Anberlin

There are moments in a band’s career where you need to get on board or be left behind.
Moments where a band makes a great leap forward, surges to the next level, and becomes
something infinitely greater than they’ve ever been. This is one of those moments for
Anberlin, a rock band who has been honing their style and sound since 2002. The band’s last
album and major label debut, 2008’s New Surrender, ascended the Central Florida group to a
new level of both popularity and skill. The record’s first single “Feel Good Drag” became the
No. 1 radio track of 2009 and the No. 30 track of the decade. The positive reception the disc
generated set the band up for an even more successful and powerful follow-up.
On this fifth album, Dark Is The Way. Light Is A Place, Anberlin found themselves in a new
headspace, recharged with creativity following their touring cycle for New Surrender. The
band was unsure which producer to use for this effort, but fortuitously that decision was made
for them when Grammy-winning producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen)
approached the group. O’Brien had followed their career after being alerted to Anberlin by his
daughter and felt that this was the right occasion to collaborate with the musicians.
“The fact that he liked our music and he believed in us and he was standing behind us as a
band was huge,” Stephen says. “Compared to his roster we’re not that big, so having him
behind us really bolstered our confidence and pushed our desire to achieve something greater
on this record. People have told us they’re proud of us, but for Brendan O’Brien to say it was
truly solidifying for us as a band.”
The band recorded the disc over five weeks, on and off throughout March, April and May of
this year at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. The process was both challenging and
empowering, with O’Brien urging the band members to step out of their comfort zone and
take their music to new heights. The resulting album is 10 tracks that resound with a
newfound sense of self and an assurance of identity.

Here's the situation. In Nashville, there's an old, decrepit plantation house where three bedraggled but refined, white gentlemen drop beats, craft wordplay, design artwork, and arrange orchestral maneuvers in the dark. The structure is called Joy Mansion, and the men who dwell there staring each other down and exercising their creative rivalry for all it's worth collaborate under the moniker of Paper Route. Having toured relentlessly with the likes of Passion Pit and mewithoutyou, won hearts and minds with their debut album Absence (2009), paid musical tribute to Lou Reed to the man's imperturbable face at South by Southwest, and insinuated themselves into pop culture consciousness when their song, "The Music," appeared in the film (500) Days of Summer, Paper Route have now seen fit to go for broke on the possibility that epic earnestness, lyrical depth, and poetic heft can all coincide within one ridiculously catchy song collection primarily preoccupied with—wait for it–tragedy, disappointment, and loss. Behold The Peace of Wild Things.

"Everyone can relate to hurt," observes J.T. Daly, Paper Route's chief lyricist, singer, and artwork conjurer. For Daly and bandmate Chad Howat, The Peace of Wild Things banks on the hope that popular art can be made to arise out of horrible situations. Whereas the timing of the album's production schedule coincided with a dire cancer diagnosis within Howat's immediate family, the lyrics Daly brought to the table largely document the dissolution of his marriage. As Daly sees it, the risk of raw candor and vulnerability is the whole point, "If I'm not terrified by what I'm doing, I'd prefer to move back to Ohio and work on my art. I'm drawn to the fact that it makes me feel uncomfortable."

With songs like "Letting You Let Go" and "Glass Heart Hymn" he's determined to show his hand at every turn. Irony and cool detachment be damned.

The same goes for in-house, music-making competition and the angst Daly felt as he stood on the staircase listening to everything Howat was working on. "I'm going to have to come up with something better than that," he'd note with dread as he leaned into their collective commitment to try to out-interesting each other. In this sense, Daly and Howat are joined together in a pact of escalating catchiness, a refusal to "throw in the towel on this whole idea of instant melody." Daly explains, "I have so much respect for artists who continue to infiltrate pop culture" with "ideas executed so brilliantly that they've kind of Trojan-horsed malls across America." The trajectory he has in mind is evident with The Peace of Wild Things' lead single, "Better Life," which is carefully calibrated to colonize the public imagination in under five minutes.

