. We’ve seen a lot of bands start and end in the time that we’ve been around, and looking at it all we just didn’t want to hit a point where people stopped caring about us. We didn’t want to get too far gone to get back into it.
Obviously, it was a really hard decision, and a hard discussion. No band can last forever. Unless you’re like The Rolling Stones or U2 or something. We feel like we’ve said everything that we want to say, and we feel so accomplished that we feel like it’s time. There’s only so mucyh music that can be made and so much progression that can happen, and we’ve done that to the full extent with Anberlin.
You’ve been in Anberlin since the very beginning of the band. Now, looking back on everything, are there any specific moments you can look back on as being the greatest moments of your career?
There’s a bunch of different incredible things that blow my mind, but I remember on our first record, being able to record with a producer and make a real record. We flew up to Seattle and I still remember that flight and how surreal everything. It was kind of the realisation of this dream to make music and play shows for a living. For me, that was huge and everything since then has just been extra. Lots of bands have goals, but we just wanted to play music and enjoy it, and we got to enjoy it for 12 years.
For me, that’s the high point, and it was right at the beginning.
Your final album, ‘Lowborn’ is coming out next month. With the knowledge that this album will be your last out in the open, there’s some pretty big expectations. Is there any particular final statement you guys want to make with this album?
After we decided to do one more album, we knew there would be a lot of pressure from our fans and everyone around us once they knew. This is such a unique situation though, because most bands just end. They don’t get the chance to make one last record, but for us that’s not the case.
Going into it, we didn’t want it to feel like a final record. We didn’t want the title to have anything to do with the end or anything like that. We didn’t want to rehash a bunch of b-sides to just put an album out for the sake of it. We wanted to push ourselves and progress and frankly, just do whatever we want. We didn’t have the label breathing down our neck, or have the stress of finding a single or anything, and we made the record we wanted to make. There’s no filler, we didn’t even have any b-sides. It’s just ten songs we wrote for this album.
Everyone’s going to have expectations on this, and we can’t make everyone happy, so we’ve just decided that we want to make a record for ourselves.
Like you said, most bands don’t get the chance to create a ‘final record’. What’s the pressure like in creating your final album as a band?
That’s definitely a thought that’s going through our heads, but for us, we had six albums before this, and we’re very proud of them. We want our whole discography to speak for itself. We don’t want it all to just ride on this album.
People will make up their minds about this album regardless, y’know. “it’s not long enough”, “it’s not big enough”, “it doesn’t sound like your old stuff”. We just kind of had to go for it and hope that people will be into it.
So far people have heard two tracks from the album – ‘Stranger Ways’ and ‘Hearing Voices.’ How have your fans been finding those tracks?
So far, the response has been great. Especially with ‘Stranger Ways,’ given that for a lead single that’s not really an aggressive song at all. Usually we want to release a big, heavy song, but right now we’re in a position of being able to do whatever we like, and we all liked ‘Stranger Ways,’ so we’re like, “let’s just push this song.”
Same with ‘Hearing Voices.’ That’s more along the lines of a classic Anberlin song, so I think that was a good one-two follow up for single releases. The response really has been great. It’s cool, and not to make us sound like we’re calloused and jaded, but now, more than ever, we’re not really nervous about it. If people don’t like it, it is what it is, and they can always go listen to the old stuff.
You guys are coming back to Australia for one final run on your farewell tour. How does it feel to be coming back one last time?
Oh man – we are so pumped. When we talked about this being the end, as far as touring goes, Australia was one of the first places that got brought up. It’s still our favourite place to tour, and we can’t wait to get there again.
The relationship between Anberlin and Australia has always been unusually strong for a band from overseas. What do you think the reason for that is?
Man, I don’t know? We’ve always known it though. The first time we were there was the best initial response we’ve ever had. You guys just embraced us, and every time we come back it just gets better. I think because we were so young when we came over there, people got to see how thankful we were and connected with that. Truly, it is our favourite place to tour and we can’t wait to come back.
Being your final shows, do you guys have any ‘left-of-field’ plans to set these shows apart from previous tours you’ve done?
Yeah, a little bit. We’ve talked about all of that for the last six or seven months. You know “where’s the last show gonna be?”, “we should do something crazy”, “should we pull out tonnes of old songs, or play heaps of the new record?”. What we kind of landed on was that with this many albums, we would just want to really leave our fans satisfied. Obviously we won’t please everyone. We’ll play songs people don’t want to hear, and we’ll miss songs that some want to hear.
We decided let’s just do a balance of everything. There are so many songs that people have connected to over the years, and we wanted to make sure we got as close as we could to balancing everything out. We’ll be playing a bunch off of all the albums.
We’ll definitely be playing a lot longer than we usually do. It’ll be like a double headlining set. Hopefully people don’t get bored and leave. (laughs) It should be a lot of fun though.
For one particular show on this tour, you guys will be playing ‘Never Take Friendship Personal’ in full. To me, that seems like an interesting choice. Why have you guys chosen to play NTFP in particular over your other records?
During that record cycle was when we first came to Australia, and those were some of the best shows we’ve ever played. We came back on that album, and that’s when things seemed to go crazy, and people just seemed to connect to that one so well.
It’s kind of nostalgic for us to be playing those songs over there as well. We’re keen to pay in a smaller venue and sing those songs again. Obviously we’ll play other songs as well, but I think it’ll be really cool.
Looking back through your catalogue, what would you say is your favourite Anberlin song and why?
Lately, I’d say Self-Starter, just because it’s so fast, and fun and heavy. Feel Good Drag as well, because it’s just such a fun rock song. Usually bands get tired of playing the singles, but I just get psyched every time we play that one.
Are there any particular shows you guys have played that stand out in your memory?
The last time we were over in Australia, our Melbourne show was insane. I couldn’t believe that even after all these years, we get to come back and play sold out shows.
What happens for you guys after Anberlin?
Every one of us has different answers. For me, I’ll always be playing and creating music, whether I’m on other peoples records, or just playing shows here and there. I’ll be doing a coffee company with my brother in law as well. Those are my plans.
Any final words for your Australian fans?
We’re going to say it a million times this year to everyone, but thank you. Thank you so much. We are forever going to be grateful to you guys.
Anberlin play Australian dates on their farewell tour this September. Details here.
‘Lowborn’ is out July 25 via Tooth & Nail/UNFD.
Wednesday, 3 September – Metropolis, Fremantle 18
Tickets from http://bit.ly/ANBper14 or Heatseeker outlets
Thursday, 4 September – HQ, Adelaide Lic AA
Tickets from http://bit.ly/ANBadl14 or VenueTix outlets
Saturday, 6 September – The Hi Fi, Brisbane 18
Tickets from http://bit.ly/ANBbris14 or Oztix outlets
Sunday, 7 September – The Roundhouse, Sydney Lic AA
Tickets from http://bit.ly/ANBsyd14 or Ticketek Outlets
Tuesday, 9 September – The Forum, Melbourne ***SOLD OUT***
Tickets on sale now!