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Features

Anberlin’s frontman Stephen Christian premieres powerful, personal solo work—listen

July 24 2017, 11:00 AM EDT By Piotr Brozyna


[Photo by: BEC Recordings]

Talented artists are oftentimes known for branching off from the project that manifested in their success. Such was the case with the lead vocalist of Anberlin and his upcoming record Wildfires. 

At its core, Wildfires is Stephen Christian's conversation with Christ, addressing themes like uncertainty, peace and obedience. The album is set to release on July 28 through BEC Recordings.

Listen to "Trust":

With Anberlin making a significant impact in the rock music industry during their years of activity (1998-2014), including seven studio albums under labels Tooth & Nail and Universal Republic, Christian could not hang up the microphone for long. Alongside the title of "frontman," Christian has also acquired the titles of philosopher, author, humanitarian and tribe leader throughout the past decade. According to an interview with New Noise Magazine last year, much of this was due to his launching of The Art Collective, a podcast that explores sources of influence and inspiration for a wide array of artists, writers, musicians, etc. He now enjoys life at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife and two daughters. 

"This album was written in the five months after the end of Anberlin, it was a time of great personal struggle and triumph," shares Christian. "Some of the greatest songs in history have come from an artist's darkest times in life. This feels like the first time I put out a record, and in a way it is. These songs are me, they are the overflow of my heart and when my kids want to listen to my music someday, Wildfires will be the first record I show them.”

Christian titled the album Wildfires in hopes that it will ignite a spark in listeners to pursue God's gift of salvation. "I hope this record blesses people and helps bring them closer to Christ like each song did for me," he explains. "God's been orchestrating my whole life so I could get here and rise up the next generation."

stephen christian solo album, wildfires album artwork

AP chatted with Christian a little bit about his personal inspirations that shaped Wildfires, as well as his departure from Anberlin's sound. 

Anberlin fans will be quick to notice this is quite the departure from your old material. Were you initially hesitant to go in this music direction?
This is a big departure from Anberlin, but in the same way that Anchor & Braille was a musical journey for me so is this. I have been writing for Word Publishing since 2014, and since then I have written everything from country to pop, all for other people. But when I write worship, I seem drawn to it, an excitement I haven’t felt for many years.

I think as a writer exploring new territory is always challenging and rewarding. Outside of polka or rap, I don't think there is a genre that I would be hesitant to explore.

Have you always been religious? Has this album helped you merge this personal aspect of your life and your passion for music?
I found my faith at 18 years old. It carried me through some rough times of Anberlin and my personal life. Faith-based lyrics have always been part of my life, some (like Wildfires, paper thin hymn, voices) have been more outspoken, but it is always a lens that I have seen through while writing. It is apart of my DNA; it is who I have been and where I want to be.

I do appreciate that in generations to come my decedents will look me up and find this is the first album they see. My faith in Jesus is more important to me than Gold records obtained, notoriety or past success. This is not my swan song nor is it my last record; this is just one aspect of my life that I wanted to share.

You’ve been quoted as saying: "These songs are me, they are the overflow of my heart and when my kids want to listen to my music someday, Wildfires will be the first record I show them.” Would you say Wildfires is much more personal and your biggest accomplishment to date?
I am under no grand disillusion that this will be my biggest accomplishment to date, to say this new temporary direction will sell more records or impact more lives than Anberlin is a stretch of even the most disillusioned imagination. I feel I was created to create music. If I stop forming and building music, it feels as though I will lose a part of myself. I am only simply a multi-faceted machine built primarily for a singular task.

This record falls into that: It is an expression of who I am. I have never been one to hide myself from those who listen to my records. I have always said behind closed doors that I never have to write an autobiography because everything I have ever achieved or failed is strung between the lines of my songs. This is a chapter in my story that is one of the most meaningful, personal, and hope filled that is bigger than us all.

So though this record will not be my biggest ever or perhaps my best; it will be my biggest life anthem, an outward expression of an inward conviction.

What message do you hope people get from your new single “Trust”?
That you have no clue what tomorrow holds; none of us do. Those that appear to have it tougher are perhaps the most lost. I have been directionless, I have had sleepless nights and days filled with anxiety, but I have also known a peace that passes all understanding. This was written around the time I left Anberlin. I thought I had it all figured out, but life brought me to my knees in the most unexpected ways, and, honestly, without God, I am not sure where I would have ended up.

Is there anything else you want to add about your new album?
I know that this album is not for everyone. I am not naïve to believe that this is groundbreaking or culture-shifting; but it does have the potential to be life changing if you listen closely, and that is something that I cannot say about any records prior to this one.

What do you guys think about the new song? Let us know in the comments.

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