Interview The Gaslight Anthem: ‘Every Record Has Pressures’

Sarah Jamieson pins down The Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon to talk about the band’s forthcoming album.

‘Every record has pressures, first, fifth, whatever,’ begins The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon. ‘You always strive for something equal to or greater than your previous work, so there’s always new pressures to stay relevant.’

It seems like only yesterday the New Jersey band were releasing their incendiary 2010 effort ‘American Slang’; the second of their full-lengths to have been recorded in New York with Ted Hutt. However, two years on, the band decided to change things up a little for album number four, aptly titled ‘Handwritten’.

Settling in Nashville, Tennessee early this year, the band began their work with esteemed producer Brendan O’Brien. Boasting a list of credentials that includes the likes of Springsteen, Dylan and Young, it’s safe to say that the Jersey boys were in safe hands.

‘The whole experience was amazing. It’s a trip to be able to make a record with a guy who’s done some of your favourites. Brendan taught us a ton about songwriting and recording as a band. It was really pretty amazing. The label’s been very supportive and let us do our thing, it’s been one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had making a record.’

And with the move to Tennessee, came another change in the band’s regular pace: ‘The Idea about recording in Nashville came from us not wanting to be distracted. The whole idea was where can we go that’s busy enough to have something to do when we’re not recording, but far enough away where we didn’t know anyone. Plus, Nashville’s a music town, there’s a vibe for sure.’

So, what is it that we should come to expect from ‘Handwritten’ itself? ‘I wouldn’t really compare it to our older work. I can say that that was us then, and this is us now, it’s all snapshots of time.

‘Lyrically, I wanted to get away from writing in ‘jive talk’. On our old records I had this slang that was sort of early Springsteen-eese, Central Jersey slang, and poor grammar. I ran out of steam with what I used to do, and the only thing left was what I am right now, so that’s what I wrote about. I went straight for the point and tried to be as precise as I could be.

‘I think the music did the same thing, stripped away all the extra bits that didn’t need to be there. We looked to the things we loved collectively rather than me steering the music into just my kind of music. The thing we agree on is the 70’s rock bands like the Who, and Led Zepplin, and 90’s music, like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Some of the songs even have a Neil Young vibe from when he went electric.

‘I’m really impressed with what we’ve made here, and I love this record. All a band should really do is keep achieving excitement, stay hungry, and stay inspired. I don’t know what anybody else thinks because at this point no one has heard it, but I love it.’

The Gaslight Anthem’s new album ‘Handwritten’ will be released this summer via Mercury Records.

Taken from the April 2012 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

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