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 Interview: The Gaslight Anthem

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Luca Chinaski
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Luca Chinaski

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Interview: The Gaslight Anthem Empty
PostSubject: Interview: The Gaslight Anthem   Interview: The Gaslight Anthem Icon_minitimeFri May 28, 2010 9:56 am


Abbas Ali chats to New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem about American Slang, why British bands are their favourites, and THAT Glastonbury appearance.
Alex Levine may have spent the past three years seeing the world, but bassist of New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem tells me he still has his feet firmly on the ground. “We still go down to places like the Court Tavern, in the same place we had our first show in 2005”, the musician says of returning to his home town in recent months, for a well-deserved break from touring.
“We still go back and hang out with those people,” he explains of the local live scene in the band’️s town of New Brunswick. “It’️s not like we have some success and ignore everybody and go live in a mansion on a hill.”
It’️s not been a holiday though, as the past six months have seen the four-piece punk band working on the recording and production of their third LP, American Slang. Expectations have increased since last year’️s breakthrough sophomore recording, The 59 Sound, which made many 'Best Of Year' polls, and was universally praised as an incredible celebration of the best of classic US rock, The Clash, great storytelling and vintage Americana imagery. So, are they feeling the pressure this time?

“I guess not for the reasons that other people think we feel pressures, but we feel pressures to make something we feel proud of,” Levine says, explaining that artistic considerations will always outweigh any commercial pressure to have a hit.

While the new album continues in the same classic rock style, and retains the nostalgic imagery of the second LP, it is something of a departure, as the bassist is keen to make clear. “Honestly, some of the songs on this record are faster than some of the songs we’️ve ever written”, he replies to the accusation that they may have mellowed with age. “But some of the songs that are more mature and thought out, and I feel, more powerful than any of our other songs that we’️ve put out.”

As for coming over to the UK, the band will play a series of gigs and festival dates throughout the summer, including a return to Glastonbury where they were famously joined onstage by fellow New Jersey resident Bruce Springsteen for what became one of the music highlights of the Summer in 2009. “Playing shows of that magnitude is always humbling in any sense,” he says of the iconic Somerset festival. “But playing with any artists that are of the magnitude of Bruce Springsteen is always humbling”.

Asked what he feels about coming to the UK to play and tour, and the music scene here, Levine is happy to wax lyrical. “Collectively, British bands are probably our favourite bands, I guess”, the musician explains. “The Clash is by far my favourite band growing up, as well as Brian’️s, and Alex. Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, the list goes on and on.” He says of their Anglophile music tastes. “People can maybe pinpoint us as a British band, I’️ve heard that before.”

Levine does go on to say although they are also enamoured of and often compared to the great American singer songwriters like Bob Dylan, Springsteen and Tom Petty, they are working to find their own voice on this record. When finally asked for a message for his UK fans, he’️s keen for them to give the new record a chance. “If you’️ve not heard American Slang, please go into it with an open mind, particularly if you’️re a fan of ours from years passed. Go into it with an open mind and embrace it for what it is.”
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