Cheers of “Anberlin, Anberlin!” erupted from the crowd as fog swirled around the stage. With the lights out, the members of Anberlin came out onto the stage and broke right out into “A Whisper and a Clamor,” a song off their month-old album Cities.
Lights flashed everywhere as lead singer Stephen Christian danced across the stage with his microphone, leading the crowd in clapping and singing.
Anberlin’s entire performance was full of energy, and the crowd screamed, sang and danced with every song. After leaving the stage, the band returned to the stage to the sound of cheers and yelling for an encore performance of the song “(*Fin),” a song Christian said is one of his favorites to play live.
Christian spoke with Associate Editor Allison Tiberia on Monday afternoon, during which they discussed Anberlin’s new CD Cities, a trip to India and USF rugby.
Allison Tiberia: How do you feel about the fact that you just released this new CD and it’s doing so well?
Stephen Christian: I think it’s by far our best CD. I think for sure, it’s the best thing that we’ve ever written. There’s not a song on there that we wouldn’t play live. So yeah, we’re ecstatic about it.
A.T.: How would you compare its sound to your first two CDs?
S.C.: I think we just took a lot more steps in this. We know a lot more what we’re doing, especially when it comes to writing songs. But also in the studio, we decided to go with a – we wanted to make it feel very epic, like as if every song should be played in a stadium. So we took steps to kind of make that happen. We recorded at a place called London Bridge, where Pearl Jam did their album Ten, and Alice in Chains, and a lot of the ’90s grunge, alternative rock bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden and Nirvana supposedly recorded there. So we went there, and we went with a different engineer and a different person to mix and match for the record – the same guy who (did) Def Leppard’s Hysteria and Andrew W.K.’s I Get Wet mixed our record. So I think it totally served its purpose. I think it comes out to be a very grandiose, epic-sounding record and a lot more mature lyrics and songwriting. So yeah, all the way around, I think it’s just a complete departure from our last records.A.T.: From where did you get the inspiration for the new lyrics you have on the CD?
S.C.: I think life teaches you a lot of lessons. I think life teaches you the biggest lessons. And the people that you encounter and the cities that you travel to and such, I think that’s the biggest inspiration for us. The lyrics came directly from there, just the encounters and the people that we’ve met and grown close to.
A.T.: You just mentioned the different cities you traveled to. Is that how you came up with the name for the CD?S.C.: Yeah, that’s exactly how we came up with it. Much like the last questions, as far as how life teaches you the biggest lessons and encounters such that in the same way cities, like each person, (are) completely different. And I just wanted to make almost a conceptual, not record as a whole, but just a conceptual kind of drawing – drawing the parallels between the different cities and the different choices and chances that we all take during life. And you can either be intimidated and say it’s unconquerable, or can go out there and just, ‘You know what? Anything’s possible if I just set my mind to it.’ And so that’s where Cities came from.
A.T.: In addition to your first headlining tour, Anberlin also made its first television appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. How was that experience?
S.C.: Nerve-wracking, just nerve-wracking. I think I sweated off the first pound of makeup that they tried to put on me. You know, it’s unbelievable. You’re sitting in front of an audience of maybe 50 people, and they’re all in their 50s, and they really don’t care, couldn’t care less about your music. And here you are in front, and you can’t stare at them. And you can’t stare at the cameras because you know, like, 1.8 million people are on the other side of that camera. And so it was just really, really nerve-wracking. I was shaking, and we tried to get out there and do the best that we possibly could. It was just a lot of fun, and we had a really good time.
A.T.: How are you and the rest of the band dealing with all this new exposure you’re getting?
S.C.: I don’t think we’ve changed as people at all. This is what we’ve been doing for the last three and a half years – touring and traveling and working as hard as we can and hanging out with fans and friends. And so I don’t think things have changed. We want to stay out on the road, and we love it. We love touring. It’s just gotten a little more time consuming. Usually, during the day, we’d have time to go around and go see the city, whatever city that we’re in. And now, it’s kind of consumed with in-store (performances) and going to do radio shows and interviews and stuff like that. But that’s the only thing that’s really changed. Other than that, I think we’ve tried to keep our heads clear and keep each other accountable, not to get like rock stars or anything like that. But that’s what’s so cool about being in this band. I think we’ve grown past just being bandmates – I think that we’re brothers now. We’re completely honest with each other and totally keep each other in check.
