Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem Goes Solo With ‘Painkillers’ & Shares Volumes With ‘Glide’ (INTERVIEW)

Brian Fallon had a good March this year. He released his first solo album Painkillers and played some shows, with more in the near future. Coming from a band with a good-sized fanbase, doing something without your normal bandmates by your side can seem a bit daunting, scary, stressful. But for Fallon, he felt just the opposite. “I felt like I was doing exactly what I should be doing, at exactly the moment I should be doing it,” Fallon stated last month when Painkillers was released. “There was a very nice feeling, like, you’ve been working towards this record your whole career and here you are getting to do it.” In other words, no stress.

But it wasn’t like the New Jersey singer-songwriter was completely alone on this. Butch Walker, Mark Stepro, Catherine Popper and Gaslight Anthem bandmate, guitarist Alex Rosamilia who played on two tunes, helped him bring the record to life. “I’d been trying different things for the past few years now,” Fallon said. “But there’s a path that I started on. I thought, let me go back to the very basics of where I started writing songs and maybe see if I’ve gotten any better.” What he came up with is some of his best music to date. Springy and emotional, they dance with an Appalachian heartbeat that found rebirth in the American heartland, without overdosing on country twang, Americana righteousness or the weightiness of delta blues. Fallon has found his pot of gold sitting right there in his own youthful memories of music. “I’ve had this sound kicking around in my head for so long,” explained Fallon. “But it took maturity to get it out.”

When Gaslight Anthem announced in the summer of 2015 that they were taking a break, it was a ripe opportunity for Fallon to tweak on some songs he had in mind for his side project band, Molly & The Zombies. Working with Walker, they found the groove that harkens throughout most of Painkillers; “Rosemary,” “Smoke,” the title track, “Mojo Hand” and “A Wonderful Life” all connect immediately with their swinging melodies, while songs like “Steve McQueen” and “Long Drives” speak more to quiet nights of reminiscing.

So what does this volume of songs say about Brian Fallon and how did he get to where he is today? Glide spent an hour talking with him to find out who this guy really is.

Is this fun for you being Brian Fallon?

Well, it depends on which Brian Fallon you’re asking (laughs). Sometimes I prefer the regular guy that goes to the supermarket. But the guy who goes and plays shows, he’s there, and I don’t know what to do with him yet but he’s there (laughs). It’s really odd, though, because I’m a pretty introverted person, not in like a weird way but just quiet, and to go and play the show is one thing but a lot of time now you leave the show and then you go out and the new thing is that everybody wants to take your picture, which is really odd for me, like personally. It’s something I was thinking about recently, how some of these people don’t even want to talk to you. They just want to take your picture and it seems so odd that you would want to take a photo without speaking to someone or having some sort of interaction, you know what I mean. It’s like the new autograph and it’s so odd to me that they stand there to take pictures but not say anything to me. It’s very weird.

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It’s a whole new world out there

Yeah it is and it makes me wonder if they’re actually thinking about what they’re doing.  I guess my point is that it’s sort of like the idea of “look at where I’ve been” but there is no story behind that. It’s just the picture. That is what is concerning to me.

So was it scary or more exciting being Brian Fallon and not Gaslight Anthem?

There’s a little less pressure, I would say, so a little less scary because I didn’t think so many people would be watching as would if it was Gaslight Anthem. So I think that a lot of people would miss that it was even happening. When Gaslight rolls out another record it feels like everybody is looking at it. So that gave me a little sense of security that I could kind of reel it back a little bit and not have to worry about everyone in the world adding their comment or even noticing that it came out. And that sort of allowed me to maneuver a little more freely within myself because I didn’t feel like I was being observed as closely.

What is the main ingredient that is flowing through this record?

I don’t know because it’s kind of a little bit all over the place. But I think the main thing was trying to get back to the songwriting that I started with, like when I was learning how to write songs. That was probably the main thing. I was just trying to put down the basic feelings and emotions pretty simply and not use highfalutin language, you know. People always talk about lyrics, and especially with my band, they are always asking what books I read and all this stuff and it sort of became a little bit like, okay, that’s cool, people think I write lyrics that are clever or whatever. This time I tried to NOT be clever (laughs). Let me see if I can say it how it is and I think that that’s a lot harder to do. I wasn’t trying to use any kind of like prose language. Just put it on the paper anyway it happens.

