If that left your head spinning, imagine actually being Anberlin vocalist Stephen Christian, guitarists Christian McAlhaney and Joey Milligan, bassist Deon Rexroat and drummer Nate Young. Needless to say, the Orlando rockers, with Seattle-bred Acceptance-alum McAlhaney, are feeling the pressure of their growing success, but you’ll hear no complaints from them about it.
“We’re on a new label and with a new label comes new demands, but under the pressure, I just write, write, write,” says Christian. “It’s hard because I feel like if I made toy models, I could pressure myself to work all through the night, but when you’re like, a painter, you can’t just get inspiration. I’d call my girlfriend and ask, ‘Can you break up with me? Now tell me you love me, now tell me you hate me,’” he says with a laugh. “It’s hard because I’m not in a stable environment, and I can’t just get away from people. I’m confined to a tour bus and a half-mile radius. I need to be by myself to just think.”
Though persisting through the challenges of songwriting, Christian has nothing but the utmost confidence in his band mates’ skills and their joint ability to make the music come together while he finds new inspirations. Layering his signature intellectualism over McAlhaney and Milligan’s equally as distinctive shredding, Christian hopes to explore new lyrical depths with their forthcoming album, tentatively titled New Surrender and slated for a fall release, while still maintaining the anthemic aural quality Anberlin fans have embraced so strongly over the years.
“One thing that I love about songwriting is getting behind the psychological reasoning of why people do what they do and get behind the roots of problems,” he says. “I want to take more from my environment, from history books, the newspaper or world culture. I’m going to get more ‘I’ and leave the ‘we’ ambiguous.”
Though he’s too humble to consider himself as such, Christian and his band mates serve as something of a moral compass for both their fans and contemporaries, and are prime examples of a band that can be as much without preaching pretentiously. With his characteristically infectious optimism, Christian has much more on his to-do list and high hopes for what the next album might allow him to check off.
“There are so many life lessons in this world to be taught and learned, not that I’m a great teacher or great learner, I just feel that there are endless possibilities out there. If I pursue this with all my heart and don’t let aspects of this band that I hate absorb me, like missing my family because I’m out on the road, I think I’ll be all right and that the next record will be a pinnacle record for us,” he says. “This may not be my ideal life, the instability of it all or lack of financial gain, but I think that the letters and the comments and the peoples’ lives that I’m allowed to pour into trump any ‘I hate waking up in a different city every morning’ selfishness. After talking to fans every night, I go to sleep with a smile on my face.”
And knowing there are still bands committed to creating something honest and real should be enough to let all the rest of us sleep a little easier, too.
Anberlin will perform at Warped Tour Pomona, Ventura and Carson. For more information, visit www.anberlin.com.