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 Brian talks to the Herald Scotland

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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeWed Oct 20, 2010 3:53 pm

really good interview

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http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts-ents/music-features/the-gaslight-anthem-step-out-from-bruce-springsteen-s-shadow-1.1062558


The Gaslight Anthem step out from Bruce Springsteen’s shadow

Alan Morrison

The New Jersey rockers stay true to their blue-collar roots.

Brian Fallon and I are standing inside the O2 Academy in Glasgow, building bridges between our homelands. I’m trying to convince him that the blue-collar Clash-meets-Springsteen songs by his band, The Gaslight Anthem, reflect a mood that’s easily recognisable in the west of Scotland, where car plants, steelworks and shipyards have all closed down. He’s telling me about growing up in New Jersey, and how the very building we’re in reminds him of his childhood.

“This feels like a boardwalk venue to me,” he says, looking up at the art deco designs that adorn the interior. “This venue looks a lot like Convention Hall on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. It has that certain colour, this bluey-green ocean colour.” As his band mates set up the stage for that night’s gig, we move to a table at the back of the hall, and Fallon slips further into the past.

“To us, as kids, it was almost like Asbury Park was Atlantis but on land. When you’re four years old and your mom takes you there – cotton candy, big lights – it’s like heaven. Asbury Park and Redbank are so full of magic. There was so much that happened there, the carnivals in the 1920s and 1930s, when people would go for vacations. It was so mighty, with this huge ferris wheel and fortune-teller booths along the boardwalk, and all these lights that would explode at night all along the shore, glistening off the ocean. You could escape for a moment.

“Then it just collapsed. And now it’s in ruins. To see it crumble... it breaks your heart. I think I write sometimes trying to inspire people to pick it back up. If everybody just started with their community, and only thought about what they can do, it would come back up again.”

There’s an earnestness to Fallon that, as a first impression, can seem at odds with the big-chorus, punch-the-air euphoria of The Gaslight Anthem’s songs. In person, he’s both clean-cut and heavily tattooed in the way that only a young American can be. And yet, the more you listen to him, the more you realise he’s utterly sincere about his band’s working-class origins and how his success in the music industry can perhaps be an inspiration to his near neighbours back in New Jersey.

“When we started out, I was working in construction, doing woodworking and floors and roofs and things like that,” he explains. “You shared your life with the guys on the crew. You knew when their wives were having trouble with them, and you knew when they didn’t have any money, because that’s what you would talk about all day long. I feel like they are the people I understand, the people I carry with me.

“I got my escape, but they’re still there; and I feel that when I’m singing the songs that relate to their lives, in a way they feel like they’re getting an escape from that as well. Maybe they won’t be in a band, but maybe one day the guy doing a roof will say, ‘You know what? That kid who used to work here is now in that big rock’n’roll band. And if he did it, maybe I can start my own company. Maybe I don’t have to work for somebody else.’ When people see us, they see that it really does work out for regular people. Because a lot of times in America, it’s the American Dream thing, where you go from rags to riches. And that doesn’t really happen.”

The rags part of the Gaslight Anthem story begins in New Brunswick, a city with Rutgers University at its heart. By their own admission, singer-guitarist Fallon and his band mates – guitarist Alex Rosamilia, bassist Alex Levine, drummer Benny Horowitz – were never going to be college kids, but they did take advantage of the basement gigs held in the students’ big houses.

Fashioning their post-Jersey Shore sound (minus the horns) with New Brunswick’s thriving punk scene, The Gaslight Anthem released their debut album, Sink Or Swim, in 2007. The follow-up, The 59 Sound, helped them break through in 2008, as they made it to the Best of the Year polls in the likes of NME and Rolling Stone; mainstream press accolades finally arrived this year with the release of album number three, American Slang.

But it was a pair of gigs in the summer of 2009 that really thrust the band into the public consciousness, in the UK at least. First, New Jersey legend Bruce Springsteen joined them during their set at the Glastonbury Festival. Then, the following day, Fallon was added to the massed ranks of the E Street Band for a song during Springsteen’s Hyde Park concert. Which of the two, I ask him, was the greater thrill?

“I was walking to the stage,” Fallon says of the Glastonbury experience, “and Bruce just showed up and said, ‘Hey, can I play a song with you? I know that 59 Sound song.’ It was like we were two guys in a bar. He was just like, ‘Hey man, I love your band.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, cool. Step in.’ But when I played with him [at Hyde Park] ... I didn’t pick No Surrender to sing; he picked it. And I didn’t ask what part to sing; he told me to sing the second verse. Now, my brother-in-law is in our band – he’s the bass player – and his sister is my wife, so when No Surrender says, ‘I hear your sister’s voice calling us home/Across the open yards/Well maybe we’ll cut some place of our own/With these drums and these guitars’ – that was like my whole life. When I got to go up there in front of 100,000 people, it was just like, for the first time in my life I’m getting to tell you what is real to me. It was almost like a religious experience.

