For some longtime fans, the new Stephen Christian album is a musical curve ball. They’re also not afraid to tell him so.
Christian’s sole musical association for the last decade-plus has been as front man and principal songwriter for alt-rock faves Anberlin, a regular staple atop numerous Billboard charts with each new studio release. When Anberlin called it quits after 2014’s Lowborn, Christian wasn’t sure what was next, only that he would continue to exercise his creativity so as not to lose it.
Now, it’s clear what God had in mind all along, a new career as a worship leader. Not only is Christian serving a local church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but he’s also confusing fans with a beautiful new worship release, Wildfires (BEC Recordings—buy). Here’s the story of Christian’s musical transition, and why he says worship is the punk rock of the Christian music world.
CCM Magazine: How long have you known you were going to make a solo album? Had it been in your head for some time, or did it only surface after Anberlin called it quits?
Stephen Christian: In 2014, I knew my time with the band was coming to a close, so I approached some friends in Nashville. I was songwriting around town already and had begun to look for a publishing deal. Creativity is a muscle, so if you stop using it, I feel like you’ll lose it. I knew no matter what job I got coming out of Anberlin, I’d need to keep the songwriting going.
I started to write for Word Publishing and struck up a deal with them. They’d put me on many different co-writes, including pop, country and even jingles for commercials. [Laughs] Every time I worked on a worship song, I was just drawn to it. I remember calling my friend Joel Timen, who works there and sets me up with song co-writes, and said, “If somebody wants to write worship, just stick my name in there. Don’t even ask. Just set up the meeting.”
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