During their tour with Smashing Pumpkins, Mood’s Sam Radliff caught up with the members of Florida rock group Anberlin about how their music has changed over the years, how they deal with being put in the “Christian bubble,” their favorite musicians, and more.
Sam Radliff: First off, are you having fun with the new tour?
Anberlin: We’ve been having an absolutely amazing time on the Smashing Pumpkins tour thus far. It feels good to be back on the road after taking off almost a year to write and record Vital, and we’ve been especially looking forward to playing these new songs live after sitting on a finished record for the past 5 months.
SR: How, if at all, has the energy changed since forming your first punk band way back in high school?
A: I think that same energy exists but, over time and with experience, you learn to focus that energy in more beneficial and productive ways. When you are first starting out you are kind of flailing around trying to figure out how to best go about pursuing this crazy dream that you collectively have. Obviously, after 10 years you get a better grasp of how this whole thing works; being in a band, touring, recording records, and how to best focus your energy.
SR: Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?
A: For me, as one of the song writers, I am inspired by the music I listen to. I would say that all of us in the band are pretty big fans of music in general and that we collectively listen to a pretty eclectic assortment of bands and artists.
I can be inspired by anything and everything, whether it be a drum pattern, an interesting chord structure, a guitar effect, a synth sound…whatever. I usually start with whatever inspired me and build from there. I could start with a blatant rip off of whatever that inspiring thing was but when all is said and done, I’ve tweaked it to death, Stephen has sung on it, and we’ve made it “Anberlin.” It’ll sound nothing like that original inspiration… but that is just me.
SR: Now and again you have received criticism for having a Christian bend to your music, do you feel this sometimes puts you in a bubble?
A: I think it is human nature to put everything in a bubble. To have everything labeled and put in its right place. This is this and that is that. I am a this and you are a that. We’ve never called ourselves anything but a band (which is irrefutable). I don’t think it is up to us tell people what we are or what we are not. Calling yourself something does not make you that thing. Its the substance of the thing which determines what it is. I personally don’t like the “Christian” label when it comes to this band because, for one, I don’t get it in relation to a group of 5 guys with varying ideas and beliefs making rock music and, secondly, I do think it puts us in a box that might separate us from people who don’t feel like they are inside that box or can even relate to the box. That is not us, our music is for everyone regardless of labels.
SR: Do you find the studio or touring more enjoyable, or both equally?
A: They both have their endearing qualities, that is for sure. I would have to say both equally.
The studio for that creative quality of finalizing these ideas that we may have been working on for years. It really is indescribable to be at the end of a recording process listening back to these things that may have been written in a hotel room, or your apartment, or tour bus; things that really didn’t exist until you wrote them, to hear what these ideas finally become is truly an amazing thing.
Touring is amazing because you then are taking these newly created songs and going on a road trip, possibly around the world, to places you never thought you would ever go, with a bus full of your friends to play these said songs in front of a crowd of people who want to watch and hear you play them. It is a truly charmed life we lead.
SR: Who are some of your all-time favorite musicians?
A: I picked up a guitar in the first place to play Metallica songs, so they are definitely up there. Always been a fan of Dave Knudson and the guitar work he did previously in Botch and currently in Minus the Bear. I find myself scratching my head a lot and thinking “what the heck are you playing and how are you making that sound?”
SR: Who is one of your favorite musical acts to perform with?
A: That is a tough one to answer. We’ve made a lot of good friends over the many years that we’ve been on the road. I don’t think that I’d be able to single out one band over another. I’d love to put together a “best friends tour” but it would probably have to be a festival.
SR: Is there any visual art that has inspired you recently?
A: I recently wen’t to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL, which I think has the largest collection of Dali’s works outside of Europe. That was pretty inspiring to see the extent of his creativity and just the sheer brilliance of some of his pieces. The man was a genius, possibly insane, but it’s a fine line isn’t it?
I also watched an amazing movie a while ago called Enter the Void, which is an absolutely visually stunning piece of cinema. It’s a pretty dark story and is extremely gritty, definitely not for everyone, but I thought it was amazing.
SR: Do you plan any future releases on vinyl, and how do you feel about its resurgence in popular music?
A: I think our new album Vital is currently available on vinyl and I know our past few releases are available on vinyl. I really like the resurgence of vinyl in popular music. The thing I’ve always liked about listening to records is that it forces you to listen to the whole record as the artist intended it. There is no skipping around, no shuffle or repeat, just the record front to back. A lot of thought and discussion goes into figuring out the track order for your record, (you picked these specific songs to go in this specific order for a reason) so I appreciate that aspect of vinyl. I find myself buying less CDs and more digital music these days, but if I really love something I will buy it on vinyl.
SR: Thanks for taking the time to stop and talk to us; and continued good luck with the tour!
A: Thank you!
– Submitted by Sam Radliff, Music Video Programmer