The upcoming Australian tour by Florida melodic rock titans Anberlin coincides with the group’s ten-year anniversary. It’s a decade that has seen a wealth of albums and an ever-increasing following of fans. Speaking during a respite in Nashville, Tennessee – “We’ve got another couple of days off before we start doing some rehearsals for Australia” – lead singer Stephen Christian takes a look back at the band’s success and casts his gaze toward the future.
“I can’t rationalise it,” Christian says of Anberlin’s anniversary, “because I never expected it to make it this far. Never in a million years would I have thought that we’d have the opportunities that we’ve had or been able to travel to where we’ve travelled, or meet the people that we’ve met along the way. It’s all incredible, it’s all beyond my wildest expectations. For all of us, ten years is a huge milestone. It’s a time to pause and reflect, but for Anberlin, it will be a short pause. We don’t feel like all the best years are behind us, we think we have a couple more to come. We’re not going to do anything special, like a ten-year show where we play our first record or anything like that. For now, we’re just going to keep going. That’s our game plan.”
Last year saw the release of Vital, which many fans regard as Anberlin’s finest album yet. With such a prolific track record, we shouldn’t expect to wait that long for a follow-up. “We’re even talking about it now, when do we start our next record? When we feel like we have enough songs, when we have the right songs, we start recording. If we don’t have the right songs, we go through the process of evaluating what we have and what we should be doing. Some of the guys have already started writing music here and there. I haven’t even got my head around it because Vital took a lot out of us. It was one of those albums that were emotionally 110 per cent. We’ll see where we are in a few months and reconvene as a group.”
There are a few surprises in store for Australian fans when the band arrives next month, showcasing the vivid Anberlin live philosophy. “We’ve always had the mantra that we put on the show we want to see. Some people pay money to go see a show, then the band only plays the new record. And it’s like, ‘I fell in love with you several records back and I’ve been following you this whole time, so I wanna hear all of it.’ We play stuff that’s old, stuff that’s new. The majority of the stuff we play is off the previous five records, then we’ll play a little bit off this record. Then we like to play songs that a listener may have never heard before – whether that’s a cover song, a B-side of ours … just something different to make it exciting, so you feel like you’re not aware of what’s going to happen next.”
In a reflective stage of his career, Christian believes he still has plenty left to give – but there was a time he felt differently. “I would assume that all musicians would lie to you and say they haven’t plateaued. I remember reading Bob Dylan’s Chronicles where in the book he was saying he hit 40 and woke up and realised that all his best songs were behind him. There actually was a point in my life where I thought I might have plateaued and hit the Bob Dylan ceiling … but then Vital came around and everything became illuminated and I felt alive again, I fell in love with music again. Everything transpired, then Vital felt like some of my best work. So have I plateaued? That’s for the fans to decide, to see if our next album is better than Vital.”
BY RICK WICKMAN