“It wasn’t some gigantic Radiohead conceptual-brainchild thing,” the Gaslight Anthem drummer Benny Horowitz tells Rolling Stone jokingly of his band’s new 15-minute short film, Every Word Handwritten. Instead, the film – which served as Horowitz’s cowriting and film production debut and is now available exclusively on RollingStone.com – centers on the lifespan of a single vinyl record and the effect it can have on different generations.
“It’s a big thing for us,” Horowitz says of maintaining a relationship with a physical piece of music. “I fell in love with music when there was no digital music. And I’m still in love with music when the entire format of the industry changed. It is an interesting thing to be a music fan and go through those waves.”
“I couldn’t imagine vinyl not being in my life,” he adds. “I couldn’t imagine walking into my living room and not seeing my records.”
The concept for the film formed when the band was tasked with conceiving a music video for the title track of their 2012 album, Handwritten. Usually, the band comes up with a general idea for a clip and brings it to a director, or instead gives a director free reign to drum up his or her own idea. This time, however, Horowitz took it upon himself to bring his own plan to the table.
“We were in London and I had this idea about the story of the record, things that would happen to it,” he explains. “So I sent it to all the guys.” Upon receiving unanimous approval from his bandmates and manager, Horowitz linked up with filmmaker Kevin Slack, a friend and longtime colleague who previously directed, among many other music videos, the band’s visuals for 2007’s “I’da Called You Joe” and last year’s “Here Comes My Man.”
Together, Slack and Horowitz penned the film’s script. Despite being an admitted cinephile, the drummer says he let Slack handle the actual filmmaking. “I’m not a film guy,” he says, laughing. “I’ve never studied film on any kind of real level. I don’t know what goes into these things. I thought it would have been incredibly presumptuous for me to have been, like, ‘Give me the budget for the video and I’ll write the treatment and I’ll direct it.’ ‘Cause I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, you know?”
The Gaslight Anthem’s guitarist, Alex Rosamilia, along with Wes Kleinknecht, a friend of the band, scored the film. “I like that it keeps the movie more inside of the band,” Horowitz adds. “Alex is an extremely talented kid [who] when given opportunities, can do cool things with them. I really wanted him to at least give it a try and it ended up being awesome.”
Working on the short, Horowitz says, has him energized for future filmmaking endeavors. In fact, he and Slack are already starting work on a feature film. “I’m totally stoked on it, man,” he says. ” It’s definitely something I’m really interested in moving forward.”