Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Jordan Peterson urges parents to fight radical sex ed: It’s ‘a form of indoctrination’

By Claire Chretien
February 19, 2018
February 19, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Schools are pushing Ontario's sex ed curriculum on students in a “completely reprehensible” way, Dr. Jordan Peterson said in an interview with parental rights advocate Tanya Granic Allen, who is running to be the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.
If parents don’t approve of what their children are being taught at school, then “don’t send them to the classes,” Peterson said forcefully.
“Keep them at home,” he suggested. “And take the consequences.”
Peterson said so many parents oppose the graphic sex ed program that the small group behind it won’t be able to do much.
Parents who refuse to let their children be subjected to the program launched by Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government “may find that you have a lot more support than you think.”
“If you don’t stand your ground, then all that happens is people push you backwards,” he said. “If you wanna be pushed backwards, then go along with it.”
Parents “have to decide what’s important” to them, he said. “The people who are pushing these sorts of agendas are actually quite the small minority. They’re very noisy and they’re very well-organized. But if you don’t stand up and do something about it, especially when it affects your own family, then all that’s going to happen is that it’s going to continue to spread.”
“Kathleen Wynne and her band of radical left cronies think they have a handle on what constitutes human identity and also what should constitute human morality,” said Peterson. “And I think that that’s being pushed in a manner in schools that’s completely reprehensible. It’s not education, in my estimation. It’s a form of indoctrination.”
Peterson warned Wynne’s sex ed curriculum means children are being taught a “false doctrine” and that is essentially a “social constructionist view of identity.”
“That view is predicated on the idea that there is no true linkage between biological sex or perhaps even that there’s no such thing as biological sex and that that’s not linked – even if there is such a thing – it’s not linked in any necessary way to gender identity or gender expression or to sexual proclivity,” he explained. “And I believe that that’s a false doctrine.”
“I don’t like the underlying philosophy,” Peterson told Granic Allen and Queenie Yu. “I don’t like the fact that it’s being foisted on children far before they’re able to make any reasonable decisions about this sort of thing.”
“It’s not proper for the government to intrude too thoroughly into the domain of the family. It’s inappropriate,” said Peterson. “It’s been tried before and it’s a big mistake...all things considered, there’s nobody better for children than parents. The more power you take away from parents, the more damage you do [to] children.”
Granic Allen, 37, has quickly made a name for herself in the PC leadership race. She “stole the show” and “made her presence felt throughout” the first debate, Canadian media noted. During that debate, she slammed Wynne’s sex ed curriculum and an Ontario law that prevents parents from seeking therapy to help gender-confused kids.
Granic Allen is the President of Parents As First Educators (PAFE), which has campaigned against the Liberal government’s sex ed lessons that introduce homosexuality and gender identity to third graders and anal sex to seventh graders. PAFE represents over 85,000 Ontario parents.
Granic Allen promised that if elected PC leader and premier of Ontario, she will replace Wynne’s sex ed curriculum with “something that is age appropriate that doesn’t sexualize children and that parents are okay with.”

