The last few months have undoubtedly been a whirlwind for The Gaslight Anthem. The Jersey-based barroom punk band has gone from sweating out opening slots on small punk rock bills to playing headlining dates across North America and Europe, with a few national TV performances along the way. The band’s latest release, The ’59 Sound, dropped last year on SideOneDummy Records and a week hasn’t passed since its release that it hasn’t been the soundtrack to a car ride, round of dishwashing, or some online work. Check out my review of the album HERE if you want some additional gushing. Otherwise, enjoy my interview with guitarist Alex Rosamilia. Cheers!
Kindly introduce yourself and state your role in the band.
Alex: Hello, my name is Alex Rosamilia, and I play guitar in The Gaslight Anthem.
First things first, The ’59 Sound has be met with an awful lot of praise from both fans and the industry alike. A friend of mine swears he heard “Old White Lincoln” playing during a Rangers game. Does any of this kind of take you aback?
Alex: Of course. I’ll never get used to that kind of thing, actually. There will never be point, at least for me, where I can see or hear something like that and be nonchalant about it. To me, I’m still the same socially awkward guy I’ve been for the past 27 years, you know?
I know the online community was in a large way responsible for a lot of the excitement that met the new record upon its release. What is it about the band that you think won over the crowds at sites like Punknews.org, and what do you think of the power of that medium in music?
Alex: To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. I mean, to us, we knew we were proud of it (the record) but I never thought it would be anything close to how far its actually come. Those guys definitely have some pull, although I’d like to think that it was really still about the music though…..
Looking at bills like the New Year’s Eve show with Thursday and Circa Survive, or even the Rise Against/Thrice/AK3 tour, it seems as a band you’re often the odd-man out sonically. Do you enjoy playing these types of shows, where the crowd may be slightly different than that you’d draw as a headliner?
Alex: They are fun to play. To me, at least, I find it fun to see how many more people are into it at the end as opposed to the beginning. I also do enjoy the fact that I think that we can fit into a plethora of genres actually, but that’s because we have quite a varied group of influences.
Getting to the music, I feel The ’59 Sound carries a stronger presence of that Motown-type soul influence than both Sink Or Swim and Senor and the Queen. What do you think? Is there a reason for this progression in your songwriting?
Alex: Actually it’s a total coincidence. We just do what we do, and what comes out comes out … What we do is a pretty natural process (not to sound too hippie) but its definitely fluid. You know?
The drum and percussion sounds on the record are really diverse (the chains in “The ’59 Sound,” for example). Was that incorporated in the writing process, or were a lot of those ideas added in the studio?
Alex: Like I said before, we all let each other do their own thing. Most of the drum stuff was Benny. He definitely came up with all his own parts. As for as other percussion, I remember when we decided to add the tubular bells, even though Benny wasn’t sure of what the notes were, I had to show him, because he wanted to do everything involving percussion. So we’re all pretty personal with our instruments, I guess.
This record was the first of yours produced by Ted Hutt, who carries a diverse list of credentials. Why’d you choose to incorporate Ted in the process, and what do you feel he brought to the table in hindsight that worked or didn’t?
Alex: Ted was great. He was really good at bringing up ideas without sounding pretentious. He was also really good at reeling us back in to our original idea when we would get too lofty….
Tell me about the process of getting Chris Wollard (Hot Water Music, The Draft), Dicky Barrett (Mighty Mighty Bosstones), and some of your other guests to take part in the project. Did they approach you, or was it the other way around?
Alex: Chris was a friend of ours. We met him on The Draft tour we did in October of 2007. He happened to be in California at the time we were out there, we asked and he said ‘sure.’ Pretty much that simple. Ted knew Dickey, DIckey heard our stuff and was into it, so he came down to help….It was a lot of fun.
This is your debut release on Side One Dummy. I was talking with Jay from Bedouin Soundclash recently, and he noted that so many other musicians he talks to really envy that they get to work with Side One. Why did you ultimately decide to join that roster, and were there other potential labels for this record?
Alex: They were really down to Earth, was the biggest thing to me. We talked to a lot of labels, and talking to Joe and Bill is like talking to friends, not ‘suits,’ you know? They just seemed to be just as stoked as we were.
I understand Off With Their Heads is planning an EP called The ’69 Sound. Any ideas as to the reasoning behind that title?
Alex: Jealousy. And an immense sense of humor.
What do you hope to accomplish as a band in the next year? What would you like to see happen with The ’59 Sound in the long run?
Alex: I’d like to move off my friend’s couch and possibly into my own place, if that’s what you mean….
Any final words?
Alex: May ye always be merry. May your glass always be filt with the finest of ales. May your bed be strewn with finest of the harem. And may your days go unnumbered. For thine is thine greatest consequence. And if all ye shall be judged for are the actions we partake in, then thine atonement shall be but a smirk in the eyes of the just.