I’m not entirely sure if “journalistic integrity” is one of the hallmarks that Dying Scene is known for when we conduct artist interviews, but it’s worth mentioning that I’m going to jettison whatever notions of it there may have been and insert myself right into the middle of this story. The Gaslight Anthem are one of the very few bands that I can not only vividly remember my first exposure to them, but can equally vividly remember being stopped in my tracks about what I was hearing and seeing. It was 2008 and I was a 28-year-old new dad, and the video for “The ’59 Sound” and it was on MTV (remember that?!?) as I was getting ready for work in the morning. I knew nothing about the band, and yet I instantly felt like I knew exactly who they were. Led by their Telecaster-and-patchwork-scally-clad frontman, Brian Fallon, the band presented a look and a sound that combined the best parts of my parents’ favorite artist (Springsteen) and my favorite band growing up (Pearl Jam), and ran it all through a ‘child of the 90s’ punk rock filter.
In the decade since, Fallon’s voice and words have been a constant steadying factor in my life. His lyrics have shifted away from telling other people’s stories and have instead become intensely personal, though each album somehow contains a song that either presently or in hindsight make you wonder if he’d somehow been following you around, telling your own story better than you could. There were rumblings probably five years ago that Fallon would work on a solo album after the release of the band’s 2012 album Handwritten, but those plans were shelved in favor of what became 2014’s Get Hurt. The dark, visceral album (a personal favorite) rather notoriously chronicles Fallon’s then-recent divorce, but it’s in many ways also a chronicle of the drifting away of the band’s members themselves; an indefinite hiatus would begin the following year.
Fallon himself would not be out of the game for long, as 2016 would see the release of his debut solo album, Painkillers. Recorded in Nashville with Butch Walker at the helm, the album was a stylistic departure, largely rooted in folk and Americana music. Still, there were more than enough threads to connect the listener – and the artist – to his past; Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia joined Fallon’s touring band, The Crowes, on guitar and keyboards, alongside Fallon’s longtime friend and frequent collaborator Ian Perkins, and Jared Hart of fellow Jersey punk band The Scandals.
Which brings us to 2018 and Fallon’s sophomore solo album, Sleepwalkers. We caught up with Fallon by phone earlier this week, hours after the US leg of the album’s tour kicked off in Nashville, to chat about all things Sleepwalkers and, of course, Gaslight Anthem. Released February 9th (Island Records), the new album finds Fallon in a happier, more uplifting mood, having slogged for a few years through some pretty dark places. It can be viewed as a bit of a bookend to an unintentional trilogy that marks the most personal music of Fallon’s career, with 2014’s Get Hurt lamenting the demise of relationships and 2016’s Painkillers playing as a guy trying to figure out what comes next, in myriad levels. That trilogy was not, as you might imagine, by design. “I think that if I planned it out like that to be a trilogy, I’d be pretty smart,” jokes Fallon, pointing out that it was more realistically a natural progression. “It makes the point that records are true to life. I was following exactly where I was at the time on all three records, and it’s funny how it worked out like that, where it seems like it follows a trajectory. It did, although the trajectory wasn’t a planned record, it was my life.”
Stylistically, Sleepwalkers is more straight-forward, R&B-infused, punk-tinged rock-and-roll than Painkillers or than his 2011 side project The Horrible Crowes. Fallon has long been a student of rock music and has not shied away from referencing his influences directly, especially in the earlier part of the Gaslight catalog. Soaked in references to The Beatles and The Clash and Etta James, Sleepwalkers is the most early-Gaslight thing that Fallon has done since, well, since the early Gaslight period. That’s at least partially by design. Gaslight Anthem, you see, was obviously one-fourth Fallon. “You can’t take away who you are and what your style inherently is and remove it just because you’re doing a new project, you know? I decided that instead of running from that, I’m just going to be myself, and if some people say “well, that sounds like Gaslight,” of course it does, because I’m the one doing it. The parts that don’t sound like the band are the parts that came from the other three people in the band, and now there are new people, so those parts will sound different and I’m the part that sounds the same. I finally was just like “yup, I’m okay with that! That’s fine!” Songwriting choices came quicker and freer after that realization was made. “I got to put my own shoes on again,” he explains, adding only half-jokingly that “I like Bruce Springsteen, I like old movies, I like New Jersey, I don’t care what you say about it!”
