Q&A With Anberlin

Some worship the ground they walk on. Others have fashioned altars out of glossy buttons, sticker memorabilia and anything else they can get their x-marked hands on. They are … the proverbial rock stars. I have to admit, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. I did. But a handful of guys from Polk County, Fla., also known as Anberlin, have redefined the term “rock band.”


[RELEVANT magazine:] You guys don’t have it made in the shade, huh?

[Stephen Christian:] Hardly. Many people don’t know that we have other jobs on the side. Deion and I dig ditches, and Joey mows lawns. I’m glad we could kill the stereotype about rocks stars being rich and famous.

[RM:] Isn’t that why Joey B. and Nate couldn’t be here?

[SC:] Yeah, they’re actually working right now.

[RM:] How is it with Nate being 16 and in the band?

[SC:] Well, as far as schooling goes, the family was known to home school before he joined the band. So he just takes his stuff on the road.

[RM:] I’m seeing more and more how multi-faceted you guys are: ditch diggers, lawn mowers, musicians, tutors—you’re just the whole package.

[SC:] Yeah, tutors. We’re tutors (laughing).

[RM:] Was there a certain inspiration for the title of the project—Blue Prints for the Black Market?

[SC:] It was more or less how I view the music industry as a whole right now. It’s funny now how things have to be formulated for it to sell. It was a play on words. Like saying, “Here’s the formula for what you want to hear, but in actuality it’s really what we want to play.”

[RM:] Where was the picture taken for the cover?

[Deon Rexroat:] We were actually in Seattle, hanging out in the studio. We had woken up an hour before, and Chris McCadden came in and asked us to walk around a few blocks there in Seattle.

[RM:] Is Seattle’s music scene pretty raw, or has it become formulated like you were talking about?

[Joey Milligan:] No way. If anything, Seattle is completely self-reliant. They’re very community-based. In just a few days we saw Tool and Death Cab For Cutie walking around. Pedro [the Lion] came in and played video games with us.

[RM:] You guys covered The Cure’s “Love Song” on the album …

[SC:] Yeah, The Cure’s been an influence on all of our music. We recorded it in the studio and immediately knew it needed to be on the album. Plus we needed one more song and we didn’t feel like writing another one (laughing).

[RM:] Speaking of influences, what are some of your musical influences?

[SC:] We’re all a little different. Mine are Jeff Buckley, The Smiths, and to be honest I’ve got to throw some Stryper in there. We actually have a big Stryper poster in our trailer! It’s amazing what you can do with spandex.

[JM:] I grew up with two older sisters, so I was always hearing Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses, Poison, Kiss—all the hair bands at the time. And now I’m listening to Jeff Buckley, Ours, The Cure and Face-to-Face.

[DR:] I’m really into Yanni. You guys can hate me if you want, but he’s a genius. No seriously, I mostly grew up listening to ’70s rock. My first album I ever bought was ZZ Top’s Eliminator. I was really into Green Day, Operation Ivy and Seven Seconds, the old school punk stuff.

[RM:] Are you guys happy with the way the album turned out?

[SC:] None of us could be any happier. Aaron Sprinkle did a great job of mixing our rock roots with a pop sensibility sound.

[RM:] The three of you have played together before, right?

[SC:] Yeah. We’ve all played in different bands, but the three of us have been playing together for the last six years. So we’re pretty comfortable with each other and we’ve learned to read each other pretty well.

[RM:] What would you say your religious background is and how does that effect you as a band?

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[SC:] All five of us are definitely Christians, but we’re all from different denominations, and all of us grew up with different religious backgrounds. But just because we all have different faiths doesn’t mean we believe in a different Jesus. We don’t look at the five of us as having five different views.

[JM:] The one common thing in all of us is that we have faith.

[RM:] We know that verse, “brothers sharpen one another.” Has that been a catalyst for you to grow?

[SC:] It’s definitely a factor. The biggest issue that we try to kill is pride. There’s an amazing accountability between us because we know where we’re from. So, when one of us tries to be a rock star, we shoot it down. And that’s something that every band has to face: What are our attitudes going to be like? Are we going to be that rock star? Are we going to be better than everyone else? We’ve decided among our band that we’re not going to try and be cool.

[RM:] Goes right along with being real and not posing.

[SC:] Right. Nathaniel Hawthorne makes the statement about living your life in front of others as you do in private. When you become a band, you have to figure out who you are as soon as possible. We want to be the same Christians you see here in the studio as we are in private.

[RM:] Do you guys feel like you have a calling as a band? And if so, what is it?

[SC:] We all have different callings. We’ve decided that Anberlin doesn’t have just one calling, but rather, five different callings. We do know that we have one common mission—to go out into all the world.

[RM:] How are you going to handle it when the album takes off and you guys are looked at as role models?

[SC:] Honestly, that’s the perfect predicament, because if you look at God and the Bible, there’s always a tool He uses. Anberlin is not who we are. It’s a platform for our views, our beliefs and what each of us is called individually to do.

[RM:] Thanks guys. I wish you the best in all your touring and traveling.

[SC:] Thanks. Keep us in your prayers and if you’re ever at a show, stop by and talk with us. We’d rather make friends than fans.

[Jared Feria is a freelance writer, aspiring author, DJ and men’s minister. He graduated from Southeastern College in Lakeland, Fla., and now lives with his wife, Katie, in Gainesville, Fla.]

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