Anberlin [26/02/2013]

By Tom Aylott

We caught up with Anberlin’s Stephen Christian as he had just arrived in San Fransisco, and talked moshpits, bumping & grinding, & just how ‘vital’ a tour can be


LN: Hey Stephen! How you doing?
SC: Great! I’m in San Fransisco today so it’s a good day!

LN: Your show the other night at House of Blues on sunset was great- although I was NOT expecting that moshpit!
SC: You know what- L.A. is never, never like that! They’re usually like super cool and they just want to stand and watch the whole time and they went in-sane! The next night we played Santa Ana which is a little out of the way so people usually go crazy there- but L.A. blew them out of the water!

After the show we were all kind of just mystified- L.A. is really becoming one of the crowds for our most insane shows!

LN: Did you catch the couple slow dancing inside the moshpit circle to your acoustic version of “”
SC: I actually didn’t catch that but I did hear this one drunk guy was booty dancing – just this one guy bumping and grinding the entire time! I was like how did I miss that!?

LN: You guys are in the middle of your ‘Vital’ tour- any crazy shenanigans that have happened on the road thus far?
SC: There have been- several actually! Mostly it’s just that we haven’t headlined in so long that so many cool people are coming out! Just a lot of random friends are showing up at our shows! Like tonight- we’re pulling into the Fillmore here in San Fransisco and my manager says someone wants to get on the guestlist- so no big deal. Just only, holy crap, yes! So yeah I’m pretty excited!

LN: So ‘Vital’ has a very powerful vibe! How did you guys come up with that title, and what were the main album influences?
SC: Vital was kind of a goal. We sat down to write the record and it was kind of like that dream, that goal and so all the songs kind of started to reflect that! Just a lot more tension and energy! You know we’re moving into our 6th record and I don’t want to create art or music simply because that’s all I know. I want to be doing it because I’m passionate about it and there’s no place I would rather be than right here onstage! I realized my favorite part of being in a band is those moments onstage- like I think back to the other night in L.A. when that couple was slow-dancing, and that other guy was booty dancing and those are the moments that make a show incredible- and then you hear people singing louder than you are! I think this album kind of reflected that, and the passion behind it really shines through!

LN: Whether it’s a fest or a venue you sprint onto stage with the same immense amount of energy no matter what! How do you keep that going- a lot of energy drinks?
SC: Cocaine.
(long pause)
SC: No- I’m totally kidding! I do see how artists freaking would do drugs man- because it definitely does take a toll! But- it’s that really great exhaustion. How you feel after you run a marathon kind of exhaustion. It was all worth it- everything I did, all those moments writing songs- they were all so worth it. And you know- it is hard- but I really want to be the band that I myself would want to go see! I don’t like the bands that I see at shows who are kind of just standing around, looking around, looking up and wondering where are they at!? What are they thinking right now?! I want to be so intense and so involved and have that kind of connection that only music can bring! If that’s kind of your goal and your purpose and your mantra then you go all out every single night.

LN: Aside from the really intense tracks on vital you have a lot of emotional ones too- I know there’s a story behind ‘innocent’- is that emotional for you to sing onstage?
SC: You know we don’t sing that one onstage yet. It’s not that we don’t want to- or that I’ll never do it but it’s one of those things where I want to separate it from the story for a little while before I start singing it just because sometimes it takes me back to those places that aren’t always the greatest. So with songs like ‘innocent’ it just takes some time to be able to play those live. This is why I would never have someone write a song for me- because I do want to be invested in those lyrics. If you aren’t invested in those lyrics and you don’t believe what you’re saying then you have no place onstage. People can see through music, you know? That’s what separates instant gratification bands from the timeless bands at 60, 70 years old! Because there’s that connection, that moment- a certain depth to it.

LN: Now you guys are in the middle of your tour right now- you basically have been non-stop touring for the past couple of years- any festival you would definitely want to hit?
SC: I would love to play Leeds & Reading festival – I think that would be such an honor. So many great bands- such a great festival- I’m always in awe of the lineup!

LN: Speaking of travelling- any one thing you have to have on the road with you?
SC: I wish it could be something deep like my favorite book but honestly- it’s my cell. I think it’s because honestly- it’s the way that we stay connected to our friends and family and everyone that we left behind. I can’t imagine it being like in the ’70s or ’80s having to pull over at a truck stop and find quarters and stand there for an hour hoping the other person is home because if not you’re out of luck! I think a cell is the most imperative thing for any musician.

LN: Currently on your playlist right now?
SC: Right now I’m really into a band called Other Lives, Active Child are incredible, really always have loved the National, Beach House, Patrick Watson, I still love the band Washed Out, and Foals- they are going to blow up here.

LN: Ok conveniently, we’re chatting on #throwbackthursday! What’s your fave show memory?
SC: You know- it was a time when me and my friends piled into this old car that whenever you would honk the horn the entire car would shake. So we pile in, drove down to Orlando and we watched this awesome band was playing and it was just this moment of I want to do that. I want to get up in front of a crowd and have the entire crowd screaming along to where standing in the back of a room all you hear is voices. It was just an incredible show- and the band opening, Hot Water, totally blew the headliner out of the water.

LN: There’s something awesome about a show when that happens! Always get there early- Is the songwriting/ album making process a collaborative effort with the whole band?
SC: Yes it absolutely is! They are much more efficient, effective, amazing musicians than I’ll ever be so for me to sit down and think of something amazing with them and be able to work with them is just amazing. I write the music and lyrics and we all kind of amalgamate our ideas together and put it down!

LN: You guys are getting ready for your show tonight in San Fransisco! Any pre-show vices or rituals?
SC: Oh yeah- it’s like a list! It’s superstition in a way! About an hour before the show we’ll do vocal warm ups, stretch, and hang out, and talk- figure out the setlist and all that. From there we all huddle together and pray and we all have a secret handshake with eachother!

LN: So after this incredibly ‘Vital’ tour- what’s up next for you guys?
SC: Well we’ll be heading to Canada, after that we head off to Australia, then Asia, then come back and I’m not sure- maybe a US tour? Then onto mainland Europe!

LN: You guys just released the music video for ‘Unstable’. What was the concept behind the song?
SC: Well what inspired that song to be on that video was basically just art. That actually wasn’t the original song for the video but we thought the other kind of took away from the video a little. The song didn’t match it- it felt like it was just too energetic. The video is just so beautiful so we went back and tried to find another song for it. We went back and listened to all the songs on the record and tried it with each and we realized that ‘Unstable’ worked. We just felt like for art’s sake we needed to put that song!

LN: Everything has just been working out wonderfully, loving the new record, have a blast at the shows and definitely looking forward to more! Any closing remarks to fans and friends?
SC: Thank you so much for being with us us and digging the new record! We really appreciate it. Shows like the L.A. show- shows where you guys show up and sing along makes everyday away from our homes and families and friends worth it. This is just an incredible life and we really owe it all to you guys.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]