In large part, the remarried, father-of-two Fallon drew motivation to move forward through some of the earlier darkness from his young children. “I didn’t have the luxury of just being a lunatic!” he laughs, adding “I was like ‘you have children, and you have clearly messed yourself up to the point where you don’t know what’s going on, and you’ve got to put your head back together. Your kids deserve better than that’.” While it took a lot of work — therapy, reading, doctors, etc — to come out the other side, Fallon is refreshingly not afraid to talk about that work, and has been inspired by the recent trend, particularly in the punk community, toward shedding light and awareness on mental health issues. It’s a trend that didn’t exist in earlier parts of his career, but that he certainly would have taken advantage of. “I know there’s this site I’ve been following (on social media) called Punk Talks, and they’ve got a number where you can call them and talk to them. I was amazed when I first saw it.” The organization would have come in handy, Fallon says, when dealing with the rapid ascent that Gaslight Anthem found themselves on a decade ago, where they went from playing their first shows in their home state of New Jersey to having The Boss himself join them on festival stages within the span of barely two years. “The speed at which that went and the inability to be prepared for it, whether it was my age or inexperience or expectations or just something that was inside of me,” Fallon explains, “created a lot of anxiety in me, to the point of not being even really able to enjoy a lot of it, because I was so nervous about everything all the time. It really was a hard, hard thing. I wasn’t prepared for the level of anxiety it would cause.”
That’s not to say, however, that Fallon is complaining. Far from it in fact. “It was awesome! We totally went for it. I feel like I was (just) ill prepared for it. I didn’t do the homework on myself to catch up. I was 27 then, now I’m 38, and I have much more — it’s funny to say “wisdom” — but I have much more of a perspective on how to handle something like that now.” Fallon is also not afraid to pass his teachable moments on to younger bands that might find themselves on the type of rapid ascent that Gaslight found themselves on a decade ago. “You have to break this thing down. If your band is getting successful and you’re starting to come up and get more recognition and to get it quicker than you thought and that’s getting to you mentally or emotionally, break it down into small, in-the-day things.” If taking the stage in front of any number of people can be enough to rattle some people’s nerves, taking the stage in front of five- or ten- or twenty-thousand can be downright overwhelming. “You have to remember that those people are not there to crucify you and they’re not there to criticize you,” says Fallon. “There might be one or two, but they’re always going to be there, whether you’re playing to twenty people or twenty thousand people. Most of the people there just love what you’re doing, and they’re trying to have a good time, and they’re just like you. They’re no different than you.”
Head below to read our full chat with Fallon. I had roughly nine years worth of questions to ask, but this was a good start. And yes, there’s plenty of insight on what happened – and is happening – with Gaslight, including the ’59 Sound anniversary shows, but you’ll have to read it to find out. Also, head here to find out where you can catch Brian Fallon and his new band, The Howling Weather, on tour over the next month!
Dying Scene (Jay Stone): First off, thank you – this is one of the last few of a long-time interview bucket list I’ve had, so thanks a lot! Last night was the first night of the US tour for Sleepwalkers, yeah?
Brian Fallon: Yeah!
How’d it go?
Good! First night in Nashville. They’re good people, and they’re always excited for music down there, so it was a good time! Nashville’s a good town!
Are there pre-game jitters when it comes to a first album tour, and are they the same as they might have been with Gaslight when putting out a new album?
