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Catching up with The Gaslight Anthem’s Alex Rosamilia

Gaslight Anthem_Alex Rosamilia_May 2015_photo by Chris M. JuniorIt’s a good seven hours before The Gaslight Anthem will play its headlining set at the Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park, N.J., and guitarist Alex Rosamilia is enjoying a beer and the company of his dog inside the band’s dressing room at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel.

He’s just finished talking about the benefits of playing a gig on familiar ground that’s also relatively close to home when his cellphone rings.

On the other end is a roadie. Rosamilia listens for a minute before responding.

“The 355 can go back where it came from,” he says. “I will fly with the black Custom Gibson. And I do want to shift the pedal board.”

The Skate and Surf has seen its share of shifting since the festival’s 2001 debut, most notably when it became The Great Bamboozle and then The Bamboozle before eventually moving north to East Rutherford. A few years ago, the Skate and Surf name resurfaced, and the mostly indie-rock festival is a fine fit for Asbury Park.

“This is more of a homegrown kind of a festival,” says Rosamilia. “Some festivals are so big, you can get lost in catering. I can see all of this from one vantage point. It’s easy to get around. It makes it like a really big show instead of a really small festival. It’s the equivalent of playing a show in a smaller room instead of an amphitheater.”

Not that Rosamilia has anything against amphitheaters: Last September, The Gaslight Anthem headlined a show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, one of a handful of topics he talked about before tending to more Skate and Surf matters. Since the August 2014 release of Get Hurt, what have been some of the highs and lows for the band?
Alex Rosamilia: “This album cycle has been the same as any of the others. I would say maybe this record was a bit more of a grower than the past ones have been, where it took fans a bit longer to digest it because we were trying different things, like playing more keyboards. … I don’t think we got much backlash. Our fans are super-supportive.”

Was playing PNC Bank Arts Center a dream-come-true kind of thing?
“Yeah. Not to over-Jersey-fy myself — I live on Jersey Avenue in Jersey City in New Jersey — but [playing PNC] is cooler to me than playing Madison Square Garden. I’ve seen so many shows at PNC, back when it was still the Garden State Arts Center. I remember going on a field trip there in, like, first grade to see a play. It was the biggest stage I had ever seen in my life — and then [last year], I was on it. ”

With The Gaslight Anthem’s tours taking you around the world, do you still keep in touch with what’s going on back in New Brunswick and Asbury Park, the places where you cut your teeth musically?
“I was talking to somebody yesterday about how I haven’t been to New Brunswick in way too long, and that’s not cool (laughs). We’re not home that much. And I’ve moved farther away, so it’s not like where I used to be able to go there and crash on my friend’s couch. I have to go home in time to walk the dog. There are too many other things [going on].”

What’s on tap for the rest of the year?
“We finish up [a tour of Europe] at the end of August, and as of now, we’re off from September on. … [Writing new material] usually is the next step, once we get home.”

Do you guys take long breaks after you’ve finished touring behind a new album?
“No, we don’t. We have talked about maybe doing a longer one after this because we don’t want to oversaturate. It [wouldn’t be] a ‘hiatus’ thing: We just think that maybe for 2016, no new music.”

How about side projects?
“I’m always doing stuff. [Gaslight drummer] Benny [Horowitz] has another band called Bottomfeeder. I’m doing a new thing with the guitar player in Benny’s other band. None of it sounds anything like Gaslight.

“Me and Derek [Reilly], who’s the singer for Bottomfeeder, we have a record label, Human Blood Records, to basically put out our records and our friends’ records. I make 500 hard copies, and then that’s it — one pressing for each record. … I think Bottomfeeder is working on new stuff. I just put out something by my friend’s band from Cleveland called The New Strange. They’re like the heavier Into Another stuff.

“I’m not trying to do a record label. I’m just there, and I have friends who make really good music.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

The Gaslight Anthem — U.S. tour dates (schedule subject to change):

• July 16: District Square — Kalamazoo, Mich.

• July 17: Forecastle Festival — Louisville, Ky.

• July 19: Stage AE — Pittsburgh

• July 21: The Paramount — Huntington, N.Y.

• July 22: Chameleon Club — Lancaster, Pa.

• July 25: Canalside — Buffalo, N.Y.

• July 30: Gathering of the Vibes — Bridgeport, Conn.

Alex Rosamilia performs May 17, 2015, during the Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park. Photo by Chris M. Junior

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