Film Review: 'Red Sparrow' Is Effective But Creepy Spy Thriller

By Jonathan Leaf
February 18, 2018
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What kind of movie would Alfred Hitchcock make if he were alive today?
My guess is a pornographic one. As Hitchcock acknowledged in his famous series of interviews with Francois Truffaut, he was fundamentally a sensationalist, someone motivated above all else by the urge to provoke intense reactions from his audience, irrespective of whether these were refined or aesthetic. It was only censorship that deterred him from his vulgar wishes.
This is as much as to say that he might well make a film like "Red Sparrow," a skillful spy thriller that's also exceedingly creepy, gory and debased.
Based on an award-winning novel by Jason Matthews, a retired but long-serving CIA field operative, its story concerns Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), a one-time prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet. After a seeming accident has ended her career as a dancer, Egorova is recruited by her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts), a high-ranking figure in Russian intelligence. He wants her to become the mistress of an oligarch distrusted by Putin's regime. The outcome of that episode -- which I will not reveal here -- leads to her assignment as a trainee at a spy school for Russian agents who serve as "honey pots," seducers used to blackmail influential Westerners. From there, Egorova is sent to Budapest, where she has been assigned to rope in Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), a CIA agent who is the contact for a vital Russian mole, code-named Marvel. Will she do as she has been instructed by her trainers and try to persuade Nash to reveal the identity of the mole? Or will she betray the motherland and assist the cause of The West and freedom? Complicating this seemingly cliché set up is the fact that both Egorova and Nash know what her handlers have asked her to do and why they have sent her. That produces a surprisingly subtle relationship, something with echoes of the novels of John le Carré.
Even so, "Hunger Games" director Francis Lawrence and his scenarist, Justin Haythe, have stripped out much of what appealed to the readers of Matthews' book. That included detailed and by all accounts very realistic depictions of "tradecraft," the mechanisms which are employed by intelligence agencies for activities like exchanging information and following enemy operatives. Also removed is an important aspect of the heroine's character: her intuitive sense regarding the people she meets is guided by synesthesia. In place of these elements, Lawrence and Haythe have done an effective job of arranging a very clever plot.
They are aided by a series of outstanding performances. First among these is that of Jennifer Lawrence. While she does not have the malnourished figure of a ballerina, she is always compelling and otherwise believable in the exceedingly complex role of a woman who is fierce, brutal and cunning at some moments and utterly terrified and vulnerable at others.
Also superior is Jeremy Irons as another Russian intelligence agent, Joely Richardson as Lawrence's sickly mother and Charlotte Rampling as the icy but capable director of the "sparrow" school. Highly effective as well is James Newton Howard's discordant score, which knowingly harkens back to the work of Hitchcock's frequent musical collaborator, Bernard Herrman.
Undermining this excellence is the movie's repeated recourse to displays of gore and to disturbing, highly graphic sex scenes. These will titillate viewers but leave them walking out of the theater profoundly ill at ease with both the motion picture and themselves.


Sometimes “what’s in a name” really, really matters.

