Stephen Christian of Anchor & Braille and Anberlin Talks "The Quiet Life"
Mon, 17 Sep 2012 08:57:19
Anchor & Braille Videos
As far as alternative rock in the 21st century goes, Anberlin and Anchor & Braille singer Stephen Christian could very well be the era's poet laureate.
On Anchor & Braille's second effort, The Quiet Life, Christian pens elegant, entrancing, and ethereal stories that are tangibly heartfelt. His inimitable delivery carries the songs to heavenly heights. In addition, he's got the immortal ability to write a phenomenal hook. If you haven't experienced The Quiet Life, you've got to love. We have no doubt you'll love it…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Anchor & Braille and Anberlin frontman Stephen Christian opens up about The Quiet Life and so much more.
What's the story behind "Goes Without Saying"?
I've been with the same wonderful girl for five years now. We were at the beach in St. Petersburg, and we were talking and staring at the ocean. She was telling me about life and how at this point she belongs completely, totally, and solely with me. That devastated me in a great way. I was like, "I can't believe this. That's probably the most romantic thing you've ever said". She responded, "Well, I thought that went without saying". How insane is that? It's one of those things. There are so many times where the people we love or the friendships we developed mean so much, but no one ever expresses it. So many words go left unsaid, yet the entire weight of the world is based in you. The other person's whole entire life revolves around you. For me, it was one of those cathartic points. I thought, "Wow, I can't believe she loves me this much". The song came from her words, "It Goes Without Saying". I thought those were the most romantic words anybody had ever said to me.
What's your take on The Quiet Life as a whole?
I wanted to experiment with music. I didn't simply want four chords to connect; I wanted them to collide. What's going to make the song the most interesting? Is it a trumpet? Is it a beat? I wanted the record to maintain your attention the whole way through. I pondered what those noises, sounds, and beats would be. I wanted it to command your attention the whole way through without the normal structure. I wanted it to be a constant agitator to your ears and make you ask, "What are they going to do next?" That's where I felt the whole record should be at.
Is there a thematic thread for you?
It's a history of the last three years. It's the ups and downs and the good and bad. It's the moments like that on the beach where something absolutely hits you and you're like, "This is the greatest moment of my life". It's a journal of my last three years to music.
Did you approach the album with intention of painting a picture visually?
I'm a big fan of challenging myself to craft my art better. I decided to start reading poetry. In high school, they force you to do that. Now, I felt like, "Poets have dedicated their entire lives to how words sound and make you feel". They can sum up a whole paragraph with three or four words. I thought that was so incredible. I want to do the same thing. Now that you know the story, you can see the lyrics of "Goes Without Saying", and it'll make complete sense to you. They're on a beach, and she's basically handing everything over to him. I wanted to make it ambiguous enough to capture your attention but poignant enough to be considered poetry.
What poets really strike a chord with you?
Charles Bukowski has been my favorite. He's very honest. There are times where I think, "I cant' believe he would say things like that". Other times, I'm like, "He's literally writing what he's thinking. This is a man who's not scared of how people view him or his thoughts". For me, that was challenging. Why not be a little more accessible? Why not open your chest a little more and let people see what you think or how you feel? "Goes Without Saying" is a very personal moment. If I hadn't read Bukowski before writing the songs, I don't know how that would've sounded. I would've been a lot more ambiguous. I wouldn't have used the same words she used. I wouldn't have phrased it that way. It might not have even come about. I was so challenged to be that much more honest and have my heart on my sleeve by Bukowski.
Where did "Before I Start Dreaming" come from?
To me, that song was the defining line. It asks, "Are we truly friends?" Only your true friends will know your big aspirations, hopes, and dreams for your life. Will they stand behind those dreams? It was one of those moments where I was thinking about my friends and wondering, "How many of you truly know me?" It was an evaluation moment. The more you grow as a person, the more you realize it's not about how many friends you have in this world; it's about how many true friends you have in this world. The song is about looking around and wanting to be around friends who actually care about you.
If you were to compare The Quiet Life to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
The cinematic equivalent would be Federico Fellini's 8 ½. Like Bukowski, he was all over the place. 8 ½ will just cut away to scene in his brain about all of these women he's been in love with and the different reasons. That's this record. It may be one stream of thought, but all of these other thoughts are tied into it even though they're so random and separated.
Who's on your playlist at the moment?
Bombay Bicycle Club is one of my favorites. "Shuffle" is the song of the summer for me. Empire of the Sun is a mainstay. I love M83 and The National.
What's next for you?
More writing and touring!
Have you heard Anchor & Braille?