New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem is gearing up for a busy autumn on the road. The group has essentially been living on the road in support of last year’s record The ’59 Sound, a truly outstanding record that combines the spirit of a young Bruce Springsteen with touches of punk and Tom Petty thrown into the mix.
The past two years have been one of the busiest times in the group’s career. Downtime has been a luxury that they haven’t really been able to take advantage of, but according to Gaslight Anthem drummer Benny Horowitz that suits him and the rest of the band just fine.
“We get antsy when we have time off,” Horowitz starts. “Just a few days after coming off the road, we’ll be itching to get back out. I don’t do well having nothing to do.
“I’ve contemplated taking up delivering pizzas in our time off just to stay busy,” he laughs.
If the upward trajectory of their career is any indication, I’m sad to report that Horowitz might not be able to fulfill duties of his desired second job.
Formed in 2005 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, The Gaslight Anthem released their debut Sink or Swim in 2007 on New Jersey indie label XOXO Records.
They then scored opening slots supporting bands such as Rise Against, Thrice and Against Me and by the end of 2007, they had played over 200 shows.
When it came time to make The ’59 Sound, Horowitz admits that the band had grown by leaps and bounds.
“Our first record was a collection of some of the first songs we had written as a band,” he says. “The biggest change people would notice from our first record to The ’59 Sound is what our songs actually sound like. We made a conscious effort not to make the same record twice this time around.
“At the end of the day though, we are not writing for anybody but ourselves. We want to play and write songs that we think are good and sound good to us. As long we walk out of the studio liking what we’ve done, it’s up to the masses from that point.”
In addition to having undertaken their own headlining tours in support of their newest record, the group has had the good fortune of supporting fellow New Jersey resident Bruce Springsteen on a European tour.
Amateur footage of The Boss joining The Gaslight Anthem on stage at the UK’s Hyde Park can be seen on You Tube and was a truly ethereal experience as far as the guys in the band are concerned:
“It is a totally surreal experience to know it happened in the first place. When we first started playing, I just wanted to put out a seven-inch single and maybe do a tour. I never could have imagined sharing a stage with Bruce Springsteen,” Horowitz admits.
To the best of Horowitz’s knowledge, The Gaslight Anthem’s initial connection to Springsteen came via Springsteen’s son Evan, a punk rock fan. Not long after they met Springsteen at a show, someone from Springsteen’s camp had reached out to The Gaslight Anthem to request a copy of their CD be sent The Boss’s way. And the rest is history, really.
“From what we have seen, he is a very down-to-earth and gracious guy. Bruce seems to have a genuine interest in helping new bands out which he is able to do because of the position he is in.”
The hard work that The Gaslight Anthem has put in over the past few years of being on the road is beginning to pay dividends as they see their popularity grow, a fact that isn’t lost on Horowitz.
“We’ve definitely been seeing things build at a slow and steady pace. Becoming a bigger, more popular band has happened pretty fast by all standards. It has been a progressive ascension ever since Sink or Swim.
“It wasn’t as though we had a hit single though,” Horowitz concedes. “But things have definitely been getting a little easier for us as time goes on. The amount of touring we have been doing has definitely helped.”
As the winter closes in on the Northern Hemisphere, The Gaslight Anthem will remain busy up until the first snow flies.
“After we complete our North American shows, we are looking at another tour through Europe in November. Then in mid-November, we will head back home to New Jersey and have some downtime to relax and then write and record our new record.”
And then maybe, just maybe Horowitz can fit in a pizza delivery or two to help keep him from going too stir crazy.