All Time Low and Pale Waves stars Alex Gaskarth and Heather Baron-Gracie talk anxiety, lockdown and their awesome new collaboration PMA

After the weirdest year, All Time Low are back with a new pandemic-penned single.

author: Steven Loftin

If you rewind a year, what you would’ve seen in the All Time Low camp is a band getting ready for action. Having not long released their eighth outing ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ – and after performing a couple of tiny shows in the UK, even gracing the cover of this very magazine – they were raring to hit the road with an album that was to be a celebration of the band they’ve poured so much love and energy into. Obviously, the world had different plans.

Fast-forward back to now, and it’s time for a brand spanking new single from our favourite Baltimore four-piece. Not one’s to hang about, ‘Once In A Lifetime’ is not, in fact, a cover of the Talking Heads bop, but comes fresh from the foursome’s pandemic writing sessions. A luscious burst of their signature bright pop-punk stylings swirled with a nod to the undeniable darkness that’s seeped into our world, it’s an Oreo of All Time Low proportions. Frontman Alex Gaskarth gives us the lowdown on what’s going on.

It must be nice to be back in the swing of things again, even though you’ve not really stopped over the last year?

It’s felt amazing. The few opportunities that we’ve had throughout this to actually come together safely and do something as a band have been amazing. We just performed on Ellen, and that was really cool, [and] we went to Nashville and shot a music video for this new song. Obviously, we’re being very careful and conscious of how we’re doing it because while things are starting to feel like they’re opening back up, and we’re getting back to some semblance of normalcy, we still have to be really cautious travelling as much as we are and being around people – I’ve had a lot of things put up my nose lately… not drugs!

So, are we looking at the next chapter for All Time Low? What made you want to start up again?

It didn’t feel like we had much control over things; tour kept getting pushed back [and] there was no concrete evidence of when we’d be able to get back to a semblance of normal tour life. The one thing that we realised we can control in all of this is our creative stuff, even if it’s being done like this, remotely. That was the one thing that we said: ‘Okay, we can still do this, and there’s still more stories to tell’. We don’t know what it’s all for; I don’t know if we’re making a new album or if it’s gonna be for a deluxe edition, but we just said ‘Fuck it, let’s keep writing songs’ and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ was one of the first ones that was born of that.

How has ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ affected the band musically?

What’s amazing about where we are now creatively is that it’s allowed us to take the momentum that we’ve created with the album and what we learned because ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ really felt like a celebration of what All Time Low was all about through the years. Where it ended up leaving off was with ‘Monsters’ having the level of success that it’s had, and that being the standout song on the record in that it feels like that was where we were going – we progressed into that song as we made the album. Getting creative again has allowed us to continue down that road and explore what we started tapping into. That’s how we ended up with ‘Once In A Lifetime’; it feels cut from the same cloth.

How have you been dealing with the success of ‘Monster’? It feels like you’ve been on every TV show in the US – did you see that coming at all?

It’s been wild. We absolutely didn’t know the level of success that it was going to have. The fact that it’s still going almost a year [later] is pretty insane, and we’re really grateful and appreciative. You always know that there’s a couple of songs on a record that you put your hands up, and you go ‘Alright, this one’s got something really special to it’, or at least you hope to have that when you make an album! That was definitely one whereas we were writing it, and once we wrapped it up – especially when we got Blackbear on the second verse – it was like we tapped into something that we’ve never done before as a band and could be pushing us in another creative direction for the future. That’s always really exciting, so I think we had a semblance of an idea that it was a special song, but I mean, what it’s gone on to do has been absolutely mind-blowing and very unexpected.

“I’ve had a lot of things put up my nose lately” – Alex Gaskarth

Did that success weigh in on deciding to release this new single?

It’s weird because, obviously, it puts a little bit of pressure on to follow up, but at the same time, we’re taking it a day at a time. ‘Monsters’ has been this very unique moment in our career. You don’t get a lot of those, so I’m just happy for what it’s done, and I’m trying not to let myself feel the pressure of having to replicate that or repeat it because I think you tend to become a little inauthentic when you chase in that way. It’s just been about focusing on writing music that continues to feel really true to us and this band and a celebration of this band; that’s kind of the phase that we’re in our career now.

Has experiencing the past year meant you’re writing from a different place than on ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’?

I think so. I mean, there’s a lot of self-reflection and a lot of reflection in general…that’s where this song stems from; it’s the idea of dealing with loss and coping with loss in a very general broad sense. Really the sentiment is you only have one shot at this, and all the things you can do to pull yourself out of the lows, so to speak, are important because you don’t get a second chance. It’s all been done with a lot of reflection in mind; everything that we’re writing right now is informed by the last year, and, honestly, a lot of it has to do with planning for one thing and got something completely fucking different. I think that goes for everyone; we’re all in the same boat when we’re writing from that perspective.

That makes sense since ‘Once In A Lifetime’ at first feels like your standard break-up song, but if you step back, it applies to so much from the last year.

That makes me so happy; that was entirely the idea behind that. On the surface, it can be as general as the ending of a relationship, but I think we were reaching much deeper in this one, and for me personally, it applies to loss and family. There’s a funny line in this song that I’m sure we’ll touch on, but, obviously, we drop our own band name in the chorus, which is a bit of a fuckin’… I don’t know, like a heady, ballsy weird move for any band to do! When we wrote the song, I wrote the line down, and I went, ‘Oh no, I can’t get away with that, that’s terrible’. The more we mulled over it, the more I actually loved it because of the meta commentary it says about myself and how All Time Low for me is this happy place – it’s almost my safety net. So in the chorus, when we talk about, ‘Till I hit an all time low’, it’s not necessarily about hitting rock bottom. Actually, for me, it’s about how when life feels like it’s getting away from you, this thing I have in the band is something that makes me feel like shit is gonna be okay. And I think that extends to our fans.

It also harks back to where your name originates, a line in New Found Glory’s ‘Head On Collision’.

That was kind of the whole thing – for these little meta moments in the song. I think it’s fun to make statements and commentary about the trajectory of the band because ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’, and where we’re going now with the music. It’s been about going back and looking at our journey together and how we’ve gone through the ups and downs and all these twists and turns in an ever-changing music industry. Somehow, we’ve survived and come out in some ways better and stronger than ever!

What are the rest of the songs coming from these sessions sounding like?

It’s definitely forward-focused. At the end of the day, the crux of our songwriting is about energy and capturing what we love about our live show on track. The lens changes given the moments we’re writing about, and what the content of the song is but the music that we’ve written so far outside of ‘Once In A Lifetime’ definitely runs the gamut. There’s faster songs, there’s heavier songs, there’s angrier songs… What I will say, is I look at ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ as a very bright record and a very celebratory uplifting sound. This new stuff is a little bit darker given the tone of everything and what we’ve just been through, there’s definitely some heavier subject material and a darker twist on things, but we’re working with the same ingredients, so to speak.

It’s impossible to ignore everything that’s gone on; it must seep in?