No, it’s actually much easier this time. The thing about Gaslight touring is that it was always “run, run, run, run, run,” as fast as you could. There was no time for any reflection on anything, so you got jitters, but it felt like there were always jitters. It wasn’t like there was any reason. The speed at which that went and the inability to be prepared for it, whether it was my age or inexperience or expectations or just something that was inside of me that expected something different. The way that it happened created a lot of anxiety in me, to the point of not being even really able to enjoy a lot of it, because I was so nervous about everything all the time. It really was a hard, hard thing and I wasn’t prepared for it; I wasn’t prepared for the level of anxiety it would cause.
I also wasn’t prepared for the definitive answers that were being asked of me at the time that things would happen. Immediately as things would happen, it would be “hey, you’re going to play with Bruce Springsteen, how do you feel about that? How does this define your life? What does this mean for your future? Is this what you wanted? You’re going to be the next Bruce Springsteen!” It was just, like, “whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m still putting me shoes on! I don’t even know what I’m doing yet.” I’m not complaining about that, because it was awesome and we totally went for it. I would say that I don’t feel like a victim of it, but I feel like I was ill prepared for it. I didn’t do the homework on myself to catch up. I was 27 then, now I’m 38, and I have much more — it’s funny to say “wisdom” (*both laugh*) — but I have much more of a perspective on how to handle something like that. And also to realize that it’s just a show. You’re going to go out there, and your job is to make people laugh and to make them feel something, and at the same time, your job is to make yourself feel like you’re getting to do the thing that you’ve always wanted to do, so you go enjoy it. That makes it so much easier, even if I know I walk into a terrible show. It’s fine, because it’s like “well I’m just going to have a good time playing, then!”
Is that a different dynamic now when it’s your band? Is it easier to walk into what theoretically could be a terrible show and keep yourself mentally lose for it when it’s just your gig, versus when there’s three other equal personalities in a band that you have to juggle?
Definitely, because when you walk into that situation, I can control me. The same thing as anybody else, you’re the only person that you can control. What all our mothers told us is 100% true; the only person you can change is yourself. I can’t manage what three other people are going to feel and take that on. I’m not the kind of person that can take that on, because I’m trying to handle myself and make sure I’m alright and able to function and be healthy in a way that you need to be healthy to be on tour and still be a normal, human person. I can’t manage all that, and I think on a scale that Gaslight is at, where you’re playing to thousands of people – a thousand people is enough for me! That’s enough stress for me! I’m good! (*both laugh*) That’s a lot of people to manage, and then you multiply that by four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…that’s a lot of people.
And you know what’s funny is that when there’s a group of people, there’s a vibe. Human beings, when they’re gathered together, create a vibe. And it’s a funny thing that I think a lot of people don’t talk about, but when you walk into a room and there are 5, 6, 7, 8 thousand people staring back at you, if the vibe is wrong, that vibe hits you like a truck if you’re sensitive to it. And I think a lot of artists inherently are sensitive to it. I’ve watched an artist like Tori Amos or Bruce Springsteen just control it, to take whatever the vibe is and to move it to where they want it to go. That’s truly a talent. For me, I have a little bit harder of a time cultivating the mood, so I have to dig inside myself and be like, “okay, this vibe might be a little weird, how do I turn this around to make it more celebratory?” Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t, that’s just the nature of me. I’m not consummate professional every time, you know? Sometimes if the mail is due or I get an insurance bill right before I go on stage or something (*laughs*), that’ll frazzle me! I’m not a rock, you know?
To go back to something you said a minute ago, you talked about the early expectations for Gaslight – and I didn’t mean to turn this into just a Gaslight conversation – but the early expectations and people saying you’re going to be the next Bruce Springsteen and whatever and the difficulty handling that, do you think that there is a way to handle that appropriately? You certainly know from having gone through it maybe some things you would have done differently, but is there advice you can give to somebody when they’re the “next big thing” and how they could possibly handle that perfectly, if that makes sense?