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You said that you went back to your roots so which one of these songs sounds the most like the young kid that first started writing songs?

Oh man, I would say there’s a bunch of them actually. “Smoke” is pretty simple and that’s like how I started off writing songs, just playing chords, a couple or three chords in a song. That’s how I really picked up the guitar and started strumming away. That’s probably the most simple form of songwriting that I’ve done. I like that style, that real simple, just playing it and not really worrying about anything else or whether it’s flashy or anything like that. Just kind of doing it.

Do you prefer writing more about what you are feeling or telling stories?

I mix it up cause I think that a lot of people and events that I have witnessed close by, that comes into the songwriting. But you always have to filter it through your own or else you’re going to miss the emotional connection and if you don’t have that then you don’t really have anything. So it’s like if you can put yourself in the person’s position then you can connect with it and it resonates. And if you can’t, then that’s probably a story you should not be writing, not a song you should write. And that goes for anything you’re writing about, an experience or especially with political songs. That’s where I find people can really disconnect cause if you’re not invested in the story then it just becomes kind of regurgitating.

What do you remember writing about the earliest?

Probably girls. I wrote about girls (laughs)

And you still write about girls

(laughs) Yeah, not much has changed. I write about normal stuff like cars or girls, work and stuff. You could write all the songs in the world and there would still be more to say about human relationships between men and women. It’s very complex.

Has this record made you happy considering the last Gaslight album was kind of emotional?

I think that going through something like that you got to make the decision. When you go through anything that is hard, you’re like, well, I can carry on like this or sometimes it stops you in your tracks and you kind of go, yeah, I don’t know if I’ve been happy with my life, I don’t know if I’ve been satisfied. Cause sometimes you can get success or anything like that and it doesn’t really fill any kind of void at all if you’re not happy with yourself. I think for me I took it as a little bit of a signpost like, maybe I better look at why I’m not happy and figure out what that is. To me, it seemed to be better to take each day and each situation as not affecting the entire life that you live but rather just small situations. If it’s good, you don’t get too wrapped up in it, and if it’s bad, you don’t get too down by it. So you kind of stay a little bit in the middle and it leads for an easier life.

Are you more comfortable having a band around you rather than just you and your guitar?

No, I’m most comfortable by myself. I’m fine with that. And that goes for anytime I’m playing, cause I don’t like to play things exactly as they are on the record sometimes. So it’s easier to shift if you don’t have anyone else you’re worried about. But if I had a harmonica and a guitar, like most of time that’s where I feel the most comfortable, cause it’s easier to move that way. You don’t have to worry about anything. You just kind of do it and you can change it right in the middle of the song if you want.

How are you doing the new setlist for your tour?

It’s a band but there are songs that are with the band and songs that are without the band. We mix it up every night. Sometimes we even do different versions of the same song so we’ll have like a band version and then a not-band version. Some sessions are by myself completely and then most of the shows are with the band.

Which song on the new record would you say changed the most from it’s original composition to it’s final recorded version?

Probably “Long Drives” cause I completely rewrote it. I didn’t not like it, I just didn’t feel it was fitting in with the rest of the songs as well and I felt like I had more to say on the subject and a clearer way to say it. So it wasn’t really for anybody except me. I was chasing it around a little bit and then I decided, well, it kind of needs to just change I think.

What can you tell us about the song “Rosemary”?

That was another one of those like I was saying about writing about other people’s experiences. That was about someone else and I had to kind of put myself in that position of the other person and see if I could tell the story to the best of my ability. That was kind of a cool thing cause you’re writing from another person’s perspective so you don’t have to put your own opinions in it and I think that’s cool to do. It’s always helpful to be able to see from the other person’s point of view, and I think that helps in general life, and if you could do that, you’re better off. But yeah, that was one of those ones where I just sat down and it came out real easy, like fifteen minutes, done. Like, here’s the song.

