For their fifth album, The Gaslight Anthem changed their modus operandi and found a different way of working in the studio, in an attempt to take their sound to the next level.
It’s a “new” Gaslight Anthem, then?
Not so as you’d notice. There’s a reassuring familiarity to the beefy hooks and rousing melodies, no one’s going to be alienated by the changes, but there’s the potential for millions of converts to come on board. The chief difference is in the way the songs were recorded, eschewing the practice of previous albums where the band played together in one room with minimal overdubs. “We built it like you would a house, you put the framework down,” says front man Brian Fallon. “We were experimenting with the sounds so much, you just couldn’t do it live. There was too much going on.”
Hmm, wouldn’t that result in a lack of vibe or spontaneity?
You might think that, but Get Hurt is – paradoxically – the most cohesive and intuitive record the band have ever made. The four-way telepathy is still there, even if the players weren’t always in the same room.
The last album Handwritten did very well; was there really any reason to tinker with the formula?
Standing still can be as risky as shifting gears, and the band were keen to challenge themselves. “It wasn’t exactly clear when we started what we were going to do,” says Fallon. “We just knew we had to change it up in order to maintain being a relevant band to ourselves.”
Were they thinking of anyone in particular when they started the record?
Fallon: “I was listening to bands who were making a bold statement with their records, when the record did the talking for itself. For example, when Pink Floyd lost Syd Barrett and David Gilmour took over on vocals. When U2 went from The Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby!, and The Rolling Stones when they went from being a blues band to Beggars Banquet.”
Speaking of veteran superstars, might the band still suffer from the dismissive “Springsteen’s mates” tag that’s occasionally been used to beat them down?
Well, the album is certainly still Bruce-like in places, but the overall impression is of a band painting on a much broader canvas of rock classicism. They don’t deny their influences, and are confident enough to show us more of them.