The Gaslight Anthem
World Tour
March – July 2009
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

"It’s no surprise that The ’59 Sound is filled with songs about working-class heroes and hard-luck teenagers, cruising around in the backseats of cars and washing away sin with cheap whiskey and beer. The shocker is that The Gaslight Anthem has taken these well-worn Jersey-rebel themes and revived them through the sheer power of youth. They are destined for greatness.” EMUSIC.COM

"While virtually every other band in the world has a natural inclination to reach for the sky, these guys have the intelligence to know that such an ascension would take them further away from the street-soul and underdog spirit that makes The ’59 Sound so special, so resonant and so necessary." ROCKSOUND

"It’s an album that makes you want to run away into the darkness, to give up everything you have for a life of uncertainty and late night melancholy, for unending American highways and a sad lifetime chasing love through the backstreets of a dead-end, run-down town. Simply incredible." ALOUD.COM

The gritty, no-frills, blue-collar bar music of The Gaslight Anthem – Brian Fallon (vocals / guitar), Alex Levine (bass), Alex Rosamilia (guitar) and Benny Horowitz (drums) – is like a riptide rush that has a magical way of conjuring up nostalgic and romantic images of classic Americana. With coming of age close-ups + sweet and sour vistas of life, that haven’t been executed so well and with as much feeling by anyone since Bruce Springsteen. A legend who is not only a ‘Jersey Shore’ neighbour to a band on top of their game, but is also something of a musical inspiration / frame of reference. As not only are TGA cut from the same cloth, but when Brian first heard The Boss’ songs as a youngster, he thought to himself, “This is my ticket out of a life of desperation.” Because with their New Jersey punk roots and a love of classic rock, soul, blues and folk (the template or shape + scope of their sound), these hard-working, seasoned and salt-of-the-earth guys, stay positive by paying their dues, putting a unique spin on their influences and “channelling their heroes” as Pitchfork put it. Adding, "If you've got even a tiny bit of a soft spot for that bruised-growl retro-punk, The '59 Sound is an answer to a prayer."

Originally forming in New Brunswick in 2006, of the quartet’s name, Brian has revealed, "The Gaslight was an old club in New York City in The ‘60s, where Bob Dylan and several other folk singers got started, so the Anthem was tacked on for the collective idea." In their short time together, the group has so far released two exceptionally well-received full-length albums, Sink Or Swim (XOXO Records) and The ’59 Sound (SideOneDummy Records), plus one EP, Señor And The Queen (Sabot Productions). Impressively, they were also the first act to ever appear on the front cover of Kerrang!, having never previously been featured in the pages of the weekly rock bible before – with the magazine hailing them as “The best new band you’ll hear in 2008!” Draped in grinding raw emotion, gravely / sincere vocals and good old-fashioned storytelling, of their rough-around-the-edges songs, extracts from the quartet’s Official Bio further elaborate…

“Despite the professional set-up that went into making The ’59 Sound, the disc retains the band’s dynamic and youthful live energy, which has become a hallmark of the band’s performance style. “We tried to make these songs feel as alive as possible and approach it like we were writing a set list,” Fallon describes. “Instead of thinking about it like writing a record, we just wanted to write the coolest live songs that we could. We wrote this record with the intention of playing it live and it’s really a preview of seeing us onstage,” he adds. The result is an album that is so timeless that it could have been recorded in 1978 or 2008, eschewing distorted guitars and endless layering in favour of carefully arranged tracks that were painstakingly thought out and flawlessly executed.”

“When I was a little kid listening to Springsteen, I remember thinking these aren’t songs, these are gigantic rides you went on – and I thought if I could even attempt to do that, that would be excellent. Lyrically, Fallon isn’t afraid to wear his influences on his tattooed sleeves, and his growth as a songwriter is evident in the way he’s been able to step outside of himself on The ’59 Sound. “I’m actually telling a few stories about some of my friends this time around, because it fits in with this theme of growing up and stepping into adulthood. Unlike a lot of today’s rock sensations, The Gaslight Anthem aren’t going to take a single second of their ride for granted. “We’re not that young and we’ve already had our hands in the real world, working terrible jobs,” Horowitz explains, adding that The Gaslight Anthem’s line-up has never changed, and that there’s a bond between all of them that’s difficult to describe.”

So, to help promote the release of the group’s next UK single, Great Expectations, Benny has taken time out to complete an Exclusive R*E*P*E*A*T Questionnaire. And as a band with “fire at their fingertips,” who have touched so many people, finding legions of devoted fans worldwide, now would be the ideal time for newcomers to also let The Gaslight Anthem fill their lives with The ’59 Sound. Because to quote Oscar Wilde, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” – a theme that permeates much of the New Jersey outfit’s affecting and rugged music…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1.In The ‘70s, having a DIY ethic and being non-conformists formed the original basis of punk – but is this true of The Gaslight Anthem’s mindset, or have you appropriated the spirit of punk into something new and unique to the band?
“The spirit of punk exists in our band because that basis is in the people. We've never considered ourselves a "punk" band, but, since we grew up with the bands and the ethic that comes with it – it, in turn, dictates how we carry ourselves through life and through music.”

2.On a similar note, Joe Strummer used to use the phrase, “Like trousers like brain” – meaning that the look of a band was also part of the message. Is this something that you would agree with?

