Sunday, May 20, 2007

Stephen Christian - Lead Singer of Anberlin

Please state your name and role in society:
My role in society: Stephen Christian, and my role in society is to probably further the genetics. Isn't that what societies do? Like a survival of the fittest. To pass down a genetic code to generations to further the human species. I also sing in a band called Anberlin. That is my profession and career.

1. All songs have a story behind them, is there a song on Cities, that the story behind it no one outside of the band (and maybe those that worked on the album) would know? What's the story?
Whoa...but then if I said the story then everyone would know. I'm trying to think of one, Inevitable, I can tell you about that one. The song, is actually-the verses are about my brother. They're not even about a girl. That's just the chorus is about my wife, "I want to be your last first kiss" insinuating a wife, or something like that. The verses are like "remember when we were just kids in cardboard boxes used to take us miles..." because me and my brother used to play in boxes. My family didn't have a lot of money and my father worked in an appliance company and he would always bring home boxes. Instead of toys our toys were boxes, I mean we had toys, but just not a lot, so our toys would be like the cardboard boxes he would bring home and we would kind of like in our minds build space ships. We'd assemble a whole bunch and built slides and use cardboard boxes to slide down a cardboard slide. I mean we just had to be so creative with what we had. A lot of people would think it'd be kind of odd to grow up with the love of your'd be kind of awkward to be like "remember when we were just kids?" But it's not, it's about my brother.

2. What song was the most challenging to really nail in the studio and why?
I think Godspeed was the most difficult one. Not as much lyrically but it got frustrating because we couldn't figure out the chorus to the song. I'm trying to think if another one that was as I think that was the worst. Because we may have come up with literally like 15 choruses for that song. Or I did, it was just rough and it turned out all right!

3. In the song *Fin where did you get the idea to use a choir of children sound at the climax of the song? Did you have a real choir perform that part?
Yep it's an actual real choir, a boys choir from Nashville. It was awesome, I think it just came together, we needed something climatic so we thought "well what would be better?" So we started to think about more classical music, something epic. So I thought "wow a choir", actually somebody else suggested it and I was just like "man that is it! That would be huge." So there you have it.

4. Ok this is the part where I try to ask about your trip to India to find information that other interviewers have not. Give us a run down of what you did just one of the days you were there:
Well the whole day would kind of start early we'd wake up around 4 or 5 in the morning. First off because of the time change to your body, you're just completely thrust into another time zone and we woke up at 5 am because right outside of our window was this Muslim and he'd do the Muslim chant, the call to prayer and we'd just be like "Dave" - we named him Dave, I don't know why - "Dave, shut up!" We'd try to yell but the last day at 5 am, the guy who sang it was up on a building standing somewhere. We couldn't see him but we could hear him, so right after he got done I jumped up out of bed and yelled "DAVE! THAT WAS AWESOME! WAY TO GO!" and just scared the crap out of everyone in the building we were staying in. You could hear people laughing down the hall, because everyone knew about Muslim Dave.
So at 5 am after being woken up by Muslim Dave we'd go to the Blue Sky Cafe where there was food, it was Indian food of course, but some of the servers knew English so we'd go there to hang out. We'd have breakfast there and around 8 o'clock we'd get together and just talk about the day and make sure everybody was doing ok. Then we would go to this place across town, about a 15-20 minute taxi ride that cost only like 30 cents. Which was awesome, I wish taxis were that cheap here. We would go there, and start gathering up supplies, depending on what we were doing that day. For the most part; Me, Seth (tour manager) and Deon (bass player) would help paint, or sanding or something like that. We also hung out with the kids and had lunch there. We were done around 5 o'clock and we'd go start to meet town officials, someone in the government or city leaders to show that we meant no harm and make our presence known.
Then at night, we'd all go out to dinner some place and stay up talking until about 9 o'clock where we'd go to bed because your body! That time change is horrible! At around 9 or 10 at night we knew we had to go to bed because at 5 AM Muslim Dave would be waking us up.

