New Brunswick, New Jersey, has historically had a rich punk scene, breeding the likes of The Bouncing Souls, Streelight Manifesto and Screaming Females. The Gaslight Anthem also rose from there, and has been shattering eardrums and expectations while melding a working-class sensibility with their infectious punk stomp.
After stints at major festivals, including Lollapalooza and Reading, in addition to sharing a stage with Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthem is returning with their first record since 2012's 'Handwritten.' Titled 'Get Hurt,' the album was produced by Mike Crossey (Jake Bugg, the 1975, Arctic Monkeys) and will feature a guest appearance by Sharon Jones, of the Dap-Kings. It will be out August 19 through Island Records. For more info, and to pre-order 'Get Hurt,' see the band's website.
Musings on daily life and love resonate on this new collection of songs, for which The Gaslight Anthem took an entirely different approach in the studio, from production to playing style. Taking cues from classic rockers' most experimental records, frontman Brian Fallon claims 'Get Hurt' is a significant shift for the seasoned band.
The Gaslight Anthem will be taking the new songs on the road very soon. Joined on various dates by Against Me!, Jimmy Eat World, Deer Tick, Bay Side, and Twopointeight, the tour will take them across the U.S. and then to Europe. See The Gaslight Anthem tour dates here.
A few days after one of Fallon's other bands, Molly and the Zombies, played a Red Bull Sound Select show in Brooklyn, we spoke with him about the new Gaslight Anthem album.
What kind of headspace were you in when you were writing this record?
I was trying to do something very different with the record, so I was trying to see what was out there as far as what we hadn't done before. It wasn't really like a specific direction I was looking for, the only real direction was what kinds of directions were untraveled by us: humanity, life, daily life... We don't really think, we just write and it is what it is.
Is there anything you were listening to that you were inspired by when you were making this record?
I was kind of pulling in a lot of different things. I was listening to artists who had taken a career shift and kind of maybe expanded in what they were doing. Not in your typical way like, “Oh, our new album is different because it's our next album,” not really like that. I wasn't looking for that. I was looking for a real... I didn't want to have to explain it. You put it on, and immediately you think, this is different. Your audience is never going to be in tune with exactly what you were thinking because I think no one is in tune with what anyone else is thinking.
I was listening to bands who were making a bold statement with their records, when the record did the talking for itself. For example, when Pink Floyd lost Syd Barrett and they got David Gilmour and he took over on vocals. When U2 went from 'Joshua Tree' to 'Achtung Baby!,' and The Beatles from 'The White Album' to 'Abbey Road' to 'Let It Be.' I didn't really listen to the earlier records, but the weirder ones. And the Rolling Stones, really. When they went from being a blues band to 'Beggars Banquet,' and when they went from disco to rock n' roll. Whatever it was before, it wasn't anymore.
In the past, you've worked with producers Ted Hutt and Brendan O'Brien. Who did you work with this time?
Mike Crossey. He most recently did The 1975 record, the Jake Bugg record, some of the Arctic Monkeys records. He's kind of done some odd stuff that's out of our wheelhouse, which is cool because we wanted somebody who had different ideas than we would. Brendan is similar to us, and I feel a real kinship with him, where I feel like we would listen to the same music. Same with Ted. They are both friends of mine with similar tastes. Mike, I didn't know at all, but I felt that he would be a good choice because he would make different decisions than I would.
I'm sure that also created an interesting dynamic between the band and producer.
Yeah, it was weird for a while. I would be like, 'What are you doing?' and he would say the same thing. It was a push and pull, and then when we finally found our footing we were like, “Okay, I get what you're doing here.”
How were the sessions for this new album different than last time?
It was very different. We didn't do anything the same. Last time we sort of played together in a room, and this time everybody kind of would play together in a room, and then we would take everybody away. So then one person would play -- you play it four or five times to get the feel together, then we'd build everything.
We built it like you would a house -- you put the framework down. We were experimenting with the sounds so much, you just couldn't do it live. There was too much going on.
You've had some special guests appear on past albums. Any here?
We had Sharon Jones sing on a song of ours, 'Stray Paper,' so that was pretty cool. She's great.
You also frequently include cover songs on albums -- any on this one?
No, we didn't do any covers on this one. All original songs on the b-sides and everything. We were trying to make a point to make something that was ours. I don't think the covers had any place this time around.
How do the new songs resonate now that you've put them away for a while?
I just got the masters back two or three weeks ago, I hadn't listened to them in a while. But now they sound good to me, I mean it sounds exactly like what we set out to do. Initially, when you first hear it, you're like, “Oh, this is different.” There's also some comfort songs on there -- some that I think sound similar to previous records. But we try to put a little extra in there so it didn't sound too out there. We didn't go totally insane. It's leading people along, not frustrating anyone.