Yeah, I mean if you go ‘Hey, write a song for me right now’, it’s not like I’m writing like [mock singing voice] ‘It’s been a great time!’. 2020 has been absolute garbage. That’s the perspective we’re writing from. There’s been a lot of heavy shit to deal with, looking from the inside out, so to speak, so I’m writing about things that I felt and things that we felt in the band, but also things I’ve observed in society and the shared human experience. There’s a lot of that getting touched on as well.

Looking back at the journey since the release of ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’, how does it all feel?

It’s great because getting to play our songs in any setting is better than not playing our songs at all. It feels like a big win in a lot of ways to just get to connect with people. But I’ll never get used to sitting here, playing, and being able to see myself as I do it and a bunch of people watching – and then someone unmutes, and you hear them rustling around on their phone while you’re playing the song – it’s so bizarre! But that’s life. We don’t always get to choose the cards we’re dealt; it’s just how you play the hand. That’s something I’m really proud of this band for. These times have been so strange, and I think we’ve done a really good job of rolling with the punches and adapting at finding ways still to make people feel good.

Taken from the May issue of Upset. All Time Low’s single ‘Once In A Lifetime’ is out now.



It’s been a big month for All Time Low. Following an energised performance of Monsters on The Ellen Show, the Baltimore pop-punks have just shared their first new music since 2020’s 4K-rated Wake Up, Sunshine album: the brilliant Once In A Lifetime. For vocalist/guitarist Alex Gaskarth, it feels like band life is almost back again after the strange and unsettling whirlwind of this past year…

The Ellen performance was really interesting,” he tells Kerrang! from an Airbnb in Los Angeles. ​I think we were the first live band that they had on the show since the shutdown – since the pandemic began. So it was really interesting to be that artist on the show, because everyone was really, really excited; everyone was genuinely buzzing about having a band in the studio! It was cool for us because we felt really lucky and excited to be doing something that felt like a normal semblance of work, but then at the same time, we also had Ellen sitting out while we rehearsed the song – like, in the audience watching us do it, because she was genuinely so excited to have someone in the studio. The producers were coming up being like, ​She never does this!’ It was nice to see that excitement translate through everyone. I think everyone’s on the same page with that.

We had a great time doing it,” Alex adds. ​I mean, we really haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities to play that song live yet. We did the livestream shows that we put on last year, but this was really one of the first times this year that we’ve gotten to do that song, not on a Zoom acoustic, you know?”

Away from Zoom shows and their first real-life performance, All Time Low – completed by guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson – have also been chipping away at new material. It hasn’t always been easy, with the pandemic still very much a part of everyone’s lives, but the band have been productive…

I think there’s definitely an air of it being hard to find motivation and hard to find creativity when really all you’re seeing are the same four walls every day,” Alex ponders, ​but it in some ways it was a good challenge and there was obviously still a lot to pull from and write about. It was easy over that whole year to not want to do anything from a personal standpoint, but getting over the hurdles of motivation and getting the gears turning felt really good – it was actually very rewarding to get stuff out. It was nice!”

Here, Alex opens up about the first slice of new material from these creative sessions – Once In A Lifetime – as well as where All Time Low are at right now, and what else is to come… 

Following the huge success of Wake Up, Sunshine, it feels like All Time Low are on such a great songwriting streak at the moment – and Once In A Lifetime keeps that trajectory going. What do you attribute that to?
I think I would attribute it to the fact that we’re really not that far removed from Wake Up, Sunshine coming out, and that whole creative process. Usually when we put out a record, we then go on tour for about two years, and it’s a very different gear that we switch into. So almost the creative brain switches off a little bit, but this time around, because that wasn’t an option, I found sooner than later it just made sense to get back into thinking about songwriting again. And I think because of that, it was all very much still tied up in the world of Wake Up, Sunshine and everything we had just done. That was kind of the thought process behind it, and Once In A Lifetime feels like it’s cut from the same cloth as some of the approaches we were taking on Monsters. I don’t know where this next thing is going yet – we’ve written a few new songs, and I don’t know if that means we’re going to make another album or if it’s going to be just some songs, or if it’s going to be an extended version of the last record or whatever. But it certainly feels like it’s all kind of an evolution of Wake Up, Sunshine, and it’s a continuation of that with some story-building in mind. I really liked what Taylor Swift did during this whole shutdown and everything, where she put out her first folky record [Folklore], and then immediately followed it up almost with sort of a sister album [Evermore], and it all feels like one big body of work when you listen to it together. I think that could be something that maybe we’re working towards… perhaps!”

So is Once In A Lifetime a standalone release for now, or is it a follow-up to Wake Up, Sunshine… or does it mark the start of a new chapter?
It’s weird! We’re sort of just going with the flow, because that’s the nature of the world we’re living in right now. It helps to be a little bit agile and just kind of work with the times. But I do think we’re building towards something – I just don’t know what that ​something’ is quite yet! But I think we’ll probably know, sooner than later.”

Was the single made in the same way as Wake Up, Sunshine – with all four of you under one roof?
It wasn’t possible, to be honest. Jack and I wrote the song with our collaborator friend, Andrew Goldstein, who we also worked on Monsters with. So the three of us were actually together; we did like a week of writing together and everybody got tested, and everybody was kind of holed up in one space safely. We banged out a handful of songs in that moment, and Once In A Lifetime was a product of that writing session. We did end up getting the other guys in town – Rian and Zack both came into Los Angeles, and we recorded drums and bass and got everybody’s take on it. But it was a bit more remote this time around just because it had to be. But the core of it was still there, you know?”

You’d said there was an effort to make the last album have a fun, summer, light feeling, compared to Last Young Renegade which was a bit darker… Where does Once In A Lifetime fall, musically?
It’s interesting, because obviously the subject matter is darker; it’s a song about dealing with loss and accepting loss. I think that was something that was a very universal constant for people through 2020; it was a very difficult year for most people, and we were able to write that song from a personal place. But as you peel back the layers and the surface meanings of the song, there’s a much deeper thing going on to it that I think was sort of cast from the shared experience that we were all going through in a very bizarre year. And I think a lot of the new music kind of lives in that world. I don’t want to say that it’s ​dark’, per se, but [compared] to the fact that Wake Up, Sunshine was a light, celebratory, energetic record, I think this is maybe a swing in the other direction, ever so slightly, just because of the times. I think it would have been impossible for us to be holed up in our rooms for months and be like, ​Let’s write happy songs!’ (Laughs) It just didn’t feel that natural at the time.”

It’s quite personal and specific – but have you also been writing more existential stuff lately just purely inspired by these strange times?
Yeah, this song, Once In A Lifetime, kind of lands right in the middle of that. It was definitely inspired by events going on in Jack and I’s lives, and watching what was happening in the band and things like that. But, beyond that, there’s very much this looser, bigger concept of dealing with loss – that really kind of solidified the core concept of the song. And, you know, I’ve never heard ​once in a lifetime’ used in that way before, of sort of referring to a negative, and, ​I hope it never gets worse than this’ kind of thing. And that relates back to the line in the middle of the chorus, where we are self-referential and drop our own band name! It was an interesting dynamic, because on one hand we’re sort of talking about hitting your lowest point, but at the other end of that there was also this internal conceptual thing about how the band All Time Low is an escape for us as the members of it. You know, Wake Up, Sunshine was very much like a celebration of our band – it was us going back through the years and taking the pieces of our music and our sound that we love the most and putting that into new music. And I think, in a certain way, this song is a continuation of that, but we’re also sort of referring to what Wake Up, Sunshine was and how it lifted us and carried us through a lot of things. I think that’s kind of a cool meta commentary on the whole thing!”

