Rob Inderrieden: What were your thoughts about todayís set and the festival atmosphere in general?
Benny Horrowitz: Festivals are always funny. Weíre just starting to get used to playing these things, you know what I mean. Itís not really our scene. But itís cool. Sharing the stage with some great bands, Anti Flag, Nine Inch Nails, but itís always hit or miss. Today was a good one. We played well. Lot of kids watching us. A lot of kids seemed to know it. I was pretty excited about today.
Even with the rain and horrible weather Ė fantastic set.
Weíre definitely a band that feeds off of if the kids are into it, it makes us more into it and gives us more energy. So sometimes itís daunting. Itís weird. A lot of times youíre playing at noon in the middle of an open fieldÖ and it sounds like your playing at noon in the middle of an open field. A lot of times we find weíre the most aggressive and punk band on the bill, for some reason theyíre letting us play these things. Weíre a little out of place and so itís all an adjustment. Itís definitely not the same. I donít really love the separation with the kids. Itís like two different worlds between the artist backstage area, where you see a lot of dog shit with other bands. Itís when I really learned what dudes that consider themselves rock stars actually act like. I mean total fucking tool bags. But thereís a cool element too. You get a sunny day and sometimes you get a cool vibe with the crowd and everyoneís having a good time. So thereís ups and downs. The food is usually real good. That might be the biggest upside for me. Three good and square and hot meals a day.
So it is hard to sometimes connect with the audience Ė when you have that separation?
It definitely is. But honestly it shouldnít matter. If there are six kids watching you and their eyes are on you and theyíre there to see you Ė those six kids should get the same shit that a thousand kids should get. Thatís like Ė one of my mantras for playing and touring is something I read in Rollinís Get in the Van. There was one show in particular Ė there were two or three kids in the audience and Rollins was fucking around with the show and he didnít really take it seriously. Iím not sure who in the band, but somebody straight up threw him into the wall and yelled in his face ďI donít give a fuck how many people are here -- they get everything. I donít care if itís one!ď And thatís true man. We actually just had that experience Ė we played this festival in the south of France and we opened one of the stages and they started us right against this huge French band that we didnít know but the kids knew and we were playing to literally 30-40 people on this gigantic stage and there was one kid up front who knew our shit and was obviously there to see us and the whole time I am watching this kid and in my mind Iím like ďIím playing for this kid. Straight up.Ē Itís obvious that itís his first time to see us and he came to see us. Fuck it. Heís going to get what 2,000 Germans are gonna get at this place. Sometimes itís hard to maintain Ė but itís something I always try to do.
I think that says a lot about you guys as artists and as a band.
Luckily for us Ė I donít see a separation between myself and the kids that come to see us. And I hope that lasts as long as I play music Ė because in essence Ė there isnít a difference. I play music and they do something else, Iím not fucking curing cancer or anything. I need them to do what I do. And if you lose focus of that Ė thatís when people really lose themselves in this thing.
Right now Ė your job is playing music, what are some other odd jobs you used to have?
Oh man, I actually tried to count recently and from the time I was 14 to 22 or 23 Ė I had over 20 jobs. My whole mantra was Ė ďitís a fucking minimum wage job and if it gets annoying and someone starts giving you shit, just quit and get another one. ď Itís that easy. I worked at a packaging store, I was a deli man, a short-order grill guy, pizza delivery, bagel baker, worked at video store, I worked with kids, 2 years in after school programs and 2 years in summer camp. I actually really dug that. And eventually started working at The Daily Targum (Rutgers/New Brunswick Newspaper) Ė in production. I eventually went on salary there and it became my full time job and I eventually quit that to do Gaslight full-time.
So whatís itís like to know this is your full-time job now?