What about the title track?

That one was not so easy (laughs). That took a couple of forms, had a bunch of different lyrics and different verses and it kind of kept growing until we recorded it. It didn’t stop changing. But that took some time to write. It came in little pieces, like, little tiny pieces, but it was one of those that I’m glad I have. That’s another one I have many different ways to do it in my head. I have all these different versions of that song so I think I’m going to start pulling out different versions of that and see what people think. Sometimes it will be the recorded version, sometimes it will be something else, cause I get bored if I don’t cause if you’re just playing the same thing, I guess it’s kind of like if you’re sitting here acting out a movie over and over and over again. Eventually you’ll be like, let’s do this differently or say that line differently. The point can still be the same but some of the details you can change a little bit. At least I do. Some people are happy to go out and not do that and that’s fine. They just go out and play the same way every night but I don’t know if I can. I get really bored.

Tell us about “Mojo Hand.”

That was kind of like a joke song. I’ve never wrote a joke song before but I went on one of those tours in New Orleans, one of those Haunted New Orleans tours, and they started telling me about all these different things and talking about spells that people put on each other (laughs). They were talking about like a mojo hand and then at the same time I went through all of my records and I was writing songs and I was sitting there and my Albert King record was sitting there, you know, talking about being born under a bad sign and one plus two came into my mind: this tour that I took in New Orleans and then this title about somebody getting this mojo hand and putting a spell on everybody and it going horribly wrong. And I thought it was kind of funny to do and it’s very kind of tongue-and-cheek, that song. I think people think it’s serious but it’s not.

It came together very quickly and very simply too. And that was fun for me to do because I’m really into that whole blues kind of thing and New Orleans thing. I like that stuff. It’s really fascinating to me and I like everything about it so I thought that was pretty funny to throw in there. It’s not all jokes; it’s kind of true too. But I like that style. It’s something I never experimented with before and I liked doing it.

Did you do the tour when you were there for Voodoo Fest a few years ago?

It was after that. We did a show in New Orleans, playing at the House Of Blues or something, and we went on one of the tours and I was watching the American Horror Story at the same time about Marie Laveau. So I was watching all that stuff and it was all mixing around in my head and I was like, oh, this is crazy, I like this (laughs).

How much of your mom and her musical style do you see in yourself, cause I understand she was like a folk singer?

A lot cause she taught me all about that stuff, the folk music, and what was done and why it was done and how it was done. It kind of made me understand a little bit more about it rather than just, oh, that was the weird sixties, you know. I think a lot of people my age, they don’t understand what was really going on then. Out where we live, on the East coast, it wasn’t a lot of peace and love. There was a lot of racial tension and things going on here. It held a different meaning out here for us and it kind of taught me about America and taught me how it’s not exactly what it says it is. As much as we wish it was, it’s not. Those kinds of things are still worth learning about and talking about and trying to change as you can cause even in this day and age it’s not perfect.

I read in an interview where you said that when listening to Nick Cave something went broken in your head. What did you mean by that?

I have no idea, to be honest with you (laughs). I say things sometimes. But I have no idea. Probably it expanded some kind of universe in my head cause he opened up a few doors that I think might not have been opened before.

What about Joe Strummer’s influence?

Yeah, he had a lot of influence but more when I was younger. I absorbed as much as I possibly could from Joe Strummer and the Clash and all that but I think after a while you sort of have to stop absorbing from the same sources and you have to rediscover other things and check them out. But he’s always been an influence on me growing up but it’s not something I look to now. It’s more what I listen to now for enjoyment and to study cause I feel like I took a different path than Joe did. Joe is always sort of thinking about more of a political nature of the world and I took sort of a more social commentary on the world.

What was the hardest thing about getting started in the music business?

I don’t know if I thought about it as hard cause I just kept going. I think persistence might be hard cause you get a lot of negativity coming in and people tell you it’s never going to happen but I didn’t have time for any of that so I wasn’t really listening. So you have to be a little bit foolish when you want to get into any industry like that and you have to sort of have a little silly confidence in yourself. It’s not arrogance but you just think this is all I can do so I’m going to do this and I don’t really care what the practicalities are or what the signs are telling me cause all signs point to other jobs. You just have to keep going and ignore it.

