Brian Fallon has made a name for himself through his music with his bands The Gaslight Anthem and The Horrible Crowes. The "A Wonderful Life" singer always finds ways to challenge himself and create new and different music with each release. This trend continues on Fallon's first solo album, "Painkillers," which will be released this March. Fallon spoke to the International Business Times about making "Painkillers," why The Gaslight Anthem took a break and what fans can expect from his debut solo record.
After Gaslight Anthem released "Get Hurt" in 2014 and went on tour, Fallon said the band was left with a "what do we do now?" feeling. When the band talked about what to do next, drummer Benny Horowitz pitched the idea that they didn't have to do anything. Benny told Fallon that as band they've put out albums that they're proud of and can take time off and see what happens in the future. Either they come back and put out another record or they don't, but they'll be able to look back positively because they've come "farther than they ever thought they'd get."
"My view after talking to Ben was if we come up with another good idea in five years then we can always just hop right back on and make another record that would be cool and there’s nothing wrong with that," Fallon told IBT. "I think rest is really important and in this day and age with how fast everything moves people don’t take enough time to just sit by themselves and be just be like ‘how do I feel about this’? It sounds so silly, like something Oprah would tell you, but I like Oprah I really do."
As the band decided to take time off, Fallon chose to explore some different musical ventures. He wanted to make a solo album, something he's never done before.
"When you finish a record I look at it like a photograph. It’s already taken, you got it the way you wanted it to be, you edit it, make sure the light and contrast are right, then you just put it away and that’s your photograph. Then you don’t really think about it anymore," Fallon told IBT.
The 36-year-old singer continued this belief with his latest project,"Painkillers." To bring something new to his music, Fallon decided to return to his musical roots. He went back and listened to music he grew up with, like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and some Tom Petty. After listening to older records he felt reconnected with the reasons why he started writing music in the first place.
"I had a little bit of a clarity to think about what I was going to do and I felt like the clouds parted in my head from things I was getting confused about and it allowed me to go back to why I started writing songs in the beginning," Fallon said.
Fallon comes from New Jersey and has a working class background, which he applies to his writing process. Fallon essentially works a 9-5 day, as he sits at his table with his guitar and begins writing music. If he struggles with ideas, he'll try again throughout the day and if no ideas come, he'll get up the next day and try it over again.
"That’s what you gotta do sometimes, especially when you get stuck. A lot of people get writer’s block and I think you just have to show up for work, sit down and be like I’m here. You have to stay confident and positive that you’re going to write something," Fallon revealed.
Going into "Painkillers," Fallon had three solo songs written already. He wrote songs with a side project called Molly and the Zombies, which he had been saving to record one day. Fallon took these three tracks and reworked them for the new solo album. He was saving them because he felt they would've sounded "bizarre" on "Get Hurt."
While writing "Get Hurt," Fallon was going through a divorce. "Painkillers" sort of represents the musician getting back on his feet. He had the goal of making more a folk record, which he never got to experiment with before. Although this was his goal, the "Great Expectations" singer said it's not entirely a folk album.
"In my mind I would call it a folk record, but it’s really not a folk record. It’s kind of like a singer-songwriter record. When you label something a singer-songwriter record you cover many genres. If you call it a straight folk record then some of the folk guys get mad and if you call it a rock record then some of the rock guys get mad, I’ve always fallen in-between the cracks. I like everything so I mix it in there. I don’t stick to one genre because that feels a little bit binding," Fallon said of the new record.
Fallon sat down to make a solo album because it's what he wanted to do, he didn't feel like it was something he had to do. The songwriter believes that to make a record it can't be just for money or to be forced to do it.
"If you’re just making a record to pay the bills that’s not a great idea because chances are it might not come out that good. And if you’re making a record just because you have to, that again is not a great idea," Fallon said. "At least with Gaslight and where I come from, you make record because you believe in them. You don’t make records just to make records. It doesn’t seem right. It’s a special thing to be able to make a record."
As far as plans to reunite with Gaslight in the future, Fallon says the band is "playing it by ear right now." He also added that as long as the band is on break, they probably won't be getting together to play shows. However, if the band starts to develop new material then that can be a different story.
"We’ll just see when we have a good idea and when it feels right then that’s what we’ll do. Until then I don’t think we’re going to do anything," he revealed.
While the Gaslight Anthem remains on hiatus, Fallon said "Painkillers" should be something fans of the band should enjoy. In fact, he revealed that fans have been asking him to put out a solo album like this for a while.
"I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it like people would say ‘when are you going to release more of singer-songwriter record’? At the same time, it’s not going to be this giant departure from Gaslight. I wrote the songs so it’s still me, there’s going to be stuff that sounds like Gaslight for sure," Fallon dished.
The "Smoke" singer also explained that there would be other new songs appearing on the bonus editions of "Painkillers." His song "The Blues, Mary" could possibly appear as a bonus track or it could turn up on a piece that Fallon will be releasing for this year's Record Store Day.
Fallon will tour the U.S. from March 8 through March 26, where he will play songs from his work with The Horrible Crowes and solo works. For tour dates and ticket information click here. You can watch a video for "A Wonderful Life" off of "Painkillers" below:
Fallon's solo debut "Painkillers" is available on March 11. You can pre-order the album here.