In a way Ė itís always what I wanted to do. And I tended to never take anything else to seriously Ė because this was always the goal. At first, I quit my job because of the touring and I just couldnít work a job where someone expected me to be there. But Iím still homeless. Me and Alex are still homeless, you know what I mean. As far as money and sustaining yourself, that shit is just starting to happen. Where I might be able to get a place within the next few months or something. Itís been interesting. The last few months have been a trip. Itís weird. But itís everything I want to do. The fact that itís actually happening is fucking crazy. Itís the best thing ever. I feel really, really lucky.
What does the future hold for you guys?
Weíre doing this until late July. We get home in July Ė going to Chicago for Lollapalooza and last week of August doing Reading and Leeds again. So weíll have a couple weeks at home in August. In September we start a headlining tour in the states with Murder by Death, Loved Ones and a bunch of others (Frank Turner, Jesse Malin) weíre doing that until October. And then weíre home and we have the winter blocked out to stay at home and try and write. Just too stay together and weíre gonna record the beginning of next year.
Thoughts and views on signing with a major?
The opportunity has been presenting itself since Sink or Swim. Weíve sat down with majors and had diner with them and talked with them. We havenít in the last year because we told our manager to tell them ďThanks but no thanks for now." We sort of found out early what itís all about and the state that major labels are in right now Ė itís kinda like jumping onto a sinking ship. We are doing the next record with Side One Ė we decided that a long time ago. Those guys have been awesome for us. We gotten to this point with them and this is a point we never thought we would get to, so thereís no problem or anything to look forward to. Weíre more than happy with it. Weíre more than happy that we can actually honor a contract that weíve signed. At this point we really donít have much of an interest at all. But thatís not to say that it couldnít happen. Weíve never said that we would never do it. We always want certain things to dictate our career and thatís not one of them. But if thatís something we need at some point, maybe weíll do it, but itís just not necessary right now. I personally have a lot of thoughts about it. It would take a lot to get me to sign to a major label. If I sign to a major label Iíd want to be set for the rest of my life. And that would be the reason I would need a major label.
Can you give us a time frame for next album?
Loosely Iíd say late spring, early summerÖ but a lot of things can happen.
How would you describe the creative process used to create your sound and how everyone adds in their own unique tastes and talents?
I think the reason it was allowed to happen is thereís always been an understanding that ďthey are your parts, as long as they sound goodĒ. Nobody tells anyone else what to play. Usually the idea and stem of the song will come from one of Brianís ideas Ė so his influence is strong from the get go. But we all respect each others space Ė and I think thatís how you can get everyoneís influences to come out. We typically donít go into a song saying, ďI want it to be this kind of song or this kind of songĒ. We basically base it off a riff or a melody and the stuff that happens is we play what we think sounds good. And what we think sounds good, obviously is going to stem from our influences.
Does it bother you at all that people continue to tell you, you remind them of The Boss and make Bruce Springsteen comparisons?
You gotta earn that shit. Weíve been a band for four years and if we keep going and writing songs, eventually people will see us for us and not have to compare us to anyone else. I can honestly tell you that Iím tired of the Bruce Springsteen question, because itís in every fucking interview. And people are now prefacing Ė it with ďI know you must be getting this a lotÖ butÖĒ
No worries. Itís an easy comparison to make. Brian is a Bruce fan. There is obviously part of his music that comes into ours a little bit and you canít deny that. But thereís about 100 other bands that are in it too that people donít bother to consider. I mean heís Jersey. Heís a working class guy. Personally what I take from the Bruce comparison the most, is to me, heís like an everyday guy. Heís a huge rock star, famous and rich. But from everything I know about the guy, heís totally human, totally gracious. I knew a guy that was a carpenter at his property and during Christmas he got a bottle of Patron and an invite to some Christmas party for him and his family. And Iím like, if youíre gonna make money and aspire to be like someone, thatís pretty fucking cool. So thatís where my appreciation for Bruce comes in. Iíve never been a huge fan. I honestly didnít know that Bruce Springsteen had anything that he wrote that wasnít in the '80s until I meet Bryan. Itís not how I grew up, itís not what I was raised on. My Mom was a classic rocker. We didnít really have any of that stuff. But if there is someone to be compared to Ė heís not a bad person at all to be compared to. Itís the Killers ones that piss me off. Iíve seen that a couple times and that makes me mad. Those guys are a bunch of fucking corndicks.