February 20, 2018

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If Muhammad cannot beat the infidels on the battlefield, he’ll outbreed them—literally: “Mohammed most popular name for newborn boys in the Netherlands for second year in a row,” is the title of a recent report.  Muhammad is apparently also the most popular name in England. In fact, Muhammad is one of the most popular names throughout Northwest Europe.
While this may seem innocuous enough—what’s in a name?—the fact is many Muslims see their offspring as their contribution to the jihad—literally, the “struggle” to make Islam supreme—since more numbers equate more influence and power.   Nor is the naming of “Muhammad” a coincidence but rather a cryptic reminder from the parents (usually father) of whom they most revere and hope their sons emulate—namely, the founder of Islam/jihad.
Although the original, historic jihad was straightforward warfare on the infidel to make Islam supreme, the ulema articulated a variety of other jihads, all of which work to the same end: as with jihad al-lisan (literally tongue, meaning propaganda, apologias, polemics, etc.), jihad al-mal (monetarily or materially supporting jihadis, including through zakat), jihad al-wilada (or childbearing) is seen as a way to contribute to the “struggle” to make Islam supreme.   
This can be achieved with either infidel or Muslim women.  As an example of the first, a Muslim imam was videotaped saying that, because European men lack virility, their women seek fertility among Muslim men.  Accordingly, “We will give them fertility! We will breed children with them, because we will conquer their countries!  Whether you like it or not, you Germans, Americans, French, and Italians and all those akin to you [Western people]—take in the refugees.  For soon we will call them [and their European born sons] in the name of the coming caliphate!  And we will say to you, ‘These are our sons.’”
That some Muslim men operate along this logic is evident.  The diary of Patrick Kabele, an African Muslim man who was living and arrested in Britain for trying to join the Islamic State—his primary motive being to purchase a nine-year-old sex slave—had references that only likeminded Muslims would understand: in an effort, as the aforementioned imam said, to use European women as incubators and “breed children with them,” Kabele noted that he had been “seeding some women over here, UK white,”  adding, “I dont [sic] kiss anymore.” (Unlike straightforward mating, kissing is deemed an intimate act, and Muslims, in keeping with the doctrine of al-wala’ wa al-bara must never be intimate with, certainly not love, non-Muslims—even when married to them—though they can have carnal relations with them.) 
Even so, Muslim women remain the primary incubators for the jihad—and many of them see it as their obligation.   A Christian Eritrean volunteer and translator who worked in migrant centers in Germany and was often assumed to be Muslim by the migrants, confessed last year that “Muslim migrants often confide in her and tell her about their dislike towards Christians,” and that “a number of the Muslim migrants she has spoken to have revealed a hatred for Christians and are determined to destroy the religion.” How they plan on doing this is telling: “Some women told me, ‘We will multiply our numbers. We must have more children than the Christians because it’s the only way we can destroy them here.’”
The notion that more Muslim births mean more Muslim power is so ingrained among Muslims that recommendations of “family planning” in West Africa—which, despite its scarcity of resources, has the highest birthrate in the world—is regularly seen by Muslims as a Western conspiracy.  “The West’s policy is about reducing our numbers,” said Hassane Seck, an imam from Senegal. “Because of their perverse promotion of contraception, women in Europe are no longer fertile, but ours are. There are going to be many more of us, and they’re afraid.”  The report adds that he and other “imams cite a passage in the Koran imploring Muslims to ‘go forth and multiply,’ and family planning is seen by many in the region as a Western plot to curb the spread of Islam.”   Little wonder that one of every three people on earth are expected to be Muslim by 2070.
“We have 50 million Muslims in Europe,” Muammar Gaddafi claimed back in 2006, more realistically adding, “There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe—without swords, without guns, without conquest—will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.”  Ongoing polls and reports suggest this long cherished Muslim dream may not be so farfetched.   
One recent Pew report says that the Muslim population of (Western) Europe could triple by 2050—just when all those baby Muhammads are coming of age, and when the imams will “call” on them.  In Germany alone, nearly 20 percent of the population could be Muslim by 2050; considering that the average Muslim man is more zealous over his way of and purpose in (Islamic) life than the average German male, 20 percent is not too little for an Islamic takeover of—or at least mass havoc in—Germany.  Yet the report also finds that even “if all migration into Europe were to immediately and permanently stop” and due to significantly higher Muslim birthrates, Europe’s Muslim population will still grow significantly, to about 36 million, almost double the current population.
Not that many Western Europeans seem to care; some are even glad to see their own kind die off and be replaced by Muslims—such as Dr. Stefanie von Berg, who exulted before the German parliament: “Mrs. President, ladies and gentlemen. Our society will change. Our city will change radically. I hold that in 20, 30 years there will no longer be a [German] majority in our city. …. And I want to make it very clear, especially towards those right wingers: This is a good thing!”  Meanwhile, “the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is lobbying for a repeal of laws restricting security surveillance of minors under the age of 14, arguing that the country is facing grave risks from what the German media dubs ‘kindergarten jihadists.’”
From here one understands the true root of the immediate problem—and, as usual, it is not so much Muslims as it is perverse Westerners.  After all, Muslims being fertile and procreating—traditionally seen in the West as a “blessing”—is not intrinsically blameworthy.  Conversely, Westerners who push for “multiculturalism,” encourage their female population to incubate future, homegrown jihadis, and take in and support vast numbers of Muslim men, their many wives and even more children, are to blame.  Islam is not invading and taking over by the edge of the sword as it once did; Westerners are doing everything to enable it, to their own detriment.   
Such are the signs of the times: a moribund culture—typified by nihilism, hedonism, cynicism, and perhaps most tellingly, dropping birth rates—simply has little to live for and gives way to a more zealous one, just as Anglo-French historian Hilaire Belloc (b.1870) predicted nearly a century ago:  “The recrudescence of Islam, the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic,” he wrote, before explaining:
Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it—we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today. […] In Islam there has been no such dissolution of ancestral doctrine—or, at any rate, nothing corresponding to the universal break-up of religion in Europe. The whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa.  The final fruit of this tenacity, the second period of Islamic power, may be delayed—but I doubt whether it can be permanently postponed.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). 

Friday, February 16, 2018

President Trump: Have Education Department Mandate Active Shooter Protocols

By Lawrence Meyers
February 15, 2018

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Armed guard at a school in Israel.

I’m a small government guy, however, it’s sadly apparent that the United States of America is paralyzed with political indecision over something the State of Israel figured out more than 40 years ago: all schools should have mandated security features and active shooter protocols.

The horrific scene in Parkland, and the upsetting videos broadcast from the school during the shooting, should be the final straw.  The kids should not have been hiding and screaming, they should have been in the midst of a pre-determined security protocol.

President Trump, if the Department of Education can force Americans to deal with the disaster of Common Core, it can certainly issue a federal mandate regarding school security. The time is now.  

My personal manifesto is that government should never get involved in an issue unless an ongoing clear and present danger exists to large numbers of people, and that any regulation or legislation has a sunset provision.

Here we are.

In 1974, Israel endured the Ma’alot Massacre in which “Palestinian” terrorists took 115 people hostage at Netiv Meir Elementary School.  Twenty-two children and three others were killed and 68 injured.  Israel now requires schools with 100 or more students to have a guard posted. The civilian police force handles the entire security system of all schools from kindergarten through college.  The Ministry of Education funds shelters and fences, reinforces school buses, and hires and trains guards.