5. In your personal blog ( you stated that would be giving you a percentage of their profits for the huge trip you're organizing to Kenya this coming is this working out?
Oh! well I don't know how much they're giving me. They haven't sent me checks or anything like that. I don't know how much it'll be, they're just going to do 15%. It's actually run by family members of mine. It's not that big, they were just like "oh well whatever we can give to help, we will". So I was like "alright, great!" So it's from now until the time we leave for Africa they'll give us 15%, so that will go towards everything we'll need there.

6. Have you had any people other than your band commit to the project you want to do in Kenya? Do you know any details about this project yet?
Yeah! There's a couple different people, I mean the problem with band people is, on these trips I try to take either organizations or bands. Like to India, To Write Love On Her Arms went and members of my band. But the problem with bands is everybody's like "yeah yeah we'll go!" But the last thing you know they're like "oh we've got this huge tour, but I'm so sorry." A lot of people have said "yes we'll go" but a lot of people are also if-y. I don't want to say their names and then get them in trouble. Rus Scary Kids Scaring Kids' Tour Manager, he and I are like organizing everything for the trip along with Seth our tour manager and my friend back in Florida.
So what we're going to be doing is a couple of things. There are 3 parts!
First is we'll be working with the One Campaign where we will teach farming. So we'll all learn a little bit about each part and from there we'll go to a village and set up stations. Like "hey this is how you sew, this is how you plow, this is how you weed..." and so on.
Then the second thing is we’ll be going in to the school system and teach people about AIDS. What it is. How it happens. What we can do to prevent from spreading it. Because there are a lot of myths and a big problem is a lack of education. AIDS there is a huge catastrophe there. Worse than an epidemic.
And the last thing is, actually the very reason why we got interested in going to this village in the first place is we heard about this orphanage where the roof collapsed and it killed 2 kids there. So the first thing we want to do when we're there is a little bit each day to restore the roof. They have no supplies or any idea of how to fix things. That was my main reason that got my attention and everything else was subsequent for me.

7. With your trip to India and taking To Write Love On Her Arms on tour, you and the rest of Anberlin are becoming well known for your deep compassion for the people of the world, (besides your plans for Kenya) do you have plans to travel else where for a humanitarian project or to take other nonprofits on future tours?
Um Both! I mean not that we have plans in the immediate future, but it's definitely going to happen. Because we've taken a lot of organizations out. like World Vision and PETA...and some other small organizations. We really like getting into. We haven't had many opportunities because we don't headline that much. But as far as humanitarian work, that's what I want to do. Like after Anberlin is over, I'm going to go where ever I can. Whether it's with UNICEF or the Peace Corp. That's what I want to devote my life to, so I can definitely say yes to that.

8. Speaking of PETA, I've read and seen interviews with PETA that say that you or all of Anberlin is vegetarian, could you clear that up?
No no no, we used to work with PETA but we actually do not support them anymore. We have nothing against vegetarians, Christian is a vegetarian and I used to be, but only for a year. But PETA has done some really shady stuff behind out back and it really severed the ties so we really do not support them in any shape or form. It's rather sad. Some of their practices are very terroristic and also, they did an interview with me online and instead of running the full interview they chopped it up and made it sound like I was a vegetarian. But I wasn't! The only reason I did so for a year, was because 6 years ago, I was planning a trip to Africa, an elongated trip, so I went vegetarian to slowly start to get my body off of meat for this trip so I'd be able to adjust better. But I never went and I stopped being vegetarian. So if you watch the video it chops up what I said and makes it sound like I still am a vegetarian. You know "be smart, be a vegetarian" and I never said any of that. It was really really sad, so I went and confronted them about it and they said something like "well you said this in a round about way-listen it's for the greater good." And I was like "dude there's no greater good, you're lying to people." So because of stuff like that, PETA’s really left a bad taste in my mouth. It really sucks because I thought they were in it for a greater good, and the more research I did on them the more I was like "I don't want to be associated with this organization." Unfortunately.

