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.


Kates said...

Wow...what an awesome interview!!!

I read a lot of Anberlin interview, which are predominantly with Stephen, and I got so much out of this that I didn't know before!

Insightful questions! Great job!

Anonymous said...

ya i actually enjoyed reading that and anberlin is a great band

Modesta said...

Interesting to know.

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