Brian Fallon is on his own now, in new territory. At first, the uncertain junket took a little convincing and a lot of getting used to, but now the Gaslight Anthem frontman is fine driving solo. The long road has offered him time to think, grasp and remember why he started doing this all in the first place.

Painkillers is the name of the New Jersey artist's forthcoming debut solo album, a title that serves as a reminder of what songwriting has meant to him recently, while dealing with major personal and professional changes. After his band announced their indefinite hiatus, Brian picked his guitar back up and strummed it until he remembered why doing that matters, how writing songs continues to be a saving grace. And in doing it alone, he managed to feel a part of something bigger.

It's been a super chill afternoon listening to your new album. Tuesday afternoon chill music.

Oh cool. I like it. That's what it was designed for, to make people feel good. It's an easy record to digest. There's a lot to it. It's not one of those records that you have to put on and sit there for months to get it. I wanted it to be immediate and feel good. It's not draining. Some records you listen to and they're sad and real draining to listen to. I just wanted to make an easy record.

You accomplished that. The story telling is definitely dense but it's lighthearted.

That's the whole reason why it's called Painkillers is because I was trying to say that that's what music always was for me. It was a comfort. Basically, what I meant by calling it that is, those are twelve painkillers there to help make you feel better.

We'll start with the first one, 'Wonderful Life.' Now that so much has changed for you in this past year, what is your definition of a wonderful life and at this moment, how do you feel like you’re living it?

I wrote that song to encourage myself. I never wrote a super positive song and I got inspired by Oasis. Manchester is similar to my upbringing and where I came from. My father is from there. It really made sense that those guys, even though they became these big rock stars, especially Noel, he always had this working class vibe to him and he never lost the relatability. When I wrote that song, I got inspired, because they were always singing about "even though things are bad, you and I can live forever" and "don't look back in anger." Those songs hit me. I said to myself, "what are you looking for?" and I thought, "I want a life that counts. I don't want to just survive." And I don't mean survive like achieving some goal or monetary thing, I just want to have a life that matters. I felt like everybody that was around me, that song was all about right where I lived. We're passionate people. That's where that line came from, "I want a life on fire, gone mad with desire." I don’t want to survive, I want a wonderful life.

Heading into this album, what was your game plan? Did you approach it like albums past, mentally? What was your vision there in terms of taking everything you wanted to say and saying it?

The trick was, when you get your first record that's your own, or any new band gets signed, they want to put everything they've ever wanted to say or everything they've ever wanted to do in one record. But you can't do that, or else you're just going to come out with a record that's all over the place. I learned enough from music to control myself and figure out what kind of record I was trying to make. I figured I would start over, because I was starting over as a new artist, as a solo artist. I always wanted to go into this singer-songwriter folk music, because that's what I grew up on – Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. They were the Bible to me when I was a young kid and learning how to play guitar. I wanted to make a record that could fit in that world. What I did was, I said to myself, "you're going to start every song in the acoustic guitar, you're going to write it by yourself and it's going to sound good on its own without any instruments and then you can build stuff on it." I just did that.

I read a quote where you said that you dreaded the concept of a solo record and that you had to convince yourself to do it. How did that process go and why was it so important?

The fortunate thing for me was, the band had already decided to take a break. It wasn't the typical "I'm going to leave my band and go check out what I can do on my own" thing. I don't really like that. I like being around people and I like their help. Especially in the band, Gaslight, we're really close. To go out on my own, I didn't want anyone to think that, "Look at me, I can do this by myself." That wasn't my intention at all. I think that I was so nervous about it, because I didn't want anyone to think, here we go, solo record. It just sounds so dreadfully egotistical to me. I had to work passed that and realize that that may be the case for someone's life but that’s not your case. That's not what you're doing.

And it's a very nostalgic album. You can tell that there was a very extreme process for you to sift through your life and write it. I read another quote where you said that people don't take enough time to sit with themselves and be. So what was that process like for you writing that and in doing so, how has that changed you personally and professionally?

A lot of that came from the direct result of where I was in my life during Get Hurt. When you have something really traumatic happen to you, you can go one of two ways. You blame everybody else, and that's not a good way to do it, or you look at the way that I decided to look at it. I asked, "What's wrong with me? What do I need to change to make myself a better person, to have my life affect others in a positive way and to make myself happy?" I went to therapy and that caused me to analyze my motives. When you go to therapy, you start looking that way and you start to reflect on yourself. Think about yourself and what your reaction to the world is. What are your actions doing that is affecting the world around you? That started to get me thinking that my actions affect other people and that made me analyze myself in a communal way. Rather than seeing myself as separate from the world, I started to see myself as part of the world and part of a community. It's about we. The whole world can benefit from thinking about we instead of I. For this record, it was like, "I'm going to look at my entire life and I'm going to write about songs from that." It’s nostalgic but it's also looking forward to the future and to the present.

That's a brave but necessary thing to do. We all go through our own personal traumas and so much of us just move on to the future to get passed it and don’t always reflect and heal and turn it into something.

It's good to stop. Let yourself heal from things. You don't have to move on to the next thing. One good thing that my therapist told me is, don't ever let anybody tell you how long it takes to heal from something. It's your process. That's justifiable. We're just in the process.

What are you most proud of this project?

I'm proud that it got done and that I like it. I'm proud that I did it right. I'm proud of the songs. There's not a single song on there that I don't think is a good song. I'm also proud of myself for sticking to my guns and saying, "I'm going to do this record." I took a lot of heat with the press with the last record so I'm going to ignore what everybody else wants me to do and I'm just going to do what I want to do. At least then, at the end of the day, I'm happy playing it. When you try to please other people, you're never going to get that right.