The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem

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The last time this writer spoke with The Gaslight Anthem's Alex Rosamilia in 2007 the guitarist was "virtually homeless". A year later the extraordinary crossover success of his New Jersey-based band's second album The 59 Sound - a sing-a-long synthesis of Jersey folk roots and Bowery punk - altered his reality for the better.

Alex Rosamilia:
"It took me 28 years to get here so it's definitely been a struggle," surmises Rosamilia on the phone. "Now I can afford to stay doing what I love to do - and I'm one of the lucky people who get to do that, at least until the public decide they don't like us anymore. Then I'll have to go back to working at the mall. Ha!"

There's little chance of that. A measure of The Gaslight Anthem's stratospheric rise in recent times is not only been the widescreen appeal of their anthemic songs but also the surreal appearance of Bruce Springsteen on stage with the band at last year's Glastonbury festival in the UK.

Alex Rosamilia:
"I think I know more from watching it on YouTube than from what I remember on the night," laughs Rosamilia.

The hype has now spilled over onto the quartet's new Ted Hutt (Bouncing Souls)-produced third album, American Slang, a record preceded by much expectation and fanfare.

Alex Rosamilia:
"This was the first time that people expected to hear something," says Rosamilia. "Up until this record there wasn't much of anything, you know, we're putting out this record and then we'll tour on it and when it's over we'll do another one because that's what we've always done.

Alex Rosamilia:
"This time it was like 'shit, now we have to predict the future!'. But instead of trying to do that and figure out what everybody wants to hear we just wrote a record that we wanted to hear and hoped that everybody had the same thing in mind."

Written largely in New York City, most of the songs fell easily into lyricist-singer-guitarist Brian Fallon's head.

Alex Rosamilia:
"Pressure didn't change the songwriting at all but it changed the recording aspect," explains Rosamilia. "The other records we had to settle based on time and ability I guess because we weren't that good as musicians yet. Now we had more time to get it right. I'm not saying everything on this record is a ten bit it's as close to it as we could possibly get.

Alex Rosamilia:
"I'd be in the studio until two in the morning and the next day we'd go back in and listen back to it and be like 'ah let's do that again!'. We'd repeat that cycle for ten songs so we're always trying to expand."

Now in their sixth year, The Gaslight Anthem made a collective attempt to widen their working class 50s-style sound on American Slang with Rosamilia adding plenty of piano fills to beef up the choruses.

Alex Rosamilia:
"The piano is there to be felt and not heard," he says. "I was trying to step up and do as much to the songs to make them sound bigger so that when we play them live it won't feel like anything's missing.

Alex Rosamilia:
"We definitely planned for this to be played as a record from beginning to end, to be listened to as a whole. You're not just putting together a compilation of songs you have lying around. It should be the idea of a record as a theme, not in that it tells just one story but in that it's thematic in its sound and in its message in what the songs are trying to relay.

Alex Rosamilia:
"We wanted to make a record that in five or ten years from now would still sound relevant and not dated. I don't really want to be quoted that we wanted to write a timeless record but that is really what we wanted to do. Ha! I just wish there was a better way to say it."

Having now swapped the twangier Fender guitars of his early playing days for Gibsons, Rosamilia confesses the tone of The Cure's Disintegration album remains a benchmark for him.

Alex Rosamilia:
"Yeah I've been trying to emulate that sound as part of my sound ever since I've been playing the guitar," he laughs. "The way the guitars sound on that record, I can't picture somebody playing it even though I've seen people play it before.

Alex Rosamilia:
"With my style, I guess you play enough and you get better at learning scales and how to improvise and playing along to records and being acquainted to new things. The past year I've got into Clapton and Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac and that's definitely changed the way I play. The more you play, the more confidence you get in yourself and so that will make you try to take bigger steps."



Mark Knopfler

2013-05-08 - Lodz, Atlas Arena 19:30 165-616 PLN

Roger Waters The Wall

2013-08-20, Warszawa, tickets: 242 zł - 1310 zł

Sonisphere Festival

2013-10-12 - Wroclaw 19:30, tickets: 165-1616 PLN

Iron Maiden

2013-08-20, Warszawa, tickets: 242 zł - 1310 zł

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