Exclusive interview with Anberlin on the new record, wearing girls jeans and more!
Stephen Christian (above right) in 7 for All Mankind bootcut jeans and Deon Rexroat (above left) who’s signature look is a classic pair of Levi’s and a white t-shirt.
Originally from Orlando, Florida, the rock/alternative 5 member band, Anberlin, is preparing to release its 4th studio album, now backed by major label Universal Records. They’ve already sold over 350,000 albums through their founding label, Tooth & Nail Records, with their album Cities, debuting on Billboard’s Top Albums chart in February of 2007 at #19. They are known for touring with bands like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Yellowcard, Motion City Soundtrack and more. Their much anticipated Universal Records debut is scheduled for an August 2008 release. Liane, our Editor, caught up with Stephen Christian, the lead singer of Anberlin as they were in the studio recording to chat about the new record, fashion in the record industry, and of course, denim!
The band members are:
Stephen Christian ▪ Vocals
Joeseph Milligan ▪ Guitar
Deon Rexroat ▪ Bass Guitar
Christian McAlhaney ▪ Guitar
Nathan Young ▪ Drums
DenimBlog: So we hear you guys are in the process of recording a new album? Tell us about that – how is it going? And will it be a similar sound to Cities, or are you going in a different direction?
Stephen: There is no comparison, this is by far going to be the best album we have ever put out. Hands down. I’m sure everyone says this before their album comes out, but were only in the pre-production stage and I just “know”. The biggest differences are our producer Neal Avron who is just an animal of a producer, the hardest working producer I have EVER seen. Even after we get done with our 8 hour days in the studio, he goes home to study what we did that day on pro-tools and comes back with notes. The other reason is the writing ability of our latest member Christian, formally of Acceptance. He musically wrote almost half the record, which is a big change and help to Joey Milligan because it has taken a lot of the weight off.
I don’t think we could make it sound like Cities if we wanted, with new music and producer I believe its the next evolutionary step in our music. I am not saying people won’t recognize our songs when they hear it but I do believe we have taken it to the next level while still staying true to Anberlin.
DB: How would you guys describe your sound? And who are your influences?
Stephen: Indie-brit wave. A little indie rock a little new wave mixed with some brit pop influences. A lot of our sound has direct link to 80’s bands; the harmonies, melodys, and music have been deeply affected by bands such as The Cure, The Smiths, Travis, Doves, Mew, etc.
DB: What would our readers find to be the most surprising thing in your iPod right now?
Stephen: JT. I mean try to be cool or not, everyone needs a little Timberlake; he’s the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down… not sure what that means.
DB: As you guys are preparing to release your 4th record with major label Universal, this could be the album that really launches you guys into the big time. How important is image in the music industry as far as fashion and the way you dress is concerned? Do all the guys care about fashion much?
Stephen: Unfortunately we do not live in the Credence Clearwater/Alabama time of music where it didn’t matter what you looked like or dressed like to be big. But thanks to the likes of boy bands or bands that were put together everyone wants the Beatles to look like Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt. Labels now have image consultants, and publicists who tell you what to wear at photo shoots. Fortunately that has not happened to us (yet?). Not everyone cares about fashion. There are two of us in the band that have to dress the other three! But I love fashion, the problem is I cannot afford most of it. Marc Jacobs, Paper Denim, Giorgio Armani, Diesel, etc…. so on my budget I LOVE H&M and on a splurge on Ben Sherman and TopMan, a UK brand.
DB: I’ve been on the Anberlin bus – I know some of you love your designer jeans. In fact, I think it was you, Stephen, who got my guy started wearing 7 for All Mankind jeans. What are your favorite brands of jeans, both designer and non-designer?
Stephen: I really love 7 except that I am really, really rough on my jeans, when I find a pair that I love I wear it EVERY DAY so they don’t ever last long. I think there was a stretch of 3 years where I would only wear 7’s, they are great jeans! Then I started to branch out and love Joe’s Jeans & Paper Denim. But lately I have been wearing Hurley jeans. I know it seems random that a “surf brand” would sound like it could compete jeans-wise with all these other brands BUT they are the first company that I have liked that have created guys jeans that fits like girls!
DB: OK – for real. Girl’s jeans or guy’s jeans? And why?
Stephen: Girls. For some reason some designer decided that every American wanted the crotch of the jeans to sag to the knees and ever pair sag as if he never wanted the (mc) hammer pants to go out of style! I hate it! In case any of you are jeans designers out there, not all of us are in hip hop groups! Please make jeans for the rest of us. So in the early 2000’s a think a lot of us bands just switched, at first all the other guys would laugh, until they tried a pair on. The RIGHT girls jeans will fit well, but be weary of flare jeans, and low rise cut… I mean come on! We can’t cross some lines.
DB: What are some of Stephen’s fashion dos or fashion don’ts? And your thoughts on skinny jeans on men?
1. Like I said no low cut on guys, no one wants to see trails, or trees or bushes!
2. Those look great on girls but not dudes. Also frilly back pocket designs, you can wear girls jeans but not when there is anything bedazzled on the back pocket!
3. Keep it simple, get solid colors, let the rest of your outfit do the talking you don’t need multi-color dyes, or bleaches or patterns on your jeans.
4. Finally, wear one size bigger than you think you should, I mean they are already tight man! They are girls jeans… the reason is simple: Guys and girls body parts are different below the belt, everyone knows that but not everyone wants to see it first hand! Got it??? Good.
DB: Can’t wait for the new album to come out. Any date set yet?
Stephen: It looks like August, every record either moves up or down, but for now its August of ’08.
DB: I know you have a side project, Anchor & Braille. What’s going on with that, and how is Anchor & Braille different from Anberlin?
Stephen: Anchor & Braille is my artistic outlet for songs that I write that I don’t think sound like Anberlin, they are alot more keyboard driven; a cross between Damien Rice and Ryan Adams meets the Rachels. Yea. You can listen to a couple songs on myspace.com/anchorandbraille
DB: When will you guys be back on tour, and what can we expect from Anberlin next?
Stephen: Our next tour starts on June 23rd here in California, it is the Warped Tour with several hundred other bands. Its going to be amazing and I can’t wait! Hopefully we will see you there!
Photo courtesy PeterHill.net