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'Handwritten': The 2012 New Album Chronicle

the story of the making of Handwritten, the 2012 Gaslight Anthem album, as told in interviews, tweets, photographs, etc.

compiled by Alexander for The Gaslight Anthem Record    [updated 24 July 2012]

go straight to latest news

and also check out the studio photos

deluxe edition cover (by El Jefe Design)


Once upon a time in 2010 ...

16 November 2010
Before a gig at Rock City in Nottingham, UK, Brian is reported to have said that they were hoping to record the next Gaslight Anthem album in February 2012.

27 November 2010
Brian tells Kerrang! (#1340): "I've started writing songs for the next Gaslight record. I have an idea for it, which I think is great. Some people will like it, some won't, and that's fine. This time I just don't care."

5 December 2010
Brian writes on his blog: "When we start writing our new record, which should be around the 1st of the year or so, I'm thinking of really taking Dire Straits and the blues much more seriously."

20 January 2011
Brian writes on his blog: "Gaslight isn't planning on recording until the fall, for a 2012 release".

27 January 2011
Brian tells AMP: "Gaslight is full on writing new material, we have a couple tours booked, but most of this year is going to be writing and hopefully recording at the end of the year. It's a pretty big record for us, and we gotta make it count. I think we're leaning on making a record that's just full of excitement and that romantic feeling we avoided on our last record. I just want to go out there and blast out fun rock and roll again."

10 February 2011
Benny writes on his blog: "Gaslight is practicing and getting ready for the Australia and Japan tours. We've also had a couple of Spiro Agnew practices the last few weeks. Both bands have new songs."

27 February 2011
The band play a new song, 'Biloxi Parish', live at the Soundwave festival in Sydney.  You can hear it on YouTube. As Benny explains on his blog for (28/02/2011): "We played a little tighter, had a great crowd again, and even played a new song, 'Biloxi Parish'. Always curious at how people dig new tunes, and it went over great, I'm happy."

4 March 2011
Brian tells triple j: "[After Japan] we're gonna go home and write some new songs.  We played a new song in Sydney. […] On all the Australian dates we are going to play a new song, so today you're going to hear a new song […] and that's going to be on the new record."

13 May 2011 
Brians writes on his blog that while recording the Horrible Crowes album, he played an "old Hammond B-3, which is an amazing instrument, and I've found myself pretty attached to it, which I'm sure will end up on the next Gaslight record".

26 May 2011
Brians tells Spin magazine that the band's next record will be closer to The '59 Sound. "It's all about knowing your audience," says Fallon. "When I buy a record by a band and it sounds completely different, I'm just like, 'Why didn't you change your band name?'"

6 June 2011
Brian talks to Rocksound about the next album:

RS: What is the relationship between your new project and Gaslight?
"With Gaslight I always want to figure out the best thing for it rather than go and mess around with the band, put out a weird record and make everybody nuts. The Horrible Crowes is an experiment and I don't want to experiment with Gaslight, it has a preciousness that I don't want to ruin, if want to try something weird that might get me to a new place I need to go do that on the side, and that's what I did. In fact, I'm getting ready to write the new Gaslight Anthem record now."

RS: When does writing start?
"It already has! This new record is coming quicker than people expect, I think we'll have a new album out before Summer next year, we're ready to go on it!"

RS: What do you want to talk about on the new songs?
"I think the album is going to be a lot about coming home. I'm back on the shore and I moved six or seven blocks from where I grew up, that has plugged me back into all that stuff."

6/7 June 2011
Brian tells fans outside a gig in Hamburg that the next album should be out in May 2012.

8 July 2011
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Thank you Barcelona! Last show of the American Slang tour! We'll see everybody next year with a new record, off to the writing!"

17 July 2011 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "At work on new songs!"

25 July 2011
Brian talks to New York magazine about the Horrible Crowes, Ian Perkins, and the Gaslight Anthem:

NY: Ian Perkins was your guitar tech for Gaslight. Had you ever written with him before?
"No, this was it. He had played with us in Gaslight a couple times, just live. He would kind of goof around really, and then it started sounding good and it wasn't funny anymore. We found out how good he was and it was like, 'Well, somebody’s got to use him … I'll take him!' And then he snuck his way into playing more. We've written more songs for Gaslight Anthem now - we just started writing two weeks ago and there’s four songs - and he's shown up on every one of them. So I don't know what's going on with him."

