Interview With Nate Young of Anberlin

Interview With Nate Young of Anberlin

On October 3rd I had the opportunity to speak with Nate Young of Anberlin. Anberlin’s new album, Vital, will be released on October 16th. Below is the transcript of the interview.

Jeremy: How are you doing? What’s life been like since you finished recording?

Nate: It’s good man. It’s been great, we just started our tour with Smashing Pumpkins yesterday. It’s been good, I mean, like I said it’s only been one show. Yesterday was kind of hectic, we got held up at the border in Canada. So we got there and it was kind of a quick set up and stuff. But yeah so far it’s been pretty cool.

Great, well Vital is coming out in just a few weeks, this will be your sixth album so far. So how do you feel about that? Did you ever imagine making it this far back in the days of SaGoh 24/7?

Oh definitely not, I mean it’s crazy you know for any band. Usually the life span of a band is only a few years, so for us to be together ten years and our sixth album is crazy for us. We still look back and it’s nuts how quickly time’s flown. It’s flown and it’s crazy to still be here and still making music. We’re definitely feel really thankful.

That leads us to a question from user FrD on the anberlin community forum: “What would Anberlin in 2012 say about to or about Anberlin in 2002? How would the band characterize the change that has occurred in them as musicians and people over the last ten years?”

Oh man, I mean you know a decade just to grow as people. Just the stuff we’ve been through, I mean we’ve all been through so much together and through our personal lives and family and just you know gone through everything from drinking, whatever, addiction and all sorts of crap. So to be where we’re at, to look back ten years ago is just a crazy thing.  We definitely learned so much, we’ve all grown a ton, as far as that goes and then just with everyday life and stuff. And so to be where we’re at musically and just in our personal lives, we’re all so close and we couldn’t be any closer than we are it’s like family basically. And so yeah we’re definitely happy to be where we’re at you know, I mean there’s still things to come, thing’s we’re gonna go through, but you know we’re pumped to go through it together.


Right. And this is another question from a forum member, jtalep, on the Anberlin forum as well, “after working with Neal Avron and Brendan O’Brien on your last two records, what made you decide to work with Aaron Sprinkle again? How was it working with him again on this album?”

Man, it was great. I mean obviously those two producers are unbelievable producers so we definitely learned a lot from both of them, I mean just with all the different bands they’ve worked with and us already doing three records before working with one of them we all kind of learned a lot. I think that just going back to Sprinkle was a decision based on our previous three records that we  did with him we could experiment a lot and just not be held back by anything. No matter who it is anytime you introduce a new person, another producer, there’s still that curve of getting to know him and know each other and be comfortable with each other. And with Aaron  we didn’t have to go through that. So when we started working on the songs it was immediate, just diving into the songs and experimenting and trying different stuff. Just going for it. So it was a whole lot different than working with Neal and Brendan. But we learned a ton from both of those guys so I think it was just perfect timing to go back to Sprinkle and to make this record together for sure.
Right, and you also you did a bit more beyond the typical percussion work on this album. Do you want to share a bit more about what you did on this record and just what that was like?
Totally! Yeah, I mean it was different, I started a little over a year ago. I basically just started. I kind of decided that I wanted to progress musically and try different stuff so I started picking up the guitar and playing keys more and trying different stuff and I started a side project through that and that kind of sparked it. I mean I just realized that, you know not like a great songwriter but I realized that I could write songs that I could kind of contribute as far as that goes. So I writing more and just messing around and then when this record came around and we started writing it I started sending the guys stuff and kind of experimenting with different stuff. Some of it stuck and I sent it to Stephen and he put melodies into it. So yeah, I ended up working on a lot of songs on this record. But obviously those songs couldn’t be what they are without the other dudes. What I started with and where they are now is so different. So much has been added to them and taken away. So obviously the start of the song could be coming from me basically, but it takes all the dudes to finish the song for sure.

Our next question is how difficult was it too choose which songs made the cut and which didn’t? Were there any songs which didn’t that you wish had?

