“The writing style that I have, and I think that everyone has, is a style that’s just inherently them.” Listening to ‘Forget Me Not’, the first single from his new album, it’s hard to disagree with Brian Fallon’s assessment of his songs. The furnishings may be different, with Fallon’s yelped vocals more playful than passionate and a retro organ flitting behind the guitars, but the backbone is reassuringly familiar.
Through a career or highs and lows under various names and in different bands, Brian Fallon’s songwriting has always had a distinctive character that lets you know just who you’re listening to. Whether it’s The Gaslight Anthem’s punk spin on Springsteen’s heartland rock or the moody blues of the oft-overlooked ‘Horrible Crowes’, Fallon’s songs are rooted in melodies and lyrical twists that, after more than ten years in the game, are unmistakably his.
While the core of his songs remains the same, Fallon is adept at dressing his tales of heartbreak and highways up in different clothes; be they The Gaslight Anthem’s blue jeans and white T-shirts, a Tom Waits suit with The Horrible Crowes or the jean jackets of his solo debut. As always, with a new project comes a brand new disguise.
After trying his hand at folksy Americana on his solo debut ‘Painkillers’, Fallon decided to amp things up for the follow-up. “It’s definitely more electric; there are more uptempo songs on it. A little bit more influenced by a lot of the 60s RnB groups like the Animals with some of the organ sounds. But also Elvis Costello and the Attractions and The Jam and stuff like that were pretty influential in mixing the American soul music with the British punk, R&B thing.”
Due for release in February, ‘Sleepwalkers’ was recorded over the summer of 2017 with ‘’59 Sound’ producer Tedd Hutt. Despite the familiar faces, Fallon is still trying to push the way he writes songs in new directions. “I had these handclaps loops like drum loops. So I would start out with that kind of shuffle and look at it through the eyes of the punk rock that I grew up on and then add the Vox Continental [organ], writing riffs on that and almost using that riff as a loop, which I’ve never done before.”
With a new album ready to go and tours of the UK and USA already selling well, Fallon is ready for spell out on the road with his new band ‘The Howling Weather’. “The record flipped a little bit from the more folk-oriented thing on ‘Painkillers’ to a more R&B, punk-leaning thing. It’s such a drastic shift that you’ve got to get some different people and some new blood sometimes to do that because it requires a different finesse and a different perspective.”
From a new band to an old one, Fallon says he’s stayed in touch with the members of The Gaslight Anthem despite their lengthy hiatus. “We’re still friends, and we still see each other. I went to Alex’s show; he’s got a band called Dead Swords, Benny is playing in a band with Jared Hart, who was also on tour with me last year, so they’ve got a bunch of stuff going on.” While the band hasn’t played together since a Reading Festival farewell in 2015, Gaslight have by no means played their final show. “It was never like a tumultuous thing between the four of us, which is cool cos, you know we didn’t ‘split up’, I would still call us a band for sure. I would never say that we’re split up, that’d be weird.”
One group Fallon would love to share a stage with as he promotes ‘Sleepwalkers’ is Las Vegas megastars The Killers. “I texted Ronnie [Vannucci Jr.], but I haven’t heard back. They covered [Gaslight song] ‘American Slang’ in New York, they covered our song, and I was kind of like ‘That’s really cool, so… do I have a bunk now? What you doing, you calling me back?'”
Aside from the more obvious aesthetic and lyrical comparisons between the two artists, Fallon sees in Brandon Flowers a musical kindred spirit. “I think there are a lot of similarities between what I was saying about natural writing, the thing you can’t get away from. There are similarities between their natural tendency for melodies and some of mine.”
Listening to the lung-busting vocals and melodic cadences of songs like Gaslight standard ‘The Backseat’ the idea of Flowers belting out the chorus from atop a monitor isn’t far-fetched at all. “Mine apparently haven’t been as successful as theirs which is fine with me but still. I feel there’s a parallel, so it’s like, ‘Come on, take me out on tour with you guys, what’s up, take me on tour?'” With both bands touring the world in 2018, Fallon might just get his wish.
For the meantime, Fallon and the Howling Weather are focused on touring as long as the new record will permit, while keeping the show interesting for repeat attendees. “You start out playing the record, and then it evolves, and you bring changes in, more cover songs, things like that. Just keep it a little bit different, so people aren’t seeing the same thing.”
With a new album ready to go, a new band behind him and a fresh “heavy R&B” style to mess around with, 2018 is set to be a busy year for Brian Fallon.