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Anberlin retaining much of originality

Anberlin signed with Universal Republic for its latest disc after releasing three albums on the Tooth and Nail label. Special to The Forum

A new album with a new producer on a new (and not to mention major) label.

It's something of a new day for driving alternative rock act Anberlin, which looks to rock the Venue at the Hub in Fargo tonight.

After releasing three albums on the Christian-leaning label Tooth and Nail, the band signed with Universal Republic, dropping its first major label release "New Surrender" in September.

What's more, Anberlin brought in producer Neil Avron, who's worked with the likes of Fall Out Boy and Yellowcard.

Being on a major label meant more time in the studio to perfect the tunes.

On previous projects, "whatever you recorded, whatever you laid down that's what it's going to be for the rest of your life," says Anberlin lead vocalist Stephen Christian, who spoke to The Forum from a stop in Michigan.

But the five-man band knows enough to dance with the one who brought it, sticking to the same style and vibe that got it on a major label in the first place.

"I feel like a lot of bands will put out records and tour under a certain sound and then all of a sudden will sign to a major label and they'll go, 'Oh, okay, well, now we're going to write the songs we really wanted to write,' '' says the band's rhythm guitarist Christian McAlhaney. "And it's just like, 'Well, dude, if that's what you wanted to play, why weren't you writing those songs to begin with?' "

The band still blends hard guitar lines with musical melodies and tight harmony with aggressive vocals.

Still present too, are the spiritually influenced lyrics. But while McAlhaney counts himself a Christian, as do other members of the band, he says "I don't think I would say that Anberlin is a Christian band."

"(O)bviously, from a lyrical standpoint your faith and the way you look at life and all that kind of stuff will come out through your lyrics," he says. But he also says that "we don't feel that Anberlin is the mouthpiece for our faith."

Christian says he doesn't know what a Christian band would look like. He notes an article by C.S. Lewis.

"And someone was like, 'How does it feel to be the best Christian literature writer?' " he recalls. "And he's like 'Christian literature?' He's like, 'Does that mean like my book has a soul or a heart and can choose like what religion to believe in?' "

Christian feels similarly about the "Christian band" label, but doesn't try to excise his faith from his music.

"I just simply write about life experiences, and when God comes out, then God comes out," he says. "But I'm also not going to inhibit that or I'm not going to try to create that feeling just to sell records to more Christians or talk about God less just to sell more records to the general market."

If you go

  • What: Anberlin with Madina Lake, Between the Trees, Camera Can't Lie
  • When: 6 tonight
  • Where: The Venue at The Hub in Fargo
  • Info: Call (701) 232-6767 for information.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734