Guards don’t just stand around.  They check everyone entering, and engage threats.

And yeah, they’ve got guns.The lawful purposes for carrying guns are very clear: protect school personnel and students, create a sense of security, deter the ill-intentioned, and provide self-defense. 

Common sense.   Except to the illogical dullards who claim that “adding guns to schools won’t fix anything” and are fixated on the NRA and the ridiculous notions that gun laws magically stop criminals and crazy people from obtaining one of the 300 million guns in our country.

But more to the point, Israel’s Police Community & Civil Guard Department have a preventative care program that encourages safe behavior and offers violence protection strategies in normal situations.  Yet students are also trained in how to respond to an active shooter situation.

Ben Goldstein, an American who made aliyah to Israel, and now serves as volunteer security and supporter of IDF soldiers, says America is behind the curve.  Nevertheless, he says, it doesn’t take much for students and teachers to protect themselves.

“Barricade, barricade. Are desks movable?  Is the teacher’s desk movable?  Can they barricade inside of 20 seconds? If the shooter gets in, the kids should take whatever they’ve got and attack.  They can’t just sit there frozen or they will die.  America does earthquake drills, why not active shooter drills?   More kids have been killed by shooters than earthquakes.

Barricading works, says Goldstein. In an active shooter situation, where a gunman is roaming a campus, five minutes is a lifetime, enough time for law enforcement to get to the scene.  “In those five minutes, the shooter will have to move from class to class, reload, clear malfunctions, all that stuff takes time.  And during gunfire lulls, kids must be taught to do something.  Don’t freeze.Moving once gets you out of that deer-in-headlights space.  Take command of the classroom.”

There is no other way, says Goldstein, and “sometimes children must take matters into their own hands.If the school has no proper security – two guards in case one gets shot, and no active shooter protocol, and no doors to withstand an attack – then the child needs to run as fast as they can AWAY from the shooter.”

Because right now, America is the deer-in-headlights.  Gun control debates are a distraction and impractical, and criminals ignore laws anyway.Crazy people are obviously not being dealt with properly – students at Parkland even predicted this would happen.

The only solution is for America to toughen up.  We have a pugilist for a president, and that is long overdue.  Now its time for President Trump to fight for our children by wielding government power in the proper manner, to do something that any reasoned American would agree with.  

Instead of handing out participation trophies, let’s make our kids into the self-reliant, pro-active defenders of themselves and others.

Mr. President, the time is now.

No, It’s Not Cowardly to Be Conservative on Gun Rights

Defending the Second Amendment takes courage, gun-control advocates’ claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

By David French
February 15, 2018

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Every single time America is rocked by a mass shooting, the insults come raining down: Conservatives and Republican politicians who oppose new gun-control laws aren’t just wrong, they’re cowards.

The insult is echoed in Congress, on television, and countless times on social media. It’s as if each of these people actually believes that members of Congress and conservative activists know what’s right, but are afraid to act. 

Angry voices take an extraordinarily complex social, cultural, and political phenomenon, boil it down to preferred progressive policy provisions, and then declare everyone who opposes their ideas a craven weakling in thrall to the NRA. Yesterday was no exception.

Calls of cowardice came from cable hosts:
From pundits:
From celebrities:
And from professors:
One of the worst aspects of the modern gun debate is the presumption that Republican politicians vote the way they do not out of conviction but out of craven compliance — that they care less about school shootings than they care about NRA campaign dollars or NRA votes. It’s a sentiment that plays very well on Twitter (note the retweets and likes), but it’s detached from reality.

In fact, those making the argument either don’t know or don’t care about the extent to which courage is a cornerstone of gun culture. After all, what good is a firearm if a law-abiding citizen doesn’t have the courage and self-discipline to use it in self-defense or in the defense of his family and neighbors? Countless permit holders don’t just take the time to get carry licenses, they spend hours at the range. They take classes. They aspire to be brave.

Moreover, these insults ignore the fact that conservative politicians consistently advocate government action that they sincerely believe will make a positive difference. Leftist pundits mock the notion that we should arm teachers, yet time and again armed civilians have stopped mass shooters in their tracks. It’s not cowardice to argue that more civilians should be given the chance to arm themselves.

Nor is it cowardice to argue that we should better enforce existing laws. This is a problem that transcends mass shootings and impacts “regular” gun violence. Prosecutors are notoriously reluctant to prosecute purchasers who lie on background checks, including straw purchasers. We’ve also seen background-check systems fail and multiple instances where law-enforcement officials failed to effectively follow up on leads provided by private citizens that could have prevented an attack.

