The Gaslight Anthem have been a band for three-and-a-half years now and in that short amount of time they've become one of rock music's most celebrated acts, spurring a cultish fan base with their original and heartfelt soul-inflected punk. The band recently completed a highly successful headlining tour with sold out shows across North America, including Webster Hall in New York, the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver BC, the Trocadero in Philadelphia, the Bottom Lounge in Chicago and two nights at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. Their dynamic live show has gained further attention following standout performances at this year's Coachella, Sasquatch and Harvest of Hope festivals. Since the release of The '59 Sound in August of 2008, the band has received accolades from the likes of Pitchfork, NPR, SPIN and Rolling Stone, not to mention critical acclaim overseas from publications such as NME, Kerrang!, Exclaim!, VISIONS, Rock Sound, Big Cheese and Q Magazine.
The Gaslight Anthem features the songwriting skills of front man and rhythm guitarist Brian Fallon. Bassist Alex Levine, drummer Benny Horowitz and guitarist Alex Rosamilia round out the line up and have become a touring machine that isn't slowing down anytime soon. The band spent six weeks in the studio with producer and former Flogging Molly guitarist Ted Hutt (Chuck Ragan, The Bouncing Souls) to craft an album that reconciles the band's love for classic rock and soul icons such as Bruce Springsteen, Otis Redding and Tom Petty with their New Jersey punk roots to create a unique musical amalgam that transcends genres and stereotypes. "Making this record was a completely different recording process than anything we've ever done before," Horowitz explains. "It's the first time we ever worked with a producer and I think we all had to get used to that, but it allowed us to do a ton of stuff that we wouldn't have tried before."
However, 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 favor of carefully arranged tracks that were painstakingly thought out and flawlessly executed.
Correspondingly, from the anthemic rallying cry of title track "The '59 Sound" and the arena-ready syncopated rocker "Miles Davis & The Cool," to stripped-down ballads such as "Here's Looking At You, Kid" and the neo-soul crooner "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues," The '59 Sound is far and away the most adventurous release in the band's short but prolific career, picking up exactly where the band's EP, Señor And The Queen left off. The band's debut release Sink or Swim was released in 2007.
Fallon notes that aside from The Boss, The Gaslight Anthem were highly influenced by classic soul artists like Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke, each of whom are directly referenced in the mythology of The '59 Sound.
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," Fallon explains. "Some of my friends are having kids, some are getting married, some are getting divorced," he says, adding that like many songwriters, when he writes in the first-person it isn't necessarily about him. "This was the first time any of us had gone through these things in life and I kept talking to them on the phone and all these things came out. I felt like I should tell their stories instead of just my own, because after you write so many songs you get bored writing about yourself."
Official website: gaslightanthem.com
Photo by Ryan Russell