Anberlin Sidesteps Pressure On Universal Debut

Barack Obama isn't the only one championing change these days. Just ask the members of Anberlin.

Barack Obama isn't the only one championing change these days. Just ask the members of Anberlin. The Florida modern rockers staked out quite a bit of new territory on their fourth album, "New Surrender," due Sept. 30.

It marks the group's move from independent Tooth & Nail to the major label Universal Republic. It introduces new producer Neal Avron (Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory, Yellowcard) after three efforts with Aaron Sprinkle. And it brings guitarist Christian McAlhaney, formerly of Acceptance, into the songwriting mix.

Drummer Nathan Young tells that all the changes made the making of "New Surrender" "a little bit scary," but frontman Stephen Christian says they've made things "exciting" as well.

"I've never heard the word 'yes' so much," Christian says, particularly of the move to Universal Republic. "'Do you think you can make this happen?' 'Yes.' We're getting covers of magazines, we got main stage of Warped (Tour) this year. I know 'major label' was like a curse word in our scene -- the indie scene and the Christian sector -- but I think that's dissipated. I feel so absolutely lucky to be with a group of people who really do believe in Anberlin."

Christian describes the album as "a culmination of a whole bunch of different things we set out to do. Previous to this record we only wrote on the road and toured up to the moment we had to go into the studio. This time we really wanted to take our time and step back and really focus on songs."

Nevertheless, the singer acknowledges that "the pressures were immense" and that he had a "minor breakdown" in February that led him to "run away to New Orleans," where he came up with a couple more songs for the album.

"'Cities' (in 2007) was our biggest record, not just sales-wise but ... fans loved it," Christian explains. "So you have to go out there and beat your last record. The big thing was we didn't want to recreate our previous records; we wanted this to be our best record. The pressure was hard."

Anberlin kicks off a tour with Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Straylight Run and There For Tomorrow on Oct. 2 in Houston.