Conservatives are keenly aware of these failings, and rightfully wonder why there is such confidence that the next legal reform will be more effective than the last — especially when the practical effect is often to inconvenience the law-abiding without offering any meaningful corresponding public-safety benefit.

Finally, it’s not cowardice to note in response to calls for increased gun control that America has seen a sharp decrease in gun violence even as gun laws have liberalized from coast to coast. Given that mass shootings are often the most premeditated of crimes, they may well be the least susceptible to a gun-control solution. A person can easily plan around assault-weapons bans (as the San Bernardino shooters did) and circumvent magazine restrictions. Mass shootings are sometimes planned months and years in advance. Moreover, one shooter inspires the next, creating a contagion that’s hard to control.

The terrible reality is that we don’t have good solutions to this problem. We just don’t. Increased vigilance and governmental competence can stop some shooters. Armed civilians can stop others. Public education about warning signs can prevent a few more tragedies. Each of these things has worked in the past. Each will work again. Calling your ideological opponent a coward hasn’t, and never will.

— David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.


Clint Eastwood’s "The 15:17 to Paris" pays tribute to authentic American heroes.

February 16, 2018

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In August of 2015, Moroccan national Ayoub El Khazzani boarded a Paris-bound train with an AK-47, a pistol, more than 300 rounds of ammunition, and a box cutter. The Muslim’s intention was to kill as many people as possible but American passengers Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alex Skarlatos disarmed and tied up the terrorist then they saved the life of the man he had shot. France hailed the three Americans as heroes.
As Michael Corleone said in The Godfather, that’s a terrific story, not the sort of thing you can make up. Director Clint Eastwood thought he would make a movie of it, using Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos instead of professional actors. So this would be a new kind of cinéma vérité
Actors do play the three Americans at the junior-high stage in Sacramento, California. Dramatically the back stories are flat spots, but Eastwood is at pains to show that these are basically three ordinary guys, none from what one would call a “privileged” background. All three have a mischievous side and two show interest in the joining the U.S. military.
In the Air Force, Spencer Stone finds himself disqualified for a position because of a problem with depth perception. He doesn’t get what he wants, but he still presses on.
The 15:17 to Paris doesn’t give the back story of Moroccan Ayoub El Khazzani, played by Ray Corasani (The Long Road Home) but the portrayal is also cinéma vérité. This guy did indeed board the train intending to gun down as many people as possible. Spencer Stone may have lacked depth perception but he showed plenty of guts when the Moroccan Muslim started shooting. 
The AK-47 misfired but the unarmed Stone tackled the terrorist before he could get off a round. The American gets cut up pretty bad but Skarlatos and Sadler join the fray and the trio prevail. The sequence isn’t as fancy as something from, say, True Lies, but it is authentic. The hogtied Ayoub El Khazzani isn’t going to kill anybody, and viewers see Stone applying his Air Force medical training to save a wounded passenger’s life.
Some critics call the film an experiment in “stunt casting,” and others charge that Stone, Sadler and Skarlatos, though clearly heroes, are out of their element as actors. After all, they have no previous experience.
On the other hand, viewers might wonder how many movie “action” stars, say Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, ever dared to challenge a terrorist about to spray bullets from an AK-47. A ballpark figure would be zero, and director Oliver Stone is not going to make a movie showing Americans as heroes, even if they are.
The 15:17 to Paris shows French president François Hollande presenting the three Americans with the Legion D’honneur, and France’s highest honor is surely worth more than any Oscar. Hollande says Anthony Sadler summed it up best. In a situation like that, “il faut faire quelque chose,” and such situations are all too common in France.  
In January of 2015, two Muslim brothers killed 11 people at the Charlie Hebdo magazine to avenge cartoons they perceived as mocking the prophet Muhammad. In early 2015 Muslim terrorists also attacked a kosher market in Paris, claiming 17 victims, including two police officers. Jihadist attacks have killed 238 people in France since 2015 and militant Islam is a major issue.
The 15:17 to Paris alludes to World War II but this conflict is different. Unlike the Nazis, the enemy deploys jihadists to hijack civilian airliners, gun down civilians on passenger trains, and even run them down with trucks, like Uzbek Muslim Sayfullo Saipov in New York City last October.
Workers can attend an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, California, and find themselves facing Islamic terrorists Sayed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who gunned down 14 innocents and wounded many others. In that kind of conflict, everybody is a potential victim, and combatant.
The United States has had no military draft since 1973, so the Armed Forces have to recruit. In recent years, the U.S. military ran television ads showing troops rushing into action and asking potential recruits, “which way would yourun?”
When Ayoub El Khazzani leveled his AK-47, Stone, Scarlatos and Sadler ran at the terrorist and prevailed. With jihadsts still on the march, just about anybody could face a situation like that. To adapt a line from Clint Eastwood inDirty Harry, “you gotta ask yourself, which way would you run?”
At 87, with more than half a century in the business, Clint Eastwood could be lounging on a porch swing with a cold drink. Instead he makes a movie about a true story, casting three Americans in their own heroic roles.
Whatever its faults, The 15:17 to Paris shows an actual victory for the good guys. That’s why, in the theater where this writer saw it, the people were clapping at the end.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Today's Tune: Brian Fallon - If Your Prayers Don't Get To Heaven (Lyric Video)