Was the name drop a happy accident or was it intentional like, ​Ooooh, I know what I could do here…’?!
Sometimes you’re writing lyrics and filling in the lines, and obviously the rhyme scheme worked! In the moment, it just made a lot of sense to have that be the lyric. But as we wrote it down, we all looked at each other and went, ​Can we do this? Is this okay to say? Or is this really cheesy?’ But the more we sat with it, the more it made sense – on so many different levels. And if you can’t drop your own band name after 15 years, then what have you been doing?! I feel like we’ve earned the right at this point!”

The single has that huge All Time Low chorus but there’s some different and slightly weirder stuff going on surrounding that… is that something that Wake Up, Sunshine has given you the confidence to do?
I think so. Wake Up, Sunshine felt so realised as far as the different sounds that this band can get away with, and how we can work within those dynamics. And I think we’re just learning more and more about where All Time Low is able to go in the current landscape of music. And I think that’s really exciting, because we understand the space we’re working in it feels really authentic as we do it. It just allows us to be creative and a little bit more experimental with certain aspects of songs, without coming out with something that doesn’t sound like our band.”

You had a lot of success with Monsters in particular over the past year. Are you looking at that and going, ​Well, we did something different there and it worked – so let’s keep exploring that’?
Yeah, no doubt. I mean, it’s really cool when you see something click, and it clicks authentically. People latch on to it not because it’s being promoted heavily by the record label or something, but because there’s a genuine buzz for the song. That’s what Monsters did for us; the second the record came out there was a very natural reaction of, ​Oh, that song’s streaming the best. Oh, that song is getting the most views.’ It just started to put its hands up, and then you go, ​Okay, maybe we were really on to something with this…’ And I think that goes even further in that Monsters was a song that was a collaboration with blackbear, which was an experiment in and of itself to see if that would work and connect with people. And it did, so all of it – top to bottom – really informed where we’re going next.”

Does that success also make new music daunting? Like, ​Oh god, well it better do as well as that…’?
Yeah! It’s hard not to get a little caught up in the pressure of trying to follow up on a thing that’s been massively successful, you know? And I say that in the most humble of ways – I’m not trying to sit here and brag! We’re 15 years into a career and we’ve had some successes with a song that we’ve literally never had before in all the time that we’ve been a band. It would then be easy for us to look at that and want to chase it because it’s this new thing that’s bubbling for us, but I think you have to err on the side of not doing that – not feeling too much pressure and just writing songs that feel true and authentic in the moment. If they go and work and do amazing things then that’s great, but these moments come and go, and we’ve been in it long enough to know that chasing them usually ends up not working out as well!”

Were you at all reluctant to be releasing more new music in the pandemic in any way?
For us it became about, ​This is life.’ In my mind, the longer the pandemic and the shutdown drags on, the more it was like it almost felt like cheapening it to try and wait for the world to get back to normal – because I don’t think the world is ever going to be totally normal after this. And that’s not to sound darker or pessimistic; I just that this year is going to change things forever in a lot of ways. And so, as such, because this is the new reality that we’re living in, I think it’s important that we treat it that way: that we don’t let the idea of an indefinite new situation hold us back from trying to make people happy with our music.”

When you tour properly again, is it going to be the Wake Up, Sunshine tour, or will you have even more new music to play live on top of that?
It really just depends on when we are able to actually get back to touring! We have we have these dates in the UK set for September at the moment, and things were looking dicey for a while whether or not that would be a thing that we could do, but it’s starting to feel more and more likely that it’ll be able to happen. Our hearts are set on that, and we’re cautiously optimistic! And so when we do get back over to play shows, I think there will be a heavy emphasis on Wake Up, Sunshine just because we didn’t really get to celebrate that record live with anyone, so that will definitely be a focus point. But I think we’ll have to adapt and build the show around whatever we have going in that moment.”

You spoke to Kerrang! in December and said you’ve probably got another two albums’ worth of music at this point. What’s status of that material?
There’s always songs sitting around, and we had a few more leftover this time. It really just depends, because the further away you get from a writing session, sometimes the songs just don’t feel like they hold water anymore as you move away from them, and you actually feel more inspired to create new music. But we’ll see! There’s a handful of stuff that I love, and there might be a time and place where the songs make sense. But there’s also more music to be written, and I think the emphasis for us right now is that.”


Alex Gaskarth reflects on one helluva year.

author: Steven Loftin | photography: Sarah Louise Bennett

Back in March, when All Time Low graced the cover of Upset to coincide with the release of their sixth album ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’, they couldn’t have guessed how different theirs, and everybody else’s, year was going to go.

Now, hundreds of hours on webcams, meet and greets, a charting album later All Time Low have indeed made the best of a bad situation. With their beaming smiles keeping not only the same positive enlightenment as their melodious and uplifting music, but also giving their fans a way through these darkened days.

‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ was already a beacon to a fresh chapter of All Time Low. It’s an album that amalgamates the pop-punkers past and future, but while this freshly turned page was ready to take the world on, having to adapt to the new circumstances means that “there’s still a lot of anticipation tied to it”, according to frontman Alex Gaskarth.

“What’s so exciting about this record for us is that we’re eight months removed from putting the record out or whatever, and because we haven’t gotten to play any of these [songs] in front of an audience, there’s still this veil that hasn’t been able to be lifted yet.

“It’s just an interesting place to be because usually, you put a record out, and then right now we’d be deep into touring on it, and it would lose that sort of lustre, and the shine of it feeling like new probably wouldn’t be there so much anymore, but it’s kind of holding true.”

There are two factors at play in keeping the good ship All Time Low sailing through these choppy seas – one of which is their work ethic. “For us, it’s like why not try to navigate the space, why not try to provide some kind of relief and entertainment joy?”

Adapting to the new way of working, for Alex, came more easily than he anticipated thanks to the project he began with Mark Hoppus back in 2019. “What’s interesting is everything I learned doing my project Simple Creatures with Mark has informed how we’ve gone about doing All Time Low this year.

“Simple Creatures was designed to be agile, and go with the flow, and whatever works, works, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll pivot and move on and do something else. The way that we launched that project has played a big part in informing how we’ve gone about making some decisions for All Time Low, which is serendipitous in a lot of ways.”

The second facet of All Time Low’s dealing with 2020 has been their fans. As with most, All Time Low have been getting their teeth stuck into the live streaming world, from various acoustic performances to a current set of full-band live shows dubbed the Basement Noise sessions. An integral part of this setup is the ability to meet the band, since All Time Low build that interaction with fans at shows, and have done throughout their career.

“You know at first I thought I was gonna hate it,” Alex starts on the virtual meet and greets. “I thought it was gonna feel really unnatural and strange because we so enjoy meeting our fans face to face and being able to see and connect directly with the people who are listening to our music. But, the more we’ve done it, the more we’ve embraced it and realise that this is a really cool way to connect with people from all over the world.

