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Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Gaslight Anthem's 'miracle' accent

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

They said it'd never happen. No, not Obama this time - somehow construction workers The Gaslight Anthem have become the sound of America's new found optimism…

Gaslight Anthem
Gaslight Anthem kick off a UK tour on 2 February

It must have been with a hint of envy that the rest of the world gazed upon Washington DC this week.

Whilst mathematically the USA is feeling the sting of economic downturn just as much as everywhere else it's also seemingly surfing an indestructible wave of optimism in the aftermath of Barack Obama's inauguration.

The Gaslight Anthem - Brunswick, New Jersey foursome Brian Fallon [lead singer and guitar], Alex Levine [bass], Alex Rosamilia [guitar] and Benny Horowitz [drums] - could be considered flag-bearers of that fresh hope - that feeling for the future distilled.

Like their Cadillac-driving, grease-haired influences the rockers' accent is a classic American tale.

Normal jobs

"We were all just guys working regular jobs - I was a roofer and carpenter before the band really started," says front man Fallon. "Benny would never be caught dead in construction - he worked at a newspaper for the college.

"We were all working within a mile of each other and we had one friend who put us all together."

Once formed [in 2005] the band set a precedent for inexhaustible stateside touring. Their profile steadily began to rise but suddenly all-change.

In the summer of 2008, the band rocketed from an underground punk whisper to mainstream mainstays.

"We didn't think we'd be on covers of magazines," he confides.

Gaslight Anthem
The band have confirmed they'll play UK festivals this summer

Their visit to the UK last August saw them immediately play upgraded venues and tent-bursting sets at Radio 1's Lock Up stage at the Reading and Leeds festivals.

"I don't think that [constant touring] made people like us," ponders Fallon. "I think that was where it was kind of a miracle - where it was just the right band at the right time.

"It's hard to take credit for the public responding to it all - we feel like it's a blessing for us."

Indeed, the UK, more than anywhere, has taken them to their hearts.

"It's strange that the country that we're most admiring is admiring us," he admits.

Clash discovery

Ironic, considering they're one of America's most fettered new groups, the foundations of their Springsteen-referencing blue-collar sound [or "this fast Roy Orbison band," as Fallon puts it] are distinctly British.

"There's this huge story about how I found The Clash," he enthuses. "I was just looking around in a record store and the owner of the store was asking what I was looking for.

"I was a little kid at the time, maybe 13 or 14. I had a big Mohawk. and I was trying to be punk rock. I was looking for like a Rancid record or something.

"He ended up telling me, 'That's not where it started that's not what you want'.

"He and his friend at the record store bought me the Clash's first record and said 'Go home and listen to this, if you don't like it bring it back - but it will change you life'. And it did."

We were all just guys working regular jobs - I was a roofer and a carpenter before the band really started
Brian Fallon, The Gaslight Anthem

Copying predecessors

Unlike many bands they don't profess to be inventing anything 'new'. Instead they firmly align themselves with their peers.

So much so latest album The '59 Sound sees Fallon incorporate many of his heroes' lyrics into his own songs.

"It's a tool that I use to direct people who listen to us to the original source," he explains.

"I just want to be very vocal about where they came from. I leave the hints there for people. Then they go buy something that I look at as better than us."

In February they return to play a nationwide string of large venues with friend Frank Turner.

"He's just a genius, I think he's just marvellous as a writer," gushes Fallon.

"We're just going to try and play better than we played last time."

And, if like the American dream in this challenging period, Gaslight Anthem's mission hits harder times…

"A return to roofing? That might be alright," he laughs. "I would be so satisfied with what we've done already. Because then I could always say we've done all this stuff. And that's alright."

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