PropertyOfZack had the chance to speak with Joseph Milligan of Anberlin a week or so ago for a great interview. Joseph and I discussed the band’s first ever acoustic tour, the writing and recording ofVital, past radio success compared to the future, touring, and more. Check it all out below!
We’re close to the end of the acoustic tour now. I believe this is the first one you guys have ever done, right?
It was the ideal time before the next record process starts. We haven’t been out in a while. We’ve had a lot of time off in recording and writing, so we wanted to do something before the record came out, but we didn’t want to do the same old thing. We had this idea for a while, but the timing was never right. We finally got a chance to do it.
I’d imagine it’d be a little nerve-wracking to do something like this for the first time, but have fans been enjoying themselves?
We’ve been really surprised, actually. We weren’t sure how people were going to react or if they’d even pay attention to flyers and promotions showing that it’s an acoustic tour. We thought people would be confused, but it’s been awesome. People have been really, really cool about it.
Was it fun to arrange all the songs acoustically as well?
We had a chance to get out stuff that we always thought maybe should have been there, but isn’t. We have a friend helping us out live as well and he helped us out with arraignments. It was a lot of fun and came together a lot quicker than we thought it would.
Has it been interesting to interact with fans this way as well?
The whole tour is an under-play in smaller venues. It’s more intimate and it’s been so much fun having everyone singing really loudly and being able to hear them.
There will be a long album cycle in front of you, but is this something Anberlin could do again in the future?
That’d be great. We’re recording the show tonight and will hopefully be releasing it if we don’t mess up every song. I would love to do it again.
Anberlin finished up its new record before this tour. Were you guys happy with the reception to Dark Is The Way?
Working with Brendan O’Brian was a dream come true, but we made the moodiest record we’ve ever made. We definitely felt like we were missing a lot of our aggression, and we made up for that on our new record. It felt fun to write heavy rock songs again and to write faster music, but still develop towards something different.
New Surrender obviously had a lot of radio success that Dark Is The Way didn’t necessarily share. Is that not necessarily important to the band considering there is such a home fan base for you guys and will always be?
That’s one of the reasons the record label wanted us in the first place. We haven’t been an overnight thing. It’s been a slow build for upwards of ten years now. We have a solid fan base of real people that care about the music and follow us. We’re really proud of that and want to keep that going.
How did the writing process for this new record shift from the old?
This record more than ever was all of us contributing. The first three records were mainly just me and Stephen, and the last two Christian was more involved. This record was evenly dispersed.
I found it interesting that someone tweeted it was the first time you had made a record in the spring.
Now that I think about it, yeah. It was hotter [Laughs]. It was a lot of fun. I don’t pay attention to what season we record in, but it was a lot of fun. It was great being back with Aaron Sprinkle and I love recording with Nashville. We did the pre-production in Seattle and that felt like going back home.
Cities is a fan favorite record for the band. Was it nice to work with Aaron again because of that?
It was. He has such a way of letting us do our thing and still bringing out the best of us. I don’t want to say that it was the first one in a long time, but it was the most fun we’ve had in making a record ever.
I know you had a lot of songs going into the studio. Was it tough grinding them down?
Absolutely. Everyone wrote so much. I wrote 41 songs for the record alone. Even those songs got intermingled with everyone’s ideas. This was a very cohesive record in terms of working together.
One new song has been played live. How’s that been?
It’s been great. You can tell the audience knows they’re at an acoustic show, and we can tell them that it’s the most chill song on the record, but people still want it to be aggressive. I don’t know how to explain it in any different way.
The title is Vital, right?
That is correct.
Are we looking at a fall release?
It’s looking like September or October. A new song should be out sometime soon. I’m really excited.
Will this still be with Universal?
Yeah. This will be our third record with Universal.
When a band like Anberlin gets deep into its career it can be difficult to keep things fresh. You said that this has been the most exciting process. Is this another breath of fresh air?
Absolutely. Everyone upon listening to the mixes of the record got really recharged and ready for new stuff. It’s been ten years now and we still have fun and love each other. We don’t fight or argue or anything. It’s a rare thing when you have a group of guys like that.
Will we see touring in the fall?
We all have families now, so we have to be conscious, but we’ll work as hard as wel always have.
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