“It’s the same with the performances too. At first, I was really thrown by it, and I would get nervous and feel really strange performing that way, but as with all things, the more you do it, it just kind of becomes your normal.”

“It’s given us a chance to redefine ourselves” – Alex Gaskarth

The current new normal for everybody is being faced with this ever-elongating period of self-reflection thanks to isolation. The same is true for Alex, who says it’s “exposed a lot about myself personally”, resulting in a “deep dive on myself.”

The current new normal for everybody is being faced with this ever-elongating period of self-reflection thanks to isolation. The same is true for Alex, who says it’s “exposed a lot about myself personally”, resulting in a “deep dive on myself.”

“It’s been a big check-in and an overhaul on who I am and where I’m at in life, you know, existentially speaking. I started going to therapy again, there’s just all kinds of things where it’s like ‘well I might as well dive back in and do some fucking work on me while I have the time’. It’s been eye-opening!”

All very heavy stuff befitting a heavy year, but it’s also been a chance to actually spend some time at home for Alex, even if he is still working like a trooper. He’s been getting lost in “Netflix binges and video games”, re-watching The Office and even recently getting back into horseriding.

“That’s been an aspect of my life that I’ve rediscovered which has been super fun,” he laughs. “A lot of people probably don’t know that about me, I kind of grew up as a farm kid, so it’s been fun getting back into that.”

Throughout this year, music has been a comfort blanket to many. Alex knows that it’s music’s seemingly higher power at play keeping some hanging in there, especially since going through these meet and greets, which have gifted fans a respite from the weights of the world for a brief personal spell of time with All Time Low.

“One of the big overarching things I see – and not to get too, I guess heady and deep about things – but we’re all going through this troubling year together as a human race,” he says. “I think that finding these new ways to connect is giving us purpose and it’s giving us something to do.”

“Everybody’s really bored and sitting at home and kind of hunkering down, and there’s a lot of loneliness that goes along with that and a lack of human interaction and human connection. These meet and greets and things have been a small way for us to provide a little bit of time outside of your bubble. It’s certainly been that way for us, it goes both ways. We’ve definitely come away from all those experiences feeling lighter and happier and better.”

Acknowledging the community that’s surrounded All Time Low over the years “spans generations at this point”, the importance of not just a positive culture, but also the music itself “brings people together,” he says. “It’s an anchor to where you are in the moment, and it can provide a lot of catharsis in trying times. This album for us came in a really good time for the band, and I think it’s coming a good time for people that enjoy this band.”

The future ahead for All Time Low, with the roads still not quite clear, still falls back to being agile and dodging and weaving whatever comes, “taking it a day at a time” and keeping on as they always have.

While it’s easy to dwell on the negatives of a year that’s pretty much served them up on a silver platter, it’s important to consider the positives too, which for All Time Low includes a defining new chapter after nearly two decades as a band.

“The fact that our hand is forced in some ways to do new things, it’s almost been a blessing in disguise because when you’re 15 years into a project you can get set in your ways [but] all of that has been brought into question because a lot of those things we would typically do are off the table.

“Going forward, we’ll probably take a lot of this with us and apply it to whatever we do in the future. It’s given us a chance to redefine ourselves.”

Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Dork.


The Last Young Renegade experience left All Time Low feeling unsure of their future. A break from the band offered its members renewed perspectives, but before they could move forward, they needed to reconnect with who they truly are.

author: Jake Richardson

“If I’m being completely honest,” Alex Gaskarth begins, “our hearts weren’t in it.”

This stark admission comes as he reflects upon the culmination of All Time Low’s campaign for their last album, 2017’s Last Young Renegade. Calling it quits wasn’t necessarily on the cards, but still, the band had no idea where they were going next. Following what they describe as “pretty much 12 years straight on the road”, enthusiasm had been replaced with near-complete burn-out.

The decision was made, therefore, to put everything on hold.

“My mind was occupied by the fact that, creatively, I didn’t know what the next step for All Time Low was,” recalls Alex, the band’s vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter. “This was the first time that we actually thought the next thing we needed to do was to take some time away, and put a pin in things. If you’re tired and inspired, it’s not hard to keep pushing, but we were tired and uninspired at the end of the Last Young Renegade cycle. If we’d sat down immediately after that campaign came to an end and tried to write a follow-up, I think the end result would’ve been terrible.

“That was the moment we realised we needed to hit reset on All Time Low.”

New album Wake Up, Sunshine, unveiled last month, is the ultimate result of that break, but its creation wasn’t one that came about purely because of recharged batteries. All Time Low found themselves at a crossroads when they sat down to begin work again last year, a situation that required consideration of what had paid off so well for them in the past, as well as reflection on the trying events of recent times. Soul-searching was needed in order to write what might be the most important album of their career.

Such a revelation might come as a surprise to the wider world. From the outside looking in, it would appear as though things were ticking along rather smoothly. Last Young Renegade had been a departure in style, leaning more on alt-pop than the pop-punk sound the quartet – completed by guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson – made their name with. But its critical success had pleased the frontman (“All the reviews said we’d grown up, which was great to read,” he remembers), and All Time Low managed to extend the campaign with the release of the well-received pair of singles Everything Is Fine and Birthday.

For Jack, however, it had all become too much to handle.

“I was exhausted when all of that finally ended,” the guitarist says. “It felt like we’d been at it non-stop for so long. I needed to step away and take a breather. Honestly, things have felt a little suffocating for me in the band in the past, because All Time Low has been my whole life. I’ve spent more of my years in this band than out of it. At times, that takes its toll.”

Jack, like his bandmates, welcomed the break, but rest quickly turned into restlessness. He’d been so used to the structure of his life revolving around band activities that he confesses to “waking up and not knowing what to do” without it.

“The absence of the band left me a little lost,” he continues. “I was questioning what I was doing with my life.”

The meaning Jack was searching for came from an unlikely source. Coping with struggles in his personal life as well as coming to terms with an existence without the demands of All Time Low involved, he got together with singer-songwriter Kevin Fisher and poured his feelings into the pop project WhoHurtYou, eventually releasing the EP Stages in November of last year.

“That was a period of growth and transition for me,” Jack recounts. “WhoHurtYou was me finding a path forwards and embarking on a new journey, which was really helpful and something I obviously needed. It was scary to step out like that, but I’m glad I did.”

Alex, meanwhile, had a creative itch to scratch of his own. 2019 saw the birth of pop-punk power duo Simple Creatures, a band formed with blink-182’s Mark Hoppus. Similar to what Jack was doing with WhoHurtYou, this music was a far cry from All Time Low’s core sound, the band’s two EPs, Strange Love and Everything Opposite, blending pop-rock with elements of electronica, new wave and ‘80s synth-pop. It almost sounded like what All Time Low had done on Last Young Renegade pushed to the extreme.

“What was driving Last Young Renegade was my desire to do something new, and I think that’s what you then saw taken further with Simple Creatures,” Alex explains. “Working with Mark allowed me to do something with no expectations or history tied to it, which I found really beneficial. Doing something new felt good, and it gave me a fresh perspective on All Time Low, and I know it was the same for Jack with WhoHurtYou. I’ve always been at the forefront of the writing for All Time Low, so it was good for him to step away and do something where he could be like, ‘This is mine.’ We both came back to the table refreshed and ready to go again.”