NY: And Gaslight is also working on a follow-up to American Slang. How's it shaping up?
"A little bit of a return to our older stuff, like The '59 Sound and a little bit of the Senor and the Queen, that EP we put out. The '59 Sound is one of those things I'm always chasing to make something as good as [again]. I'm also chasing to leave it alone because it’s perfect the way it is."

NY: Do you have a release date in mind?
"We're planning on recording in the winter, in the dirty, dirty winter months, so I'd like to say that May, summer would be a good time."

4 August 2011
Benny writes on his blog: "Gaslight is continually hanging and writing songs. The group of them we have going right now are a cool step for us and making us even more excited to keep writing more. Next record is gonna be a trip."

13 September 2011
Brian tells "We're making demos and our goal is 25 of them, and we've got 10. The songs that are fast, they're a lot faster. It's definitely pretty personal and pretty aggressive right now. I'm really happy with it so far."

19 September 2011
Brian writes on his blog: "Lord willing, I'll be writing songs on the Revival Tour and we should start getting together and rehearsing and making demos when I get back.  [...] I know one thing, we're looking into how to carry on our sound, how to stay exciting, how to improve, how not to loose the intensity because we're older. I feel like we have more to prove now than when we first put out Sink or Swim. We've been given a gift, now we have to deserve it."

September/October 2011
On stage during the Revival Tour, Brian tells the audience that the Gaslight Anthem are aiming to write about 40 songs for the new album and aim to record over a dozen.

6 October 2011
On their website, the Gaslight Anthem confirm that they have signed with Mercury/Island Def Jam Records and also write: "We're hard at work writing songs now for what we feel is going to be the best record we've ever made!"

1 December 2011
After a solo gig at Northwestern University, Brian talks to Tastemakers magazine (published 9 January 2012):

TMM: On the past Gaslight albums, there has definitely been a theme. Is there a clear theme for the new album?

BF: Yes, this one is extremely literal. There aren't stories and there are no names for characters. I've kind of done away with a little bit of that because it was…. For a while you kind of come up with something that becomes your own, but when you're a band you have to change after a while. We realized that now is kind of the time for it to become something else and what it was, was great. You can always play those songs, you can always be that, but you kind of have to find your own thing.

We started to do that on American Slang a little bit, but on this record there is definitely a theme where all the songs were written very organically, they were written by hand. I have a notebook of all the songs. It was the first time I've ever done that, where every song was written out by hand. It was really cool and then it makes it very personal because you think about every line. When you're typing on a computer, you can just delete something very quickly and that's gone and then you can change lines and move your text around. By hand, you have to really think about, 'I'm writing this by page'. Ya, you can scribble it out. But you don't really work like that because when you open the notebook there is something blank there and you have to fill it by what you put down and it's very, very connected.

And I also felt that I didn't have anything else to say about the characters that I was working with before. I feel like all the bands that I've liked, whether it be U2 or Pearl Jam or Bruce Springsteen, they've all had a mark in their career where they've changed. Something happened and it was exciting. I think as long as you don't forget what you were and you don't change completely, it's okay. We're finding something that's ours, which is good.

4 December 2011 reports that during a solo show in Boston, Brian told the audience that he had only three songs left to write for the upcoming Gaslight Anthem album and that the album was due out in July 2012.

5 December 2011
Brian tweets: "Hey, we didn't finish writing our new album, we're 'almost finished' writing our new album, it's kinda like how we're 'almost famous.' "

9 December 2011
Benny writes on his blog: "In music news: Gaslight has been getting together quite often and working on the new record. We're in a great flow right now and I'm getting more and more excited with each song we finish. I'd say we're close to 3/4 through with the meat of the record, and tons more ideas are kicking around. Can't wait to leave town and lay this thing down..."

January 2012
Brian talks to Classic Rock magazine (#Feb) about work on the new album: "There's a lot of panic, normally about whether a record is good enough. But with this on, you can't screw it up. The song's we've written, you don't need tricks or magic or violins; we don't need any sweetener, because it's so good and so raw. It doesn't sound old, and it has nothing about the past. Bands sign to major labels and take it down a peg, but this has more energy than the last two. The guys actually asked me the other day: 'Are you gonna write any slow songs?'" 

