The Gaslight Anthem
wsg Matthew Ryan & the Northern Wires
District Square, Kalamazoo
July 16, 7 p.m. doors
Even though the members of Gaslight Anthem proudly wear their hearts on their tattooed sleeves via the band’s gritty and honest punk-fueled songs – offstage they’re not the sappiest bunch of dudes.
“You’re probably talking to the most sentimental guy in the band,” said drummer Benny Horowitz, while discussing the band’s upcoming 10-year anniversary.
A working class band from the start, the Gaslight Anthem cut their teeth playing basement shows around their home turf: The New Jersey punk scene. The band quickly catapulted to prominence with its second album, 2008’s The ‘59 Sound. The LP drew comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and eventually caught the attention of “The Boss” himself – the band opened for him in England in 2009.
“We were just punk-rock kids who never thought something like that would ever be in the cards,” Horowitz said of the Springsteen gig. “It all kind of flew by and it was surreal. When I watch the videos now, I’m all nervous and stoned and sweating.”
Older and wiser, the band has matured over the last seven years, touring constantly and releasing three more full-lengths: 2010’s American Slang, 2012’s Handwritten (which features “45,” their biggest single to date) and last year’s Get Hurt.
Coming after lead singer/songwriter Brian Fallon’s divorce, Get Hurt has a more personal feel than most of The Gaslight Anthem’s past storytelling. The record is slower and somber. At some points it’s heavier.
“I think it’s good for the whole band to challenge ourselves,” Horowitz said. “To let ourselves write songs we feel like writing and not worry about the genre or how people are going to react to it. Just be really honest about the kind of music you want to write. I think that’s how this record happened.”
So while it’s something of a departure, the band hopes its new direction, and burgeoning fame, will never overshadow where they came from and where they still live: New Jersey.
“Sometimes you see bands lose focus, and they get caught up in their new reality,” he said. “They don’t understand what they used to understand. I hope to God we’re not one of those bands.”
“When something goes from being something you’re yearning for and striving for, to something you’ve achieved, and all of a sudden it’s your livelihood, that kind of changes how you view things,” he said. “That might be the even trickier part to navigate than making it.”