What was your first “I can’t believe I’m here” moment?

Every time we play I’m like a little shocked. Like, we’re going on this little two week tour in Europe and half of the shows are already sold out and we’re not even there yet. It’s good but I kind of can’t believe that that’s happening, you know. It always surprises me because I don’t have expectations. I have hopes, things that I hope will happen, but I don’t have expectations so I never get too disappointed. We played a lot of cities that I didn’t know how we would do and they really went well and I’m kind of floored by that. Like, how is people still listening to the things I am saying? I don’t see myself as on a level with the rest of the people that are doing this.

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You’ve had success with Gaslight Anthem. Do you feel successful?

I don’t think we ever saw ourselves as the same as everyone else. We always kind of saw ourselves as on the way rather than made it. We never said to ourselves, “We made it.” I don’t think anyone in that band has ever said that and it’s really funny because I think our goals were much different than a lot of people’s. If somebody wrote me a check for a million dollars, would it mean a lot to me? I would go, yeah, okay, but that doesn’t fulfill anything. I could just as soon give that away because it doesn’t matter. People have these goals like they want a house or they want a car or they want this ring or whatever but I don’t care about that kind of thing. I care about writing a great record.

When I feel like I’ve written a record that is great then I might feel more like I’ve made it, you know, but I don’t feel like I’ve written up to the best of my ability yet. I feel like it’s the next evolution towards that. It’s another step further in that direction every time I do a record. So it’s almost like I’m too busy to consider what we’ve done. I worry about whether it’s going to be of quality or not. I don’t want to put anything out that isn’t good or up to a standard of being worth listening to. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time; and that goes for shows. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time with a show, play a bad show. There’s been shows that I’ve had that were bad shows, where I don’t feel like playing and in a bad mood but that doesn’t matter because there are people there and they have paid good money to see it and they don’t know what’s going on that’s bothering me. All they know is they came to see somebody play some songs and you better do that and you better do it well.

Do you think making this record has whet your appetite to another solo record?

Yeah, for sure. I think I have about ten solo records that I could probably do in the next year if I wanted to (laughs). I’ve got so much to say in this sort of arena that I want to do it as much as I can. I guess that’s why we took a break in Gaslight, because I don’t have anything to say in like a rock & roll band arena anymore right now. And when I do, then we’ll just do it again. But I don’t think any of us felt like we had anything else to say at the moment; it wasn’t like a fight or anything like that. It was just, do we have anything of quality to say, and we all felt that we didn’t. So we were like, we should probably keep our mouths shut for now.

But you do have a lot to say.

Right, I do. My head is just full of ideas, like filled to the brim with ideas. I think I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time. It’s not so much the solo record, it’s this folk music thing and the singer-songwriter thing; even like blues and that kind of thing. I’m really interested in so many different types, like these guys that just pick out songs on the guitar or the piano and that’s it. They tell these stories that sort of mean something in the fabric of the world.

You brought up Albert King earlier. Do you find yourself listening to a lot of old blues?

Yeah, I do actually. I find myself listening to it a lot because it’s natural expression and I think a lot of these guys didn’t have any hopes of being millionaires or anything like that. I think that distracts from the quality of the music when you set out and go, well, I just want to be famous. I don’t care at all about being famous; as a matter of fact, I prefer NOT to be famous. But I think that these guys just sat on their porches and they weren’t musicians, they were just musicians for an hour or two a day when they were writing their songs. Most of the time they were farmers or factory workers or criminals. That’s why the original songs feel like they did, because if they couldn’t find a job then they had to steal food so they wrote songs about that and that was real life to them.

I think that there was a sense of honesty about those guys that you don’t find in everybody today, which isn’t to say that that was a better time. But if you look at a guy like Robert Johnson, he was dead before he was thirty. But look at what he’s done for the world. He’s changed the entire world – he partially gave black recorded musicians a voice, which is like amazing. That’s a huge thing. Look at what Miles Davis did. I was just reading about this yesterday, he was playing with white musicians and black musicians and that was just not done. It was not okay. You either had a white group or you had a black group and it was not alright to mix the two. Miles didn’t care because he was like, “I’m going to pick the best people that I can and I don’t care what color they are.” I think that that’s important cause that changes the world.

