Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon: You can't write a record for radio

Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon: You can't write a record for radio
Photo by Danny Clinch

Punk rock outfit the Gaslight Anthem has been around for half a decade, and in that time, they've churned out three full-length records, earning them a cult following and some pretty big-name fans (you can count Bruce Springsteen), but not a whole lot of radio air. Now, with the band's fourth LP, Handwritten, the tides seem to be changing, and Gaslight Anthem is positioned on the forefront of what seems like an imminent wave in the comeback of punk.

Handwritten, to be released July 24, has all the grit and attitude of the band's breakthrough 2008 album The '59 Sound, but producer Brendan O'Brien was brought on. The Gaslight Anthem is in the midst of an intense U.S. tour, and frontman Brian Fallon took the time to chat with Gimme Noise about the Replacements, and creating Handwritten.

Gimme Noise:You've named the Replacements several times as a huge influence on your music, and you're coming now to Minneapolis!

Brian Fallon: The were developmentally influential. I think the Replacements were more a definitive band instead of something that we would come to now. I think it's like being raised by your parents; you always have the memory of things that they were into. We're four records in... you kind of grow up and use what you have that's already there. It's just there peripherally. Those things will always stay with you.

You guys have been at this since 2006. Tell me, after four albums, where do feel you're at artistically?

The one thing that we know is that we're searching for our own identity. If you speak to someone like Neil Young or Bob Dylan, they're going to tell you "I just to be myself, whoever that is."

Let's switch gears a little bit. You also worked with longtime Springsteen producer Brendan O'Brien on Handwritten. Tell me about the influence he had.

Brendan came probably in the early stages of writing... he had the right kind of mindset, and he wasn't really worried about radio singles. We've never had any radio play, so this time it was a big thing with everyone else that we talked to, every producer -- that was a thing in the forefront. You can't write a record for the radio -- it doesn't work. You have to write what you like and hope that it works.

You were recently on the Late Show with David Letterman. How was that for you?

It was cool. He's had us on the show a couple times... He had this 45-minute show that you can do afterwards. It's this new thing. They empty out the theater and they give away tickets and you either respond via Twitter or whatever, and they pick kids to get tickets. They filled it up with all these people who want to see us, and it was like playing our own show on the Letterman show. It was like a historical thing for us. You walk through the halls with Bob Dylan and Beatles... It was so nice to do something like that.

Cool. So, what are you listening to at the moment? Any bands or artists that you wish were on other people's radar?

Yeah. Cory Branan, he's got a great talent. He's been around for a while. And Dave Hause, he's on tour with us now. There's a ton of really killer bands... there's a pretty cool insurgence of strong bands that have come out, and the list is huge. It's an exciting time.

The Gaslight Anthem will be playing a sold out show tonight, July 11, at the Fine Line Music Cafe. 8 p.m. 18+.

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