Given such standards, it's no surprise that names like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel are spoken with awe and reverence around Joy Mansion. Howat notes the way Peter Gabriel's So is comprised of one undeniably infectious track after another even as it's clearly a creative labor in which he's "trying to please himself" at every turn in "a perfect juxtaposition of pop culture and artistic endeavor." With mixing and recording responsibilities falling in Howat's lap ("The computer is my first instrument"), the work of sorting through two to three albums' worth of material and narrowing it all down to something worthy eventually became a question of serving the band's obsession with block-rocking beats: "Everyone in the band loves beats, and the beats we gravitate toward are hip-hop-esque beats." For Howat, the love affair began at 14 when a Yamaha V-50 was vouchsafed upon him ("My dad bought it for me as an 8th grade graduation present.") an artifact Paper Route won't get caught touring without. Incidentally, it's the move from studio to live performance that wouldn't be possible without the energies of drummer Gavin McDonald (Howat: "We wouldn't be a band without Gavin.") who landed with Paper Route through his work with fellow Joy Mansion occupant Canon Blue (AKA Daniel James).

While The Peace of Wild Things lyrically chronicles specific experiences of soul- crushing disillusionment and a fractured sense of faith and wonder down to the minute particulars, its creators presume—very much in the traditions of Romantic poetry and 80's New Wave (Tears for Fears, A-ha)–that creatively fixating on the local, the achingly personal even, is probably the surest path to the universal. And it is here that the concluding track, "Calm My Soul," offers a determined hopefulness well-earned by the preceding sad songs which have said so much. In this way, Paper Route shoots for a continuum with Daly's go-to writers, Wendell Berry and Douglas Coupland, whose presence as an influence is as a-typical and unexpected as the band's guiding presumption that pop songs, making them and hearing them, might occasionally render pained life more livable.

The road is family—the disciplining father, the nurturing mother; exist as shadows at each stop to any band betrothed to relentless touring without a safety net. With miles behind and miles ahead, life in a van will change a band; and All Get Out are no exception. From the wasted days stranded, to the desolate moments of doubt, to the nights where immortality stretches through bended notes, two-hundred and fifty shows a year has shaped the band known for their attitude and angst on display through high woven volume into a refined framework fusing gambled moments and glossy catchiness.

"We sound like we've been on tour for three years. We've been smoking and driving, and we don't smell too good," Nathan Hussey, singer and guitarist, defining the coming of age sound on their full-length debut, The Season.

In 2007 the foursome from Charleston, SC found themselves with two EPs, stumbling into regular weekend tours of the South. Soon three days became a month and a month became six. A play-anywhere-for-anyone ethic kept All Get Out on tour for three years. A loyal fan base that has been equally enamored and entertained with their big ditch, bigger valley sound has grown with them, anticipating when the band would enter the studio again.

Acting as a centerpiece to an album with running themes, the title track for The Season puts all the moments that have shaped the members square into the light. "While touring is fun and a dream, there were times where all of us wanted a wall to punch and cry and wished we were home, or had a home." Hussey explains. Writing in the moment, truly unfiltered, each verse displays specific moments of disarray the band found themselves in: broken friendships, fights, and empty wallets. In the end The Season is about moving past it all so you can keep on driving.

Just as All Get Out accidentally ended up spending the formidable part of their '20s counting mile markers, so did The Season unintentionally transform itself into a pop record when the band began tracking with producer Matt Malpass (Lydia, Copeland). Still visceral and soul-bearing as before, The Season stretches All Get Out into the frequencies beyond reactionary abrasions.

Rather than discard older material that dated back to 2007, when a much younger All Get Out wore relationship dirt all over each melody, the songs were kept for nostalgia, giving everyone a chance to hear how the band grew. Songs like My Friends, Son of Mine, Don't Let Me Go and Girl Gun display an innocence, but the rest of the album shows a band aware that the horizon holds more than can be comprehended. Even Hussey has taken himself out as the protagonist of each song, changing his voice into a character that meanders in, saying "hello", as the much bigger story unfolds.

"It's a book on the history of our band," Hussey says of album. "Now we start another Season."

$22.50

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Anberlin with Paper Route, All Get Out

Friday, March 22 · Doors 6:30 PM / Show 7:00 PM at Trocadero Theatre