Anberlin: In The Evening
Having toured here solidly since their 2005 sophomore release, Never Take Friendship Personal, Floridians Anberlin have been sharing the long-distance love pangs with Australian audiences ever since. With five albums under their belt, the band have found a new way to wow their devotees – they’re bringing a series of ‘An Evening With’ shows our way this August/September! BLUNT got a hold of frontman Stephen Christian to chat about the band’s affinity with Australia and press him for all the sneaky details on the never-before-seen upcoming shows.
Anberlin have been around for a few years now. How did the band come about?
Well, we were high school friends and me, Dion and Joey all went to the same school in Winter Haven, Florida, and we sort of started to play around in bands, with local bands, and we were horrible, I mean we were HORRIBLE; I’m embarrassed when I go back and listen to those songs. So one day, it kind of dawned on us that we were all tired of playing bad music and we wanted to start playing rock ‘n’ roll and so we just started to play around and we came up with a song called “Readyfuels” and then after that, we formed Anberlin because we realised that this was the type of music we wanted to play. From that, we kind of wrote a few other songs, and we went to Georgia and recorded a demo, and then in 2002, we got signed to Tooth and Nail records and in 2003, came out with our first record, Blueprints For The Black Market.
You seem to have this real affinity with Australia. What do you enjoy most about coming here?
This will be our eighth year coming here in nine years of being a band. We absolutely love it there; it’s almost like our second home. We’re from Florida, and Australia, it’s basically, if you took New York City and put it on a beach, that’s Sydney or Melbourne; it just feels like home. It just feels like Florida and we love going there. Australia is so many of our firsts. It was our first time ever leaving the country to go play overseas anywhere and it was just an incredible feeling for us and so we’ve gotta keep going, it’s almost an addiction, we have some years where we go there two times a year. I just realized that we’ve played in Australia in Melbourne and Sydney more times than we’ve played our own home town in Orlando. The first few years in the band all our tours were kinda outside of Florida and then we started to come to Australia and before you knew it, we never really got back to Florida but we sure got back to Australia.
With the show that you’re bringing, An Evening With Anberlin, it’s something that you’ve never done before. What made you want to do this type of show?
For us, we feel like we’ve done everything there is to do in Australia. We’ve opened up for bands, played festivals; we’ve headlined and brought bands from the U.S. We we’re kind of like, “Alright, what can we do, not only to show Australia that they’re absolutely important to us, but what else is there?” and so we talked to the promoters and they said, “Listen, we’ve never heard of ‘An Evening With’, we’ve never heard of any band trying this”, and we decided that we had to do it. I mean, if Australia was our first overseas trip, then we’ve got to make sure that this is a first in Australia. So that’s what we came up with and we wanted to make sure that the fans there voted on the songs that they wanted to hear. I didn’t want anybody to come to the show and be like, “Why didn’t you guys play this?” I want it to be like, “They played EVERY SONG that I think I’ve ever heard Anberlin do”. We have so many ideas floating around from cover songs to guest vocalists to playing stuff that we have never literally played before for a live audience, and so it’s just gonna be an amazing evening. We’ve come up with roughly about 30 songs that we think that all the fans on Twitter and Facebook have posted that they wanna hear, and then on top of that, we’re gonna do these couch sessions where people can ask us questions and we’re gonna play some acoustic songs and kinda just chill out the moment. It’s gonna be a really good time.
It’s all in support of your most recent album, “Dark is the Way, Light is a Place”, a line from a Dylan Thomas poem. That seems like a pretty obscure reference, does the line have a special meaning for you guys?
It does, I mean for me, it kind of summed up the whole record. Lyrically, it was kind of stating that some of these lyrics are gonna be dark and maybe a little haunting or you may perceive them as negative, but look through them, really read them or really just analyse them, because you’ll see that at the end of the day, at the end of the moment, at the end of the song, there’s gonna be some moment or some second or some boom of hope. You know, all of us are gonna go through rough times in life. We’re gonna lose family members, we’re gonna lose our jobs, lose a relationship or a friendship that we’ve had forever, and it may seem like the darkest moment of our entire life where nothing seems to pull us out of it, but there’s always a way out of it and there’s always hope at the end of the tunnel.
It seems like you’ve actually put a lot of thought into the album…
Absolutely. We try our best from artwork, to lyrics, to producer ideas; nothing is overlooked. We’re pretty meticulous and very layered. We try to make sure that for those who just wanna hear us as a pop rock band, they have that catchy chorus, but for those who really wanna study the lyrics and get behind the meanings and analyse the artwork, it’s all in there. It goes as deep as the listener wants to.
Speaking of producers, you worked with Brendan O’Brien on this record and he’s worked with Pearl Jam, Incubus and Bruce Springsteen to name a few. What was it like working with him this time around?
Humbling. Absolutely humbling. Like you said, he’s just literally a legend. If there was a definition for a musical legend… This guy is gonna be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! He’s massive. And the fact that he believed in our project and our band, it just gave us so much confidence as a band. We thought, “Okay, if this guy believes in us, then we’re really doing it and we’re gonna pour our hearts into it”, and it just gave us such a sense of encouragement, so we were absolutely humbled.
Going on from what you’ve said, how do you feel about other pop rock bands that take their lyrics for granted?
Well, I think there’s a time and place for everything. There’s bands that I love, like Metallica, I thought they were just great, but now I look back and I feel as though I don’t really get the lyrics and don’t really know what he’s talking about. I haven’t listened to a Metallica song in years, so I think there’s a time and place for every sort of music. I may not love reggae, but there’s moments where I really love listening to it. Do I smoke weed? No, but I listen to the songs that talk about it and it’s kind of like, “Oh whatever”. If everybody had these deep cathartic lyrics, it would be so boring. Music would just be so boring. You need the poppy cheesy songs to make the deeper songs seem deep and you need the deeper songs to sort of expand your horizons on music. I think that every type of music can spur on a new type. You never know, you take country music and they play guitars and then somebody’s like, “What if I put some distortion behind this? Hey, what if I put some really heavy drums in too?” I think music is constantly evolving, and I can’t say, “Well this music sucks” because you have no idea what it’s going to bring. I mean, people hated The Beatles, they thought they were so cheesy, they thought they were horrific and a boy band and they made fun of them, and it turns out, there’s not two bands in the world that The Beatles haven’t influenced. So for all those fingers that point at quote unquote “really bad bands”, I just kind of step back and go, “Man, you have NO idea what can come from that”.
You’re a published author as well and you wrote a memoir a little while ago, The Orphaned Anything’s. What made you want to tackle this medium?
It’s kind of a fictional story, it’s all made up, but I think there’s a lot of pieces of me in there, a lot of little moments that literally happened to me. I’ve always wanted to write a book and I’ve always wanted to write kind of like a life lesson book, so I put this fictional character Ayden in and it’s about his battles through mediocrity and dealing with feeling just average and just okay and misunderstanding the meaning of life. I put a lot of myself in there, but it was one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do, I’d just dreamt of, “What if I could do this!” and one day when we were on tour, I was just writing away and before I knew it I had a book and I was just like, “I’m gonna try this, I’m just gonna try my hand at seeing what people would say about it”, and it seems that people really love it, so it’s very exciting, just being able to hear people say, “I know how this guy feels, I’ve been there”, so it’s really cool.
An Evening With Anberlin Tour Dates
Fri 26th August – Capitol, Perth (18+)
Sat Aug 27th – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (AA)
Sun Aug 28th – Palace Theatre, Melbourne (18+)
Thu Sep 1st – Enmore Theatre, Sydney (AA)
Fri Sep 2nd – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane (18+)