Interview: Anberlin

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Infectious Magazine interviews Joey Milligan of Anberlin on the band’s latest album, Vital, studio time, what song to pay special attention to, and Halloween memories. Check it out below.

Infectious Magazine: The response to Vital has been overwhelming and a lot of fans were happy to hear a sound that reminded them so much of Cities and Never Take Friendship Personal. Was that a conscious aim on Anberlin’s end?

Joey Milligan: No, honestly I think it was we were in a very useful place. With writing, we were just having fun and doing whatever we wanted and I think that ended up translating to a similar vibe of youth and energy and that kind of thing that drove those first two records. It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision, but we were just having a lot of fun playing heavier stuff and faster stuff, and really delving into the electronic and keyboard aspect of the music that we’ve kind of tinkered with for years but never really committed to.

IM: You guys have talked about how with Blueprints For The Blackmarket you added the 10th cover song because the material just wasn’t there and you hadn’t yet figured out that you have to go into the studio with upwards of 20 songs. What would you say have been some of the other learning experiences along the way that have defined Anberlin?

JM: Really utilizing time beforehand to just jam these songs out together and really let everyone dive into their part. Before, I think with Blueprints and Friendship, we hadn’t really played hardly any of those songs live. They’d been demoed, and practiced at home individually, because we were always on tour. So by the time we got into the studio, we hadn’t even had any time to play them live. When we started just getting together and hashing out all the songs together, it took on a totally different form and it actually made things a lot easier. That and not worrying about what people may or may not think about something. If you have the idea, just throw it in there and see what happens.

IM: It seems to have worked out really well!

JM: Yeah, so far!

IM: The way your lyrics and music are intertwined is always brilliantly done, and the inspiration behind them seems to be surprising much of the time. What is one song off Vital you’d like to see fans really listen to, that you’re afraid might otherwise be overlooked?

JM: People that I’ve noticed to this point, even though it’s been very brief, I’ve seen that people have taken more of a face value look at the song “Innocent” as opposed to really going deeper with the lyrics and the meaning which is a very ,very, almost bittersweet sad song, and I think most people just assume it’s another boy girls song and it’s not. I can’t speak on Stephen’s behalf, lyrically, but that’s a very heartfelt and deep song and I think a lot of people have been like ‘oh well it’s, boy meets girl, falls in love’ kind of song and it’s just not at all.

IM: Along those same lines, what would you like fans to take away from Vital, but also take away from Anberlin a whole?

JM: Just that through all these years, we’ve maintained this energy that we’ve tried to put on every record and I definitely feel like we sort of reclaimed it on this record. And just to feel moved by something, to feel the impact of every song musically and lyrically.

IM: What is one question you’d like to be asked but never have been, and what is the answer?

JM: haha, let me see. That’s a tough one. Honestly, what I would like to be asked is ‘would you guys ever like to be guest announcers for an NFL game?’ and the answer would be, ‘yes.’ Vehemently, yes.

IM:  With Halloween so close, what is your favorite childhood memory and costume?

JM: Oh man. My mom when I was a little kid, I wanted to be Batman so bad. My mom got me the little suit from Wal-Mart and I was so in love with the suit when I put it on. Then it came down to the boots, and I was like ‘where are the boots?’ She was like ‘Oh, you just put your shoes on.’ I was like ‘Batman doesn’t where shoes!”  So, we ended up because it was the old school blue and gray Batman, we ended up with me putting on my shoes and then a pair of blue knee high socks on over those. I ruined the socks, but the outfit was complete.

IM: It was worth it in the end then.

JM: In the end.

IM: What’s in the future for Anberlin?

JM: We’re going to keep writing, we’ve already made a lot of headway writing for the next record and we’re going to keep going and keep trying to one up ourselves and keep touring and just see how long we can ride this thing.

IM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JM: Yes. Please go out and buy Vital.

IM: I second that. Thank you very much for your time. 

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Angela Mastrogiacomo

Founder of Infectious Magazine & Muddy Paw Public Relations. Lover of passion, ice cream, and books.

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