The Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon tells us the underrated distortion he thinks is "one of the best pedals on the planet"

Effects pedals
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brian Fallon is a gear tinkerer and a fellow quester on the endless guitar tone journey. The difference between him and many others is he gets to try out his discoveries on the world's stages to really test what delivers the goods in a band and on record. So when we talked to him about the forthcoming Gaslight Anthem album History Books and all things tone, we wanted to draw on his live and studio experience on the unsung pedals that he thinks fall under a lot of players' radars. 

"There are pedals that used to be popular, but are pretty overlooked now," Brian tells us as he checks in from the road at the end of a US tour with the New Jersey band. "Like the Blues Driver from Boss, the MXR Phase 90 – those are really good pedals and many, many famous records have been made with those pedals. Don't overlook the Boss overdrives because they're not made by some guy in his basement. They sound good.

"If you're a beginner and you're just starting out, I think you can go down a lot of rabbit holes trying to find your ultimate sound but just grab one of those things and learn what it does. Keep playing with it."

While those are established pedals that might not be getting the attention they deserve as much these days compared to the past, Brian doesn't hesitate in his a choice of a genuinely underrated drive pedal that combines a distortion and boost in one. 

"I gotta say one of the most overlooked and useful pedals in the world is the Zvex Box Of Rock – that thing rips, and I've been using that since before the '59 Sound. That's a pedal you can buy anywhere but it just sounds awesome."

"Zvex describes it as a kind of like a Marshall JTM45," adds Brian. "Sure – I guess, I don't know what a JTM45 sounds like because I'm never played one. It's like your everything overdrive – if you want to sound like Bruce Springsteen, it does that. If you want to sound like AC/DC, it does that. It doesn't do Muse but it does all the basic rock sounds. If you're like, 'Hey, I like rock music", ok, you want to play Oasis? Ok, cool Box Of Rock. Noel plays one. Everyone secretly uses one and no one talks about it. It's one of the best pedals on the planet

"If you get the Double Rock [Vexter] one, it's got the Super Hard On boost that they make, and the Box Of Rock in it too – so it's like two pedals in one."

Look out for our full interview with Brian Fallon soon. The Gaslight Anthem's History Books album is out 27 October and the band tour Europe and the UK in March 2024. They will also headline 2000 Trees in Cheltenham on 11 July. More info at

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.