Totally! First, let me say don’t worry about the Gaslight thing coming into it. It’s part of me and part of the story and it’s part of my life. I don’t shy away from it and it’s not awkward. I’m not one of those people that wants to bury the past. In spite of what I said, it is something that was enjoyable and it’s something that I continue to be proud of. It’s not negative feelings, so don’t feel like you have to tread lightly. On the other side, there is advice I could give as a thirty-eight year-old. I don’t think I could give it as a twenty, twenty-five year old. But the main thing – there’s a lot of talk in the media right now about mental health and artists on tour. I think that’s crucial. I don’t get behind a lot of things; there’s a lot of rallying and a lot of yelling right now it seems, from different sides. “Yell on my side!” “No yell on my side!” “We’re against you!” “We’re against you!”
There’s a lot of that, and some of that is also causing some of the anxiety, you know! You’re trying to fix a problem that is huge, it’s not a small problem. The problems we have in America right now are giant problems that are not easily fixed. But one thing I am behind is the people that are saying things about mental health and about talking. You know, you’re not a spoiled brat if you’re in a band to say “hey, my band got really famous and I’m not sure how to handle that and it’s kinda messing with my personal life and I’m developing anxiety disorders and depression. It’s not what I thought it was going to be.” You’re not being a whiny brat. What you’re doing is mismanaging your emotions. Or maybe – maybe – you have something wrong inside that it took this to come out. I probably had issues with anxiety my whole life and didn’t know it until the catalyst of the band getting huge. Then it came out, and it became incredibly crippling at points. I don’t think you should be ashamed. I don’t know about now, but if I said that back when The ‘59 Sound came out or whatever…if I said “man, I’m having a really hard time with all of this, I’m having massive anxiety,” that was the time when my guy friends would say “oh whatever! Stop being a baby!” You couldn’t say that in public, you know what I mean?
It’s great that society, and the punk community, have developed to the point where you can say that now. I know there’s this site I’ve been following called Punk Talks, and they’ve got a number where you can call them and talk to them. I was amazed when I first saw it. And I wish I’d had that! I would have called them. I would have been like “hey, man…I don’t really know what to do here!” Sorry, I’ve digressed into a whole other thing, but my point is that my advice to someone would be that you have to break this thing down. If your band is getting successful and you’re starting to come up and get more recognition and to get it quicker than you thought and that’s getting to you mentally or emotionally, my advice is to break it down into small, in-the-day things. If you say “okay, tonight I’ve got this show and it’s in front of a lot of people,” you have to remember that those people are not there to crucify you and they’re not there to criticize you. There might be one or two, but they’re always going to be there, whether you’re playing to twenty people or twenty thousand people. Most of the people there just love what you’re doing, and they’re trying to have a good time, and they’re just like you. They’re no different than you.
So you can kinda break it all down like that. The thing about what comes press and the pressure and the labels and the selling of records and blah, blah, blah…that stuff will come and go, and it will go up and down and then it will repeat itself up and down again, up and down again. People will hate a record and they’ll love a record. You’ve gotta ignore all that and do what you love and remember that you love it, and that’s my only barometer. Don’t think about what anyone’s going to say, don’t think about what any magazine’s going to write, just do what you love and move forward, one foot in front of the other. That’s a mouthful, sorry! (*both laugh*)
No, that’s wonderful really, and as somebody who works by day in the substance abuse and mental health counseling field outside of this little punk rock website we have, that idea, and Punk Talks in general, really resonated on a whole bunch of different levels.
You’ve gotta not be afraid, you know? I come from the ‘90s punk and hardcore scene where you really weren’t allowed to say much! (*both laugh*) We weren’t in the emo scene or anything like that, and I’m not trying to say that that scene was better, I have no idea because I wasn’t involved in it. But where we were it was like…everybody had a beard! (*laughs*) And men were men! (*both laugh*) And they like post-hardcore! And I was just like…I don’t know what to do with this. I’m scared, you’re throwing beer at me, it’s kinda freaking me out! Stop touching me in the face! (*both laugh*)
We’re the same age, I’m 38 too, and I grew up in the Boston area scene…
Oh yeah, so you get it! You know what I’m talking about!
