Artists and Bands

Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia offers a glimpse into the explosive band and explains why “The Gaslight Anthem is – it just is”

Sure, it’s only August, and 2010 still has four whole months to deliver musically, but The Gaslight Anthem’s latest release, American Slang, is already looking, or I suppose sounding, like the best album of the year. The New Jersey natives’ third album, which was released this past June, is easily the best punk/rock offering to have come my way in a very, very long time. The sense of truth which the record emanates is hauntingly beautiful, and there’s no arguing with the band’s musical abilities either. And turns out the guys put on a wicked live show as well, so what more can one really ask for?

Following the band’s set at Montreal’s Osheaga Music Festival – where Brian Fallon (vocals/guitar), Alex Rosamilia (guitar), Alex Levine (bass), and Ben Horowitz (drums) played to a crowd filled with devoted fans and entranced, soon to become devoted fans – Rosamilia took time to offer The Rock and Roll Report a glimpse into the explosive band, define his odd man out status, and even explain floccinaucinihilipilification. Yes, that’s a real word. And it all began with a bench by the water, a sigh of relief, and the declaration that, “It’s hard to have that much energy at like, three in the afternoon!”

Q: That’s what I was just going to ask – when you’re stuck with an early set time like today’s 3 p.m., is it hard to get on stage and be full force?

A: It is if you, you know, sometimes I’ve woken up and we’re on in like twenty minutes, but because of the border cross I got up pretty early today … But before we go on I listen to the same five/eight songs every day to try to get myself in the same mindset no matter where I am, or what time it is.

Q: American Slang has been getting rave reviews from absolutely everyone, from SPIN to Kerrang! to smaller, local press – did you have any idea it would be received so warmly as you were working on it?

A: You know, we knew that WE thought it was really good, but we didn’t really think about like, that it was some kind of mind-blowing [record] … We knew that it was definitely the best thing we’ve ever done, hands down, and that’s really all we set out to try and do. But there was, you know, pressure. It’s the first time that we had to go in the studio where we were expecting something, or people were expecting something of us, and so we were kind of frazzled at first and then we kind of forgot about that and tried to just write the best thing that we could do. And, you know, we definitely, when we left the studio, thought that that’s what he had expressed.

Q: Do you ever listen to any of the albums and think of things that could have been done differently? How critical are you of yourselves?

A: Personally, I’m very critical of myself. Like, when we wrote American Slang the song, when we first started working on it, you know, I came up with that lead that’s at the beginning, trying to just fill space until I came up with something better … And our producer liked it a lot, but I honestly spent the entire time we were in the studio trying to come up with something else because I didn’t like the way it sounded.

Q: Are you happy with it now?

A: Yeah, I’m alright with it. Every once in a while, when we play it live, when we start playing it I kinda chuckle to myself – I hate it.

Q: Really?!

A: Well, I don’t mean, I don’t hate it. Hate’s a strong word, but it was just really something I just did to fill up [space], you know? I didn’t really think about it being that prominent.

Q: How did putting together American Slang differ from working on the first two albums?

A: We definitely spent the most time on this one. Whereas, on other records we’d be like, “Alright, so what would, you know, Hot Water Music do here?” when we were writing stuff, we were just trying to do what we do, you know what I mean? Figure out what it is that we do and try to find our sound. I think we’re getting there, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

Q: You are very critical of yourself!

A: I think we made a big step towards it, but I don’t think we’ve achieved it yet.

Q: You’ve got a lot of back-to-back touring coming up between North America, Europe, and Australia – does that aspect of being a band ever get tiring?

A: Yes and no. That again is different for me. I’m kind of the odd man out for all this stuff. It’s different for me ‘cause I’m the only one who doesn’t have someone to go home to, so I‘ll stay out forever. The only thing that bothers me about being out for too long it’s like, “Man! I just paid rent and I’ve only been there once!” You know? That’s the only time of being on tour that really bums me out, but yeah, I could do this all year long.

Q: Is it weird being back home after a long period of touring? Having everything so quiet all of a sudden …

A: No, it’s not. Because as much as I love it, as much as it doesn’t ever really get to me, when you do go home it’s like; that’s my bed, my couch, that’s my bar down the street, that’s where all my friends go. You get back to that home environment. Not necessarily family, but just like, everything. It’s just being connected to something that’s rooted firmly because what we do, it’s not really not, it’s not sedentary … You have something that’s rooted that deeply and it’s almost like it’s backup. This is a moving thing, this isn’t going to go on forever. This could all end in two weeks, who knows? Somebody will say something stupid in an interview, and that’ll be the end.

Q: What’s the music scene like in New Jersey?

A: I have no clue. I don’t pay attention to any of that stuff. I have like, three friends I get music from and one of them is strictly grindcore death metal. But I do see things every once in a while and I really like, I mean this is getting kinda old now, but I’m really into that Sleigh Bells record. I’m into that whole vibe: dude, chick, the drum machine. That’s always intrigued me, for whatever reason.

Q: What’s next for The Gaslight Anthem?

A: Touring. And, well, me and Benny just decided on stage that, while we’re home this winter, we’re gonna start a Black Keys sound-alike band ’cause it just looks like fun to do.

Q: Now for some one word answer questions. Favorite drink?

A: Alcoholic or non-alcoholic?

Q: Whatever your favorite drink is …

A: Guinness, alcoholic. Seltzer, non-alcoholic.

Q: Favorite word?

A: Fuck.

Q: Everyone always picks that one! I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t…

A: It’s diversity; you can use it for anything. You can say that word for anything. Replace any word, in any sentence, with the word “fuck,” and the sentence still makes total sense. Alright, you don’t want me to use the word fuck, then, floccinaucinihilipilification. Which is the study of useless information.

Q: Favorite city to play in?

A: [Faux whining] I don’t know! Right here, right now. Montreal. It was awesome.

Q: Finish this sentence for me: The Gaslight Anthem is…

A: Oh! The Gaslight Anthem is [pauses] No, that’s pretty good. I like that.

Q: That doesn’t really give me an answer!

A: That is the answer. The Gaslight Anthem is – it just is. I guess it’s kinda Buddhist and all, but it just is. It’s the four of us and it’s what we do. Two years from now, maybe will be doing something totally different with the same four guys, but we just won’t be The Gaslight Anthem. What we’re doing right now is The Gaslight Anthem. The Gaslight Anthem is The Gaslight Anthem.

To keep up on all the latest from The Gaslight Anthem:

American Slang

The ’59 Sound

Sink or Swim