5 Minutes With The Gaslight Anthem

Nine years since their last release, New Jersey icons The Gaslight Anthem returned in October with brand new record 'History Books'.

After almost a decade away, we caught up with frontman Brian Fallon to discuss the LP, what to expect from their forthcoming UK tour and more.

Check out the full interview below.

History Books’ is out now! What has the reaction been like so far?

For us, we’re just thrilled to have done it! Completing it was the biggest thing for us, so we’re feeling pretty good about that!

It has been nine years since you last released a record – with each year did it become increasingly nervous or a little further out of reach?

I don’t think the distance between albums or time taken was something that was factored in. It was more a question of ‘is it now or not yet?’, and we’d check in with each other a lot over the years. There was a few times where we all said ‘not now’, then it just kind of happened where it didn’t feel like that anymore. I don’t think the pressure increased over time and thankfully we weren’t thinking about it too much.

Ahead of ‘The ’59 Sound’ Anniversary Tour you said that the band weren’t working on new music – was it difficult to break through that wall and get back in the studio?

Once we got back together it was pretty seamless and pretty easy actually. It didn’t feel difficult – I think because everybody was so excited, so it felt easier to do. When you’re running on excitement, that’s where the best stuff comes from!

Do you feel like you had to go out and work on some solo material (‘Painkillers’, ‘Sleepwalkers’ and ‘Local Honey’) to get a fresh thirst for writing for The Gaslight Anthem again?

A lot of people will be like ‘I’m going solo’, and that’s their reasoning, but for me I am always making music. It was more that I was making solo records as a necessity to make music – it isn’t clear what happened other than one day I was like ‘okay this has got to happen’ and then three albums later I was ready to be back with the band and making music together again.

Did you have to shift your mindset to go from writing for a solo record to writing for what will work for a band setup, or does it come from experience to be able to differentiate?

I only write for one project at a time, so whatever I’m working on at the time is the main focus. I think if I tried to do multiple things at the same time it’d be messy. There are influences that creep into each other but like I say, I try to focus only on the project so it isn’t all over.

How did those influences impact the writing of ‘History Books’?

I think it is important to use whatever situation you’re in at the time. The songs and records are like snapshots of a specific time, but you also have to take everything you’ve learned prior with you. Having so much time between ‘Get Hurt’ and this record gave us time to learn a bunch of new things and we’re in a better place than where we last left off, so naturally we have newer influences which is only a positive thing.

On ‘Handwritten’, you literally hand wrote the record – did you do anything as bold as that this time around?

In hindsight that was a crazy idea! But it was where we were at that moment and I love that we committed to the idea. That’s what makes us funny and special as a band because we do these insane things that everyone gets on board with and follows through on. For ‘History Books’ we worked with Peter Katis and his personality was a perfect fit for the album we wanted to make. His approach to recording in general was not traditional and his ability to come up with sounds that fill up a song is extremely creative and it helped move us away from ‘let’s bang out a rock record and just get it done’. It was almost like working with a painter!

The shows you played last summer seemed like the most ‘together’ you’ve been in a while – did you feel like that as a band.

We were definitely relieved to be able to do it again and be able to put a show together. During those shows we were writing new songs and between us we knew something great was coming from being back together. It wasn’t just a dream or us saying ‘maybe we’ll do something soon’ anymore so we were all excited and sharing ideas between performing.

You’ve already played a few shows this year, but how are preparations coming along ahead of what is sure to be a full-on touring schedule between now and next summer?

Really good! We’re always rehearsing so we have a good selection to choose from. We’ll take a little break through the holidays and the winter, then get back together and finalise the setlist and get ready to do and do what we do best!

What can we expect from the upcoming UK shows in March and July 2024?

We’ll have some songs from the new record to factor in, but we’re not one of those bands that fill up the setlist with new material. We’ll play some songs from it for sure, but we’ll definitely make sure it is balanced between the other records. Nobody wants to see all the new record when you see a band live – it is the number one complaint I have when I see bands so know how it feels. You’ll hear a couple of new ones live but people are coming to hear the hits and we want to give them those.

Is there anything in the UK you particularly enjoy doing when you’re not performing?

On the tour it is tough to do anything aside from the show, so there’s not a lot of other things that we get to check out which is a shame but hopefully we’ll get a bit of free time this time around.

Alongside the tour you’re headlining 2000 Trees – does planning for a festival set differ from working on a ‘normal’ show?

We’re going to try and do what we do best really. Headlining a festival is hugely different – it is a big, big, big deal for us and we’ll try to make it special. There are some things that we’ll have to consider and because it is a new experience for us, but we’re excited to see what we can do for it!

For anyone still on the fence about grabbing tickets, what would you say to them?

We’re going to be coming out to play the hits that you want to hear and do our best to showcase the new record. We’ll be playing a lot of the old records so it’ll definitely be the best show we’ve done!

Tickets are selling fast for The Gaslight Anthem's UK shows next year - grab yours now!

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Hey - I'm Callum. Fan of The National, collector of vinyl, season ticket holder at Leeds United, owner of Dougal the cat.

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