How has working with Aaron Sprinkle for so long, and on the new record with Neal Avron changed the sound? And do you feel its turned out to be a positive progression in the longevity of the band?
We did 3 albums with Aaron so for us we wanted to kind of stir things up and get some new ideas in there. By the time of the 3 album we were so much on the same page that I didnt feel new ideas were being generated, it was almost like we were agreeing each other. At that point it was like Aaron was a part of Anberlin. The reason you have a producer is for an objective, outside opinion. It made us realize that with this album we have to do something completely different. With producers everyone has their thing, its the same with musicians. Its their art, the construction of a session as well as an album. Switching from Aaron to Neil, we were defiantly afraid that Aaron was going to be pissed at us. Aaron is a huge fan of Neil and was more interested in the fact that we were working with Neil. At the end of the day its our project, and we have to do what we see fit. It does get really hard when you get really close to people and you have to part ways. Its not because theyve done anything wrong its just the way it happens, it how is works. Well probably go with a different producer on the next album. We really like the idea of stirring the pot and getting new ideas and input.
Anberlin recently signed to Universal Republic after being on Tooth And Nail, a well respected indie label with underground credibility with such bands as Me Without You, Damien Jurado, Strongarm, and Copeland just to name a few. Why the switch to a major label?
We had resources with Tooth And Nail. We always said we are going to take this as far as it can go. We're not going to step back and say, oh we cant do that because people are going to perceive us this way. Theres a great editorial reply that Dave Eggers wrote about the term sellout. Its one of the most logical, mind blowing rants youll ever read. Basically it says, Why limit yourself ?. If it offends your morals and your conscience then yes, youre selling out if you do this. If you take a stand against something and then go against it then thats selling out as well.. There was a time when I was a teenager and I was getting into a lot of underground punk. The first time I heard Green Day signed to a major I was like, sellout. They were on Lookout! Records. Then I realized they sold 60,000 albums with no distribution. They went out there and sold those albums, so who am I to say they cant move on to a label that will sell those albums for them?. This way they can do their thing and no have to hustle their asses off. Its kind of unfair to tell someone they cant do that. For us, we had to take our chances and take the next step.
How effective do you think the labeling of Anberlins sound is? Such as Haight St. being called the soon to be summer anthem, and New Surrender as a cohesive blend of music that will lull you to sleep with gentle harmonies one minute, and shake you to the core via raw, distortion drenched rock riffage the next. Is it necessary or should the fans be able to decide for themselves?
I guess you always have to do things to sell people. I think there is a difference between describing something rather than labeling something. Describing things helps to draw people in. Terms get thrown around so much like, heres great emo rock. Thats basically like the new grunge. Its such a broad term now. Look at the bands that were considered grunge in the 90s. Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana, among others. None of them sounded alike (laughs). Remember in the mid to late 90s when bands like Braid, The Promise Ring, Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate were considered emo? It blows my mind that kids that are apparently considered emo, you play then The Promise Ring and theyre like, this guy cant sing (laughs). This sort of labeling will go away. Everybody needs a label, it is sad but everyone does need a label. Nowadays you cant just call everything rock.
Reading some of the comments on YouTube about the religious beliefs of the band, do you think being labeled as a Christian is disheartening, seeing as how the band set out to make a truly new and unique record with New Surrender that may just be shelved as "Christian Rock?"
We get tagged as Christian Emo. Theres times when it comes through but would you call U2 a Christian band? They have lyrics that are Christian themed but who would dare?. Obviously were not at the level that U2 is so it may be a bit harder to understand. When we first started touring, the bands would have these preconceived notions about us. After a couple days on the road theyd say, oh, youre normal, I thought you guys would be weird. We defiantly got that label from being on Tooth And Nail, for us we stopped caring about it along time ago. We dont really answer that question anymore. A bands not even the person, how can it believe in a faith?, Ive never really understood that. We like to let what we do and our music answer that question. Sometimes people misinterpret our lyrics and take them as being very religious even when theyre not. To me, people want to know the exact reason and meaning behind things but, what does it feel like to you?, just let it be that.
I noticed on Tooth And Nails page a blog written by you of the Best Songs Of 2007. There are some really different bands mentioned, everyone from Ryan Adams, to Interpol, to Bruce Springsteen. Would you say that your broad taste in music brings something unique to Anberlin?
The way it goes into our heads and the way it comes out it gets filtered in here, all the different styles of music. The way it comes out is the way Anberlin sounds basically. We never try to sound a certain way or write a certain way. The way we sound is the way we sound when we all get together.
When was the decision made to put an effort towards the humanitarian side of life?, rather than just being another band who simply writes, records and tours without contributing back to any global causes.
Its who we are as people. Its an interest that we personally have and Anberlin gives us the platform to do something about it. We always felt that if we had the means then we would do something. Its our personal lives leaking in to what we do. On the last tour, a few guys in Anberlin went to Walter Reed Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC. and visited troops that had just returned from Afghanistan. They said it was one of the most heart wrenching things theyd ever done, but also something amazing that you dont normally get to do. Theres a lot of things I would do even if I wasnt in Anberlin, but doing this obviously gives us more of an opportunity. You dont have to be in a band to help people you know? You can do it everyday and take advantage of your influence, and your impact and your lot in life and do something with it. Thats our basic belief belief behind what we do and why we do it.
What are some thoughts on the range of the Anberlin fan base? , and how has it changed from the birth of the band to now? And where do you feel the band fits into the grand scheme?
We dont really know where we fit in, thats why were kind of surprised. We started out with a pretty young fan base playing with the same bands. Fans seem to be growing with us. As we grow our music grows. We write songs that people like and can hopefully identify with. We did a festival in Australia last year called Soundwave and it was interesting because we found out a lot of metal bands were into us. We made really good friends with a band called Unearth, and the whole time we were like, were not tough at all, why are all these tough metal guys into us? (laughs). Its all music. I guess for the same reasons, we play what we play and were into metal, and they play what they play and theyre into our melodic rock (laughs).
Having released four full lengths and a collection of B-sides, played and toured the US, Australia, the UK, and Ireland, what does 2010 bring for Anberlin?
Were currently in the middle of writing a new album. We have the music for about 15 songs. Vocally, Steven has about 7 or 8 songs demoed out. Thats the main thing were working on right now is the new album so that it can be out later this year. One of the other things that were really concentrating on this year is trying to get to places where we havent toured yet. Were going to South America in March for a week and a half, which were all really excited about. Weve tried to go twice before and couldnt because we couldnt make it work with our schedules. Otherwise were just really trying to keep it going, doing something new, trying to write our best album yet. A new year is always a new challenge.
For more complete info, visit www.anberlin.com. Anberlins music can be found at your favorite local independent record shop as well as on iTunes, Interpunk.com, Amazon and many more. Videos and live performances can be found on www.anberlin.com as well as on You Tube.