By Katy Wilkie
All good things must eventually come to an end. Alternative pop-rock outfit Anberlin will take the stage of The Fillmore Charlotte for the last time on Friday, November 21. The Florida quartet released their debut album, Blueprints for the Black Market,in 2003 on Tooth & Nail Records. In February of 2007, Anberlin found success with their third album Cities, which made its way onto the Top 20 of the Billboard albums chart, and subsequently signed to Universal Republic.
After a storied, twelve-year career, spanning seven albums and countless tours, Anberlin announced their breakup in January and released their final album, Lowborn, in July. The group is currently on their farewell tour. CLTure had the chance to chat with bassist Deon Rexroat to talk about their new album and the band’s breakup, among other things.
CLTure: The news of this being Anberlin’s last year took a lot of people by surprise. How did the band arrive at the decision to disband?
Deon: We realized we were five guys whose personal lives were pulling them in different directions. If we kept going like that, I think Anberlin would have suffered.
CLTure: Along with the news of Anberlin disbanding, you guys also dropped a new album called Lowborn in July. What was it like working on this album with the knowledge that it’s the last one?
Deon: Recording Lowborn while knowing it would be our final statement as a band was daunting at first. There was a lot of questions we asked ourselves about what our approach should be. However, once we let go of those worries and just let the songs develop, things came together very quickly. I think that contributed to the album’s sound in the end.
CLTure: Compared to the last six albums released by Anberlin, how would you say Lowborn differs in sound?
Deon: We kind of just did whatever we wanted to do, which wasn’t always the case with previous albums.
CLTure: Lowborn was recorded in pieces in several different locations with production from Aaron Marsh, Aaron Sprinkle, and Matt Goldman. How did this impact the record? How do you think the album represents Anberlin?
Deon: For us, recording with those three guys was about going with people who knew us best. Aaron Marsh’s band Copeland took us on our first tour. Matt Goldman recorded the first Anberlin demos and Aaron Sprinkle recorded four of our albums. It felt right to spread out the album amongst such talented guys who have been with us since the beginning. In the end, I think this created a “this is who Anberlin is right now” album.
CLTure: What can fans expect from your live shows on this last leg of your farewell tour?
Deon: A career-spanning set with a lot of energy and emotion from us as well as the fans in the crowd.
CLTure: Do you have any pre-show traditions or rituals?
Deon: I stretch a lot, take a shot of whiskey and listen to music. Pretty simple.
CLTure: What simple pleasures do you enjoy when you’re out on the road touring?
Deon: I bring my pillow and coffee mug from home. Those little comforts me feel more “at home” when traveling.
CLTure: Who in the band would you say has the most annoying habits when it comes to being in a bus for prolonged periods of time between show stops?
Deon: A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell…
CLTure: Recently, various bands have been calling out the use of cellphones in the crowds and urging fans to “live in the moment” rather than “through cell phone screens” during live shows. What is your take on it?
Deon: You know, I don’t really advocate publicly shaming someone from the stage unless they are starting fights or being a rude person. I like to take a picture of a band I really like when at a concert to remember the moment, but people definitely take it too far at times. We played a show in Pennsylvania where a kid in the front row was holding up his iPad the entire show taking pictures and recording songs. He literally watched the whole show though a screen. I think Christian dumped water on him at one point to wake him up from his device trance.
CLTure: Some bands have stories of fans breaking into their buses, sneaking backstage, and even tracking down their personal homes, etc. Have you had any absurd fan encounters over the course of being in Anberlin?
Deon: The fan encounter that always surprises me is when someone feels like it is their right to just walk on our bus. The bus is our home and like a home, you should generally be invited before you just walk in the front door. It’s not a public place like a bar where you can just come in and try to “party.”
CLTure: What would you like Anberlin to be remembered for when it’s all said and done? What do you hope you’ve left your fans with after these 12 years?
Deon: I hope we are remembered for being good musicians that tried to make music that others would connect with and enjoy. And I hope that the 7 albums we left behind continue to inspire our fans.
CLTure: How do you think your musical tastes have changed since the band started to now?
Deon: If you ask the others, I’m probably the “punk” guy who changed the least. I’m not closed minded when it comes to music, but I like what I like. I still listen to the same punk records I did 12 years ago, but I have definitely added new genres and bands to my catalogue every year I have been in this band. I’ll switch from a Suicide Machines album to a Tame Impala album and not feel bad about it.
CLTure: What would you classify as your most joyful moment and your most difficult moment during your time in Anberlin? How would you say being in Anberlin has changed you as a person?
Deon: It’s really tough to pinpoint my most joyful moment after 12 years of great memories, but I think flying to Seattle to record our first album is up there. It felt surreal that someone would want to fly us across the country to make an album. The most difficult time, easily, was the point when we were deciding to end the band. That was tough for everyone. However, I take the good with the bad. I’ve travelled the world playing music for 12 years. It has shaped me to be a better, more well-rounded person for sure.
CLTure: What are your post-Anberlin plans? Will you continue working in the music industry or pursue something completely separate from music?
Deon: I don’t have concrete plans at this time, but I love playing and creating music. I don’t think I could easily walk away from that. So, that is my first plan, to keep playing.
Catch Anberlin at Fillmore Charlotte at NC Music Factory on Nov. 21st.
Listen to “Stranger Ways” from the album Lowburn by Anberlin