The Gaslight Anthem get ready for the big time—but not without reservations / by Jeanne Fury
lame Jersey Shore. Hell, blame the Boss. But New
Jersey has been misrepresented. The state of 8.7 million people is not just a land of opportunity for tanned brats and their equally-tanned parents. Nor is it a blue-collar Disney World where a helping hand is always at the ready. And it can be hard to see the glamour in those “glory days” when you’re living check-to-check in the Garden State. If you’re not up for the grind, working-class Jersey might just kick your ass, and keep you down. The Gaslight Anthem—singer/ guitarist Brian Fallon, guitarist Alex Rosamilia, drummer Benny Horowitz and bassist Alex Levine—came up through the same New Brunswick, NJ, do-it-yourself scene that gave us the Bouncing Souls, Lifetime and Thursday. But the “Jersey band” marketing hook the quartet’s been saddled with also has plenty to do with their sound. The Gaslight Anthem’s first two albums—2007’s Sink or Swim and 2008’s The ’59 Sound—are firmly rooted in the Bruce Springsteen songbook: charming paeans to underdogs set to lovingly arranged, golden-toned, old-school rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a sound that’s taken them from hometown basements to international arena gigs in just a few short years. But judging by their new album, American Slang, the Gaslight Anthem are ready to move away their all-toofamiliar influences, into a sound that’s more personal, and certainly less “New Jersey.” “For some reason, people have grabbed this ‘New Jersey’ thing and ran with it,” Fallon says. “People put a lot of [emphasis] on us [being from New Jersey], and they think that if we photos by ashley maile
came from somewhere else, we would be totally and completely different.” “People constantly ask me to describe the ‘New Jersey sound,’” Rosamilia says. “And I don’t know what that means.” Perhaps popular culture’s been fed Jersey-branded snake oil for so long that it’s impossible for anyone who wasn’t raised in New Jersey to see the reality behind the fiction. But these natives can assure you that it’s less about dancing in the dark than high-tailing it the hell out of there at the first opportunity. “I’m kinda jaded about this whole glorification of New Jersey,” Fallon says, his voice growing agitated. “It’s not what people think it is! You can get caught there. I watched my father spend his whole life in a factory and then get canned and not be able to find a job in his 50s. Are you kidding me? That’s not a place I want to go to. You get turned around like processed meat. There’s no opportunity there. People kind of romanticize it, but it’s not ‘Born to Run.’ It’s not like that. And that song is about leaving New Jersey! New Jersey is the only state with a ‘state song’ about leaving the state.” june 2010
Issue #002 of Cowbell Magazine features the Gaslight Anthem, Ariel Pink, the Futureheads, sustainability content and more!