Illustrations by Tyler Davis — view an interactive version of these trophies on www.anberlinforever.com

About “Anberlin Forever”

Back in 2010, when I was a senior in high school, I wrote a blog post called “A Tour Guide to Anberlin’s Cities” and posted it online. I’d been a big fan of the band for several years, and Cities was my favorite album. I’d spent a lot of time digging into the album, between reading interviews that band members had given around the time of Cities’ release, combing through their message boards, and reading vocalist Stephen Christian’s own blog. Every time I found a piece of information about the album or about one of its songs that was new to me, it felt like another piece of the puzzle slid into place, and my appreciation for Cities grew. I figured that other fans might feel that same satisfaction upon reading some of the cool facts and insights that I’d been finding, so I decided to compile them together, separate them song-by-song, and post my discoveries for others to read. I also emailed my blog post to Stephen Christian, who shared his email address openly on his blog.

What happened next made me love the band and its fans even more: Stephen shared a link to my blog post on Twitter, and within a few days, the post had thousands of views and at least forty comments. Other fans of the band came together there and shared their favorite songs from Cities, and explained the personal and emotional connections that they’d made with the music over the three years between when the album had been released and when I’d compiled my blog post. In these comments from fans, I found the exact same spirit of compassion and inspiration that Anberlin’s music gave to me — and I knew that, one day, I wanted to complete another Anberlin-related writing project, to show my appreciation for the music they made, and to do whatever I could to help add to the listening experience for other fans.

Four years later, Anberlin announced that they would be disbanding at the end of 2014, and not long after that announcement, I realized what my next project would be: a career-spanning biography of Anberlin, focusing not only on their albums, but also on what happened between the albums, and how the band came to exist in the first place. Again, I reached out to Stephen — and again, he responded with such compassion, and said he would love to be involved with my work.

Anberlin performing in Columbus, Ohio during their Final Tour in November 2014; photo by Matt Metzler

Over the course of 2014, I combed through hundreds of interviews, articles, photos, archived websites and forum posts, magazines, liner notes, and everything else I could get my hands on; I interviewed both Stephen Christian and Joey Milligan (lead guitarist and founding member), I spent more time with Anberlin’s music than ever before, and I wrote. Then, I revised, and wrote more. Finally, I worked with my best friend and partner Tyler Davis to create a centralized hub for my work: the Anberlin Forever navigational page.

Anberlin Forever contains nine chapters — a prologue concerning the band’s origins, one chapter for each full-length album they released, and an epilogue detailing the legacy that the band members hope to leave behind and giving an early look into the projects that each member will be moving onto next. Each chapter is chock full of excerpts from interviews — mostly, interviews that were done by other music journalists. I want to be clear that this project could not have come to fruition without the fantastic work of interviewers across the world who published their work both online and in print.

I’ve made every effort to respect the work of these journalists by linking to the original source at its first mention, and identifying both the journalists themselves as well as the publication that they write for whenever I could. Some sources are no longer available, and for these, I’ve either linked to the most relevant page that I could (I’m thinking mostly of the wonderful Listen In audio interviews conducted by Frank Jenks) or I’ve linked to an archived version of the source, which isn’t always fully functional. The same goes for the photos that I’ve included alongside the text. Despite my best research, I couldn’t find the name of several photographers whose work I’ve used here; if you are one of these photographers, or if you know who an uncredited picture belongs to, please contact me on Twitter and I will add the photo credit right away.

I hope you enjoy reading through Anberlin Forever. I hope you come to know the band more personally through these interviews and facts, and I hope that personal connection results in a more careful, attentive, and appreciative listening experience for each of their albums. And finally, I hope this project can serve as a way for all of us Anberlin fans to come together, even now that the band members have gone their separate ways, and say thank you. Anberlin will, truly, live forever.

— Matt Metzler

Anberlin Forever is an unauthorized and unofficial biography of Anberlin and has not been commissioned, endorsed, or authored by Anberlin LLC. This project was completed on an independent basis. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Stephen Christian and Joey Milligan for making time to speak to me, Frank Jenks (of Listen In) for some of the most in-depth Anberlin interviews in existence, and all those journalists whose work I’ve quoted in this project and who gave their time via interviews, articles, photo shoots, etc. I have not received any financial compensation for this work and do not expect to — it was a joy to write, and finally being able to share this with other fans is compensation enough. That being said, if you find value in this project and you wish to make a donation to help support me as an independent writer, you can do so at this PayPal link. To stay up-to-date with my work, you can follow me on Twitter. Thank you!
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