AP article

i have had several questions about the interview that i did in the current issue of AP. here is the interview in its entirety.

1. What do you think has caused the resurgence of Christian bands in the punk/indie scene?
a "resurgence" would presuppose that there was a Christian indie scene to begin with some time ago. i don't see this as a resurgence as much as i see it to be an integration. the cause is due to the fact that in the past Christian music has been a imitation of anything that was happening in the general market. if boy bands were on the billboard charts then the christian industry would wait a couple year‚'s then sign their own boy band. when creed was cool (well ok so they were never cool), let me rephrase; when creed was selling records the Christian market waited a couple years then signed every creed rip off band that replaced the word "baby" for the word "Jesus."and this is where "the cause" comes into play. finally we in the indie scene who are labeled "Christian musicians" are making original & talented music that is competing with the general market both in sales and in aptness.

2. What'‚s the difference between being Christian and being in a band, or being in a Christian band?
Timmy (from under oath) and myself have talked hours about this subject. we take different paths as to the answer to this question but see eye to eye and respect each other on our different opinions of where our bands take a stand. as anberlin we are Christians but feel our music is not "Christian music‚". C.S. Lewis (a prominent Christian philosopher/author) was once asked "how does it feel to be the writer of some of the greatest Christian literature of all time." C.S. replied "Christian literature", are you saying my writing's have a heart and a soul, as if pen on paper can choose right or wrong? good or evil?."
in the same way i do not think that i write Christian music. i write music from experiences and truth that i have learned (thus God is seen in various times on our albums). if someone walks away from our albums touched or changed by something on our record that is amazing! but i don't think "spiritual" music is limited to those who claim themselves to this or that religion. for me the greatest spiritual music of all time is sigur ros and jeff buckley, neither renowned to be apart of any religious affiliation. i am not ashamed of my belief in Jesus Christ; but music is my profession, i am not on that stage to preach my conviction's i am there to simply to entertain.

3. You don't typically see any Jewish or Muslim punk bands; why is Christianity the only religion actively praised in rock?
this is no debate for me, i listen to a band because they are good, i don't listen to a band if i don't appreciate their music. i have never liked or disliked a band because of their belief's. if a jewish band chose to announce their faith openly i would not judge them for the belief's but whether or not their music is good. and i hope people do the same for all band's including those labeled "Christian." if we suck don't listen, if you like it buy the record. people think that Christian's can be narrow minded sometimes, but its VERY narrow and actually closed minded to not listen to a band because they believe in something greater than themself's.
Rumi (an amazing Muslim poet) once said "if you are considering the different roads, the variety is immense and the difference infinite; if you consider the goal, however, they are all in harmony and are one." in the same way we may take different pathÂ?s but the goal (the goal's being making music and following are dream's in this case) are the same.
in summation religious affiliation should have NO bearing on whether one likes a band or does not. i would hope that people of every race, creed, sexual orientation, or religious preference could enjoy and listen to anberlin. and if there is are any Christian's out there who don't appreciate that last statement than i would ask them or anyone that care's to learn more to read Philip Yancey's book "what"s so amazing about grace."

4. Do openly Christian bands have to sign to openly Christian labels? Do openly Christian labels have to only sign openly Christian bands?
no, i don't believe that Christian bands have to sign to a Christian label. Openly Christian bands are now so amalgamated it is hard to tell whose who, and in all reality they should have the same limits or freedom's as any other general market band. i honestly don't think major label's care whether a band is agnostic, atheist, or believer's. they want to know a band is going to sell record's. from a business standpoint I think it is idiotic to limit yourself to just one audience, and if you truly believed in telling other's about your particular religion why would you limit yourself to marketing yourself to only that particular religious circle? thus: if you are a 'Christian label' and your goal is to tell others about God why would you put obstacles in the way of getting your message out, such as putting your CD in the 'christian section,' and marketing your product as a 'christian CD', or 'christian band?' it's clearly an enigma, and even though we have been labeled by some as a 'christian band' i still don't get it.

5. Is it fair to make money off of your faith? Should Christianity be a selling point?
to paraphrase a spiritual mentor of mine, 'Christianity started in Israel as a movement, then went to Rome and it became an empire, then went to Europe and became a government, then finally it came to America and became an enterprise.'
i have the utmost despite and contempt for those who make a dollar by selling the name of Jesus. since when did God become a marketing bullet point? if you want to write about God in your songs because it is the overflow of your heart than that is great, but if you sit down as a song writer and your ulterior motive is to sell records by adding in the word 'Jesus' or 'God' then that is disgusting. but it happens more often than not. the Christian record industry is the fasting growing segment in music today. i This why now more than ever integrity in music (especially 'Christian' music) is imperative. write music because it means something to you not because the dollar means something to you (and that goes for any musician no matter what they believe!)

