Anberlin Talk "Vital"
Fri, 12 Oct 2012 11:37:35
On their brand new album Vital, out Tuesday October 16, Anberlin come right out of the gate swinging.
It's the group's most "alive" album yet, fusing their signature sweeping melodies with kinetic punk vigor. Anberlin build on where they've come from by evolving yet again and pushing the envelope with a swift energetic kick. Somehow, they've managed to conjure an elusive balance between the ethereal and the edgy and the result is their best record yet and one of the year's best.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Anberlin singer Stephen Christian discusses the record in-depth and so much more…
Be sure to catch Anberlin on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins now!
What's your take on Vital? Did you approach it with one vision or vibe in mind?
First off, we came up with the title Vital right at the beginning of writing this record. That's what we were aiming for. Whether we succeed or fail at this becoming Anberlin's Vital or most imperative record, that's the goal I set for myself. It sounds like high hopes. However, if you don't put something out there and try to obtain it, you're just wandering. I had that clear, decisive goal. This is what I wanted to achieve with the record. As far as this album as a whole goes, I really wanted to explore what makes me passionate about music and what makes me passionate about Anberlin. What made me feel alive were those moments on stage. That hour or hour-and-a-half of being there, connecting with the fans, and singing along is what I wanted. The songs that stand out to me are the ones that people are most rabid about. I wanted to write songs based around that. That's where the aggression and the energy thrive and come out of. I feel like Vital sits within that energetic moment of absolutely feeling alive and being thrust into tornado of energy. That's where Vital is.
What's the story behind "God, Drugs, & Sex"?
That's definitely quite a personal story. It's the grand separation between loved ones. There are those relationships in life where you never have that last word. You never say what you really feel or you make up some excuse that this is not working out. I had a very dear friend who broke off a long relationship. I was friends with both people, but I felt like there was no ending, finality, or therapeutic closure. I wrote a song from his standpoint saying, "These are the actual reasons. I can't stay around in a relationship where everything seems so meaningless to you and everything I value you don't value. Everything that shouldn't be valued is valued". This obtuse, obscure relationship formed with no foundation in common bonds. The biggest things in life are what keep you together, whether it's your faith, religion, creed, or these massive views in your life. At the inception of the relationship, there's already a giant chasm. Whether you're attracted to them or you get along, these massive viewpoints will be the destruction of the relationship. That's what the song's about.
Where did "Innocent" come from?
Last year, we toured insanely. We were on the road literally from January 1 until October 22, I believe. After that, we had a few shows here and there. As far as the history of Anberlin, 2011 might've been the most insane year. We went everywhere from Brazil to Thailand to China. It felt like we went any place we could possibly go. Regrettably, being in a band, there are some moments you miss in life such as anniversaries, birthdays, and all of these things people take for granted. We can't attend because we aren't a part of stability. We're around the world. When I was in Sao Paolo, Brazil last year, my grandfather passed away. I couldn't make it to his funeral. Right before I left for Brazil, I got a phone call from my dad that my grandfather was losing health and there's a chance that he'd pass away while I was in Brazil. I rerouted my trip right before I went to Brazil to make sure I went through Texas where he lived. I got to spend a few moments with him while he was alive before I went on my trip. That song is about those last few seconds I spent with him before he passed away. The song says, "Stop taking life for granted". It's a warning for everyone to hold on to the moments you do have, while the ones you love are still here. It comes from that place.
How did you capture that energy in the studio?
On the more powerful songs, I wanted to do less takes. If I messed up or there was a line that was rhythmically off or some scream that cracked, I wanted it all. I wanted it to feel like a live show. With that passion and raw energy comes this feeling. It pulls on some sense of emotion. That was one of the tactics we used to make a more aggressive-sounding record.
If you were to compare Vital to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Great question! I'd have to go with Fight Club. During the first glance, it seems like a lot of bloodshed, violence, or this raw, brutal movie. However, the movie has an undertone of logic and reason. There's a deeper philosophical message—"You are not your khakis". Through the aggression and turmoil Vital present, there are anthems of philosophy and these cathartic notions of a deeper sense of self. I'd say Fight Club would be the equivalent.
What are you listening to now?
Since we're about to go on tour, I'm literally listening to Anberlin [Laughs]. When you write a new song and record it, you'll write 20 or 30 different verses for it. Sometimes, I'll catch myself singing lyrics that aren't on the record because they were the original lyrics I came up with before we recorded. I've been delving into Vital. Other than that, I really enjoy Bombay Bicycle Club. They're incredible, and they're still on my playlist. Lately, The Rolling Stones Pandora station is probably the all-time greatest. We were having a barbecue Sunday at my house with some friends, and we threw that on. It was a good Sunday.
Are you excited for Vital?
See our exclusive interview between Stephen Christian and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins here!