New Jersey band sees increased success

With every passing tour and album, The Gaslight Anthem are steadily building momentum to rock ‘n’ roll stardom. Its latest release, The ’59 Sound, has garnered rave reviews and the tours have been getting bigger. It wasn’t that long ago when The Gaslight Anthem was playing quaint basement shows in its hometown of New Brunswick, N.J.

"(Guitarist) Brian (Fallon) had a band called This Charming Man, that had a record deal and he decided to change the members out…. He got Alex (Levine) to play bass and later hooked up with me to play drums," said drummer Benny Horowitz. "We met, did one tour, then we got Alex Rosamilia to play and did the 3-song Sink or Swim demo and have been on the road ever since."

Sink or Swim was a rarity in the fact that an album on a small label was such an instant hit. Message boards and Web sites like and were quick to showcase the band early on.

"A lot of it was word of mouth. We really benefited from a leak from the kid who did our record," Horowtiz said. "We did it the same way all bands do; put out a demo, go on tour – just this one seemed to grab a foot more than the other ones. It was really quick, really nice actually."

The Gaslight Anthem has toured with heavyweights such as Against Me! and have also upgraded from basements in New Jersey to huge festival shows throughout North America and Europe.

"It is cool, still weird adjusting for us, especially with festivals," Levine said. "I wouldn’t mind playing a basement once in awhile."

The tour with Rise Against, Alkaline Trio and Thrice has the band looking to gain even more fans as the opening act. Playing on one of the biggest tours of the year took a little getting used to.

"I’m used to having kids like right up in my face. You have to perform a little bit differently and react a little different on stage," Levine said.

Horowitz said the tour presented a number of new elements for the band.

"(The shows) are amazing, biggest crowds and venues we have ever played. The size and the sound the feel, we weren’t accustomed to it, had to get used to it," Horowitz said.

There is a consensus among critics and fans that The Gaslight Anthem is the second coming of Bruce Springsteen. The band was recently placed as No.1 on Bruce Springsteen’s MySpace music page friend list. The friend-list ranking was a big surprise for the band.

"Totally random, we had no idea," Horowitz said. "We’ve heard rumblings around that he actually knew who we were."

Levine said an unusual concert cameo might have been behind the development.

"His (Springsteen’s) son came out to our record release show we did in New York, so we think he may run the MySpace page," Levine said.

Its second full length, The ’59 Sound, was released on rising independent label SideOneDummy records, which also has bands such as Flogging Molly and Goldfinger on its roster. There were larger independents and major labels also calling, but SideOneDummy won out in The Gaslight Anthem sweepstakes.

"They were real dudes, everyone who worked there. You could call anyone there and get a real answer," Levine said. "Major labels aren’t right for us right now; they definitely have to straighten themselves out."

Success hasn’t gone to the band’s heads, as The Gaslight Anthem remains down to earth and humble. Being from a blue-collar town in New Jersey has helped craft the songwriting and has also kept the band true to itself.

"A lot of the songs aren’t necessarily written autobiographically, but they are written about stories and experiences that have happened to other people around us," Horowitz said. "We are all from New Jersey, so every person and experience is from there. It may not be conscious to us but people tell us it sounds ‘so Jersey.’

"I think it is just us being us."

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