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Gaslight Anthem - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 19 / 2 / 2009

Gaslight Anthem - Interview


The Gaslight Anthem incorporate elements of punk, 50s rock 'n' roll, soul and heavy rock together and have toured constantly in the last year to rising audiences. John Clarkson speaks to guitarist Alex Rosamilia about his group and their much acclaimed second album, 'The '59 Sound'

In August of last year, the Gaslight Anthem made musical history by being the first band to appear on the cover of ‘Kerrang !’ magazine, without ‘Kerrang !’ having previously written a word about them. The notoriously metal-oriented ‘Kerrang’ described them at the time as “the best new band you’ll hear in 2008”. Despite this, the Gaslight Anthem, who come from New Brunswick in New Jersey, however, skim across musical boundaries and also incorporate elements of punk, 50’s rock ‘n’ roll and soul into their sound. Bruce Springsteen is also another particularly strong influence. The Gaslight Anthem, which consists of Brian Fallon (vocals and guitar), Alex Rosamilia (guitar), Alex Levine (bass) and Benny Horowitz (drums), formed in 2005. Their debut album, ‘Sink or Swim’, came out on XOXO Records in May 2007, and this was followed by their second album, ‘The ’59 Sound’, which, produced by punk producer Ted Hutt (The Bouncing Souls, Flogging Molly), came out in August on Side One Dummy Records. It features guest appearances from Hot Water Music’s Chris Wollard and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Dicky Barrett. The often anthemic ‘The ’59 Sound’ is a lament to the loss of youth, its songs telling of the death of childhood friends in accident, the passing and gradual distancing of other long-term friendships, divorce and the onset of early middle age. There have been two singles from it, the title track and ‘Old White Lincoln’, and a third single, ‘Great Expectations’, will follow in March. The Gaslight Anthem have toured almost constantly since its release, including playing two British tours in quick succession. ‘The ’59 Sound’ appeared in many publications’ end-of-the-year polls, and the band’s shows have drawn rapidly ascending audiences. With it just having been announced that the Gaslight Anthem will be supporting Springsteen and Matthews at London’s ‘Hyde Park Calling’ festival in June, Pennyblackmusic spoke to Alex Rosamilia about ‘The ’59 Sound’ and his band. PB : You're a band who both your fans and the critics have found difficult to pinpoint. How would the Gaslight Anthem, however, describe themselves ? AR : We are four guys whose influences range from Springsteen, to the Cure, from Hot Water Music, to Wilson Pickett. If you asked us to each make a Top Ten record list, I don't think any of our lists would look even remotely close. That wide range of music to draw from leads to a sound that I think a lot of different people can relate to. PB : 'The '59 Sound' seems to be primarily not so much maybe about saying goodbye to youth, but coming to terms with early middle age and your friends getting married, divorced and moving on. Would you agree with that? AR : I think it hints at the "death of youth or innocence". About waking up one day and realizing you’re almost 30 and you haven't really done much, you know? PB : Your first album , 'Sink or Swim', was recorded in less than a fortnight. For this one you had six weeks. What difference did that make ? AR : For ‘Sink or Swim’, we had the songs done, and we just wanted to get something out there, to make our mark. We were younger, both in age and as far as what we knew about these kinds of situations. For ‘The '59 Sound’ we had an idea that we were shooting for, so having more time helped a lot. Ted Hutt helped quite a bit too. He was really good at telling us we had to try something different, but still making it our idea. PB : One of the great joys of 'The '59 Sound' is its complete lack of predictability. A lot of songs on it seem to be going in one direction, and then suddenly you do something else with them. Did you work really hard on the arrangements of this record ? AR : Yes, we did work on the arrangements, but we didn't shoot for doing anything "out of the box." It was a very fluid process. That's how we try to write, just naturally without trying to think about it too much. PB : The front cover of 'The '59 Sound' is a real throwback to some of the classic covers or the 50's and 60's. Was that deliberate ? Who designed the cover? AR : Yes, it was deliberate, and unfortunately, I do not know the name of the artist that worked on it, but I think he did a great job on making sure that the message came across. PB : You also have printed the lyrics in the booklet just as you wrote them, complete with scorings out and last minute additions. Why did you decide to do that ? AR : I suppose to give them a more personal feel. PB : Much has been made of the fact that you come from New Brunswick. Do you think that 'The '59 Sound' could have been written by anyone else other than a band from New Jersey. It is pretty timeless in its sound, but do you see it very much as a record of its place ? AR : I've never really thought about it being more than just a record that we tried to make as best as we could. I don't know if anyone from any part of any country would've done it exactly the way the four of us did it. PB : You had had really a good year in 2008. You only first got together three years ago. Have you been surprised at how quickly things have started to take off for you ? AR : No, I never thought that it would take off this fast, or even this far. This record has superseded any expectation I've ever had for myself in a band. I don't think it'll ever stop being surreal for me, you know? PB : What have you got planned now for 2009 ? AR : Touring, touring and more touring. 2009 is all touring. But, hey, I think playing live might be one of the things we do best. PB : Thank you.

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Gaslight Anthem - Interview

Gaslight Anthem - Interview

Gaslight Anthem - Interview

Gaslight Anthem - Interview

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