Before Alex and Jack could think about the future of All Time Low, they needed to take stock of their past. The Last Young Renegade cycle had seen them try some new things. Straying from their long-successful pop-punk formula was brave, but not everyone was on board.

“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some uncomfortable moments,” Alex acknowledges. “Last Young Renegade was certainly perceived differently than our previous material, and that meant we questioned whether people liked what we’d done. The fan response wasn’t what we were used to, and I think some people didn’t know what to do with the songs. There were definitely times when the reaction felt disappointing, because we’d poured ourselves into making something different and it didn’t seem to connect with people right away.”

The original vision Alex had for Last Young Renegade was an even greater departure than that which fans actually received. He now admits that it was initially envisioned as a full-blown concept album set in a “Stranger Things-esque, Upside Down world.” There was even a suggestion that the band might break free of the All Time Low moniker and perform as ‘The Young Renegades’ on tour.

“I wish we’d leaned into the conceptual side a little more,” he admits now.

It’s clear that, despite it being a solid record, All Time Low’s identity had become muddled. The desire to get away from the juvenile, joker-in-the-pack image they had cultivated on their early pop-punk classics was understandable. After all, the members of All Time Low are now men in their 30s. Alex even goes as far as to reluctantly accept that there’s a “brand” around ATL built largely upon what they were doing a decade ago – something which, particularly in recent years, he’s been looking to shake.

Simultaneously embracing the past and forging a new way forward had become a challenge, but 2019’s 10-year anniversary of Nothing Personal marked an opportunity for Alex, Jack, Zack and Rian to reflect on where the band had once been, and analyse the clues it may hold for their future.

It’s Still Nothing Personal: A Ten Year Tribute, released last year, saw the quartet re-record their breakthrough third album, alongside a string of anniversary shows. Getting to grips with the material that set them on the path to stardom sparked a period of reflection, as they reminisced about the songs that put them where they are today, and looked at how the unadulterated energy of that album could inform All Time Low’s next move.

“The Nothing Personal celebrations reminded us what makes this band special,” Jack says. “It demonstrated what sets us apart, and we took that into the new material. It felt like a fitting way to end one era and welcome in a new one.”

All Time Low’s rapid rise in the rock world meant that, by the time Nothing Personal rolled around, they had producer hook-ups and co-write opportunities galore. The band went from writing in Alex’s basement to working on songs with people such as Terius Nash, a man credited on the song Too Much, who has also co-written pop hits by the likes of Britney Spears and Rihanna. It wasn’t the kind of creative environment afforded to many young pop-punk bands in 2009, but fast-forward to 2019, and off the back of celebrating the legacy of their biggest hits, Alex decided it was time to go old-school.

Hitting up Rian, he suggested All Time Low should book their drummer’s studio in Nashville, Tennessee for a month and do things the way they used to – four friends in a room with no outside influences offering input. It was there that Wake Up, Sunshine was born.

“There was no pressure or expectation, just us getting in a room and seeing what happened,” Alex recalls. “That approach continued throughout the rest of Wake Up, Sunshine’s creation. We didn’t allow any outside pressure. We locked ourselves away and jammed like you do when you’re first starting as a band. It reminded me of what making So Wrong, It’s Right was like. We hadn’t worked that way in a long time.”

A trio of exciting new songs quickly flowed. There was Some Kind Of Disaster, the upbeat yet confessional first single, as well as summery smash Getaway Green – which the band would go on to debut at their 2019 headline slot at Slam Dunk – and pop-punk rager Melancholy Kaleidoscope. All Time Low were living in the moment, rolling with whatever felt right and making music that made them happy.

“It felt good to be in a room making music with the boys again,” Alex remembers.

After hearing those early ideas, Jack also sensed a rebirth was on the cards.

“I remember hearing the initial songs and my first thought being like, ‘Fuck, I’m excited for this!’” he says. “Alex had smashed it – it was a great starting point.”

This time around, though, Jack felt he had more to offer. After acting as a primary creative force with WhoHurtYou, he wanted to be more involved in shaping All Time Low’s future.

“I had a big hand in writing a couple of the songs on this album, which was a great feeling,” he enthuses. “In the past, I didn’t have the confidence, and to be honest, the knowledge, to be able to contribute in a major way. But writing songs and lyrics with WhoHurtYou and finally being able to tell my story with that band meant that coming into Wake Up, Sunshine, I was feeling a lot more creative and confident about my All Time Low ideas. More than anything, it felt great to finally be someone in the band who was more than a performer or the guy who provides comic relief onstage.”

The song Monsters, an exciting collaboration with hip-hop artist blackbear, was one such song bearing Jack’s mark. A vibrant coming together of pop-punk, alt-pop and rap, it’s the kind of thing the band were shooting for on Last Young Renegade, yet retains the spikiness and energy that characterised the All Time Low of old. It’s a track that was written during the second part of Wake Up, Sunshine’s creative process, whereby the band had relocated from Nashville to Palm Desert in California.

“We literally drove everything we needed for a studio out to a house in the desert with our producer, Zakk Cervini [Poppy, Yungblud],” Alex says. “What made this record really special was that for the first time in many years we were living together while we were writing and recording. We’d wake up, get breakfast, grab instruments and start playing.”

Throughout Wake Up, Sunshine’s 15 tracks, you can hear that sense of rejuvenation and reconnection with All Time Low’s past. There are a couple of songs – Pretty Venom and Basement Noise – which stray more towards alt-pop territory, but in no uncertain terms this is a pop-punk record, infused with massive choruses and carpe diem spirit. Infectious tracks such as Clumsy and Safe are sure-fire anthems, the latter finding Alex triumphantly declaring, ‘Put the car in drive and don’t stop running ‘til you’re long gone.’

It sounds exactly like the kind of thing you’d expect a group who came up in the pop-punk world to be making now they’re grown men. Wake Up, Sunshine is a throwback to the ATL of old, but it doesn’t simply replicate the past, striking a key tone of youthful vibrancy throughout.

It’s a feel-good listen, but that doesn’t mean the band, and Alex in particular, didn’t get put through the emotional wringer in order to make it.

“One overarching theme that inspired Wake Up, Sunshine is that of getting better and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” Alex offers. “The title is about waking up to a new life and feeling rejuvenated, but it’s also a call to action. Coming up with the title was like me grabbing myself by the collar, slapping myself in the face and saying, ‘Wake up, dude! It’s time to do things right.’

“I’ve been through some dark times recently,” he continues. “Coming out the other side was a big thing on this record. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and my identity, and that gets both explored and put to bed on Wake Up, Sunshine. This album is me coming to terms with who I am, as well as reflecting on where we’ve been with the band and looking to the future.”

Having gone through a sticky patch collectively and as individuals in recent times, 2020 finds All Time Low returning with a renewed sense of faith in the music they’ve been making for the past 16 years, and Wake Up, Sunshine sees them wearing their scars with pride. The reception awarded to Getaway Green at Slam Dunk, and the subsequent online clamour for it to be released has given them confidence that the direction they’re heading in – one which builds on and embraces everything they’ve done up to this point – is the correct one.

