The Gaslight Anthem
With Rise Against and Hot Water Music
Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
Edmonton Expo Centre (7515 118 Ave.)
$52.50 at unionevents.com
In the five years since The Gaslight Anthem released their debut album, the band has made greater strides than some bands will over the course of an entire career.
Initially earning buzz among punk rock fans with their debut album Sink or Swim, The Gaslight Anthem has drifted from their original sound with every subsequent release. Their latest album, Handwritten, is a mix of murky alternative and heartland rock, a clear reflection of their latest influences. While comparisons to artists such as Springsteen and The Clash have followed the New Jersey band for years now, the band attempted to emulate bands from 90s alternative groups this time around, turning to bands they grew up listening to like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
“You listen to music, you listen to old stuff and new stuff and your taste creates the music you make,” drummer Benny Horowitz says. “Especially in rock and roll where it’s not necessarily about progression, it’s about style. That’s where you really need to listen to a lot of things and incorporate a lot of things intelligently.”
With their changing styles, Gaslight has seen their wide fan base translate into greater commercial success, with Handwritten charting higher than any of their previous albums. But as is common for many growing punk rock bands, fan requests to return to their old sound aren’t uncommon. Still, Horowitz sees change and an evolution from album to album as a natural progression for the group.
“You write music like you want to hear played at that time. I’m not going to lie, we’re not as punk rock as we used to be as far as music goes. That’s obvious just from listening to our records, anyone could see that,” Horowitz says. “But I can safely say that we’re the same people we were when that happened and if you define punk rock as more of an ethic than music, then that still holds true today. I’m not going to bullshit someone and say Handwritten is more punk rock than (our debut album) Sink or Swim, because that’s not true.”
So far, the group has been lucky to avoid the sell out label that plagues many punk bands, and their dedicated fan base has reacted positively to the new sound for the most part.
Even though the band has worked to gain this newfound popularity — including signing with a bigger record label and working with well-known producer Brendan O’Brien on Handwritten — the band’s lead singer Brian Fallon has often talked about his unease with the extent that some fans take their attentions, a sentiment that Horowitz can agree with.
“I think what he’s referring to is in the days of social media, how close relationships can come and how sometimes they can go a little overboard. Some people think they have more of a personal connection than they actually do, but that’s something that naturally happens with this type of thing,” Horowitz says.
“I can’t get into the psychology of how any of this happens, but it’s true that just because you’ve seen someone’s face a bunch of times and you like their music, it doesn’t mean you know what their parents’ names are, where they grew up, how they grew up and the actual person they are. There’s a bit of a disconnection sometimes.”
At the same time, the band’s current success has long been a goal of theirs, and while their connection to fans can seem odd at times, they’re not taking it for granted.
“If people are going ahead and singing our praises, that’s not something I’m tripping on. That’s pretty fucking good in all reality,” Horowitz says.
“There is an element of thankfulness to us and trying to reign in our perspective every step of the way. It’s the fact that you don’t deserve this, you’re not entitled to this, you’re lucky to be here and a lot of things could have gone wrong along the way and they didn’t.”
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