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Anberlin Predicts a Cold Forecast for Music

Anberlin is somewhere in England right now. Could be Bristol, could be Loughborough -it's really not important right now.

What is important is that they were in Toronto to play a sold out show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre last week, and I wandered over to have a chat with frontman Stephen Christian.

They are often categorized as a Christian band, and even though they have said before that they are not, I made sure to mind my peas and carrots during the interview.

Anberlin is currently on tour to promote New Surrender. It is their first album to be released by Universal Republic since the band left Tooth and Nail Records. It sold 36,000 units in its first week of release, which is only 2,000 more than their last album, Cities, sold in its first week. Christian had a few disheartening things to say about the state of the music industry.

"Promoters are telling us that 800 is the new 1000. If you can bring 1,000 people out then good on you. Times are tough around the world and people just don't have as much expendable income. If it's the difference between going to a show and buying next week's groceries then the choice is obvious. It's a pretty drastic market change."

I was surprised to hear Christian talking so negatively about the stability of the music industry. And he was just getting started.

"Record sales are down all over. Major labels are making big layoffs. It's not just the economy, but it's people stealing records online and downloading. In all ways, shapes, and forms, the music industry is going downhill. We're going to see labels really cut back on the amount of records being released and and the number of artists that they sign."

"Ask me how it is in a year -if I'm still around in a year."

Despite how that reads -and I know it reads as really dramatic- things aren't so horrible for Anberlin right now. After they are done in the U.K., then it's off to Australia for a few shows. Although the band is from Florida, there is nowhere in the world where they are more popular, sell more albums, and play bigger shows than Australia.

Australia, according to my map, is on the other side of the world. It is not close to Florida.

"Australia is a pretty huge market for us. The crowds are actually double the size they are in the States."

Naturally, I asked why.

"Well, you know how a couple years ago the hardcore kids liked Coheed and Cambria, so it was cool for everyone to like Coheed and Cambria. Well, we got in when there was just a hardcore scene and there were no indie bands around. Nobody went over there and we were one of the first two bands to put our own money into it. We booked our own venues, bought our own tickets, and we were just hoping to break even. We sold out our very first tour there."

This time around they will be playing Big Day Out 2009, an annual Aussie music festival, with blue chip bands like Tool and the Foo Fighters. If I could start a band right now, and in five years I got to play with Dave Grohl, I would totally do it.

Hey, I can play powerchords.


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