Gaslight Anthem’s Alex Levine: “I’d like to break all of their instruments so they can never play again”

5 Jul

With critically acclaimed album American Slang making a dent in the consciousness of anybody with a good pair of ears and fresh from rocking the stages of some of the UK’s best venues and festivals this summer, American quartet, The Gaslight Anthem, are literally all over the show. With a string of UK and European dates as well as a stateside tour to promote their new album, we were lucky enough to be able to catch up with bass player Alex Levine, who was all too happy to tell Music News about what the band have been up to, why we Brits rock and which band’s instruments he’d like to smash so they could never play again.

Words By Rahsian Parris

SINCE THEY HIT our shores in tsunami like fashion back in 2008, The Gaslight Anthem have secured themselves a massive following here in the UK. Whether it is teenaged girls camped outside venues waiting for a glimpse of the band, or being promoted to rock star royalty as Kerrang Magazine’s cover stars before they had even played a show (true story); these four rockers from New Brunswick, New Jersey are living the American dream. However, it was not all fame and fortune from the start, Alex tells of how the boys came from humble beginnings and had to work hard for their success. “It wasn’t all handed to us, that’s for sure. We started about five years ago in my parent’s basement. At the time, Brian and I were living in my parent’s house and we were playing music downstairs. We had a big basement so everybody came down there five times a week and we wrote and recorded music for about a year and then we went on tour. We’ve been on tour for the last five years doing what we could do to get our music out there. As far as the UK goes, our first show was Reading and Leeds [festival] two years ago”.

With the incredible hype that surrounded the band (not solely down to Kerrang, but also front man, Brian Fallon’s distinctive American rock vocals, reminiscent of a younger Springsteen) the band won over their UK audience instantly. Two albums down the line, they decided to revisit their second home and release their third full length offering to date. American Slang is a rousing mix of organic, American rock and roll, with a splash of punk attitude that flashes with the passion, maturity and precision needed to execute killer hooks and is evidently a step up from the band’s previous record, it even includes a track that gives an unambiguous salute in the direction of the union jack. Alex says: “We had a bit more time to write and record this record than we’ve ever had so I think it was more concentrated song writing wise. We could control, more so, what we wanted to do because we weren’t really in a rush. In terms of stand out songs […] for all of the British fans, I would say ‘The Queen of Lower Chelsea’, that’s our big British influence song and I really enjoy playing [it].

It turns out that, despite our long distance relationship with the band, Britain has played a major role in, not only giving them some of the most dedicated fans in the world, but also inspiring the band’s music and even creating new friendships. In terms of who they favour more on the rock and roll front and which crowds they prefer to play for, Alex proudly announces that Britain wins every time, saying: “I guess the biggest difference is, over here there’s an electricity that goes through the shows. Everybody in the house is going crazy, which is awesome. I think British music and British people in general are just more passionate with Rock and Roll music than anybody else in the world. 90% of my musical collection is British music, that’s just the way it is for me, the British do Rock and Roll better than anyone else.”

I guess it also helps when one of your BFF’s is English folk/punk sensation, Frank Turner. “He’s one of my good friends. He’s an unbelievable songwriter” beams Alex, “I’m sure everybody knows who Frank Turner is now-a-days”. And if you thought it was all about rubbing shoulders with rock and roll legends now that the band have made it big, think again, there is modesty and a humbleness about this band that not only keeps them grounded, but means that they are all too quick to give support and praise to up and coming bands, notably the support bands that have accompanied them on tour. “The Sharks are a great, phenomenal band. They have that real old school Clash vibe on stage and in their music and it is just straightforward punk rock, but with that kind of swagger to it. Definitely check out Sharks if you haven’t heard them yet” says Alex.

So with all this love of British music, are we sensing a collaboration on the horizons? “We’re up for making music with anybody that we’re into” he replies, “Nothing’s come up at all so far, but I’m sure if something that we’re into does, we definitely would” (I bet their phones are ringing off the hook as we speak). However, we have all heard the stories about backstage bust-ups, festival feuds and tour tantrums, knowing what these rock and roll folk are like, it cannot all be one big love fest, surely there must be some band or the other that they dislike. We got chatting about Brian’s unfortunate mishap on an American Airlines flight where his guitar was broken in transit (don’t worry, he got a new one – we wish the airlines were as accommodating for us), so I ask Alex if there was anyone’s property he would take pleasure in destroying, he said “An instrument I would wanna break? What, because I don’t like them? This might get me in to trouble, I was initially gonna say Paul Simmons from the Clash, he’s my favourite bass player of all time, if I could have his bass to hold and play, that’d be awesome, but to break? There’s too many. There’s just too many bad bands out there” He quickly adds: “But Forever The Sickest Kids, I’d like to break all of their instruments so they can never play again and you can write that” (Done. You heard it here first).

ASBOs aside, The Gaslight Anthem boys are finishing up the second half of 2010 with a bang (no pun). With their tour travelling to Europe and the United States, the band whose album Uncut gave a 5 star rating are literally taking over the world, but fear not UK fans, they have just announced new UK dates for later on in the year. Alex says: “We’ve got about a week left [in the UK], we’re just playing all the academy’s, Hard Rock Calling and two German festivals then we have a few weeks when we’re back at home, then we come back over here for another month or so, so you should be seeing a lot of us. [We’ll get] maybe five or six days off, but maybe more time off next year when I get married” (we can hear the sound of young hearts breaking everywhere) “That’s the only time I have off. I did actually have to move it back to September”. In true rock and roll fashion I ask the big question: But if you weren’t getting married who would have a chance? “No Comment” He says shyly “That would get me into trouble, she reads everything. Maybe if Audrey Hepburn was still alive, she’s beautiful. If she was still alive… for sure, but yeah, this could get me into trouble; it’d be like “so I got a phone call today… you are obsessed with who?” It doesn’t work well when you’re three thousand miles away and you’re fighting on the phone and it’s a dollar a minute… I’d be like “I didn’t mean it, it was just a question”. Okay Okay, we are not wedding crashers, note that next time the boys are back in town, Alex Levine of The Gaslight Anthem will be a married man, however, that wont stop us from ogling them at their next show. We are SO rock and roll.

For New Tour Dates, Tickets and News check out: http://www.thegaslightanthem.com and http://www.Myspace.com/thegaslightanthem

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2 Responses to “Gaslight Anthem’s Alex Levine: “I’d like to break all of their instruments so they can never play again””

  1. registry cleaner August 5, 2010 at 9:37 am #

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