“I can agree with that to an extent. I think some bands successfully narrate or illustrate certain things in their music with their look. We've never sat down and talked about it personally, what you see us wearing on a day-to-day basis is what we'd wear at home. I can see the sentiment, but it's not a big deal to us.”

3.What are the biggest influences on your life, and on your music?

“That's a broad question, but the biggest influences in my life have to be my family, friends and local community. Biggest influence on my music, is the people that have come before me that I look up to – too many to mention.”

4.Is it heartening for you, to think that your songs, will now become a part of the soundtrack to many peoples’ lives?

“That is by far the most rewarding part of my time in The Gaslight Anthem thus far. I've had people tell me that our music has helped them get through hard times, or is the music they attach themselves to at the moment. So many bands did that for me and I wouldn't be a functional human being without those bands. So, to be in one of those bands now, is the most humbling and amazing feeling. It makes everything we do worth it in spades.”

5.What are your biggest hopes for The Gaslight Anthem long-term?
“We've always had the idea to be a career band. We'd like to continue writing and recording music, touring and taking this as long as it can go. Just as long as we don't start getting shitty, I guess.”

6.I was fortunate enough to attend Ash’s 1977 Astoria show in September 2008, which was to celebrate the Deluxe Edition reissue of their full-length debut album. But if you could handpick some of your favourite artists / bands to play their albums in full, and release a Deluxe Edition, who would they be and which records?
“Sadly, the bulk of bands I'd like to see do this have members who are no longer with us, which would effectively not make them satisfying. Personally, I'd like to see The Bronx – 1, The Constantines – Shine A Light, and a reunion of Botch playing We Are The Romans...”

7.Prior to recording each of your albums, did you have any criteria for choosing a producer and what was the most valuable lesson that you learnt from those sessions?

“Our first record, Sink Or Swim – and the Señor And The Queen EP – were both produced totally by us. We have a very selective process in finishing songs, and usually have a really good idea what a song should be like by the time it gets to the studio. We chose to use a producer for The '59 Sound for a bunch of reasons. We were confident in the songs / arrangements and the concept, but thought it would be nice to have someone effectively see it through, big picture-wise. So we worked with Ted Hutt and he was perfect in keeping us focused on the idea and executing the sound.”

8.Are there any bands’ or songwriters’ lyrics that you admire, or songs that you wish you had written?

“I know it might not be hip, but I really connect with old Bright Eyes stuff. I believe every word he's saying. I wish I wrote Most Of The Time by Bob Dylan, but, I'm a shit lyricist and songwriter, so saying that is even a bit ridiculous.”

9.What are your memories of the first ever show that you all played together – and is it important to you all to now improvise and explore your songs, keeping them fresh + taking them in new directions?
“The first show we played with the final line-up of Gaslight Anthem, was at our friend Frank's game shop in Somerville, NJ, called The Only Game in Town… It was fun, about 30-40 people and not all together remarkable. It's my hometown, so I guess that's a cool life parody. We do like to mess around with our songs, especially live. Mostly because we've played a lot of them over 500 times throughout the last couple of years, and need to spike the punch, as it were.”

10.Jack White said that he thinks of his gigs as “The modern day equivalent of a community going to church every week.” Adding, "The thing I love about live performance the most, is that the doors are closed, the lights are turned down and the audience has to be reverential to what's happening onstage. It's not like being at home where you can change channels, fast-forward, turn it off, put the book down, or walk away. It's this phenomenon where we all, as a community, go to church and sit and experience this thing together.” Would you agree with this?
“I think that's a really cool way to look at it. He happens to be a hell of a performer as well, which would almost force people to never break their attention. It may be the closest thing people have to that these days, but sadly, you'll still see a lot of texting and various forms of bullshit to grab the attention of people.”

11.What are your thoughts on today’s accelerated culture?

“My Father once told me, that reading a Sunday New York Times from end-to-end will give you more information than the average person in the 1700's received throughout their life. So, we're either way smarter, or totally overwhelmed. Or Both.”

12.For the past decade or so, Hip-Hop and R&B have dominated The US Music Industry. But do you think there’s a much greater demand for Alternative Rock and Indie Music in America, than people living outside of the country actually realise
“Hard to say, I'm no industry insider. To me, most big Hip-Hop and R&B acts these days, are just pop. But, there are a ton of successful bands who are not doing that, so, I have to assume the demand is there.”

13.What has been the best thing that someone has said about The Gaslight Anthem?

“Refer to Question 4 – the people who have said that the music helped them through hard times. By far the best thing.”

14.You’ve now toured the UK and Europe – what do you most enjoy about other countries, and what do you most miss about the USA?
“Europe has very superior bread, cheese, coffee, pastries and beer. I also love the history – crazy to see a building that was around 400 years prior to the inception of the US. In America, I miss the landscape, the ocean, the deserts, the mountains and everything in-between. I also always miss Jersey, especially the people, they're honest and mean as hell sometimes, but the charm can't be matched.”

15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?
“We are definitely a French Fries band. I can safely say that for all the boys.”

A very special thanks to Benny and to Sarah @ Division Promotions, for all of their time and help.

"I always dreamed of classic cars and movie screens
And trying to find some way to be redeemed”

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?