The Gaslight Anthem's Benny Horowitz on Handwritten and SB 1070
It's a pretty good time to be The Gaslight Anthem. The band, which at times sounds like a nostalgic punk rock version of Bruce Springsteen, recently signed to a major label to release its forth full length album, Handwritten. After the band's frontman, Brian Fallon dedicated some time to bluesy side project, The Horrible Crowes, The Gaslight Anthem is back with a vengeance. The band is currently on tour with Rise Against and Hot Water Music, and will be performing at Mesa Amphitheater on Friday, September 28.
Danny Clinch The Gaslight Anthem
We recently caught up with drummer Benny Horowitz to discuss the recording process of Handwritten, his thoughts on SB 1070, and how hard work and luck factor into The Gaslight Anthem's success.
Up on the Sun: What's it like touring with Rise Against and Hot Water Music?
Benny Horowitz: It's cool. Aside from them being great bands, they're both bands that we've toured with in certain capacities. We know all of the bands, we're friends with them, we know all of the crews, we're friends with those guys, so sometimes when you leave for a tour, there's kind of this getting to know you grace period with everyone to sort of get comfortable. With [this lineup], from the first day, it's just like seeing old friends and getting on the road again, so that's a real treat.
Just being able to tour with Hot Water Music is a trip within itself. That's a band that we all grew up listening to, a band I saw in a basement when I was 15 years old. To think that one day you can actually appear and play with them, it's a trip, it's definitely a surreal experience.
What inspired your most recent album, Handwritten?
A lot of things inspire a record. [There are] tons of things as far as music and life that all go into an album. Some of those major parts to this record were maybe a back to basics approach to songwriting and recording, doing everything in a room again and recording it as live as possible. With signing to a major and moving to a producer and stuff like that, there are some kinds of expectations and talk that surround moves like that. I know it was important for us to do what we do, and write songs that we like and kind of let everything else play itself out.
Do you feel like it lived up to those expectations?
Yeah, if I could tell you in 100% truthfulness, I couldn't give a fuck what other people's expectations are for our music. I believe in the guys I play with and I believe in the music we write. If I leave the rehearsal studio with a bunch of songs that we think are great and they're songs that we want to record and we stand behind, I kind of don't care what anyone else says.
Right on. So, why did you decide to record it in Nashville?
The actual city itself kind of panned out because that's where Brendan O'Brien works out of now. He works at Blackbird Studios on the outskirts of Nashville. It's a badass studio, I love all those guys.
As far as a specific city, it wasn't us sitting around going, 'We need to go to Nashville.' The motivation was we knew we really wanted to get out of town to record the record. We recorded the last record, American Slang in New York City, and when we record in New York City, everybody goes home every night. We're basically commuters where we just pop in the studio, and you work, and you go home at night.
On the record before that, we did The '59 Sound in Los Angeles. We did Senor and the Queen in Austin, Texas. I think we've found it really beneficial to be away to really release yourself in the record, so we tried to do that again. We just loaded up the van, we brought Alex [Rosamilia]'s dog and we rode a trip down to Nashville and rented a little house outside of town. We were really more interactive in the process. Instead of going home at night to your family or whatever people's situations are, we drive to the studio together, we sit there all day, we drive home together, we eat dinner, and then we sit around the house, we're still talking about the record, thinking about what we can do the next day and things like that. The motivation was really to get away, just so we could really put our heads into the record.
It's an awesome town, so that worked out.
Sadly, we were studio rats when we were there. We didn't get out and about too much, we saw some of the cool stuff, we hung out with some cool people we know down there, but pretty much six days a week, we were holed up in the studio doing our thing. We were being social with the guys working on the record, we weren't really men about town, so to speak.