It's a bittersweet tour for alt rockers Anberlin. Though on the road promoting its latest album, Lowborn, this will be the band's final tour after 12 years together.
"We got to this place because we're older. We're not in our early 20s anymore," says guitarist Christian McAlhaney. "Some of us are getting married and having kids. We noticed that life circumstances were pulling our band, and we didn't want our music to suffer. We felt it was appropriate to go out when we were still happy with everything. I don't have any kids, but I get it."
It doesn't seem to be an angry, Spice Girls-style breakup. No, McAlhaney says, "touring was amazing and bittersweet. We are extremely thankful for the time we had." Not to mention, the group was cool enough to give its followers one last live hurrah before splitting up and even gave them a heads-up in January on what was to come.
"We gave our fans a year's notice so we can tour the world and they can see us. We didn't want it to be a slap in the face for them," McAlhaney explains. "We were touring, and people wanted to be with their wives and kids, so I totally get it. This is the healthiest way to go about this. A lot of times bands implode, and that's not good."
Though the band deviated from its usual Anberlin sound on the previous album Vital, it returned to its roots for Lowborn. "It sounds like just another regular progression from our other records," the guitarist assures, instead of potentially having fans upset that they weren't leaving with that signature style. But it's also not the same old thing either; the guys wanted to leave a good impression. "It was freeing knowing it was our last record," he says. "It allowed us to try some things we haven't before. We asked everyone, 'What is something you've always wanted to do but never did before? Let's do that.' "
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McAlhaney is satisfied with the album, calling it a "great last final record" and "a great farewell." But what he isn't 100 percent satisfied with is the Christian-alternative genre into which Anberlin is sometimes pigeonholed. "I don't know if we would necessarily describe ourselves as that," he explains. "We're not just a Christian band; we're a rock band. I don't know; we are just an alternative rock band in my opinion."
McAlhaney fears that being labeled a Christian alternative band has narrowed its fan base. "I think that's one of the main reasons why we wouldn't describe ourselves as a Christian rock band. It would kind of place us in a box," he elaborates. "People would hear that term and say, 'Oh, that isn't for me.' We want everyone to hear our band; our music is for everyone."
By the way, don't assume the music is over for McAlhaney when the tour ends. After joking that he will "sleep for probably a month," he confesses to a side project in the works with Anberlin's bass player, Deon Rexroat, which will now be their main project. Although there is no name yet for it, McAlhaney says everything should be presented within a year. "Now we are just writing music."
Still, McAlhaney has nothing but good feelings about Anberlin's farewell. "We are completely and utterly grateful for everyone who supported this band all along," he concludes. "Some of the guys are from Winter Haven, Florida [McAlhaney is from Seattle, joining the band eight years ago], a supersmall town that they thought they would never get out of. It's been an amazing journey for us, and we can't thank anyone enough."
Anberlin. With '68. 7 p.m. Monday, November 24, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $19.50 in advance and $21 day of show, plus fees. Call 954-727-0964, or visit jointherevolution.net.
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