Exactly! It’s tough to talk about feeling anxiety or some of your vulnerabilities when you’re at a show where there’s skinheads on one side and FSU guys who are there to kick the shit out of the skinheads on the other side!
Yeah, it was chaotic. When I first started, I was more afraid of getting beat up at a show. I didn’t really have time to think about my emotions, I was more like “I just hope I don’t bump into the wrong guy!”
Exactly! Switching gears a little…congratulations on the new album.
Oh thank you!
As a long time fan, obviously, I feel like it creates an interesting narrative arc – and maybe this is just projecting based on things in my own personal life over the last few years – but if you take Get Hurt and all the ground that that covered, then Painkillers filling this middle space and period of adjustment, Sleepwalkers, puts a positive bookend on that little trilogy. Is that me making that up, or do you view things in segments like that?
I think that if I planned it out like that to be a trilogy, I’d be pretty smart. I think it was just a natural progression that I was going through. It makes the point that records are true to life. I was following exactly where I was at the time on all three records, and it’s funny how it worked out like that, where it seems like it follows a trajectory. It did, although the trajectory wasn’t a planned record, it was my life. It’s kind of funny, because it’s art literally being life. I don’t think I handled everything in my personal life or my artistic life as graciously as I would have liked to, but that’s true of everybody. Once you get out the other side, you realize that this is good, and I’ve got this – I’ve put my head back together. But that took a lot of work, it took a lot of therapy and a lot of doctors and a lot of books and everything. I had reasons that maybe some people didn’t have, because I had kids. I didn’t have the luxury of just being a lunatic. I couldn’t do that because I was like “you have children, and you have clearly messed yourself up to the point where you don’t know what’s going on, and you’ve got to put your head back together, because your kids deserve better than that. You have to do it.” And there’s no backing down from that.
And that’s exactly what Sleepwalkers sounds like. I wrote notes when I first sat down with the album, because I’m old fashioned and still like to sit down and listen to new music straight through and to hold a copy of it while I’m doing it, and the notes I have are that the album sounds really cohesive, and that it sounds like somebody who came through a lot of bullshit and is in a pretty good place. That, in hindsight, made Painkillers feel like somebody who was in a weird middle ground and trying to figure out what was next, in a lot of ways. Sleepwalkers is a really happy, comfortable record, which I will say is not necessarily and easy thing to pull off when you’re somebody who’s got a history of poking around in the dark places, you know what I mean? To be able to do both is a really noteworthy thing, for what that’s worth.
I would say so too! A friend of mine said to me the other week “hey, I really like your record.” And then he goes “my girlfriend said you made a positive record cool again!” And I said “really? That’s awesome! Thank you!” (*both laugh*) The thing is, I think I just put down everything that I was trying to manipulate. You manipulate things to protect yourself…some people manipulate things to control other people, and some people manipulate things to try and protect themselves. My whole thing was “if I can steer this this way, I can protect this and they won’t see what’s really going on.” A lot of that was more what I was doing, trying to dodge things, because I was really, not well! (*laughs*) You know? I was trying to shield myself, because I knew I was one pebble away from the window breaking. And that’s what Painkillers was, where I had to buckle down. I said “I know I can grasp this. I know I like folk music. I know I like these kinds of songs. Let me do this, and let me transition.” It’s very much a transitioning record, where I was going from one thing to the other and figure out what it was and who I am.
When I got to Sleepwalkers, I realized “well, the thing that I do in the Gaslight Anthem, one part of that is me, and the other three-fourths of that are the other guys. If I remove the one part that’s me, who am I? And the answer is I’m no one. You can’t take away who you are and what your style inherently is and remove it just because you’re doing a new project, you know? I decided that instead of running from that, I’m just going to be myself, and if some people say “well, that sounds like Gaslight,” of course it does, because I’m the one doing it. The parts that don’t sound like the band are the parts that came from the other three people in the band, and now there are new people, so those parts will sound different and I’m the part that sounds the same. I finally was just like “yup, I’m okay with that! That’s fine!” (*both laugh*) And then everything became easy. I got to put my own shoes on again. It’s like…”I like Bruce Springsteen, I like old movies, I like New Jersey, I don’t care what you say about it! There are literally hundreds and thousands of other options that you can listen to if you don’t like it!”