9. Is there an album or a band that to this day every time you listen, it's almost like a rediscovery?
Oh wow! We were just having this discussion in the band the other day. That's so funny. I mean there is a couple of fantastic records in my life like: Jeff Buckley's Grace ugh I love it; Tonight and Forever by Sense Field is an amazing record; Louder Than the Bomb by The Smiths; Weezer the Blue record; Jimmy Eat World's Clarity, oh man that is just sensational. From front to back those are seriously some of the best albums.

10. If you could invest in a person or persons the way that you invest in stocks, who would you invest in and why?
My little brother Timothy. He's just brilliant, he's a great human being, he just loves people. He has a beautiful fiancé and stuff like that. He's 20 years old and I really miss him. I missed out on a lot of his life because we've been out on the road since he was 16, so I feel like I missed that big chunk of life. But every time I talk to him I'm just like "oh man! he's amazing!" I love him. So I would pick him.

I'd like to thank Stephen for so many wonderful and detailed answers to my questions.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Eric Binion - Merch Guy Extraordinare for Circa Survive

For the record state your full name and current occupation:
My name is Eric Binion. I guess my full title would be Merchandise Manager for Circa Survive, but "merch dude" is good enough for me. I also co-own my own "media solutions" company where I work at when I'm not on tour.

1. When did you first decide that doing merch was something you wanted to do? Who all have you merched for?
Well, it was kind of an accident. Its this really long story that i'll save you the time from, you'll have to wait for the book :). Umm, I started out booking shows for my friends bands in my hometown and eventually their bands started to get booked around in different places. Basically I would just ask to go with them to these shows to hang out and I found myself just sitting by the merch table and eventually adding touring managing to my duties. It was a way to travel around with my friends bands and help out. Eventually it turned into a bunch of things. 7 years later, here I am.

As far as bands, before Circa I've done merch for several bands in my area (Between walls, Greene Reveal, If Hope Dies) and i guess on a "bigger" scale i've worked merch a bunch with Trustkill Records, I've sold merch for Fall Out Boy, The Starting Line and a bunch of others. Insert other name drops here.

2. How did you meet the guys of Circa Survive? When did they ask you to merch for them?
I met the dudes through our tour manager Scott. I worked with him on Sounds of the Underground the summer of 2005. After that tour I was pretty bummed out on the lifestyle. Scott basically saved me. I owe a lot to that dude. The Circa guys decided invite me on the Twilight Army Tour in the Summer of 2006 and i've had a smile on my face ever since.

3. You also work with Supergnarly Industries, could you elaborate about what this company does?
Yeah, SuperGnarly is "media solutions" company. We do everything from graphic design, websites, programming, hosting, video, and a bunch more. From time to time we also book shows in my little area of Upstate NY. Check out more info on

4. What was the inception of Supergnarly, and how did you get involved? Favorite project so far?
Well, SuperGnarly started out when I was in college. I used to do a lot of stuff for my friends bands (booking shows, tours, merch design, flyer design, websites etc) and eventually it turned into what it is today. Earlier this year my buddy Tim and I turned our hobby into a legit business. Its pretty exciting. We just moved into this huge new office in one of the most historic malls in America.

Favorite project? Its hard to say, I love every aspect of this job, but my favorite thing to do is probably flyer design. When I was younger I used to keep all these flyers from all these shows that I went to and knowing that maybe there's some other nerdy kid like me out there with flyers that I designed hanging in his room gets me pretty stoked.

5. What cities or states do you look the most forward to going to when you're on tour? Why?
I don't really have a specific favorite part of the country. Every place has its perks. For me its all about the people. I'm a strong believer that meeting and getting to know people from all sorts of different walks of life is very enriching. Everybody is different everywhere and I'm just one of those people who wants to meet everybody and learn.

