Nothing Formulaic About the Gaslight Anthem’s Recording Process

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New Jersey rockers the Gaslight Anthem quickly became critics' darlings as they distilled a variety of influences ranging from the Replacements and Social D to the Boss himself on albums such as 2008's The '59 Sound and 2010's American Slang. On 2014’s Get Hurt, which is produced by Brit Mike Crossey (Foals, Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg), the band expands its sound and experiments with its punk-inspired roots rock.

With its husky vocals and heavy guitars, "Stay Vicious" mixes the band's Springsteen impulses with its punk rock tendencies while "Helter Skeleton" sounds like a grittier Wilco. The title track comes off like an '80s song as singer-guitarist Brian Fallon sings in a quivering voice about "coming to get her," ostensibly a reference to his recent divorce that's said to inspire the songs here. Drummer Benny Horowitz says the band didn’t set out to do anything different when it went into the studio to record the album. 

“One thing we’ve been focused on from record to record is to not write the same record twice,” he says. “That’s just boring. That’s always in mind. With every record comes a whole new direction and a whole new school of influences and a whole new style every time. We try to do it like that because it’s more fun to expand your sound and try some new things.”

The band recorded the album at Blackbird Studios in Nashville with producer Mike Crossey (The 1975, Arctic Monkeys and Jake Bugg).

“We’ve done the last two at Blackbird,” says Horowitz. “It’s a badass place. This guy John McBride owns it. He’s a super sweet dude and is always around and helping and help and get you gear. It’s second to none. It has this one sound chamber that is a six by six room with an adjustable ceiling that goes up 25 or 30 feet. You let something ring out in that room and based in how high you have the ceiling, that determines how much of a natural echo chamber. I played in that room, which was awesome. Nashville is a good place to go. It’s a chill town. We don’t know that many people there, which is kind of a good thing. We really focused on the record and working at the studio. We don’t have too many outside influences.”

Long-time fans will be happy to hear that the band has been digging deep into its back catalog for recent shows.

“When we first came through [Cleveland], we were doing a lot of Get Hurt stuff,” he says. “We just did a tour in Australia and we did two or three Get Hurt songs a night and playing old stuff we hadn’t played in a long time. It’s all on mood. We try to mix it up and if we see a set where we didn’t play anything off one record, we try to add those songs. It’s a cool problem to have. We have a lot of records and a lot of songs. Sometimes, we just forget about a song. I feel bad when someone comes out afterward and says we didn’t play their favorite songs. It would be boring if we just played for six hours. We’re not that entertaining. Unless we did that jam band thing where we didn’t give away drugs but promoted the use and instilled that vibe. Maybe then, we could rip through six hours of music and people would be digging it the whole time. I don’t see it happening without psychedelics.”

Gaslight Anthem, Northcote, the Scandals, 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583. Tickets: $27-$32, houseofblues.com.


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