But that’s inherently what drew a lot of people, myself included, to Gaslight in the first place. That exact comparison…
It’s funny because the one thing that I always find is a misfired criticism, not just of myself but of anyone, is when you’re three or four records in and somebody goes “yeah, but it’s just the same old thing.” (*both laugh*) And you’re like “well, what do you mean it’s the same old thing?” It’s not the same old thing? What do you expect me to do, what everyone else does? Or some other style that I’m not good at? This is what I’m in to! I’ve heard Bruce (Springsteen), from his own mouth, tell me that people said that about him. They’re like “all he talks about is cars and factories and whatever.” Well, yeah, that’s because that’s what he does. That’s his thing. You don’t want him to be like “yo, check out this grime dance beat that I’ve got!” (*imitates percussive dance hall beat*) You’d be like “Bruce Springsteen, you’re out of your mind.” I think that sometimes people don’t know what they want, so sometimes you have to know for them. Hence, back to the issue of why Gaslight stopped in the first place — sometimes, you have to know yourselves sometimes better than the people that love you, and to say “hey, we know you love this thing, but if we make a half-hearted record, you’re not going to love it. So we’re not going to do it, because we’re protecting ourselves and what we’ve done in the past. We don’t want to ruin this.” That’s the thing that I think is hard to swallow for people.
It’s weird that people would say that about Gaslight, because that’s not a thing I ever consciously thought. I think if you look at ‘59 Sound and Get Hurt and hold those two albums up to each other, that’s a very different band. It’s only six years or whatever and it’s the same guys, but that’s a totally different band in terms of what you’re writing about and how you’re playing.
Yeah, it definitely is.
So it’s weird to me that that’s a criticism people would have.
I don’t think it was a criticism necessarily of Get Hurt, but we definitely got it on every other record. On Handwritten, people said “oh, that’s more of the same.” I’ve even seen it now, where’ they’re just like “oh, Brian’s doing whatever he’s always doing.” Well, yeah, that’s what Brian does! If you look at it like a store, I’m like a little coffee shop. I make coffee. If you like coffee, come here. If you don’t like coffee and you’re looking for sushi, maybe don’t come to the coffee place!
Right! Exactly! Speaking of doing what you do, when you were writing for Painkillers, were you writing specifically for “solo album one?” I know a few of the songs were around for the Molly and the Zombies thing, but was the rest specifically for a first solo album, or was it more a collection of songs, if that makes sense.
In the beginning, with the initial songs, I was just writing. So “Red Lights” and “Smoke” and those songs, I was just writing and didn’t know what it was for. I kinda formed the Molly and the Zombies thing just so I could play them live, we never really had any intentions of making a record or anything. It was just a live band. When they came around, I said “well, these songs are good, I don’t want to just throw them away.” So if I wasn’t doing anything with the band, I still wanted to make records. So, I figured I’d put those songs together and use them as my stylistic jumping-off point and reference, and I continued on writing from there. I had those few songs done and then wrote more on top of it to make a record.
Versus for this one, the goal was to write “solo album number two.”
Yeah, this was definitely written all at the same time, with the goal of “this is a solo record.” In the beginning with Painkillers, I didn’t even know if I was going to make a solo record when the band stopped. I was hesitant about it and I kinda didn’t want to do anything in music at the time.
So then what was the alternative, in hindsight?
If I didn’t do music?
Well, that was the problem I was having. There are things I could do just for work, but in the end, I still had more songs. I’m a songwriter, that’s what I do. I have to write songs. Whether I do this on my own or I have a band, I’m going to write songs. Even if it’s for somebody else. That’s just what I do.
