For many years before this fateful moment, the musician was navigating the path to stardom. A die-hard fan of arena titans like Pearl Jam and the Garden State’s own Bruce Springsteen, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect that Brian would some day follow in his heroes’ footsteps with Gaslight, too. And the band did everything they could to get there: releasing life-affirming, radio-ready anthems, hitting the road relentlessly, and fulfilling the appropriate press commitments that were laid out to them. Quickly, though, it all became overwhelming.
“There was a lot of giving yourself, in a way that I just couldn’t do,” Brian explains. “Physically working was okay, and I didn’t mind the pace, but the emotional giving? I have a limit.”
The band indefinitely parted ways in 2015 (though they temporarily regrouped in 2018 for a 10th anniversary tour of their breakthrough second LP, The ’59 Sound), and Brian has since found his footing as a remarkable solo artist. Across three excellent albums – 2016’s Painkillers, 2018’s Sleepwalkers, and now this year’s Local Honey – he has embraced his naturally introverted side, performing to a more modest yet deeply loyal fanbase while realising (and acting on it, if necessary) when he needs to hit the brakes. Crucially, too, it all feels right.
“I sort of… wasn’t equipped for that speed,” he reflects of the early days in his career. “But I know why, and I go to therapy [now]. It feels like you can say, ‘I’m mentally exhausted, I’m emotionally exhausted, I have anxiety, I am depressed, I need to stop.’ Whereas when the band was coming up, everyone would be like, ‘Shut up, keep going.’ But now you can say that and everyone goes, ‘Oh, okay.’ They respect it.”
It’s a newfound pace of life that is not only reflected in the notably softer, more stripped-back musicality of Local Honey, but also in its poignant living-in-the-moment lyricism.
‘I’m watching you just colour / With your brand new pyjamas on,’ Brian croons sweetly to his young daughter on opener When You’re Ready, before later addressing his wife in the most openly romantic song of his entire catalogue, You Have Stolen My Heart. ‘And everything slows with my breath,’ he sings, ‘As I watch you float ’cross the floor.’
Family life has undoubtedly continued to steer his focus away from the celebrity aspects of being in a successful band. And while the rock star routine certainly didn’t appeal anyway (“I never had a party lifestyle. I was too busy working!”), it’s only now that Brian is finally able to lift the lid on who he truly is.
“I’m not like [the sentiment of] Poison’s Nothin’ But A Good Time, or Mötley Crüe’s music,” he jokes. “I go to the supermarket and worry about how much sugar is in the juice that my kids are drinking (laughs). I think there’s an age where you should put certain stuff away, you know what I mean? There’s nothing more sour than watching someone try to be something they’re not.”