I’m interested in that kind of stuff. I want to write about that, sing songs about that, sing songs that matter because it does matter and I don’t think people hear it enough. I think people take it for granted, especially in like middle-class white America where I live, which is a joke. They don’t think about anyone’s problems but their own. Not to be a bummer but people die of a mosquito bite in other countries cause they don’t have medicine. That’s important. As I get older, I start to think more widely about the world rather than just cars and girls. Sometimes I still think about cars and girls too (laughs).

Who are you listening to besides Robert Johnson and Albert King?

I listen to the Derek & The Dominos record that Eric Clapton did with Duane Allman and I consider that a pretty straight record cause there are a lot of standards like “No One Knows You When You’re Down & Out.” I really like this woman, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She was kind of a gospel singer but she played like a white Gibson SG and she used to really play it. She would do all these solos and stuff and was known as a wild woman but she always sang these praise songs about Jesus and stuff. So I think that kind of dichotomy is funny. How she was so wild but she sang these great hymns for the church. She is super-influential. If you listen to the way that she played it kind of reminds me of the Alabama Shakes a little bit. I think that that girl has got a great voice. I like the Black Keys too. I think they do a lot of cool bluesy stuff. There is a band called The Constantines that was around from Canada that do a really cool blend of like bluesy-Fugazi mix. I like Mark Lanegan and that kind of bluesy stuff too.

Did you ever get into Jersey bands like Bon Jovi and Skid Row?

Yeah, when I was a kid, definitely. Skid Row was probably one the first records I bought. I like Bon Jovi and Skid Row and all that but that’s what I would put on if I wasn’t doing something, like not trying to learn anything from that. Not to say there’s nothing to be learned from all that, I’m just not interested. But if it comes on in the car or in a restaurant or something like that, then I’ll be like, oh, that’s a good song and I’ll listen to it. But I’m not going to go and search that out cause right now I’m still being a student. I feel like I’m in college, in my first year of music college; that’s what I feel like with records. I only try to listen to stuff that I can learn from, not like I can’t learn anything from them, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say I can’t learn anything from those records but I’m not studying that stuff right now.

I’m not trying to dismiss it as beneath me or anything, cause I don’t. I think bands like Bon Jovi and Skid Row, pop music, has a purpose in the world and there is a time where no matter how concerned you are about the rest of the world, you do need to shut your brain off and listen to something that resonates to have a good time. You’ve got to relax. There’s always a time for that and that’s a valid time. I’m sure like Gandhi took a break once in a while, you know what I mean. I recently just heard, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I read that Jesus told a crowd of people, “I’m going to go, I’m done for the day,” and went off by himself. “I’m done for the day, I need to go rest.” And I’m like, yeah, I’m with you. I’m sure Martin Luther King, and I read about him, and he said he would go and give these speeches that were so intense and then he would just go by himself and be like, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not the hero right now. I’m just Martin.” And that’s cool, I got that, and I think that’s a valid thing for people to do. I do that. I listen to music that’s not for any purpose other than to listen to. But most of the time I’m studying.

How do you rate yourself as a guitar player?

I think freshman year of college right now. I’ve graduated to like the big boy/big girl stuff so now I’m learning like the finger-picking and the proper way to do it, like how my mom would do it when she was younger. That’s like the main thing that I’m focusing on. But it’s definitely not kid stuff. I can do that stuff already; I’ve been doing it for ten years. So I don’t really want to do it anymore. I want to do something that pushes me and makes me become a better player and I think there isn’t a better place to start than like blues and folk music.

And playing slide

Yeah, I leave that to Ian [Perkins]. Ian’s specialty is the slide. I try not to step on anybody’s toes but no one is really good at finger-picking so I figured I would try that. So I’m going to do the finger-picking and then I’ll get into something else.