Normally that’s the case on the record. I feel like the last few records I’ve been pushing for a song that you know, just didn’t make the record, but with this one I think we all were on the same page with which ones should be on the album and which ones shouldn’t. If you listen to it as a whole each song fits, I feel like each song fits really well and it just kind of flows so the ones that we left off, that are b-sides, I think that that made sense. I mean, I think that all of us would say the same thing for sure.


Now, throughout all your records so far that you have put out, what are your favorite and least favorite songs?

Oh man, out of all of them? Out of all six? Oh man that’s a tough question. I mean probably some of my favorites off the last record are Pray Tell. Off this record Self-Starter; Other Side; God, Drugs & Sex. And then probably my least favorite? I mean there’s definitely a handful from like early records you know, but the thing is like I’m not embarrassed by any of them. You have to make those songs and learned. We’ve kind of abandoned the super poppy route on the last few records. And I think that was for the best. None of us were ever into those really. I mean obviously we have to find our sound but not a huge fan of the pop songs for sure. But I won’t name any specifically cause I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Haha, well that’s a good reason not to. So next question, out of all the songs on this album, which do you think would probably be the most misunderstood lyric wise? Can you share just a little bit about the true meaning behind the song?

Most misunderstood? Probably Innocent. Because it’s funny, I think when people hear that song they’re gonna think that it’s, I don’t know, like a love song. Someone already said that it sounds like a sappy song. It’s funny because it’s about Stephen’s grandfather dying so you know it’s one of those things when people hear they’ll be like “oh, it’s just another one of those songs” or like a cheesy love song or whatever you want to say. I think people will misunderstand that song for sure cause you know the lyrics are super personal for Stephen so it’s probably gonna be weird for him too if people judge the lyrics based on what they think it’s about and you know when it’s not even close to what they think it’s about. So probably that song for sure.

Alright, and this one comes from another Anberlin forum member Show asks, “Many bands, despite having numerous hits, are most remembered for one song. If this were to be the case for Anberlin, what song would the band like it to be that they are most remembered for?”

Hmm, very true, most bands are remembered for one song. We’ve kind of hoped that we wouldn’t be and we’ve kind of strived not to be known for one song Especially since that’s just so the way it is these days it’s based on one song. I mean, I guess our biggest song would be Feel Good Drag and I think that is an okay one for us to be known by, just because I feel that it sounds across the board Anberlin. It’s rock, it is what it is, so I feel like we would all be okay with that being the one song that people know us by or whatever.

Mhm, alright. And this one comes from a Tumblr user, Hanberlin they asks “What is the best way to be able to meet you guys after a concert?”

I mean I guess uh wait outside? Or over by the merch table. I mean we’re kind of all over the place you know. Some of us go and do our own thing after the show and we’ll hang out. I mean probably just by the merch table.

And now this is our last question here, it’s got a couple asking for it, just the pressure of fans trying to make an album like a Cities Part 2, how has that affected you guys?

I mean obviously the fans are why we’re doing this you know and the only reason we can do this. If we didn’t have fans we wouldn’t be a band and so obviously that’s important to us and to make records for them. But also you know we want to progress and we want to try something different. Music is art and if you’re not really pushing yourselves or trying something different, you’re just trying to stick to the same thing then to us it doesn’t feel like art. You know obviously the fans are a huge part of like when we write. I know we all think of that, like how will fans see this but at the end of the day you just have to go with what feels right and just go for it. And if you don’t it’s just gonna feel forced one way or the other obviously for the band and for everything Anberlin is, people are going to be able to tell this is gonna feel forced and not us. And also if you try and make a record that’s just for fans, I mean we for sure could have made Cities Part 2. I mean I know we could have gone out and been like oh let’s make a record that sounds like oh since this is our fans’ favorite record here let’s put out something that sounds exactly like Cities. You know fans might have been pumped but us we’re not gonna feel like true artists or even as musicians feel accomplished like “we really pushed ourselves and did it.” So I think it’s important to listen to fans and what they’re saying but to also go with what feels right and push ourselves in every  direction.

 Right. Well that question concludes our interview here, thank you so much for giving us the opportunity. Is there anything else you want to mention, any shout-outs?

I think that’s it man, I think you nailed it. Thanks man, have a good one!

You too, thanks again!


 Read our review of Vital here.