Brian Fallon Loves Bruce Springsteen, Just Please Don’t Leave It At That


Brian Fallon, photographed by Danny Clinch. (Courtesy of Big Hassle Media)

With his band The Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon was on the precipice of rock stardom in the late 2000s. The band played “The Late Show with David Letterman” multiple times, and topped the Billboard charts.

While critics loved the band’s first few albums, they also saw a similarity between Fallon’s gravelly tone and New Jersey storytelling and the state’s native son, Bruce Springsteen.

Now, with his first solo record, Fallon says he doesn’t want his career to be lost in a Springsteen comparison.

My NPR Music and Here & Now profile of Fallon originally aired nationally on Sept. 6. You can listen to it here, and check out a curated Brian Fallon playlist I made.


Portrait of a Punk Who Never Grew Up


Beach Slang, photographed by Craig Scheihing

It’s been a remarkable 12 months for James Alex, a year full of contradictions and firsts. The lead singer and songwriter for the band Beach Slang, Alex and his wife Rachel had their first child, Oliver, to start 2015. Then in October, the band released its debut album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, which has meant nonstop touring.

Alex’s dad wasn’t a part of his life growing up, a theme that crops up again and again in his songs. He now has to negotiate being away from Oliver, for weeks at a time, in order to make a life for the little boy.

“I’m always that kid always out of place,” Alex sings on “Bad Art and Weirdo Ideas.” “I try to get found / I’ve never known how.”

I went to Philadelphia with NPR Music video guru Colin Marshall to document a day in Alex’s life. Part dad, part rock star. You can watch Colin’s video, and listen to my radio story here.

With Second Album, Chvrches’ Ascent Continues

Chvrches started out humble enough. A few singles hitting the Internet, some online buzz and a debut album recorded in a basement.

Less than four years later, however, and the band is massive – headlining summer festival stops the past two years across the country, while playing more than 350 shows.

On September 25, the band released “Every Open Eye,” a follow-up to their critically-acclaimed 2013 debut, “The Bones of What You Believe.”

You can listen to my story about their ascent to the top of the indie-pop world here. It aired aired nationally on Here & Now on Oct. 5.

Looking Back at Callaway’s Career as a Spartan

Rashad Callaway led the '10-'11 Spartans to a record-breaking start. | Photo courtesy of UT Sports Information

Three years ago, he was a freshman point guard under heavy fire. The University of Tampa was coming down hard on him, and his parents were pushing him to transfer.

At the time, Rashad Callaway was accused of sexual misconduct and facing expulsion from the school. Both he and the female involved in the incident were intoxicated, according to past coverage in The Minaret. The woman told her side of the story in a letter to the editor soon after she attempted to push the case into the legal system.

Legally, all charges were dropped. Callaway, along with his coaches, still preach his innocence. But the school proceeded to take conduct actions.

Michael Gilmer, judicial coordinator in the UT Office of Student Conduct, said the policy for sexual misconduct has changed a lot over the past few years.

Due to the fact that the Conduct Board is not a legal entity — it is an “internal educational” extension of the university — it is under a completely different set of guidelines when it comes to the hearing process.

“The legal process deals with evidence in a ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ fashion,” Gilmer said. “We act after a preponderance of information and determination of responsibility being more likely than not. The goal of the conduct process is to educate students and keep the campus as safe a place as possible.”

Callaway was found guilty by the school of sexual misconduct. He appealed his sanctions of expulsion, resulting in a lessening of the punishment. He was suspended from housing until the following fall semester.

It’s now three years later and Callaway, 21, is a week away from graduating.

“All in all, the experience was just humbling,” he said. “It just lets you know that stuff like this in life can happen. I’m glad that I’ve stayed here for another three years and that I faced everything that happened my freshman year.”

Three years later, he has put his name in the Spartan record books. Callaway has become the face of UT basketball, leading the team in scoring each of the past three seasons. The point guard finished his career fifth on UT’s all-time scoring list, second in three-pointers and second in assists. Overalll, Callaway will walk away from UT in the top 10 of 17 career record categories.

A native of Bayonne, N.J., Callaway has a large family and a unique background. He was raised with seven brothers and sisters, five of which still lived in the house while Callaway grew up. His parents were both athletes; his mother ran track and his father played basketball.

Callaway said his dad worked on ball-handling skills with his sons a lot because he was never good with the dribble. He had a great shot, though.

Bayonne is a middle class suburb that exposed Callaway to many races and lifestyles, especially since his dad grew up just north of where they lived, in a much poorer community.

During his senior year at Bayonne High School, his family suffered a great loss.

Callaway’s older brother, Al-Jabbar, died at 32 due to what the family thinks were complications from his epilepsy. Callaway said his brother had become very devoted to his Christian faith, and it began to clash with his daily reliance on medicine.

“He got very into God and started asking questions like ‘Why do I gotta keep taking these pills?’ Callaway said.

“We think he got to the point where he was just like ‘I’m not gonna take these pills and whatever happens happens,’ and he left it in God’s hands.”

Callaway said that when Al-Jabbar passed, a full bottle of pills was found in his residence, although the prescription had been filled more than two weeks before.

Callaway and his family are Christian. He said he prays before he goes to sleep every night.

The rest of this article can be found here, where it was originally published in The Minaret.