Brian Fallon on The Gaslight Anthem’s 'The ‘59 Sound,' the state of the band and 'Sleepwalkers'

By Nicholas Parco
February 12, 2018

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Brian Fallon has found his groove.

"Sleepwalkers," Fallon's newest record, shows that the Jersey Shore crooner is at the top of his game and comfortable as a solo artist.

The album drips with the influence of soul and R&B and features massive, infectious choruses — all in a different way than his band The Gaslight Anthem used to.
Fallon, in what seems like a past lifetime as this point, tore New Brunswick basements apart when Gaslight came on the Jersey punk scene with "Sink or Swim" in 2007. But it's the critical darling follow-up one year later, "The '59 Sound," that has allowed Fallon to get to where he is today.
He knows it and so do the other members of the band.
That album's 10th birthday is the reason why Gaslight is getting back together this summer to play shows for the first time since they amicably chose to go on hiatus in 2015.
But this doesn't exactly mean The Gaslight Anthem has a future.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily News, Fallon goes into detail on the impact "The '59 Sound" has had on his career, how he has gotten comfortable as a solo artist, and much more.
New York Daily News: When you guys went into the studio to follow up your debut “Sink or Swim” was the plan to try and make a record that sounded polished and different from your debut?
Brian Fallon: When we went in? No (laughs). We actually had never worked with a producer before. The way that it lined up was that we did “Sink Or Swim” on no budget and we did it essentially on our own with a friend of ours who was running the board and would give his opinion every now or then.
When we did “The ‘59 Sound” we were in a real studio in Los Angeles from Side One Dummy that (producer) Ted Hunt had put us in. And we hadn’t ever worked with a producer before, that’s probably the difference between them. I definitely wouldn’t call it polished. It was seven days of recording very quickly, as fast as we could. That was kind of the way it was back then. There was no time for any plans or any kind of… really anything. It was just sort of going at the speed we could go at and try and get everything done.
NYDN: “The ‘59 Sound” gained a lot of steam on the underground message boards of the web, like AbsolutePunk when it came out. If it was released today in the world of streaming services, do you think it would’ve had the same reception?
BF: It’s impossible to say because I don’t think that was the kind of record that was registering in any kind of mass form. A lot of it was word of mouth. A lot of it was on independent blogs and music sites. A lot of it was kids finding it going “this is cool, what’s this?” It sort of went from there and that’s when later on the mainstream media picked it up. It could happen today, meaning it’s possible, but I’m not so sure.
Everything has to line up for something to be successful, it’s not just simply whether it’s good or bad. You have to have a lot of favorable things happen in the process in order for it to actually reach a large number of people. Sometimes timing is one of those things that you can’t plan for. I’m glad we don’t have to do it again (laughs). If I had to put that out now would I be able to manage a career? I have no idea if that would work so I’m glad it did then.
NYDN: You just said timing could play a big part in an album’s success. Do you think you guys got lucky with the timing of “The ‘59 Sound”?
BF: Definitely. You can call it luck. But two, there’s that element that you can’t control — whether the public is ready for it. Whether they are ready to embrace something like that at the time. And that’s not just for us, it goes for any kind of music. So if the public consciousness is primed for, like, Nirvana to come out, then it’s going to come out. If it’s primed for Kendrick Lamar to come out, then that’s what’s going to happen. It’s almost like what resonates with the actual feeling of the people at the time. I think that sort of dictates a lot more of it than whether you had one band have a really catchy song. And that’s what people mostly talk about when they talk about records. “Oh this record’s got to be so catchy. This song’s a hit… blah, blah, blah.” That song isn’t a hit until the public decides that.
For instance, around the same time as “The ‘59 Sound” came out, Florence and The Machine’s EP (“A Lot of Love. A Lot of Blood”) came out with “Dog Days Are Over.” I got turned on to that song when we played together at Glastonbury when Bruce Springsteen came out to play (with The Gaslight Anthem). Two bands after our set was Florence. I checked it out and thought it was amazing. That EP ending up being out for 18 months or so before anything happened and then all of a sudden it was on every commercial on television. How do you explain that? “The ‘59 Sound” and “Dog Days Are Over” came out and they have nothing really in common with each other stylistically. Why did “Dog Days Are Over” take 18 months to get big? That song was just as good versus 18 months later. Because that’s when the public was ready for it.