The outpouring of love for Some Kind Of Disaster and its lyrics (“It’s a message from me saying, ‘Despite everything I put you through, thank you for still being here with me,’” Alex says), meanwhile, has helped him come to terms with his anxieties, flaws and mistakes.

“It’s about that first step in the process of sitting down and confronting your demons and vices,” Alex says of the openness with which he approached Wake Up, Sunshine. “Denial, dismissiveness and the feeling of inadequacy are all present. That song in particular is about acknowledging how people screw up, but that we’re stronger when we forgive, both others and ourselves. All told, this music is an ode to important people in my life, particularly the fans.”

Despite fan adoration and lyrical honesty, though, it’s the bond between the four men in All Time Low that shines brightest on these songs. The creation of this album has seen Alex, Jack, Zack and Rian grow as people and as artists, and rediscover their identity as a band. And in their eyes, it’s the friendship between them that’s holding this all together in 2020, just like it did in 2003.

“It says a lot that you can put the four of us under a roof in the desert and we can make a record without killing each other!” Alex jokes. “But in all seriousness, we grow together in this band – we’re always there for each other and act as our own internal support system. Even when times get rough, we resolve things before they get unhealthy. We’ve got such a good thing going in All Time Low, so there’s no reason to do what a lot of bands do and blow themselves apart over petty shit. When you’ve got it this good and you’re still making new fans over 15 years after you started, egos aren’t necessary.”

“The year off was a great reminder of how special what we have with All Time Low is,” Jack adds. “Being away from it for a while, I realised that I was probably taking it for granted. It’s easy to get lost within it all and feel like you need to get away to do something else. Going away, doing another project and then coming back and playing those Nothing Personal shows gave me a newfound respect for how amazing what we’ve built with All Time Low is. It’s made me value what we have that much more.”

Despite all the pressure, expectation and turmoil that comes with this life, things still feel as good as they did when All Time Low first embarked on this journey, seemingly.

“They absolutely do,” Jack concludes. “We started off as friends and we’ve been through a lot of changes in life and with the band, but I think those experiences have brought us closer together. We’re a family, really, and I see the bond between us as unbreakable now. This band, in my eyes, is together forever.”

He pauses.

“In fact, All Time Low doesn’t even feel like a band anymore. We’re brothers. That’s what makes this special.”

All Time Low’s new album Wake Up, Sunshine is out now via Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic.


What would All Time Low do? It’s a question the band held close during the recording of their eighth outing, ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’. They’ve thrived embracing the cavalier, carefree attitude that comes with youth, but after nearly two decades together, what next?

author: Steven Loftin

“You start to have that identity crisis of you either become R.L. Stein, writing another Goosebumps book; where you just end up churning them out and simply change some names of the characters,” singer and guitarist Alex Gaskarth muses, chuckling.

“Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s a very fine line to walk where you’re either regurgitating the same thing that you’ve done a million times, or you’re going completely off on a tangent at the cost of maybe alienating some of your fans.

“We’ve built something up over 16 years, and there’s an expectation for what people want from this. It’s finding that space and meeting those expectations while also staying true to ourselves as artists and not just regurgitating another Goosebumps novel.”

After the touring of 2017’s ‘Last Young Renegade’, which saw them explore different territories both sonically and conceptually, the good ship All Time Low needed to dock.

“We should be clear about this, too: there was no, ‘Alright guys, it’s time for a break’,” drummer Rian Dawson dazzles with his Hollywood smile. “It was not a hiatus. It was more, ‘We don’t need to do anything this year, we’ve earned a vacation.”

Just as Rian says, the time off wasn’t for any need to escape each other. The core of All Time Low, finished by guitarist Jack Barakat and bassist Zach Merrick, has always been the teenage bond that still runs as strong today; with the four of them sat around a bar table with Upset, at ease, and a clear air of ‘friends before band’ and smiles never wavering.

“I remember Alex told me about Simple Creatures,” he motions to his bandmate. “We’ve been in the band for fifteen-plus years, and we’ve never really talked about side-projects at all. I remember the call, he’s like, ‘Hey, so I’ve been writing with Mark [Hoppus, from blink-182] a lot, and we’re thinking about doing this thing’. And it was just same with Jack [and WhoHurtYou, his band with singer/songwriter Kevin Fisher] – there was nothing but excitement. There was no resentment about it or anything like that. We were all very much in contact.”

“It was really nice to have some time to ourselves,” Alex agrees. “You know, we all got to do various things; whether it was just spending some time at home with our families, which is always great and very welcome, or whether it was diving into new projects new endeavours. Jack started a new thing, and so did I. It was kind of a way to reset, get some headspace and clarity and just move away from All Time Low world for a minute. We’d been on tour for so long too.”

“Fifteen years!” Rian laughs. “Everything just kind of fit into place in the discourse. There was zero contention, zero anxiety about that. No, ‘But what about All Time Low if you’re doing that, and you’re doing that?!'” He continues.

“It was just like, ‘Okay, yeah, you guys flex that creative muscle that you need to, and then when we come back, we’ll be able to focus in on what we need to do next.”

“It definitely refocuses you to take that year off and to be able to do whatever creative processes you want to do on your own maybe. And then it also just made me realise at least like ‘Fuck, I really miss it’ in a very good way,” Rian says.

“It’s like coming back to school, except you like school, and you like everyone there, and you actually enjoy it!” Jack laughs behind sips of gin.

When it came to the four of them getting back in the classroom, or studio, it had to be something special. While they did drop the double A-side of ‘Birthday’ / ‘Everything Is Fine’ out of the blue back in 2018, “At this point, we didn’t feel like we needed to do that again,” Alex says for their decision to go all-in on an album.

“We’d done that, and it served its purpose. The big thing with those two tracks was that we felt as though ‘Last Young Renegade’ was tapering off record cycle wise, and we had a lot of touring left to do. So, we felt like it needed some kind of injection of a new excitement. It was a nice little transitional moment to wind down that record cycle, but without it feeling like we dragged it out.”

So, endeavouring to keep everything barebones, they took themselves away to a house in the desert, where the band set up shop with one simple purpose in mind; to be All Time Low.

To do this, they stripped things back to basics, no rigid timescale, just living and breathing what they love. No one was aware a new record was being made, it was just the four of them – and a producer, Zakk Cervini – hanging out, pushing away any of the bullshit that can crop up from being a band for so long.

“We’re in a unique position because we’ve made a lot of records,” Alex ponders. “This is record number eight for us, and I think, to be honest, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Sometimes having a more rigid timeline and needing to deliver on time actually pushes you to make something great in the constraints of what you’re working with.

“But at the same time, it’s all cyclical, and sometimes that can be too much. The beauty of this album is that the break and a lack of pressure came at the right time. It came at a time when we needed that to make a record that truly represents what All Time Low is in 2020.”

While all four figures of All Time Low were present, and doing what they do best, it was the addition of producer Zakk that helped Alex, Jack, Zach and Rian bring it all back to that question; what would All Time Low do?

