Gaslight Anthem's 'miracle' accent
They said it'd never happen. No, not Obama this time - somehow
By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter
construction workers The Gaslight Anthem have become the sound of
America's new found optimism…
Gaslight Anthem kick off a UK tour on 2 February
It must have been with a hint of envy that the rest of the world gazed upon Washington DC this week.
Whilst mathematically the USA is feeling the sting of economic
downturn just as much as everywhere else it's also seemingly surfing an
indestructible wave of optimism in the aftermath of Barack Obama's
The Gaslight Anthem - Brunswick, New Jersey foursome Brian
Fallon [lead singer and guitar], Alex Levine [bass], Alex Rosamilia
[guitar] and Benny Horowitz [drums] - could be considered flag-bearers
of that fresh hope - that
feeling for the future distilled.
Like their Cadillac-driving, grease-haired influences the rockers' accent is a classic American tale. Normal jobs
"We were all just guys working regular jobs - I was a roofer and
carpenter before the band really started," says front man Fallon.
"Benny would never be caught dead in construction - he worked at a
newspaper for the college.
"We were all working within a mile of each other and we had one friend who put us all together."
Once formed [in 2005] the band set a precedent for inexhaustible
stateside touring. Their profile steadily began to rise but suddenly
In the summer of 2008, the band rocketed from an underground punk whisper to mainstream mainstays.
"We didn't think we'd be on covers of magazines," he confides.
Their visit to the UK last August saw them immediately play
upgraded venues and tent-bursting sets at Radio 1's Lock Up stage at
the Reading and Leeds festivals.
"I don't think that [constant touring] made people like us,"
ponders Fallon. "I think that was where it was kind of a miracle -
where it was just the right band at the right time.
"It's hard to take credit for the public responding to it all - we feel like it's a blessing for us."
Indeed, the UK, more than anywhere, has taken them to their hearts.
"It's strange that the country that we're most admiring is admiring us," he admits. Clash discovery
Ironic, considering they're one of America's most fettered new
groups, the foundations of their Springsteen-referencing blue-collar
sound [or "this fast Roy Orbison band," as Fallon puts it] are
"There's this huge story about how I found The Clash," he
enthuses. "I was just looking around in a record store and the owner of
the store was asking what I was looking for.
"I was a little kid at the time, maybe 13 or 14. I had a big
Mohawk. and I was trying to be punk rock. I was looking for like a
Rancid record or something.
"He ended up telling me, 'That's not where it started that's not what you want'.
"He and his friend at the record store bought me the Clash's
first record and said 'Go home and listen to this, if you don't like it
bring it back - but it will change you life'. And it did."Copying predecessors
Unlike many bands they don't profess to be inventing anything 'new'. Instead they firmly align themselves with their peers.
So much so latest album The '59 Sound sees Fallon incorporate many of his heroes' lyrics into his own songs.
"It's a tool that I use to direct people who listen to us to the original source," he explains.
"I just want to be very vocal about where they came from. I
leave the hints there for people. Then they go buy something that I
look at as better than us."
In February they return to play a nationwide string of large venues with friend Frank Turner.
"He's just a genius, I think he's just marvellous as a writer," gushes Fallon.
"We're just going to try and play better than we played last time."
And, if like the American dream in this challenging period, Gaslight Anthem's mission hits harder times…
"A return to roofing? That might be alright," he laughs. "I
would be so satisfied with what we've done already. Because then I
could always say we've done all this stuff. And that's alright."