6. What essentials must you always have with you on tour?
Besides basic things like a toothbrush and clothes there isn't much that I need. Every tour I always bring my Zune/iPod but i never really use it. I'd rather be hanging out with people than being by myself somewhere listening to music. I need my laptop to do work on. But besides that, nothing really out of the ordinary. I try to keep it as minimal as possible.

7. When you're not on tour doing merch what do you do?
When i'm home, i tend to focus on my business a lot. I book a lot of shows and help out a lot of bands in my area. One that I think you should check out are my buddies in Greene Reveal ( That bands future is gonna be so insane. Other than that I hang out and play a lot of Wii Sports with my girlfriend.

8. Circa Survive just finished up their co-headlining tour with Cute Is What We Aim For. How did this tour compare to other tours to considering you watch the whole show each night?
It was actually really awesome. A lot of people talked a lot of shit about this tour because of the really diverse lineup. It ended up just turning kids on to bands that they probably would haven't never seen before. The crowd was really diverse but I think everybody went home with a new CD from a band they might have not heard of before. Everybody benefited from it. One thing that I thought was really cool about this tour was the fact that all the bands would constantly be hanging out together. Even on our days off, we'd all try and meet up somewhere and go see a movie or have a cookout or something. That doesn't always happen. It was an incredible experience.

9. With Warped Tour right around the corner, do you have any expectations for the summer? Most bands, especially merch people tend to dread Warped Tour, do you share this seemingly common sentiment?
See, everything is what you make of it. I've done the outdoor festival tour thing before so i'm not that scared. I think it'll be great because I'll get to see a lot of my friends bands everyday and meet a bazillion new people in every city. To be honest, I can't wait. Plus the new Circa record will be out by then and I can't wait to hear the response that everybody is going to have. It's absolutely amazing.

10. If you could invest in a person or persons the way that you invest
in stocks, who would you invest in and why?

This is a weird question. I try to stay away from stocks and stuff like that. Umm, i guess maybe the guy or gal who invented fruit leather. That shit rules.

Thanks Amanda and everybody who actually cared enough to read this. Be sure to check out and my tour blog at! I'm sure I'll see you all out there somewhere.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 5th, 2006 Hard Rock Cafe Live MTV Taping of The Academy Is...

The monumental event that took place for The Academy Is... on April 5th
will be one the attendees will not forget. Coming into the venue the
crowd was presented with flame shaped stage decorations with two Verizon
screens on either side that received texts of photos and messages. These
screens were instantly flooded with messages of love for the band and
pictures of their fans waiting outside from earlier in the day in the
freezing cold.

Before the show even began a spokesmen for MTV came on stage to tell the
audience that they were going to play part of 2 tracks by The Academy
Is... so the film crew could get some extra shots of the crowd. These
clips were of The Phrase That Pays and We've Got A Big Mess On Our

Come to find out later from the band, that the audio of the kids singing
along was being played in their dressing room before they came out. They
said that hearing their fans pumped them up and eased their nerves a bit
before going on.

For any veteran of a TAI show, it was noticeable that the guys were
nervous on stage performing for MTV. This however did not impair their
performance whatsoever. The music played by Mike Carden, The Butcher,
Adam T. Siska and Michael Guy Chislett was almost as if hearing it on an
album through a great sound system. While William Beckett's vocals
seemed to soar and hit every note effortlessly. During the performance
the band debuted Neighbors off of their new album Santi that came out
April 3rd.

The set list in order as it was played are as follows:
The Phrase That Pays
LAX to O'Hare
Slow Down
Skeptics and True Believers
Black Mamba
We've Got A Big Mess On Our Hands
Down and Out
Almost Here

If there is anything that should be said about this particular show, it
is that no one can doubt the level of energy the band has that is fed by
their equally as energetic fans. The Academy Is... fans of New York City
did TAI fans all over the nation proud.