NYDN: This “59 Sound” 10-year anniversary tour is your first time playing with The Gaslight Anthem since Reading Festival in 2015. How did the decision to get back together go down? Did certain people need persuading or was it a unanimous choice?
BF: We really had a pretty basic straight talk with each other. We’re all adults now and most of us have children and other responsibilities so it’s not quite as roundabout as it used to be. Everything used to be based around “Well how do you feel?” Now there’s less of that and more just “Is this smart?” “Does this do anything to make us feel better about it? Or are we just rehashing something?”
But when this came up we all sort of felt the same about it. We all feel it’s a really good record and none of us would be where we are today, individually or collectively, without the record. We also took into consideration when we were going to stop Gaslight for a while, it was abrupt. A lot of people didn’t get the chance to come out and see us before we were going to stop. And we did that a little bit intentionally because we didn’t want it to be a ticket grab, because that’s usually how those things come across. We’ve been doing it long enough to know that if you announce something like that, people are just going to flood the tickets and try and catch the last time that they might get to see a band. That doesn’t feel like what we’d want.
NYDN: And then you get all the fake reunion tours afterwards
BF: Yeah. I had to think about it because I had a record coming out (“Sleepwalkers) and I wasn’t sure if it was going to come out in the fall of 2017 or in the winter of 2018. I was kind of already on track with that record and then in the middle of last year it was brought up to me: “‘The ‘59 Sound’ is 10 years old next year. We should probably talk about this.”
And I said “wow” but I had to make the decision for myself that was the best. I think that came easier than it would seem.
NYDN: Like you said, you’ve all known each other for a long time. After “Get Hurt” when you guys came to the decision to go on hiatus, was breaking up altogether ever on the table?
BF: It could’ve been on the table, but I think we learned from a lot of mistakes other bands made. They break up altogether only to reinvent themselves on the “jukebox reunion tour” where they play the hits. That just always seems a little bit like fans going “well we all knew that was going to happen, but you guys didn’t?”
I like to have options. I didn’t grow up with too many options so I like to have as many options as I can. I think we all feel that way. It’s best not to say “never.” We knew we needed a break, we didn’t know what else we needed. So when we stopped, we just kind of called it as it was and said this is going to be a break but we’re not breaking up.
That’s the same thing we’re doing now. This record is 10 years old. We kind of abruptly stopped. We think it will be fun to go out and play these shows and we think a lot of people agree with that and want to see it. So we’re going to do that and then beyond that, we’re not going to do anything, because we don’t know what else to do. Until we do, this is what we’re comfortable with so this is what we’ll do.
NYDN: Are you going to announce more dates for “The ‘59 Sound” show. Is there a homecoming Jersey show in the works?
BF: You know I can’t get specific, but there are more that we are going to do later. We’re going to put a little more out there, soon, and then that’ll be it for a while. Actually not for a while. That’s really all that there is.
What I’d said to those wondering (about the tour dates) is to trust your better judgment, people. If you look at them and are going “hey there’s no… you know” just think for a second if that seems right.
NYDN: After “Get Hurt,” what made you release solo music under your name rather than some other moniker?
BF: Actually, I was recently talking to a friend of mine who had brought that up and I probably would’ve just kept doing various band names but she said to me that it might not be a good idea to do that. Because then you have to separate all the songs on which band is on tour when. If you just do it under your own name then you can kind of do whatever you want. Because you’re the thing that’s defining who it is. You’re not stuck with one stylistic thing and you don’t have to worry that this band doesn’t play that band’s songs.
NYDN: New Jersey is present in all of the records you've written, especially the early ones. What did the Red Bank (New Jersey) show in January at Count Basie Theater mean to you?
BF: That’s a theater in my hometown. They hosted really big shows there when I was a kid. So for me to be able to go in there and play is a huge thing. You never get away from that thing in your hometown that it has over you. You don’t outgrow where you come from. To be welcomed back is really the best you can ask for.