Who played guitar predominately on the record?

Me and Butch. It’s both of us. We just passed the guitar back and forth. There’s stuff that people think is Butch that’s me and there’s stuff that people think is me that’s Butch. Actually, I don’t know if there is anything that people think is me that is Butch (laughs).There is definitely stuff that is on there that is me that people would assume was Butch but it’s not.

Which guitar did you use the most?

I used a Telecaster and a Gibson 335 and every song has this Martin acoustic on it. I got this Martin that I pretty much write everything on.

Who did the pedal steel on “Honey Magnolia”?

There is no pedal steel. That’s just slide. What happened was, the demo of that song and the recorded version of that song almost sound exactly alike. The recorded version just sounds better because I don’t have good microphones and I don’t know how to produce a record. So what I did was when I was home I sat there and I never put down a solo before so I’m going to do a solo. What I wanted to do was, I was looking at Mike Campbell from the Heartbreakers and Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. I would say, what if Mike Campbell did the first half of the solo and then Keith Richards did the second half, how would they do it? I sat there for about an hour or two just working out a little ten second, fifteen second, slide solo. I did the slide part and then I took the slide off and did the rest of it just with my hands.

The thing I realized when I was writing it was that both of those guys, Keith and Mike Campbell, they both make their guitar sound like a pedal steel and that to me is like the epitome of great guitar playing. If you make your guitar sound like a horn or a pedal steel, then you’re doing it right. So that’s what my goal was, to make the guitar sound like that and I was able to do it with the slide and that was actually me that played it. I worked really hard on that and it makes me feel proud cause I worked really hard and the fact that people would think it was Butch makes me feel good about myself.

That’s probably my favorite song on the record, to tell you the truth. I don’t know why. I think I just took a lot of care with that song and it was written from a girl’s point of view. So the whole time a girl is talking. I took a lot of care to make it not in any way condescending. But as a male it’s tough for me to understand how a female would sing a song or write a lyric because I don’t have that sense and that sort of intuition that a woman would have. So it’s difficult to do that and I just tried my best. I don’t know if I got it right but I tried my best to really not put anything male in there. Does that make sense? I had to strip it of all maleness and it’s difficult as a male to do that. But it was something that I found very interesting and I really wanted to get it right on that song. So even the solo and the guitar playing is delicate, not to say that women are all delicate cause they’re not, but for the particular purpose that I was going for was delicacy. I was trying to be more delicate than I normally would because I come from a little bit of a rough and tumble, construction worker, kind of guy stuff. So I was trying to become a little bit more educated in my delivery in that song and I hope I got it right. It sounds like what I was going for. I was raised by women when I was really young. It was just my mom and my grandmother so it sort of means a lot to me. I’m not saying that men can’t figure it out but I feel like if I was going to pick which is the more observant and better-equipped, I’d pick the woman.

You don’t talk a whole lot about Clapton but you have “Bell Bottom Blues” tattooed on your neck.

He’s a huge influence on me but the reason I don’t talk about him that much is because I feel that I haven’t incorporated what he does into my songwriting yet. That to me is more like junior year of college and I’m working my way up to that. It’s definitely something that I consider and I want to get involved with more. That’s another one of those things that I hope to do. I don’t feel that I have achieved anything worthy of saying that he influenced that yet so I haven’t said anything about it. But to make a record like Layla & Other Love Songs, that’s what I’m talking about when I say writing a record that I think is good enough. People are always asking me when I’m going to write my Born To Run and I’m not trying to write my Born To Run. Like, ’59 Sound is the best I could do for a Born To Run. I’m done with that, I feel good about that and I’m proud of that record. I don’t think it’s as good as Born To Run but that’s my version of it. Now I’m on to something else and what I want to do is I would like to make a record that is both equally rock & roll and blues and soul mixed into one, much like the Derek & The Dominos record.

You must get tired of being compared to Springsteen.