Brian is is said to have characterised the song '45' as "a burner of a song" and as stating that 'Mae' is "cinematic - it kinda moves like a movie. It's stuff I've learnt from the Horrible Crowes, but we put down the jazz instruments and picked up the rock'n'roll ones."

According to Classic Rock, the album is still untitled and is pencilled in to be released in the autumn.

13 January 2012
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Heading to record in Nashville next week!"

January 2012
Brian via Instagram: "Last practice before recording."


17 January 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Going tomorrow to start recording the new record!!! I hope you guys like the new DJ we added!"

18 January 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Half way to Nashville. Driving our old tour van, Bob Gnarly. Five guys and a dog."

19 January 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "All set up at the studio... Rock starts tomorrow!"

19 January 2012 
Benny via Instagram: "View from the champagne room while the boys look at guitars ... There isn't really champagne, but plenty of coffee ... Nashville, 12.19.2012."


20 January 2012 
Brian via Instagram:


24 January 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Pre Production done - tomorrow we press record!"

24 January 2012
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Day two! Sounding insane - unbelievable!"

25 January 2012
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "This is my favorite songs we've ever recorded. Feels like we found our own sound!" 

1 February 2012
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Absolutely working at peak here in Nashville! Just wrote another new one! So inspired!"

10 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Everyday getting closer!"

10 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "In the studio, robbing Nashville of all vintage guitars, making rock and roll... #itsgoodtobealive"

12 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "We don't have a release date, but my fingers are crossed for a summer release. #c'mondoit"

13 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Thanks to Austin and Alyse from Rolling Stone for coming down to the studio today!"

13 February 2012 
Brian tweets: "Studio Updates on Instagram @brianfallon"

16 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Very nearly done... What's left? Two vocals, and one acoustic song. That's it! Then mixing, then done!"

18 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Every song done! Now recording b sides and covers!!!! #thisisarockandrollalbum"

20 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Photo day!"

21 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "One more day in Nashville, shooting some press shots with Danny Clinch and then we're outta here!"

22 Februray 2012
Brian reveals exclusively to Fender that the new album will be called Handwritten.

23 February 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "We're gonna call our new record 'Handwritten.' Can't wait for you to hear."

29 February 2012 
In that day's issue of Kerrang! magazine, Brian talks at length about the new album. Extracts: 

K!: What's been a typical day in the studio for the Gaslight Anthem?

Brian: Quite relaxed. We'd start at noon, and all get in a room together and play. It was really cool. Everyone would be jumping around and someone would be like , 'I've got an idea!', and throw it down. We were constantly recording, which was awesome. On a lot of our other albums, we'd do drums, then the bass for every single song, so by the time you got to the eighth song on bass on your sixth day, you'd be like, 'I hate bass guitar!'. But this time we were always working on something new, completely on the spot.

K!: How much had you written beforehand? And what can we expect from the songs?

Brian: We came in with 15 songs. Fifteen songs that were good. We actually ended up recording one song that we didn't like. We heard it back on the speakers and were just like, 'This song isn't as exciting as everything else'. So we cut it. There's punk songs on there, and they're more punk than our last record. There's two songs that are fast - like, really fast, big chorus and super-fast verse and that's it - and there's bluesy tracks. We've taken everything we do and gone to 10 with it. [...] This is definitely the Gaslight Anrthem record I would want next, if I were a fan. American Slang was cool, but this sounds like a band who has plugged back into the electric socket again.

4 March 2012
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Mixing this week in LA! #gettingcloser"

7 March 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Headed to LA to mix this monster! #pumped"

March 2012 
Rolling Stone (#1153) magazine reports on the new album. Extracts:

The new album completes the Gaslight Anthem's evolution from punk-fueled charge to a fuller sound with shades of Tom Petty and the Byrds. Last year, Fallon shut off his Internet connection and hunkered down at his New Jersey home, immersing himself in "weird" poetry by T.S. Eliot and pouring his most personal lyrics ever into the notebook. "There are no characters or painted pictures of some other time like before," he says. "I wanted to write something directly to you."

