Artist Of The Week - Anchor & Braille

It's been about three years since we've gotten an album from Anchor & Braille, the indie side project of Anberlin's Stephen Christian, but this week, on July 31st, the band's sophomore album will be released. The Quiet Life is a collection of haunting melodies and catchy percussion, certainly a maturation of sound since 2009's Felt. The Quiet Life is available now in stores and online through Tooth & Nail Records.


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We recently had a chance to talk with Jackson Greene of As Hell Retreats, regarding their forthcoming sophomore album, Volition, Scream The Prayer, and life on the road.

Christian Rock Rocks (Brooks Ginnan): Since we talked with you last, you said that Scream The Prayer would be a dream tour for As Hell Retreats, and you are in fact on it this year. What are you looking forward to about playing STP this summer?
Jackson Greene (As Hell Retreats): We are looking forward to all the awesome hang outs with all the bands on this tour, all the shows we'll be playing, and just simply having a good time on the road. It's been about two months since we've played a show and we're ready to jam!

CRR: What can fans expect from your set at Scream The Prayer?
Jackson: We'll be playing some new songs from Volition, some from Revival, and a whole lot of energy. Like I said, we haven't been able to play a show in about two months, so we are just ready to finally let it all out. From emotion and passion, to good times and probably some funny or stupid faces we'll make. We tend to do that.

CRR: You are releasing your sophomore album, Volition, at the end of July. What has your year been like from the release of last year's Revival to the release of Volition?
Jackson: It's been a huge change, really. We've matured a little bit. Not just with music, but with ourselves mostly. A lot of ups and downs have occurred in all of our lives, and now we are sharing these feelings and/or thoughts with our new album, Volition.

CRR: Was there anything different that went into the process of making the new record, as opposed to the recording of Revival?
Jackson: Yes. Revival was only a CD that had a collection of songs from two or three years ago and some member changes, so some songs weren't even written by the members we have now. With Volition, we've had a solid line-up for over a year and a half and had fresh ideas to start with. We even thought about making Volition into a story before Revival was even released. Haha. So the main difference would have to be that Volition actually has more depth, thought, and passion than Revival. Hands down.

CRR: Volition is something of a concept album. What is the story that the album follows?
Jackson: The concept is mainly based on a quote by C.S. Lewis that says, "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth; only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair." With that in mind, this story is about a boy who has been raised to believe in this "god" he is so unsure of because he's never understood it. The only anchor he had for his faith was his mother, who passes away in the story. From there, he starts to question his faith, doubts it even, and struggles with reality. The sole purpose for this story is to show that whatever problem you are going through, you are never alone. We, as people, have gone through hell and back with how our lives have unfolded and want to show that you are not alone with any of your problems. To us, knowing that we aren't alone shows hope in our lives and makes us more thankful to have faith in our God and for this world, even though it can be so hard to keep it up. Hopefully it does the same for our listeners.

CRR: How would you say Volition compares and differs to previous music As Hell Retreats has created (both musically and lyrically)?
Jackson: Musically, it's not as metalcore/deathcore/whatever you want to call our last album. Haha. We had the mindset that we didn't want to cater to what our fans wanted to hear or anything like that. We didn't want to write what was popular or catchy at the moment. We simply wanted to write what we felt like writing. I mean, Volition still has its metal parts, but it surely doesn't have the same sound as Revival. What is special about this new record is that the music actually goes along with the lyrics and emotions for each song (or we tried our best to do that). For example, when there is a hopeful part, there is a bright sounding melody happening. Or when there is a complete pissed-off part, there's a dark and low melody. Lyrically, it can be very... negative. Not that we feel like that now, but in order to talk about our struggles with our past life, I had to write some negative content. To me, that's facing reality. I'm not sugar-coating anything or pretending that all things are good in this world. It's a very angry album, but that's not always a bad thing. Anger can be used for good, and for this, I feel like it's a good thing to face reality and anger, and see how hard life can be. To me, if we face reality, that's when we find our true feelings and self, and with that, we can find the truth, which to us, is the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

CRR: How was it to have Aaron Stone (My Epic) sing on the album (on "Only Hope")? What role does he take in the song?
Jackson: I think I can speak for the whole band when I say that this is our favorite part of the CD. It almost wasn't going to happen because of our deadline, but by the grace of God, we were blessed to have Aaron send his part in right before we had to wrap it up. He takes on the role of a minister who plays a very important role in the main character's life. I don't want to spoil it too much, so that's all I'll say for that.

CRR: Daniel from Gideon also appears on Volition, correct?
Jackson: He sure does!

CRR: You've recently signed to Ain't No Grave Records. How was the transition of moving from Facedown to ANGR?
Jackson: It actually went very smoothly. We thought so much stuff had to go down with all this business stuff and yada-yada. But fortunately for all three of us (the band and the two labels), it went very well. There's no bad blood between us and Facedown if anyone thinks that, and we ALWAYS wish them the best of luck.

CRR: What are some ways you guys have fun while on the road?
Jackson: We tend to play a lot of jokes and pranks on each other. Hopefully the bands we go on tour with are the same way. If not, we still have a lot of fun with just ourselves.

CRR: What are three albums that you have been into lately?
Jackson: Balance & Composure's Separation, Touche Amore's Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me, and Underoath's Disambiguation.

CRR: While on tour, how do you stay rooted in your faith?
Jackson: It's hard sometimes, but we usually all keep each other in line with long talks on night drives or whip out our bibles and read them. Also, listen to some bands that just can't help but encourage you in your faith.

CRR: Do you have anything else big planned for after Scream The Prayer and the record release?
Jackson: We are working on a little tour up to NY to play a festival called iMatter Fest. Should be really fun! Hopefully more tours come up as well, but we'll see!

CRR: Anything else you would like to mention in closing?
Jackson: To any of you that read this: Thank you for taking time out of your day to read this. I know some of my answers were kind of like novels... but I appreciate you wanting to know about us! And thank you for giving me the opportunity to do the interview! Have a great rest of the day.

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