“Zakk is the first producer we’ve ever worked with who was a fan first of our music,” Alex says. “He said to us before that he grew up listening to All Time Low, so it’s pretty cool to make a record with a 100% professional and insanely talented producer, but also with that added caveat that he grew up on our music.

“You don’t often look back and reference your own music when you make new stuff. But in his mind, he was able to know where the energy is, and what he wants to unlock from you and that made for a really interesting time again.”

Having met Zakk after Alex worked with him on the Simple Creatures EPs, “He was someone that was fresh in our mind to do our record,” Jack says. “I think that had a lot to do with it as well. Alex liked working with him a lot, and we knew him personally, but All Time Low hadn’t worked with him a lot.”

“Speaking personally, creatively, Simple Creatures gave me an avenue to do something that was very different and off the wall,” Alex says of its marks on ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’. “There were no expectations tied to it, and it was nice to be able to go do that and then come back with an almost even more focused sense of what All Time Low is and should be. It should sound like what we are trying to do.”

The moments in their career that haven’t kept the same timeless sparkle as the cough that introduces ‘Dear Maria’, or the positivity laden chugging guitars that welcome ‘Weightless’, are still ones that have a story. There’s no animosity to anything they’ve touched so far ultimately because it’s helped shape ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’, and the All Time Low of 2020.

“I wouldn’t use the term like, not worked out,” Alex reasons on any past endeavours. “But I would just say that, in the context of this album, doing it in this free-flowing way felt very appropriate. It felt like having that freedom was the best way to get this out, it created a great environment for us.”

“If it wasn’t working we were like, let’s just swim for two hours,” Jack pipes up, confirming the relaxed nature with another chuckle.

“And what’s cool about [having no expectations] is that wasn’t the intent really,” Rian says. “Again, after taking some time off and exploring other avenues, we all came back because we all knew what we wanted to do for the next record without even discussing it. Which shows how genuine it is; how it feels, and I don’t think that would have happened if we didn’t take some time and reassess to figure out where all the pieces lie.”

“It wasn’t a board meeting record where you sit down, and everybody goes, ‘What are we gonna do?!'” Alex eludes to past experience.

“The beauty of where we sit with it is that I’m still a fan of all the music I grew up on, and the music I grew up on is what moulded the sound of All Time Low – for all of us,” he says, met with resounding nods around the table.

“So, because I’m not ashamed of our roots and our beginnings, and where we came from, it’s very easy to still exist in that space and feel comfortable doing so. We’re not looking at ourselves and being over-analytical and going like, ‘Oh, we’re fucking 30, we can’t write fast songs anymore. They have distortion! It’s like we’ve got to grow up and make moody analogue, with clean guitars’, you know what I mean?

“Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that either because our last album, we very intentionally went a different direction and made a more synthy, weird album, and at the time, that just felt right.”

“It felt like it had been kept in for a while. We just needed to write that, and get that out there,” Rian adds.

The lesson that these toe-dipping exercises brought forward was predominantly self-belief. “It’s our name on it, forever,” Rian reasons. “So we have to be proud of it, even if it’s at the expense of some fans sometimes. If we’re not stoked on it, then it becomes a case of to not mention it, or to play it live. We connect with our fans very much in a live setting, so if we’re playing songs that we don’t love or do feel regurgitated or anything like that, it’ll show through pretty easily with us.”

Admitting that they’ve made records with the compromise of songs being written, or put on them, as “what’s beautiful” about where they are now is proof that the All Time Low are a band that are still yearning to develop. They’re still the four boys that formed a band in high school, where opportunity called, and they aren’t letting it get away.

They take losses on the chin, and break down the essence of what those missteps may have been, to lead to them making ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’. And it’s this balance that keeps Alex’s words of “we didn’t want people to see through it; it’s not just us that end up feeling – there are songs we never play for a reason,” echoing through those carefree desert days and nights.

“There are some songs we don’t play anymore because we didn’t really vibe with them to begin with, and then on top of that, when we did play them you could tell that the fans didn’t even buy-in because we didn’t either in our hearts.”

“Even we didn’t buy-in,” Alex continues his admission. “So at this point for us, the biggest thing is it has to feel so rad in the moment. We all have to be stoked on the energy that occurs right when you create it, because that thing is the magic moment. Eight months later, you might hate the song, but remember how you felt in the first five minutes when you were first writing? And if everyone in the room was jumping up and down going ‘Fuck yeah!’ That is what’s going to translate at the show, right?”

It’s this energy that propels through the London underplay show they play while they’re in town. Alongside every classic track from across the All Time Low arsenal, the likes of ‘Some Kind of Disaster’ and ‘Get Away Green’ slot so naturally alongside that Alex’s next exclamation is beyond agreeable.

“Those are both songs that had that energy about them. It just felt like this is quintessential All Time Low – but in the here and now. I had those moments where I would listen to the songs, and I’d be like, ‘I feel like I’ve heard these songs 5000 times and they’re still career-defining – but [the album’s] not even out yet!” he smirks.

When asked what their favourite moments on ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ are, given it’s a fifteen-song strong effort, the conversation ends up snowballing into the band naming every song with its merits, not a single one forgotten. “This is going to sound douchey to say, but there was just no fat to trim – I’ve listened to it so many times, and I’m just in love with it,” Rian sparkles.

Last year marked the tenth anniversary of ‘Nothing Personal’, undoubtedly the album that cemented All Time Low’s place in the pop-punk canon, where they tacked a more focused view on growing up with the acceptance of their success and the voices they were speaking for and to.

Celebrating their seminal effort brought with it various facets, and for Rian the hunger was there to keep going. All Time Low have always been the kind of band that revels in the chaotic madness that comes from the electric energy of a gig.

This little break from the break to honour this chapter should have had an effect on ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’, given its return to their roots, right? According to Alex, not as big a part as you’d think.

“I think they helped for a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t say that the shows, or even the 10-year tribute; I don’t think that they had any bearing on it because most of the music was written at that point,” he shrugs. “But I will say that from a reinvigoration standpoint, it definitely got us thinking about our beginnings and being appreciative for the fact that we were where we were.”

“Seeing how excited people were at the shows and realising how meaningful that record was to people,” he continues, “I think really amped up this new record because it feels to me like it’s going to fit in as a very classic All Time Low record. One that, three or more records from now would be like, ‘Oh, that’s a top three or whatever else’.

“I just think that it speaks so much to what All Time Low is – it feels very much like this band’s record, you know? Which is weird to say because it makes it sound like I value other records less or differently. But it’s just like, this feels like such a culmination of everything we’ve ever done slammed into one thing, and you don’t always get that magic.”

“It was also playing those shows and feeling that connection with the audience while playing those songs. When we were writing new music a lot of the time all I could think about is how is this going to be live… but how are we going to do this live? And every single one of those songs just makes sense live like there’s no real thought process of how it will work the crowd.

“It’s like all this work, and I feel like those ‘Nothing Personal’ shows, like you said, reinvigorated that sense of that fan-band connection – we’re all in this together and all of these songs I believe will have that connection, which isn’t always the case. Sometimes you need to prove it, but with these, it’s just like, ‘Oh that’ll work’.”