6. Punk rock was based off the idea of not falling into a predetermined belief system, which Christianity obviously is. So, is it possible to be Christian and 'punk?'
i have a lot of questions as to what is 'punk rock' music in today's music. the definition is very very loose and open to scrutiny now. such as can a 'punk band' be on MTV or fuse? just the other day i saw a dead kennedy's shirt @ nordstrom's, and a ramones shirt @ macy's! in other word's 'punk rock' has now opened its boarders to include all types of people and all types of beliefs systems. the foundation of punk rock was antiestablishment and against the rules and regulations forced upon the general populace of the time. therefore, would Jesus not be considered antiauthoritarian in his day? a psuedo-rebel if you will who went against the common practice of Judaism and fought the Jewish laws that were in place. im not going to say that Jesus was punk rock' because that is just stupid. i am going to say that the sex pistols and black flag did not invent fighting the predetermined belief system. there is a history full of men and women such as Ghandi, Buddha, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Luther, Jesus, Mohammed, Nelson Mandela, Che, Rosa Parks, etc. that have made more of an impact on this world than anberlin or the buzzcocks ever could or will.


Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
I didn't know anberlin had been categorised into "christian rock" until I went to some music websites, when several weeks had passed since I first knew anberlin. even after that it made no difference in my love for their music. I even don't know what part or phrase in the lyrics can be interpreted as concept of christianity, or what makes music 'christian rock' (making conclusion that music whose lyrics include words such as "God" or "Jesus" should be christian music must be stupid). Although I believed I could understand at least some parts as a human being, I thought there might have been something I couldn't share with Chrinstian listeners because I was Buddhist, not Christian, without religious background so as to understand it. I suspected that I would never really understand the lyrics that you wrote, which made me kind of frustrated. For a long time I had wanted to frankly ask you about this issue, but I was worried that my question could offend you and your fans who were Christian.

In regard of this, the inverview opened the door that I had been hesitated to open by myself. I found there a lot of things I had wanted to know. and conclusion; I love anberlin, that's it. I shouldn't have had any question about it. Nothing should have made me feel kind of excluded as anberlin fan.
I wonder whether it is something people who simply love music should/can do, to classify music into certain (religous) category. sigur ross is amazing, (thanks to stephen for telling us) but I feel confused when I hear their music called "spiritual music". If so, is music which is not called "spiritual music" not spiritual?
I totally agree with stephen in that we listen to music because it is good, not according to its religous backgrounds. Of course. Good music is good. Not-so-good music is not so good (at least to me).
I have a lot more I want to say but I will stop myself here.
blonde2164 said…
It sometimes confuses me that the "ph" in Stephen is pronounced as a "v."

Either way, I love anberlin -- "Christian" music or not.
I am a Christian, but that has absolutely no bearing on how powerful your music has been to me, especially in a certain instance two weeks ago today.

I might have told you this when I talked to you last week at your show in Denver, but here it is again: thank you.
dude anberlin is amazing and therefore you rock
jon said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kaila said…
I thought you guys were all Christians but not a Chirstian band. Well anyways you totally have a point though Stephen, who cares what they believe, if they sound ood and make good music then listen to them. When i first listened to Anberlin I didn't know you guys were Christians until i was told by the person who got me into you guys. It made no difference. Especially since I am Christian myself but still it makes no difference and thats how it should be.

Christians ARE considered to be close minded sometimes but, the PEOPLE who say that are the ones being close minded really. It disappoints me but it happens. Musicians and bands probably don;t want to be labeled in the first place like that, you guys must go through a lot and get asked a lot of questions about religion becuase of this, so I admire that you are open about it. Although I admire much more about Anberlin. Okay I'm done, this is the longest comment I've ever sent. See you when you come back to Colorado by the way.

tjames said…
Why are there no Muslim rock bands....because they can't sing it in English.
Doolz said…
It really should be noted that there is more to music than just to entertain, because music has the power - very real and very strong power - to influence.
If I listen to music I open myself to that influence, no matter how subtle. We need to know whether that influence is going to be good for us or bad.
kate said…
The word 'Christian' means, literally, 'Little Christ'. And who were Jesus' best friends & disciples? Not the polly purebreads who were experts at religion, for sure. Jesus was very open minded- but His soul was impenetrable. Meaning He didn`t buy into the religious circus act because He knew the truth. So, in every true sense of the word, as Christians we are to be accepting and loving, not judgemental. You judge others & God will judge you. Way to go, Anberlin, for taking your life changing music to the pubs and places that the polly purebread over-religious bands of today won`t frequent. THAT is what will change lives, and that is the true mind of Christ.
dreams&tears said…
wow, Stephen that was quite an interview. beautifully worded, which seems to be usual for you.

last year i was wearing a tshirt by a "christian band" and some one came up to me and said "ooh you like them? ive heard them a bit, and they sound good, but i dont wanna buy their cd cuz i dont wanna be listening to a christian band."
that really annoyed me, why does it matter? while im not sure i agree that music's sole purpose is to entertain, i definetly dont think that it should be discriminated by religion.
Alisa said…
Bravo, and again Bravo. Well said, and my thoughts exactly.
andrew said…
the whole xian music industry question has been on my mind for years. i finally started to put my thoughts to paper at one point, and it's been good to move from ranting to a coherent argument.

bottom line - selling Jesus is idolatry, it's commodifying the infinite, the divine.

tjames - your comment is offensive. as if Muslim people do not speak English.

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