Once the bandmates had hashed out the new material in Jersey, they moved to Nashville, into a rented house with photos of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on the walls. "We didn't know anybody down here," says Fallon. "It was just us and our songs." They blitzed through more than a dozen tunes in a month with producer Brendan O'Brien [...].

The standout track "Here Comes My Man" features rich vocal harmonies and chiming riffs played on a 12-string Rickenbacker that O'Brien lent Fallon. The heavy rocker "Too Much Blood," whose huge guitar riff evokes early Soundgarden, was inspired by seeing one of Chris Cornell's recent solo acoustic shows. Says Fallon, "I'd never written a guitar riff before in my life."

Adds the singer, "For the first time, I'm not scared that people aren't going to like this record. I don't care what Bruce or Eddie Vedder or any of my friends think of it. I don't care. If you want to hang with us, you've got to grow with us. That's the deal."

16 March 2012
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Almost ready to send the record to mastering and then into your hands!!!! #everywordhandwritten"

21 March 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Working on album cover mock ups drinking virgin piña coladas. I'm a delicate flower. #beersbringtears"

11 March 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Final Mixes = done! Sounding incredible! I can't Believe this is my band sounding this good! Onto mastering!!!!! #wontbelongnow"

24 March 2012 
The Gaslight Anthem tweet: "Record is being mastered, tours are being planned! #getreadytoseeusalotthisyear!"

30 March 2012
The Gaslight Anthem write on their official Tumblr: 

"So we've blessed the masters and kissed them goodnight and sent them off to the label! Looks like it won't be long and it'll be a warm release day! We can't wait for you to hear this. I'm a fan of my own band, or else why would I do it?, and I can't imagine anyone who likes this band not loving this record! I haven't been this excited in years! …every word handwritten. Xoxo Gossip girl."

April 2012
Brian talks about the new album in the April issue of DIY magazine:

"The whole experience was amazing. It's a trip to be able to make a record with a guy who's done some of your favourites. Brendan taught us a ton about songwriting and recording as a band. It was really pretty amazing. The label's been very supportive and let us do our thing, it's been one of the most enjoyable times I've had making a record.

I wouldn't really compare it to our older work. I can say that that was us then, and this is us now, it's all snapshots of time. Lyrically, I wanted to get away from writing in 'jive talk'. On our old records I had this slang that was sort of early Springsteen-eese, Central Jersey slang, and poor grammar. I ran out of steam with what I used to do, and the only thing left was what I am right now, so that's what I wrote about. I went straight for the point and tried to be as precise as I could be.

I think the music did the same thing, stripped away all the extra bits that didn't need to be there. We looked to the things we loved collectively rather than me steering the music into just my kind of music. The thing we agree on is the 70's rock bands like the Who, and Led Zepplin, and 90's music, like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Some of the songs even have a Neil Young vibe from when he went electric.

I'm really impressed with what we've made here, and I love this record. All a band should really do is keep achieving excitement, stay hungry, and stay inspired. I don't know what anybody else thinks because at this point no one has heard it, but I love it."

24 April 2012
Brian talks to Spin magazine:

Fallon [wrote] more personal lyrics this time around, as opposed to the familiar Americana-soaked storytelling of albums past. "In the beginning it was hard," he says of the new approach, "because you get in the habit of doing something and you feel like you can put a name here or I can put a little story to throw the people off so they don't know I'm talking about me." Fallon was able to rid himself of this routine when he came to a simple realization. "You only have your stories. You don't have anyone else's." That eureka moment made Fallon excited about the new album's potential. He's hungry for the biggest stages. "I've always been ready for arenas," he says. "I've just been waiting for them to catch up to me."

New studio photos surface at the same time:



26 April 2012
The Gaslight Anthem write on Facebook: "Finally! We are proud to announce that our first single from Handwritten named "45" will receive it's world premier as Zane Lowe Hottest Record in the World on BBC Radio 1 Monday night at 7:30 BST. We are so excited for you to hear it."

30 April 2012
'45' premiers on BBC Radio.  

8 May 2012
'45' is released as a download single.  The vinyl follows on 22 May.

7 June 2012
The official video for '45' is released:

17 July 2012
The official video for 'Handwritten' is released:

20, 23 & 24 July 2012
Handwritten is released in continental Europe, the UK, and the USA.

also check out the 2012 studio photos


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Page updated: 24 July 2012