Gaslight Anthem finished recording the follow-up to 2012’s No. 3-charting album “Handwritten” in Nashville last month. Before releasing what frontman Brian Fallon calls “a big change for us sonically,” the New Jersey rock band returns to the Fillmore. Fallon spoke to the Observer on the last day of recording about what fans can expect.
Q. Who are you working with on the new record?
A. Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Foals) at Blackbird in Nashville, where we did the last record. ... It sounds very different than last one. We wanted to find somebody who had different instincts than we did, so our instincts could remain the same. I find sometimes people go and change their music just to be different. I think you can make a lot of mistakes doing that. When you’re willfully going against your own instincts, that’s a very dangerous place. Your instincts are, I feel, what people like about you.
Q. So it’s the same but different?
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A. The songwriting structures, big choruses and a lot of melody – those things you want to indulge in yourself, but you want someone to push the sound in a different direction and still be left with the core of your band.
When you look at bands who’ve developed, the core is still there. Take Pink Floyd. You could still strip it away to an acoustic song or a piano song and it still remains the same, from “Wish You Were Here” to “The Final Cut.” Those chords and those types of melodies. Like Fleetwood Mac’s newer and older records – I can still hear the same things there. As long as you don’t start rebelling against yourself.
Q. As the band’s gotten bigger, do you find you’re more aware of people’s expectations?
A. I am aware that there are people listening to the records and like the band. You feel like you’re part of your audience. The best bands were fans of their own bands. Pete Townsend was the biggest Who fan alive. He knew what his fans wanted. I’m a Gaslight Anthem fan. I like those guys. They write good songs – maybe a couple stinkers, but a couple good ones. You get a sense of your audience. The sense I got after the last tour was we did the best big rock record we could do. We did what we could with that big rock sound. I started to feel this need to find the next thing.
Q. Is this record one that’ll grow on fans?
A. It might grow on some people who might not like it at first or say, “This is too weird, it’s not what I expected.” They’re entitled to that. It’s fair to feel that way, but once you sit with it, after the initial shock, you’ll find similarities to the old records. It still sounds like us.