Anberlin make music that combines rock, punk and emo, although their overall sound leans closer to streamlined rock ‘n’ roll than to those other genres. At the same time, they flaunt a pop accessibility and compact song structures, which allow their albums to have an immediacy to them. While Anberlin are identified as a Christian
band, they don’t include explicitly religious messages in their music.
The members of Anberlin, who all lived in Central Florida, teamed up in late 1996 after their own bands fell apart. Prior to signing with Tooth & Nail Records, Anberlin toured extensively and sold self-released albums. Since their 2003 debut on Tooth & Nail, Blueprints for the Black Market, the band has had four permanent members – lead singer Stephen Christian, lead guitarist Joseph Milligan, bassist Deon Rexroat, and drummer Nathan Young – but have gone through several rhythm guitarists.
A Shaky Start:
Blueprints for the Black Market
captured a young group trying to assimilate its influences. Not making much of an impression on the charts, Blueprints
felt like an amalgam of many pop-punk bands of the era, except Anberlin were not quite as good or confident as their peers. The single “Readyfuels” did suggest that Anberlin could latch onto a catchy riff from time to time, but their mediocre hard rock cover of the Cure
’s “Love Song” highlighted that they weren’t quite ready for the big time.
2005’s Never Take Friendship Personal boasted sharper production and better songs, although Stephen Christian’s lyrics often descended into sappy emo-sensitive platitudes. Still, Never Take Friendship Personal was a considerable sonic improvement, and the band’s minor hit “Paperthin Hymn” helped propel the album on the Billboard chart, peaking at No. 144.
Growing Commercial Clout:
Despite being on an independent label, Anberlin finally started making major commercial inroads on their third record, 2007’s Cities. Getting as high as No. 19 on the Billboard chart, Cities featured a harder-edged sound than Anberlin’s previous albums. Still, there were plenty of pop-punk hooks in attendance on Cities, as well as a more introspective bent to Christian’s lyrics.
Signing With a Major Label:
Before the release of their September 2008 album, New Surrender
, Anberlin left Tooth & Nail and signed with the major label Universal Republic. In addition, new guitarist Christian McAlhaney joined the lineup, and the band took part in that summer’s Warped Tour. New Surrender
showcased a broader sonic palette than the band’s three previous albums and a more mature outlook than the puppy-dog love songs of the past.
'Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place':
Anberlin’s second album for Universal Republic, Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place, hit stores on September 7, 2010. The first single was “Impossible.”
Stephen Christian – vocals
Christian McAlhaney – guitar
Joseph Milligan – guitar
Deon Rexroat – bass
Nathan Young – drums
Key Anberlin Songs:
“A Day Late”
Blueprints for the Black Market (2003)
Never Take Friendship Personal (2005)
New Surrender (2008)
Dark Is The Way, Light Is a Place (2010)
- Anberlin have toured with Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance.
- Stephen Christian has said that the band's name came from shortening "And Berlin," a phrase that he liked.
- New Surrender contains a new version of "Feel Good Drag," which originally appeared on Never Take Friendship Personal.
- Stephen Christian co-founded Faceless International, which, according to its mission statement, "exists to raise awareness and education on social issues happening throughout the global community."
- In 2008, Stephen Christian published his first novel, The Orphaned Anything's.