For about two years, Brian Fallon wrestled with an idea that both intrigued and unsettled him: He wanted to get his band, the Gaslight Anthem, back together. The New Brunswick–based punk rockers, save for a brief tour in 2018, had been on hiatus since 2015. But before Fallon contacted his old bandmates, he set a goal.
“I said to myself, If I can write four songs that are of equal quality to something that the Gaslight Anthem has done, I will make the phone calls,” Fallon explains.
The 42-year-old lead singer and guitarist wrote those four songs in a matter of two weeks. Satisfied that those tunes were appealing enough to be Gaslight tracks, Fallon called drummer Benny Horowitz and presented his case.
“Within the first 30 seconds of the conversation,” Horowitz said, “he was saying everything I needed to hear. The conversation went on much longer, and I said, ‘Yeah, man. Let’s do it. That sounds great.’ Within a minute, he showed me the energy I knew we needed to make it happen.”
With bassist Alex Levine and guitarist Alex Rosamilia also convinced that it was time for a reunion, Fallon realized his wish. The Gaslight Anthem announced its return as a full-time band on March 25.
True to their roots, the bandmates began practicing in what Horowitz calls “an undisclosed basement in New Jersey.” A picture posted on social media made the basement look about as spacious as an airplane aisle, but that prep spurred a tour that started in Europe in August before making its way to the United States in September. The reunion slate culminates with a highly anticipated homecoming show at Holmdel’s PNC Bank Arts Center on October 8.
When the Gaslight Anthem played a surprise June show at Garwood’s Crossroads, a popular restaurant, bar and live-music venue, the band performed with palpable energy. Gone was the “weird” feeling that Fallon says had permeated the quartet, although he also adds, “It’s not like we needed any therapy sessions” before reuniting. Back was the vitality that had brought them together in 2006 and helped them produce five acclaimed albums, including their debut Sink or Swim and the breakthrough The ’59 Sound.
The band has not released an album since 2014’s Get Hurt, but a new record is coming in 2023. Fallon and Horowitz say Gaslight fans should expect them to churn out the same frenetic music featuring Fallon’s raspy voice and profound lyrics, Horowitz’s always-steady drumbeat, and a jangle of guitars from the Alexes.
“I still have the belief that maybe we haven’t written our best songs yet,” Fallon says. “And I really think that we should still be trying to do that. I’m not saying that it could maybe top everything we’ve done, but to sit on the shelf alongside of what we’ve done and be worthy of that. That’s the goal for me, to make something that I feel I can be as proud of as any of the other records.”
As proud as Horowitz is of the Gaslight catalog, with songs ranging from the foot-stomping “The ’59 Sound” to the reflective “Here’s Looking at You, Kid,” he doesn’t want to simply play the greatest hits. Horowitz stressed that it was of “paramount importance” for him to “respect the fan base and come back in a way that was meaningful and in a way that gave the band the respect it deserves.” Like Fallon, he wants the band to grow and create new material.
The Gaslight Anthem are trying to add to their playlist, not repeat what they’ve already done.
“We’re way too young to be a nostalgia act,” Fallon adds. “We’re not like the Who, you know? That’s crazy. No offense to the Who. But the Who isn’t working on new material to try and beat Tommy. But you take the Foo Fighters or Pearl Jam or even Bruce; they’re doing new stuff. They’re trying to continue the story.
“That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to continue our story.”