R13 talks to guitarist and vocalist Alex Rosamilla of The Gaslight Anthem ahead of their UK tour.

R13: 'The '59 Sound' is a brilliant record, you've said that it was written with a view to playing live, how did that influence the way you wrote songs?
Alex: We didn't want to write anything we wouldn't be able to pull off live. We also didn't want to write anything boring, so I think that got us to take us to the fullest extent of our potential. We basically tried to pull off as much as we could with two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. That's not saying we didn't try anything different (eg tubular bells) but we did try to make the best record with just "us."

R13: Do you prefer being out on the road than in the studio?
Alex: As much as both touring and being in the studio have their pros and cons, I'd have to say I've started leaning more towards the touring aspect. When you're in the studio, you can layer parts, and try different melodies, or instruments. If you listen back and decide you don't like it though, you can always get rid of it. Playing live, however, only gives you one shot to do whatever you want to do, whether that is playing note for note, or trying for something a little more outlandish. The point is, you only have one shot, and if you hit a sour note, the whole world's there to hear it. I guess I kind of like the pressure.

R13: Your website describes you as being part of a "punk underground", is it scary having more recognition and no longer being described as underground?
Alex: In a way, yes, because I'm not necessarly comfortable with being more than "underground," but in another way, we've worked hard, and it's awesome to be recognized for my efforts and talent. We recognize who got us this far, but also are proud of the music we've written.

R13: Is the punk label one that you relate to? (I'd certainly err on the side of rock if categorising your music, so is that more a punk ethos?)
Alex: I'd say that we are definitely more "punk rock" as far as morals and ethics. "Punk Rock" as far as a musical genre, I feel, has gotten totally oversaturated, overexposed, and to a sense has become a parody of itself. Originally, as far as I'm concerned, (I wasn't there when it started) it started as a typed of music and ethic where people did what they wanted to do, because they wanted to do it. These days, I feel that "punk rock" for the most part has become more of a fashion sense or stylistic sense than anything else, so as much as I'd say we are punk rock, it's more as an ethic than a music style.

R13: You've toured the UK and played several big festivals now, have they been enjoyable experiences?
Alex: Definitely. At least for myself, I can say that the UK is one of my favourite (I'll even throw in the extra "u") places to play. It's one of those places I have always have been enamored with. I'm not sure why. It's just one of those places I always wanted to go when I was younger, so to be able to be "respected" (and I use that term loosely) there is one of the greatest/most surreal parts of my life.

R13: A lot of bands feel they need to move to another state or country to get a different atmosphere for different albums, do you feel that?
Alex: Not terribly. Personally, I think that going to other places can help with inspiration, but in the end, the music really comes down to you. It's what you take with what you take in that writes it. All going somewhere else does, at least to me, just changes the scenery. I could write the same songs in the desert that I can write in the Himalayas.

R13: What do you feel is most important in writing songs: lyrics that tell a good story, or a good melody?
Alex: I think a good melody is what gets you hooked in initially, but the story is what keeps people going back. I think that is what separates a "one-hit-wonder" from a "classic song."

R13: What's your all time favourite album and why?
Alex: Hands down, without a doubt, the best record ever is 'Disintegration', by the Cure. That's the first record that got me into the Cure, and partly why I play the way I do. I think stylistically the album is seamless from front to back, with twelve of the best songs ever recorded. I could literally go on forever about how good that record is, but I'll sum it up with 'Disintegration' is the way every record should sound.

R13: You've been touring a lot with a variety of other groups, who's been the most inspiring?
Alex: The most inspiring group that I've toured with thus far, I'd have to say is Thrice. Watching them play every night really made me tighten up my game. I don't think I've ever tried harder to be "perfect" (whatever that means) than after watching those guys play.

R13: What's been the highlight of your career so far?
Alex: As of yesterday, (Jan 30th) the highlight of career would have to be knowing that I am going to be playing with the Cure at Coachella in April (even though I haven't played it yet). Other than that, I'd say being able to go to the places I've been thus far, and to have my sole purpose at those places be playing guitar. I can't be more thankful for that even if doesn't make it past tomorrow.

R13: What are your plans for 2009?
Alex: Touring. Touring. Touring. And when we're done, possibly more touring.