Celebrity Chow with US alternative rockers Anberlin

It's a love/fear relationship. Anberlin love Singapore food, apart from one particular item.

The US alt rock band were in town last weekend as part of their final world tour and M had dinner with the five strapping lads at Feast@East Buffet Restaurant at Grand Mercure Roxy.

While they happily tucked into local favourites including laksa, beehoon, curry chicken chop and nonya kueh, none of them mustered enough courage to try the durian pengat dessert (durian pulp cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar).

It appears the King of Fruit is out of the question.

As M found out, although the band, consisting of frontman Stephen Christian, bassist Deon Rexroat, lead guitarist Joseph Milligan, rhythm guitarist Christian McAlhaney and drummer Nathan Young, have played here four times, they have never ventured near the thorny fruit.

"We've heard a lot about durian, how it smells and how you can't have cold drinks when you're eating it," said Young.

"Ultimately, we don't really dare to try it."

Known for their introspective lyrics on songs such as Feel Good Drag, Impossible and Godspeed, the quintet, who are all in their early 30s except for 27-year-old Young, will call it quits this December, after 12 years in the business.

"All of us felt that it's time for Anberlin, as a whole, to leave on a great note, as opposed to having to deal with internal conflict in the future," explained frontman Christian, adding that the group will miss touring.

"South-east Asia is our favourite part of the world, simply because it's so culturally different. It's so beautiful to learn about other people's food, lifestyles and entertainment."

Having travelled to so many cities, what is the most exotic thing you have eaten, good or bad?

Deon: We tried kangaroo in Australia.

Stephen: It was fine, the meat was a little tough. I had alligator tail in New Orleans.

Nathan: I didn't like Vegemite one bit. Gosh, I had it for every meal when we were in Australia. It's a yeast spread that is just too salty for my taste buds.

Deon: What was that dish we had at a steakhouse in Brazil? Chicken hearts on skewers. That was interesting, too.

Joseph and Christian, you are vegetarians. Any particular reason?

Christian: There are both ethical and environmental reasons.

Joseph: For me, it's mainly for health. It's a lot healthier to eat greens.

Who is the best cook in the band? Any signature dishes?

Joseph: Probably Deon.

Deon: I got really good at making pasta when we were touring years ago.

We had just started out and on tour, we stayed at friends' houses. To save money, I'd cook for the band. With pasta, you can make so much at one go.

Stephen: Nathan makes great breakfast and coffee.

Nathan: Thank you. (Smiles)

Joseph: As for Christian, he piles on the spice and heat in his cooking.

Christian: I love spice. Once, I put in way too much hot sauce into my vegetables and beans. I took a lot of time to make - it simmered forever. But in the end, I had to throw it away because it was inedible.

What are the foods you grew up with?

Stephen: Aside from Christian, who is from Seattle, four of us are from the Southern part of the US, so it'd have to be mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, slow-cooked barbecue and fried chicken - very definitive foods of the South.

All-time favourite restaurants?

Joseph: Mother's Cafe in Austin (in the US state of Texas). I liked it so much I held my bachelor party there. They do practically all styles of cooking.

Stephen: Mine is Husk in Nashville (in Tennessee). It has the best-tasting Southern cuisine ever.


This article was first published on September 17, 2014.
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