Since forming in 2006, classic punk rockers The Gaslight Anthem now have four albums up their sleeve, with the release of their latest album, this year’s Handwritten.
Along with yet another label change, the foursome from New Jersey made their way to Nashville to record with highly esteemed producer Brendan O’Brien, who’s worked with fellow Jersey native Bruce Sprinsteen, Pearl Jam and AC/DC, to create an album that showcases the band’s personal take on classic punk rock, abound with underlying Jersey stylings.
Drummer Benny Horowitz, said the new album isn’t that radically different in process, but its creation was all about getting back to their roots, having a good old fashioned jam session, and creating a sound that they liked.
“I don’t know many bands who just like spinning their wheels doing the same things over and over again, but I think it’s a balance where you want to retain your identity and sound the way you sound, but at the same time try branch out a little, try new things and go in a bit of a different direction,” begins Horowitz.
Handwritten first came into being during the tour for their previous album, 2010’s American Slang; but under the eyes of Brendan O’Brien, a man so highly admired by The Gaslight Anthem, they moulded it into the 11 track composition that it is.
“We write a lot on tour, so we started throwing some ideas around and putting songs together, and then when we got home we switched record labels and continued to write. Through the label we got hooked up with Brendan O’Brien who’d produced many hit records that we love from the 90s and even currently, and so we went in the studio and pumped it out,” Horowitz said.
Their restlessness with labels dates right back to their debut album Sink or Swim, which was released in 2007 on XOXO Records. The ’59 Sound in ‘08 and American Slang in ‘10 on SideOneDummy records, and now their latest instalment Handwritten, was released last month on Mercury Records.
However, despite their inability to stay with one record label, when it comes to members, the band has remained almost entirely original. Bar one guitarist swap when The Gaslight Anthem first formed, they’ve managed to keep the entire original line-up, which is rare and admirable in the fast paced and ever changing music scene of this day and age.
The Gaslight Anthem first began when frontman Brian Fallon came back from a short tour with his previous band, where he split up the bass player and drummer, his brother-in-law Alex Levine filled the bass spot and after a try-out, Horowitz made the cut for drummer.
Horowitz said it was simply a lack of doing much else that meant he had the time for Gaslight, and it seemed the perfect fit. However, he admits his journey didn’t start because he was actually into the music, but rather Fallon’s personal talents.
“I wasn’t totally in love with the music, but I did fall in love with Brian’s voice and lyrics right from the start. We got together and did one tour with the first guitar player Mike but he decided to take another route, so I invited Alex Rosamilia to join and that was it. We’ve been The Gaslight Anthem ever since.”
When asked what The Gaslight Anthem was or what it meant, in the hope of some radical and outlandish answer to match the bizarre name, all Horowitz said was “I dunno.”
Luckily however, after a bit of a pause, he continued saying “there’s not some sort of deep philosophical meaning behind it. I initially had an idea to call the band The Anthem, and then Brian had the idea for Gaslight, which was a club in New York that musicians played at. We just thought it sounded kinda cool and different, that’s it.”
He says the most important part of being The Gaslight Anthem is doing their own thing and staying true to themselves, by writing music they love and not getting caught up in it all.
“If you make some kind of drastic effort to create something that stands out then I think a lot of the time you’ll fail and even if you don’t fail you’ll come across dishonest. If you open your eyes every day you should be inspired by what you see, conversations you have, people you meet, and definitely obviously musicians, music you listen to is a huge part of it. We just make music that’s music we wanna hear,” says Horowitz.
While the thought of not showering every day is still one that Horowitz is not cool with, stay tuned Gaslight fans, for the drummer says he’ll have to endure it sometime in our country very soon.
“Recording in the studio is comfortable. It’s not as smelly as tour. But it’s definitely not as exciting as tour. Our plan of action is to get out to Australia sometime early next year, so we’ll be seeing you soon!”
Handwritten is out now through Mercury Records.Write a Letter to the Editor