“My whole upbringing, you just get kicked and kicked and kicked by life. You’re not good enough. You’re not going to make the schools. You’re not going to have a good job. That’s what our lives would have been if we didn’t do this. And then for one time, for that one moment, I felt that we took it back. We were like, ‘No, we can have something of our own – and so can you. Bruce is giving it to me – maybe I can give it to you.’ That moment, that singular five seconds, I’ll never forget for my entire life. The E Street Band could have not been there; everyone could have not been there. That line he wrote was, to me, bigger than anything that was going on that day.”

Springsteen is the obvious influence; The Boss’s name crops up as much as Fallon’s in every review of a Gaslight Anthem record. And yet the younger man stresses that what he takes is more about an attitude to life.

“When I was born, it was just me and my mom,” he explains. “She would play me Bruce Springsteen records and I remember them from my oldest memories. Where I was living as a child, Bruce lived about 20 miles away. He came from Freehold, and that’s where my dad worked. And the E Street Band started in Asbury Park, which was four blocks away from me.

“The actual sound of his band doesn’t mean as much to us as the sentiment does. His words and message, that’s what we latch on to. You’ll never have a saxophone breakdown in a Gaslight Anthem song, but the sentiment is the same. That feeling of ‘I’ve got to get out of here, and I’ve got nothing but my own wits about me and the dream that I have, and I’ve got to follow that.’ That’s what we learned from Bruce. Bob Dylan was influential, of course, but he didn’t push you to follow him. Dylan just said ‘I’m here and I’m talking about your world.’ There’s a distance between you and Bob Dylan, but there’s not a distance between you and Bruce Springsteen.”

Since I met Fallon, the band have played their biggest headline gig, filling the Radio City Music Hall in New York. They return to the UK next week but, after that, what next?

“I can’t carry the weight of the world,” Fallon admits. “I feel like my thoughts are bigger than my size already. When we started, we played rock‘n’roll with the energy of a punk band. And that caught on to the kids, as well as adults who could understand what we were talking about – because we weren’t talking about the punk things. I didn’t care about politics, because politics was something that a guy like me couldn’t change. What do I care about what the President is doing? I’ve got bills to pay here, right in front of me. Am I going to get a raise or am I going to get fired? And I knew that other guys were thinking that too, so that’s what we wrote about. That’s the kind of thing we live.”

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loazis
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeWed Oct 20, 2010 4:52 pm

They never were in Springsteen's shadow, titles like these make me cringe. I didn't know Holly was Alex' sister by the way.

Thanks for posting =)
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeWed Oct 20, 2010 5:49 pm

loazis wrote:
They never were in Springsteen's shadow, titles like these make me cringe.

Well, they were in his shadow in that the press just can't keep away from the Springsteen thing. Ironically, this article can't either.

However, there are some great quotes in there by Brian.
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeWed Oct 20, 2010 6:02 pm

I really enjoyed reading this. Thank You posting.
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loazis
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeWed Oct 20, 2010 6:16 pm

steady now steady now wrote:
loazis wrote:
They never were in Springsteen's shadow, titles like these make me cringe.

Well, they were in his shadow in that the press just can't keep away from the Springsteen thing. Ironically, this article can't either.

However, there are some great quotes in there by Brian.
Yeah exactly, they were either never in his shadow or they are still in it according to the interview =P

Some interesting stuff indeed.
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeWed Oct 20, 2010 6:19 pm

Great interview.
Had to watch the No Surrender video again. You can really see Brian givin' it all.

Allthought the Springsteen reference is wearing old, it is still relevant. Of course there are alot of other references, but they come from the same school (literally I guess). Also the fact that The 59 Sound was probably their most important record, and probably the one with the most connections to the Boss (allthought I don't hear them quite as easy as I used to after getting to know all the other pearls hidden in these songs, but for the first time listener, the springsteen connection is the most obvious)

atleast this is what I think, for the moment
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeWed Oct 20, 2010 11:53 pm

sweet
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeThu Oct 21, 2010 2:05 am

thank you for sharing! i love articles where they actually talk to the band members and its not just some discog rundown.
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PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeThu Oct 21, 2010 9:05 am

Huh, I never knew Alex L. was Brian's brother-in-law.
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeThu Oct 21, 2010 9:10 am

Harry Lime wrote:
Huh, I never knew Alex L. was Brian's brother-in-law.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z3Jh76gqkI
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitimeThu Oct 21, 2010 4:19 pm

Awesome read. loved that part about No Surrender
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Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Empty
PostSubject: Re: Brian talks to the Herald Scotland   Brian talks to the Herald Scotland Icon_minitime

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