The Killers? Really? I donít see that connection at all.
Thereís a couple songs on Samís Town where I guess I can see something, just because they are song oriented. But just the way those guys present themselves and their whole vibe and all that shit, has got nothing to do with us. So when I hear that Iím like ďFuck! The Killers? I hate that band! Just stop.Ē
So whatís in your cd player right now?
BH: Iíve really grown fond of Jack White stuff recently. Not as much the White Stripes, I really like the Raconteurs records he did. I think those are awesome. I really like the newest Radiohead record, the one they released themselves. Iím still listening to the new Ninja Gun record, probably close to every other day. It kills me. I love that record. The newest Off With Their Heads record I like quite a bit. Minus the Bear put out that acoustic record which I dig. The new Isis is out Ė I dig the new Isis. And then the classics.
And what are your classics, your indispensables?
Itís always Zeppelin. I always think about indispensable, as when party shuffle is on I wonít pass it over. Ever. Ití always Zeppelin. I love Nas. Especially older Nas. Iím a bit of an old New York hip-hop junkie. I dig a lot of that shit. You can even hear it in Gaslight sometimes. Sometimes a little hip hop will just show up, and that's just from my 16 to 19 Ė crooked fitted Yankees hat days. (laughs)
Desert Island scenario? The best of the best in movies, books and albums . What do you bring?
Iíd need a little bit of everything to stay happy. Definitely need a Led Zeppelin record. Maybe Iíd cheat and go with double BBC sessions record so I can get all my Zeppelin in one shot there. What would be the punk record? ManÖ so hard. Iíd need one good punk and one good hardcore. Just off the top of my head Ė Iíd say Descendents Somery and Botch We are the Romans. Movies Ė we need something funny so Iíd take Anchorman. I can watch that show over and over and over again. Then Iíd take True Romance Ė great movie. And then something deep, to make me think. What would be my thinking movie? Maybe a classic. I watch a lot of films, so this is tough for me, manÖ maybe come back to it. Books. The best book Iíve read for the last couple years is Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides, that book fucking blows me away. I could read it over and over again. I would take something funny. Something that cracks me up. Iíd take the old authoritative Calvin and Hobbes book, just for a good laugh. I love Calvin and Hobbes. And something to make me angry too. Something to get me going. it. Maybe People's History of the United States. That book will kill you too.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I Recently gained a whole new perspective on that. A few months back we were touring with Social Distortion. We parked at the club the night before and Motley Crue was there. We got on the guest list and we got to see them which was fun Ė but they travel in 4 buses, 6 trucks, some gigantic stage thing, Tommy Lee with a headset coming out and hyping the crowd with all his corn ball stuff. And weíre just sitting there and like I got through 6, 7 songs, a couple of the classics and then Iím like ďIím done. This is fucking corny.Ē And than the next day I see Social Distortion roll up in 2 buses Ė 1 for the crew and I think Mike has his family out with him. 1 truck with gear. Totally modest. Iím mean its nice stuff, but really modest and they out drew Motley Crue by like a 1000 people. To me thatís the way to do your career. Thatís the way where you can have a life, provide for a family if you want to have one Ė which I do, thatís something weíre all thinking about, weíre all getting older, Brianís been married for five years, Iím 28, Alex is 27. Getting a place and having a family is something weíre all starting to think about. And if this is going to be our career Ė it would be cool to be awarded that kind of luck. To be able to sustain that kind of life through music. But we have no aspirations to be a fucking arena rock band or the biggest band in the world. I think we would hate it in that situation. We have a hard time dealing with some of the stuff thatís already coming with this. So I canít imagine what it would be like with that. So 10 years from now Ė I want to be Social Distortion. (laughs).