After his main project The Gaslight Anthem announced a hiatus last year, Brian Fallon set out to his own solo album. We caught up with Fallon earlier this week in between shows, now touring in advance of his first solo effort, Painkillers.
I saw you tweet something about Miranda Lambert not asking you to get coffee. What was up with that?
No, it’s just a joke [laughs]. I look at Twitter still semi-ridiculous, as far as social media, to convey serious things. I like the fact that we can, or at least I and some of my friends, post things that are a little bit ridiculous and completely outlandish. Yet some people take them moderately seriously. I don’t know. Maybe it’s my little way of being like “everybody relax here on the Internet” [laughs]. People get deadly serious on the Internet. Especially like Twitter and Instagram with all their comments. People get highly offended at the most ridiculous things.
Because it’s absurd. Why would Miranda Lambert even know I exist? And I felt that it was so absurd that people would just be like “ha ha ha.” But people were totally like “what, what do you mean? Do you know her?” No, not at all. I’ve never even been in the same room as her, which is just hilarious.
You’re definitely right. People do take things way too seriously on the Internet, especially with musicians. People are going to read into those things as much as they want, I guess.
Yea. I keep my Twitter account as a little bit of a checks and balances system, for myself, to make things be funny and not be so serious. I don’t know. People get real heavy on the Internet and I think sometimes it’s a little funny. It’s not real. It’s just the Internet in 140 characters or whatever.
Having played a few dates already, what’s the response been so far on the tour? How does the band feel, playing your new songs live?
They’ve been cool man. Really cool actually. We’re playing a lot of material that people don’t know. So we’re playing some stuff they’ve heard before and some stuff they haven’t and they’re being really cool. Everyone’s been really quiet, which is weird because I didn’t ask for that. You know some people ask for that. Some people say “can you be quiet please at the show?” I don’t care that much. That’s above my pay grade. I’m not at that point yet.
They’ve been really respectful and that’s really awesome, especially since I didn’t ask them to. ‘Cause I expect there to be a slight restlessness when you’re playing so many new songs. And that’s fine with me. People might check their phone if they’re a little bit bored, or go grab a drink, which is fine with me. But I don’t actually see any of that, which is cool. I expected a lot of that. Ya know? You’d be a fool not to think that. It’d be foolish to think that people are gonna absorb everything.
I’m not Jack White. I’d absorb what he was doing, if I was going to see him do something crazy and new that I didn’t know before. But ya know [laughs]not this guy.
You tweeted about being nervous before the first show in Portland, Maine. Were you actually nervous? Even after playing so many Gaslight shows, and Horrible Crowes and Molly and the Zombies. Doing everything that you have, I thought you wouldn’t be nervous anymore.
Yea, totally. I sort of look at the audience as something you have to work for. You can’t just expect them to follow you. I think that’s where people get tripped up. Especially when they were in a band that was moderately successful and then they do something else and then people think that “oh well people are just gonna like that because they like what I do.” That’s not necessarily true, ya know. There’s alotta people that have a great band then they do another project and it’s not so good or people just aren’t into it. I think you have to really earn it and look at it like it’s on the line, in a way. You really gotta prove to them why they should come again, why they’re there in the first place.
So you get nervous ‘cause you’re like “well what if they don’t like it?” There’s always that element of self-doubt. I haven’t reached that point, I don’t know if I ever will, where you assume people will like things. I assume they won’t like things [laughs].
With your new solo album, Painkillers, where did the material come from? As far as time frame, when you wrote the songs. Looking at other interviews you did, some of the stuff you used for Molly and the Zombies came from stuff you didn’t use for Gaslight. Is writing for you a continuous thing or do you pick and choose?
Well I sorta wanted to do something on my own, in that kind of vein and sound. With that kind of feel, with those instruments. I started to work on it a little bit before we did Get Hurt
because I thought there was gonna be a little more time off. I started to work on some songs and I had the five or six Molly and the Zombies songs and I didn’t quite get a chance to finish them. We demo’d them, but I didn’t really get a chance to work ‘em up in proper versions. Proper meaning recorded versions.
Then all of the sudden, the Get Hurt
things started so we switched gears and started doing that and I just totally abandoned it because I had to focus on the Gaslight thing. I can only do one thing at a time, that way so I don’t have to choose songs. I had those songs separately and I sorta put them away. ‘Cause initially I was like “well maybe I can bring these to Gaslight." Then I found out what kind of record we were trying to make for Gaslight and I was like “okay cool, these don’t fit that so let me put these on the backburner.” I kinda thought they would go away. I just didn’t think they would ever get out. Once we decided to take the break, I was like “oh okay, I guess I will have time.” We decided that some time last year. Not last year 2015, last year 2014, ‘cause it’s January. But we decided it a while ago and we had known. So after a few months I was like “ya know I got those songs. I should flesh those out and write some other songs that would go well with it.” And then that really started to take shape, from I would say about March of 2015. So from March to the end of September, I was writing. And then I went in in October and recorded. So it was kind of quick. But I had a good jump start. I had “Smoke” and “Red Lights” as a jump start. But I had a good jump start. I already had the project in mind. I just kinda had to revisit it.
Brian Fallon & The Crowes with Cory Branan. 8 p.m. Jan. 12. Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $22-25. 412-206-9719 or www.thealtarbar.com