A.T.: You mentioned fans and hanging out with them. I know you like to keep them involved a lot, like how you had fans send their phone numbers in so you could call them to get input on the new CD. What makes you keep the fans so involved?
S.C.: We try to do as much as possible, from a YouTube channel to answering messages on MySpace and keeping up with our tour journal on Anberlin.com and a lot of little things like that. We’re not na’ve unto the fact about who got us here. It’s not because we’re so talented or we’re so cool. It’s because they bought our records, that our fans and our friends love us so much that they went out and bought our records. That means the world to us, and so we’re going to make sure that we keep as close to them as we possibly can.
A.T.: On a different note, you recently spent some time in India. What did that experience teach you?
S.C.: Well, as in any trip that goes out into a third-world country, the first lesson is culture shock and realizing how much we take for granted here in the United States – running water, and a roof over our heads. It’s something that I think a majority of Americans take for granted, and I don’t think they realize that two-thirds of the world can’t even say that tonight they’re going to sleep with a roof over their head, their belly full, and fresh, clean running water. So, yeah, that’s the first lesson. But I don’t know, just so much – to realize that this industry that we’re in, the entertainment business, it really feeds into a superficial lifestyle where everything revolves around us: What do we want, where do we want to go? So it’s great to be able to take a step back and say, “You know what? Wow, I just need to realize that it’s not all about me. It’s about everyone, including the entire world.” And just try to keep that in mind.
A.T.: How about your side project, Anchor & Braille?
S.C.: Anchor & Braille is actually me and a guy named Aaron Marsh (from the band Copeland), who is actually from Lakeland, not too far from (USF), and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s definitely just a different musical outlet for me. Anberlin is definitely full of energy and passion, and I wanted Anchor & Braille to be full of stories and different textures – piano-focused, very piano-driven. And that’s Anchor & Braille. But I don’t know where it’s going to go. I know that we’re going to release a CD hopefully this upcoming Christmastime, and who knows where it may go. But definitely, Anberlin is my focus, my complete and utter focus.
A.T.: Where do you see Anberlin going after this tour is over?
S.C.: I just want to continue what we’re doing. After this tour, we head off to Canada. Then right after Canada, we go to Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia. After that, we come back and do the Warped Tour, and then we’re heading off to Europe. And that’s just what I want to continue to do. I just want to keep going with it. I want to do what we’re doing – touring, hanging out and keeping our faces as close as we possibly can to the fans. We don’t want to change anything from that.
A.T.: Anything else you want to add?
S.C.: I actually went to UCF in Orlando, and I played rugby for them. And USF beat us. Every time we played you guys, you would kill us in rugby. So I just wanted to give props out to the USF rugby team.
THIS IS INFO FOR EXTRA PHOTOS THAT CORRESPOND TO MONTAGE’S ANBERLIN INTERVIEW AND CONCERT:
INFO FOR PICTURES IN PURPLE:
ORDER OF APPEARANCE: Jonezetta, Meg & Dia, Bayside, Anberlin
anberlin1- lead singer Stephen Christian anberlin2- Deon Rexroat (bass), and Joseph Milligan (guitarist)anberlin3- Christian McAlhaney (guitarist)anberlin4- Stephen Christian anberlin5- Stephen Christian anberlin6- Deon Rexroatanberlin7- Joseph Milligan bayside1- Anthony Raneri (lead singer/ rhythm guitar), and Chris Guglielmo (drums)bayside2- Anthony Raneribayside3- Nick Ghanbarian (bass) bayside4- Jack O’Shea (lead guitar)jonezetta1- Robert Chisolm (vocals)jonezetta2- crowd shotjonezetta3- Robert Chisolmjonezetta4- Kyle Howe (guitar)jonezetta5- Kyle Howejonezetta6- crowd shotmeg and dia1- Meg Frampton (vocals)meg and dia2- Dia Frampton (bass)meg and dia3- Meg Framptonmeg and dia4- Dia Framptonjannus landing1- line outside jannus landing before show