“We found that out real fast playing ‘Some Kind of Disaster’. The first time we played it, we were like, ‘Ooop there it is!” Zach says, amazed.

“That was one of those moments in a band where you’re like,” Rian says with his mouth agape and wide-eyed. “And that was definitely one of ’em. Even ‘Get Away Green’, when we did it at Slam Dunk – that was out of nowhere. We just played a new song. It was Alex’s idea we were like, ‘No, we’re not doing that’,” Rian chortles.

Jack adds, laughing: “Yeah, I was so against it, but it ended up being really good!”

“And then by day two, everyone’s singing along!” Rian marvels. “I was gonna say the opposite happened when we took that year off. I was just like, I wanna play more shows! I mean, finally, we did at the end of last year, when we did those ‘Nothing Personal’ shows. I remember on the last Jersey one we were texting, and I was like, ‘Can we just fucking keep going?!'” His excitement palpable.

“Sometimes we have to step away from something to realise how much you take it for granted,” Jack adds.

“Yeah, you not so much take it for granted, but it’s like, ‘Okay, we’re doing another tour’,” Rian reasons.

“I take it for granted!” Jack jokingly retorts.

“[It was an] autopilot of like, ‘Okay, this year is set’, and then it goes away and it’s just like, ‘Oh my god!; like, halfway through the year I was just so ready to get back on the road.”

The bare essence of All Time Low can no doubt still be heard echoing from the concrete of Rian’s parent’s basement when they first began, chaotically rattling through blink-182 covers. So, it’s fitting that this should be the sentiment that rounds off All Time Low Mk VIII with ‘Basement Noise’.

“That song was written in a moment of reflection and looking back on the very beginnings of this band and what it was all about,” Alex says.

“I think what’s interesting about that song, and how it frames and ends the record is that it very much describes what we were feeling while making this album because it was reminiscent of how we started making music in Rian’s parents’ basement. It was very much a callback to those feelings, those emotions and so exploring that in that song felt very…”

“It’s very meta!” Jack quips.

While love, yearning, and the inevitable heartbreak, are the bread and butter to all music genres, in pop-punk the angst that thrashes around, hoping for someone to understand, does have a life-span. Often, bands that start out in this world fall into the trap of being proper adults still trying to process those thoughts that do change with time, through no-longer-youthful eyes.

Alex’s reasoning for how All Time Low adapt to this pitfall continues the trajectory of self-awareness and knowing how to balance being true to processing what he needs to while ensuring the factors that drew the world to the band stay.

“A big part of it is that it’s all the lens that you’re looking through,” he says. “Even when there are songs that feel reflective of our older material, it’s all being done through where we are now as people and as friends and as, you know, encounters that we’re seeing in our 30s or whatever.

“At the end of the day, it would feel insincere to be writing about the things I was writing about when I was 20. We’re not forcing it and being like, ‘We’ve got to sound like we’re still 21 years old’, it’s more about just casting the right net and getting the thought out of it, whether they’re memories or whether their experiences or whatever and then putting it putting it through the lens that feels right.”

Which is why ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ does genuinely feel like the next great All Time Low album. It dabbles with the future, while deeply rooted in that understanding that the action-packed tunes, and the minds that created them, are in this with us. Exposing the main trend for the album, even its title feels like Alex talking to himself, reminding he and his bandmates of the fact they’re living their childhood dream.

“A lot of the album is very reflective,” he says, eyes focused. “Like a kind of self-reflection, but there are a lot of parallels between talking about the band, and fanbase, and how we’ve all come up as a unit together.”

Of course, the All Time Low fanbase – including their own official Hustlers Club – is an important factor behind the band’s success, but they’re also the ones who whip the tide of creative change into a confusing mess of stillness and wary adventure. But for All Time Low, they know they know they have a responsibility to evolve, as referenced on ‘Melancholy Kaleidoscope’ which sees a rousing chorus ending with “Can’t be 100 if you’re only giving 95.”

“[That is] a perfect example of a line that does speak to the band. You’re never going to be your best self if you’re not giving your best,” Alex says.

“That is how, at least I, personally, felt at the end of the ‘Last Young Renegade’ cycle, you know? I think we were just a little burnt out,” Jack adds.

“Sure. That’s why we weren’t ready to go make a record,” Alex continues. “But for me personally, that song is also about being okay mentally. You can’t begin to fix what’s going on with you, or whatever, if you’re not invested in starting to fix yourself. It was kind of that song for me. It was a wake-up call for myself to say, ‘Hey, like, you know, you can feel better’.”

There generally tends to be three components to growing as a band, and in the vast majority of cases, most only get the choice of two; success, founding members or longevity. But somehow All Time Low have all three. What do they put that up to?

“I think the brotherhood of this band is what has kept this band going,” Alex muses, “and has kept the band feeling fun and fresh and like we want to do it. And I think the reason you see a lot of bands over time dis-band is that it does become a job.”

“As much as that sucks to say because you’re doing the coolest thing in the world, it’s true. You know, there are people that do get to a point where they’re like, ‘I can’t fucking stand being around this person anymore, I need a break’. I need to go do something for myself, whatever it is, and in this case, we’ve never had them. I feel like whenever we’re off tour for a long time, we’re always texting each other being like, ‘I fucking can’t wait to be on tour again’.”

Now All Time Low is a bonafide name that can pull headline slots and arena tours, the fact bands they grew up listening to, and formed their sound around, haven’t lasted as long with such success, with no line-up changes is remarkable.

Even blink-182, the band that gave them cause to start scrappily covering pop-punk songs, succumbed to a ‘hiatus’ after side-projects became involved, and had line-up changes after less time than All Time Low to boot. All told, they’re a band who are a solid form of just what it means to be a band.

“I mean, it’s pretty wild when thinking about that, we, sixteen years into a career, still get to make albums and they still feel great to us, and people are still engaged.” Alex beams. “They want them and want to hear what we have to say and do next. Beyond that, it’s just cool to see this band grow and change and evolve and shift with, you know, sort of what All Time Low is and what people perceive us to be.

“We’ve always operated within a wheelhouse of All Time Low. It’s always been fun to kind of push the walls and the envelope what that is and what we sound like,” he continues.

“With every record, we hone and enhance and change that style a little bit. But to me, especially with this album, it very much feels like a quintessential All Time Low record. And this is going to be one that you know, ends up feeling very classic in our catalogue.”

Hours after Upset’s interview with All Time Low, they head off to a BRIT Awards party where afterwards Jack posted a band selfie on Instagram with the caption; “You know how they say don’t start a band with your friends? That’s why I started a band with my BEST friends.”

There’s no more proof needed. They may have taken the odd detour, but the lost young renegades are once again found. 

Taken from the April issue of Upset. All Time Low’s album ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ is out now.


In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: All Time Low frontman Alex Gaskarth

author: Gary Ryan

1. Name three pop stars you parody in your ‘I Feel Like Dancin” video.

“We definitely did Katy Perry‘s ‘California Gurls’ because I finally got to be naked in a video. There’s a Justin Bieber parody in there as well, and the iconic Lady Gaga ