Should someone undertake a study of musical groups and the manner in which most dissolve, it is unlikely that many end amicably. Typically, internal friction, ego, death, or addiction causes band breakups. Anberlin has decided to take a different path despite differences making the band's existence somewhat tenuous.
"The decision to walk away is what is best for the fans, even though they may not see it," lead vocalist Stephen Christian says. "Our passion for being in the band has been waning for years because we have all started to invest our lives in other opportunities. If you are not performing music with passion, then it is for all the wrong reasons. Being in this band [any longer] . . . risked the chance of [us] being five hollow men on stage disgruntled with life, music, and each other."
Instead of allowing that prospect to develop, Anberlin elected to create one more album and then embark on a farewell tour. Ironically, the process has left the band energized and performing with that once-former passion and vigor. The band's final album, lowborn, spans all aspects of Anberlin's history, touching on everything from early-period heavy melodic pop to the more brooding sounds that dominated later albums, a reflection of the mood in which the band was gradually succumbing.
"We have always had multiple personality disorders musically speaking," Christian says. "This album just reconfirms that."
Christian adds that the varied sounds on lowborn weren't entirely intentional but evolved out of a musical freedom the band last experienced before the major labels came knocking.
"Because we had no boundaries or pressure from the label, we could push the prior constraints to no limit," Christian says. "I can't tell you what might have happened if we had not decided to break up, but I believe songs like 'Dissenter,' 'Armageddon,' 'Velvet Covered Brick,' (and, lyrically, 'Atonement' and 'Harbinger') probably would not have made the record."
Clearly, not all has been copacetic with the band, as the lyrics of many songs attest. The band didn't even record together. Instead, each member recorded individually and then mailed in his parts for the producers (including Christian) to piece together.
"It definitely added to several challenges in the studio. Not having the guys around really added to a lot of guesswork," Christian says. "I really didn't want to record separately because I knew this was going to be the last chance to work together as a band, but time, life, and financial resources did not allow that to happen."
Christian did not indicate what the band members have on their post-tour agendas. Though he hinted at new music projects, family time, and entrepreneurial ventures, the current focus remains on the final tour and giving the fans a proper sendoff. Thus far, Anberlin's choice to bow out in this fashion seems to be the right one. The band has enjoyed performing again, and the fans are getting a chance to say goodbye.
"The response has been more than amazing -- at almost every show, the front row is in tears, and the outpouring of gratitude has been undeniable," he says.
Yet, how will it feel to take that final bow, to walk off stage as Anberlin that one last time?
"I think for me it will be gratitude for what we were able to accomplish," he says, "but also pure joy to know that this chapter of my life is closed forever and I am free to move forward to exploring the beautiful great unknown that life has for me in the future."
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