In 2015, The Gaslight Anthem were exhausted as they stepped onto the main stage at Reading Festival after spending over a year tirelessly on the road promoting Get Hurt. Things were tough and they desperately needed a break. The plan was always for the band to take an indefinite hiatus after the festival, and singer Brian Fallon was unsure if they’d ever play together again.
They’d spent almost a decade relentlessly working and felt like they’d reached the end of the road. Fallon immediately launched two feet into a solo career with his debut album, Painkillers, in 2016. This new vehicle was a perfect vessel for the New Jersey native to show a different side to his artistry and write in a way he couldn’t within the confines of Gaslight.
Following the release of his second solo album, 2018’s Sleepwalkers, The Gaslight Anthem reconvened for a short run of dates to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their breakthrough album, The ’59 Sound. After the tour, Fallon felt as though the end of the road for the band had arrived. He thought they had nothing more to give.
It was never in the script for The Gaslight Anthem to get back together, but earlier this year, Fallon began to realise that he missed being in a band and, behind the scenes, he began to get the wheels in motion to reform his former outfit. This time around, however, the 42-year-old is approaching The Gaslight Anthem with a more carefree attitude and plans on savouring each moment rather than constantly chasing the next milestone.
“The band definitely needed a break, we made a bunch of records in a row, and we didn’t ever stop to take a year off. Then, it was like, ‘Now we really have to (take a break),'” Fallon tells Far Out over the phone.
Fallon believes that the pressure of the music industry caused The Gaslight Anthem to burn out, simply because they were too frightened to ever take their foot off the gas. “They would always tell you that everything is the last thing, and if you don’t do this next thing, your career will be over, which isn’t true,” he explains. “But when you’re young, you don’t know that. You’re coming up, and you’re thinking, ‘I’ve achieved this thing, and I don’t want to lose it now.'”
Fallon’s main worry was that if they took a year away, people would forget about them, and they allowed exterior opinions to affect their decision-making, eventually leading to The Gaslight Anthem’s indefinite hiatus. Furthermore, The Gaslight Anthem’s most recent album, Get Hurt, was slammed upon release, and initially, this was hard to take. “Every band has that. People will be like, ‘This is the best band ever’, then they build them up, and there comes a time when you’re the worst band ever, and then you wait a little while, and you’re the best band ever again,” he says from experience. “It was the time for everyone to have a backlash against the band, but when I look back at Get Hurt now, I think it’s a great record,” Fallon adds.
After only three years away, The Gaslight Anthem announced that they were returning to the stage in 2018. However, it was made clear that it was only to celebrate The ’59 Sound turning ten, and they had no plans to record new material. Fallon still didn’t feel like he had an urge to write material in the mould of Gaslight and wasn’t prepared to force it. After the run, each member of the band returned to their indefinite hiatus, and the future looked as uncertain as ever.
“I don’t think anybody thought it was going to continue,” Fallon says about the 2018 reunion. “After that, I really thought that was it. I was like, ‘This is never happening again. There’s no chance.’ It felt like there was nothing else to add, and things felt so final.”
Fallon also believes that the band didn’t leave it long enough before returning but now acknowledges it’s now a different story considering they haven’t released material in eight years. He adds: “It’s been a long time now, and then it’s been so long since we’ve made a record that there really was enough distance to actually think about it.”
“I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t for the new music,” Fallon says about The Gaslight Anthem’s future plans. “I think I’m not the only one that feels that way. I feel like definitely some of the other guys, if not everybody, would have said, ‘If we’re not gonna do new music, I don’t really want to do it.'”
There’s no estimated date for their sixth album, but fans should expect classic Gaslight. “We haven’t finished doing much yet, but it’s still going to sound like a Gaslight Anthem record, though, because if you put the four of us in the room, it always sounds like The Gaslight Anthem, just like if you did the same with Pearl Jam,” Fallon explains. “We’re not going to re-do anything or change our sound. We know what people like about us, we know what we like about us, and we are going to emphasise those things.”
After making three solo albums, Fallon hasn’t struggled to jump back into Gaslight Anthem mode. According to the frontman, writing solo work “is like writing in your journal,” whereas writing for the band is akin to “shouting a message to a big audience”.
The decision to reform The Gaslight Anthem wasn’t one that Fallon or his bandmates took lightly. Instead, it happened gradually over a long time. Being home during the pandemic gave him time to ponder, and he began to miss what they once had, but he didn’t know if they’d still have that same chemistry. Recalling their first rehearsal, Fallon says: “We just slipped into it, and we were able to just play the songs right away. I don’t think anybody practised beforehand, but they just came back to us, and it was fun, which was relieving.”
They were banned from telling a soul for four months that Gaslight were back playing together. In fact, they even rehearsed outside of Asbury Park because they were worried about the secret getting out, and in March, it was finally made official. Unlike their 2018 reunion, The Gaslight Anthem are back for good, and they are here to stay. After spending almost a decade off the conveyor belt, they are no longer concerned about climbing the greasy pole to the top. Now, it’s about savouring every joyous moment created. With their biggest headline UK show set to take place next month at Wembley Arena, Fallon is understandably in a mood to celebrate, and the future burns bright.
The Gaslight Anthem European tour dates
9 – Berlin, DE – Columbiahalle
11 – Koln, DE – Palladium
12 – Eschwege, DE – Open Flair Festival
13 – Puttlingen, DE – Rocco del Schlacko
14 – Munchen, DE – Zenith
16 – Bremen, DE – Pier2
18 – London, UK – OVO Wembley Arena
19 – Manchester, UK – O2 Apollo
20 – Edinburgh, UK – O2 Academy
21 – Birmingham, UK – O2 Academy
23 – Dublin, IE – National Stadium
24 – Belfast, NI – The Telegraph Building