I had a very similar conversation with another mutual acquaintance – not to drop names – but Dave Hause and I talked around the time of his last album, and he brought up that there was a part of him that had thought about throwing the music thing away and going back to swinging a hammer, and that seems from this side, for guys that I admittedly put up on a pedestal as preeminently gifted musicians and songwriters, to be not just a waste of talent but a really, really weird thing to realize that that’s a conversation that you volley around in your head.
It’s hard, you know? When you’re in it, it’s hard. That’s the whole thing about perspective, that it’s very difficult to acquire when you’re in the situation, you know?
Are you at a point now, or is it too early in the “Brian Fallon Solo Career,” to where you have people that are strictly “Brian Fallon Solo” fans, or is it largely a crossover from the Gaslight world who have jumped on board?
The good thing for me is that I think that could be a heady, dangerous question for me, as a person, so I don’t ask it. I look at it like I’m grateful for whoever is here and I don’t care why you’re here. I don’t care if you loved the Gaslight Anthem and you’re coming to see that. But at the same time, I don’t think that people come to see you as like a favor, you know? They’re not like “well, I liked your old band, so I’m going to come check you out and humor you,” you know? (*both laugh*) I think it happens with anybody, like if you take Jason Isbell, I’m sure when he started touring, the people that came to see him were Drive-By Truckers fans. Now, having seen him within the last year, I don’t think that most of the people that are going to see him know who the Drive-By Truckers are. On the flip side of the coin, when Tim Barry first went and did his own thing, I think that everybody there was Avail fans, but I would be very hard-pressed to see if half of his audience knows who Avail is now.
Yeah, I have actually asked him that specifically too, and you seem to share the same philosophy. I think he said something like “whoever you are, I’m flattered that you’re here, let’s have a fucking good time.”
Yeah, that’s exactly right. He’s right.
Usually! (*both laugh*)
Nobody likes sitting and holding out on something. Like, sometimes people will have the impression that you’re like holding out a full-band record from them. Like, when I was growing up, I never thought The Replacements were trying to bum me out by not putting out a record. (*both laugh*) I heard the last Replacements record, All Shook Down, and I think everyone in the band and the public would agree, that maybe that was it. Like, there are no more “Tim’s,” there are no more “Pleased To Meet Me’s,” there are no more “Let It Be’s,” that’s just it. The band has just clearly moved on creatively between the four members and there’s no more of that thing left in them, so rather than embarrass themselves, they stop. And I felt a little bit of a kinship when we made that decision to stop. And also, when we made the decision to play the 59 Sound shows, a couple years ago we played a few shows with The Replacements, and I noticed – I watched that very closely, to see if they released new music. And they didn’t, and I was like “oh wow, that’s awesome.” I got to see the band that I loved, because I was too young – I was like 8 years old, when they were last around. So they played, and I got to see, at 35, the thing that I always wanted to see, and it scratched the itch. I got what I wanted. And also, the guys and I talked and this is what I said to them as well, that this is what I think is the best thing to do. Unless we had an idea that was 100% heartfelt, then we’d make a record. If not, we won’t, and there’s no amount of money or anything that could convince me otherwise.
I feel like that’s what people would except from you.
Yeah, I would hope!
Exactly…I hope that’s what they expect!
Yeah, I hope that’s what they expect too, because I’m not going to give them a half-hearted record. Even if everything was either blown up or was going terribly – which it’s not – but that still wouldn’t convince me to put out a half-hearted (Gaslight Anthem) record.
You’ve got a new lineup on this tour, as we sort of talked about before. Is that by design, or was that out of necessity because of people like Jared (Hart) and Alex (Rosamilia) moving on other projects.
It was kind of all of it together. The way we had that Crowes band put together, I said to everyone that we’d do that record cycle, and I didn’t even know where I was going to go next and I’d figure it out when I got there. But we committed to that cycle and then when it was done we’d disperse. When I decided to do this record, it had a different feel to it and it was a different kind of band, so I decided to put together a band that I felt fit best to do this kind of music. It’s a little more rhythmic and things are different. And plus, everybody else had other projects, and I felt like if they stayed with me, it’s not going to help them get their other projects done.