It’s been said to never judge a book by its cover. In the case of Florida band Anberlin, the same could be said for not judging a song by its title, something that the band’s frontman Stephen Christian is currently learning a lot about thanks to a tune on their upcoming sixth studio album, Vital, set for release on October 16.
“I kind of wanted to punch people in the face. Just to ask the question, ‘Where do you stand on anything?” Christian explained during a phone interview with CBS Local regarding the song “God, Drugs, & Sex” that closes Vital. “It feels like we’re a generation that’s swayed by whatever comes across the table. We’re such a grey people. There’s no black and white. The song never takes a turn like, ‘This is what I believe in and you should too.’ It’s more of an open-ended question.
“People already have an opinion on the song based solely on the title, which is laughable to me,” he continued. “We’ve already gotten tweets from people saying they won’t buy the album because of it.”
For Christian, it’s a question of rock bands having the guts to get into the fray of public consciousness, and not being afraid to make statements that could be construed as controversial. He believes another genre of music has eagerly picked up that mantle.
“I think that rock and roll has lost the element of internal tension and that struggle. I feel like rock has given up that crown of tension and angst to the hip-hop and rap community,” he suggested. “It’s like they’re the new rock stars, they’re the ones who are creating animosity and tension now. It seems that bands coming up are kind of jejune and placid. It’s nice to already be getting that kind of response just from a song title. We’re not the new Sex Pistols by any means, but it’s still essential to bring this attitude back to rock music.”
Christian was even more animated when talk turned to the upcoming election, and what he considers as a kind of apathy among voters easily swayed by more peripheral reasons.
“Entertainers have no place in dictating someone’s personal opinion. I feel like it’s our job to encourage fans to step out of that grey area and pick a side,” he stated flatly. “I don’t care what it is, it just needs to be your own opinion, and not because this fancy poster was drawn by your favorite artist, therefore you need to vote this way or that,” Christian added in reference to artist Shepard Fairey’s notorious Obama “HOPE” posters. “It’s our job to push people towards the information. It’s their job to solidify their own opinion.
“You’re just an entertainer. Shut up! I mean, honestly,” he continued, speaking theoretically. “You didn’t even go to college. The odds of you being a PhD in politics and truly understanding what’s going on is just asinine. Reading Karl Marx doesn’t make you the best liberal just like reading Ann Coulter doesn’t make you a conservative. If you want to create change, go volunteer with Habitat For Humanity and shut up.”
Anberlin is currently touring America with the Smashing Pumpkins, supporting Billy Corgan and the gang through most of the month of October, culminating in a show in Minneapolis, MN, on Oct. 20. The band follows the Smashing Pumpkin dates with a series of headlining gigs through December. In late January, Anberlin embark on an extensive UK tour before heading down to Brazil in March.
–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local
Anberlin’sVital is available now for pre-order.