(laughs) It doesn’t matter to me anymore. I’m just like, yeah, okay. That’s what a lot of people want to talk about right away and I just go, alright, cool. I think that Bruce is great and he’s got a lot to teach and I still go to Bruce and ask him questions: “What do you think of this song?” or “Am I missing the mark or am I getting it? Here’s what I’m trying to do.” And he helps me out. But he’s more of a spiritual advisor but on nothing spiritual. He’s like the out of church spiritual advisor (laughs). Everybody probably needs one and usually it’s one of your parents or brothers or sisters but Bruce, no one will ever understand the relationship that I have with him because it’s so bizarre that I don’t think they could understand it. And I certainly can’t explain it, so I just stopped trying. So I go, alright, if you want to compare me to Bruce Springsteen, that’s fine.

But the reason it’s frustrating is because, look, I’m never going to write a record that’s as good as one of Bruce’s records. I’m never going to be as famous as Bruce Springsteen nor do I want to be, so just stop already. That’s not the goal. I’m not trying to take over for Bruce Springsteen. Go talk to Ryan Adams or somebody else that’s really famous, you know. Maybe they can take over. I don’t want to take over. I don’t even think I can. I can’t write a song as good as Ryan Adams. He writes great songs so let him go write the songs (laughs). Or any number of people. I’m not trying to pick on Ryan, I’m just saying, I can only do what’s right in front of me. If I end up being as famous as Bruce Springsteen I’ll probably have a heart attack so I don’t want to do that (laughs).

But I’m over the whole being upset about it cause I get it that it’s a compliment and they don’t mean it in a negative way. When they compare me to him, they’re saying that something he does is great that they see in me and I understand that that’s a compliment. But to me, it’s like you’ll never live up to this. That’s how it feels but I guess I don’t care anymore. I love Bruce but that’s not all I love. I hate that people make it only about Bruce. Like, this guy only has Bruce Springsteen records in his collection, and I’m like, dude, you’re missing the whole point. It’s like eating the crust of the pizza and not eating the rest. There is so much more.

What is the biggest change you have seen in yourself since the hiatus of Gaslight?

I think I’ve probably gotten a little bit more easy-going. I think I’ve just calmed down a little bit, a little bit more at rest, because it’s not so much pressure and everything that we’re doing. It’s not like every show is 3000 people or 5000 people and has to sell out, blah blah. It’s not this craziness, it’s just a show. You can go and play and you don’t have to do anything because there’re not any expectations. That’s the best part about it. I think that’s the thing that has changed the most, is that I sort of feel a little bit more relaxed.

Some people might feel more stressed about putting a record out under just their name when you had the comfort of your bandmates for so many years.

I’m not worried about it. Well, maybe I should be but I’m not. I just view it as more fun than anything else. I think people are going to like it for what it is or they’re not. Comparing it to Gaslight is sort of useless cause it’s not Gaslight, it’s something different. That’s why I’m trying to not take it so hard, you know. But I also understand that there are people who will and that’s okay with me. I’m alright if people like Gaslight better or if they make a comparison. I understand that and I’m okay with it.

When you finish the tour in Europe, are you going to keep touring?

I’m planning on doing it for the rest of the year and stay on tour for a while and really make a go of it. Then I’ll figure it out at the end of the year what I’m going to do next year.

I hope you do another solo record.

Thank you, I appreciate it, cause I’m just trying to make something that people resonate with and the one thing that I do find is true is you can’t fake it. You got to do what you got to do and if it’s the band, great; if it’s not, then great too. You can’t worry about what people want because if you do then you’re not going to be doing what YOU want. There are a couple of times in life where it’s okay to be selfish and one of them is in marriage and the other one is in your work. So if you choose the wrong partner because someone else told you to, then that’s your fault. And if you choose the wrong job cause someone else told you to, that’s your fault too. And you’re going to be miserable in both. So make sure you pick the right one.

Be happy and follow your dreams.

That’s what I’m saying. Seems silly but it’s true. I think people need to figure out what makes them happy and then partner up with somebody else who’s happy as well with their own life. I think that there’s a misconceived notion in the world that you grow up and whether you’re a man or a woman, you find a mate and that will make you happy, and it’s not true. The truth is you got to find the happiness on your own and only then you can make a difference.

Live photographs by Leslie Michele Derrough

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