I guess sometimes people feel that you’re not the same anymore or that you are not theirs, and it’s a good feeling to know that you are still theirs, no matter what has been done or how much stuff we’ve done. I feel like I’ve still got somewhere I can call home, that I can go back to and play and be received, especially with something new.
I went up there and played piano in front of a big crowd for the first time and I was really happy that it was in my hometown and not somewhere in some weird city that I don’t have any connection to.
NYDN: You included the piano in that set during the performance of the title track on “The ‘59 Sound,” something you’ve never really done.
BF: I’ve been taking lessons for about six months before that. It’s something that I've always wanted to do. The piano is where everything starts and ends. Everything is based off of it. If you understand that, you wind up understanding a lot more in all other instruments. For me, it had always been something important to try and learn.
Also, all the people that I’ve looked up to, from Bruce Springsteen to Tom Waits, they all play the piano. And they all have these beautiful songs that, when I didn’t know how to play piano, you’re locked out of because you can’t do it. I’d have to play them on guitar and some things simply don’t work on the guitar.
It was little tough to start at age 37, because there’s this voice in your head that says “you're too old to do this.” It was really funny to go to music lessons because there were a bunch of kids in my classes. I felt stupid when I started but then I didn’t. No one looked at me funny. I took on the role of student. I wasn’t like “I’m the guy in The Gaslight Anthem, I know Bruce Springsteen, get out of my way!”
I took it as a student. I sat down and I learned “Wonderwall” by Oasis first. Fortunately, I’ve had two teachers that don’t bother me. I asked to learn “Androgynous” by The Replacements and they'd figure it out and then let me be without showing me Chopin and Bach, because I don’t want to know that. I want to know what Tom Waits did. I want to learn to play “The Promise” on piano like the E Street Band does! I want to play “For You” from the Hammersmith bootleg, I don’t want to play Beethoven.
NYDN: Speaking of Springsteen, you covered “Spirit in the Night” at the Red Bank show
BF: The funny thing is, I wanted to learn “The Promise” first. But I hit that road block and couldn’t do it right on the guitar, the chords were too weird. I went to play it on piano, and that was much too difficult.
So then I thought maybe I can do “Spirit in the Night.” I saw a clip of him playing it when he was very young on the piano… but he was still clearly a few years ahead of me on the piano. When I realized I couldn’t do that, I moved it to the guitar.
I really like that song. It’s the early days of Bruce. That always sort of felt like a little bit of a lightning rod to me, musically, because it grounds him at home. And no matter how big he gets you can always go back to those songs on the first record. He talks about Route 88. I know Route 88. That was the whole thing. This is a Jersey song and I love so I did it.
NYDN: With "Painkillers" and now "Sleepwalkers," have you ever have trouble trying to separate your solo sound from that of Gaslight?
BF: Earlier on I think I did. On the last record ("Painkillers") I thought "I have to make this different" because it was so fresh. I didn't have a master plan when this all happened. It wasn't like I knew I was going to make a solo record and that Gaslight was going to go on hiatus and then I'll really shine (laughs).
What actually happened was that I kind of panicked. I felt like I was out of a job. I didn't know what to do. I don't know how to do anything else. I've spent my life playing music. I tried to figure that out as I went on the first record and sort of got it together. I didn't technically have a recording contract when we stopped Gaslight. I didn't have a solo contract so I didn't take for granted that Island Records was going to put out my solo record. I thought they might say no.
But they didn't so I just went with it. So there was definitely a lot more of figuring it out on the first record and a little bit more comfort on this new one. As I've gotten older I've realized the element that sounds like The Gaslight Anthem that's mine is always going to be me. The other three-fourths of it is going to be the other guys. I can't stop doing what I do naturally, whether I'm in The Gaslight Anthem or my own thing. It's just what I do, so I don't worry about separating it that much anymore.
NYDN: There's a heavy R&B influence on "Sleepwalkers," arguably the most on something you've done since (The Horrible Crowes') "Elsie." How did that happen?
BF: It was a timing thing. I felt I had enough of a grasp on it musically to be able to do it. Before I would try and little bits would come out, even on the early Gaslight records. That's not the kind of music you can just sit down and play. I felt like I was ready now to start to grasp it. I felt like I've only just touched the surface on it with this record. It's something I've always wanted to do and I wasn't able to in the past.