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Gaslight Anthem Head to Nashville for ‘Completely Different’ LP

Exclusive photos of the New Jersey rockers at work on an album inspired by Bob Dylan, the Clash

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

Jack White, the Black Keys and Neil Young all recorded their new albums in Nashville, and Tennessee also lured New Jersey-bred rockers the Gaslight Anthem south this past spring. The band spent six and a half weeks recording their fifth studio album (due in the late summer) at Blackbird Studio in a string of the sessions frontman Brian Fallon describes as "completely different than anything we had ever done before."

Tour Diary: The Gaslight Anthem Explore a Piece of Boston

"Instead of going that extra step of just adding some organ or some background vocals, this time we actually really changed up a lot of the sounds," he explains (the band gave RS an exclusive look behind the recording process). "There are certain new songs where you might say, 'Oh, that could have been on Handwritten,' or 'That could have been on 59 Sound,' but there are some songs where you're going to be like, 'This has never been touched by this band before.'"

The group sought inspiration in everything from Bon Iver and the National to Calvin Harris, at one point trying to recreate the string sounds from the DJ's Florence Welch collaboration "Sweet Nothing."

"The whole record was like, 'What can we create as a band using anything at our disposal, as long as we do it organically, without computers or samples?'" Fallon says. "If we wanted to try a synth, we'd try a synth. If we wanted to try a drum loop, we would do that." By Jonathan Bernstein

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"One day I was just fingering around on the keys of a Fender Rhodes piano, and I came up with this little riff and all of a sudden it morphed into a song," Fallon says. "It had never been touched by a guitar, which was very weird for us. 'Under the Ground' is the first song I have ever written that had nothing to do with the guitar."

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"Benny [Horowitz] recorded all the drums on the album essentially by himself. A lot of the drums were recorded in this silo, which is basically a reverb tower," Fallon explains. "It's probably a hundred feet tall, but it's a small room  you can only fit one guy in there. We would just set up, rehearse a song four or five times through, and then right after that he would just go off and record the drums on his own."

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"I'll probably continue to write about heartbreak forever," Fallon admits. "That stuff doesn't go away as you get older. You're always trying to make each record more autobiographical than the last one. Before it was a lot of storytelling with lots of specific places and names. This time I wrote a lot of direct first-person narratives.You're talking about yourself, so you have to find new way to do that each time, so for this record it was a lot of poetry books and a lot of Bob Dylan."

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"Alex Levine went in and played bass just to the drums. It was really layered, so everybody had to really fill their spots without overstepping parts that hadn't even been recorded yet," Fallon explains. "He was actually hauling down a lot of the rhythms with the bass. That was something that the Clash would do really well, and we'd never really done anything like that in our band."

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"This time around we wondered what we could do that still has guitar but isn't a 'guitar record,' where you're just strumming chords," Fallon says. "We wanted to create more of a soundscape, because Alex R. has always been really into creating these sounds where you're not sure what instruments you're even hearing. We wanted to use the studio as an instrument rather than just a place to record, so we could change the way we sound without actually writing a jazz song or a dance song."

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"When we started, we didn't know what we were going to come up with, so everyone went back to their instruments and rehearsed a lot and tried to be open to things they weren't that familiar or comfortable with. Now we have some of the heaviest, most aggressive music we've ever recorded, stuff that might remind people of our first album, Sink or Swim. But it also has some of the prettiest, most beautiful, moving music we've ever done."

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"I can't really see myself writing about politics because I'm not really into it, and one of the worst things you can do is write about things you're not into," Fallon tells us. "But sometimes I listen to other songwriters like Conor Oberst and I wish I could write about some of the things he writes about, he makes all these different topics so relatable, and he sounds so educated. But I'm not Conor Oberst. I can only do what I know and make it as real as possible."

The Gaslight Anthem, In Studio

Joey Maloney

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"In the past, I would strum the chords and Alex Rosamilia would play leads over the chords. This time, I was playing riffs, and since you can’t have two people soloing over each other, Alex was using organs and guitars and all these different instruments to fill in these sounds," Fallon says.

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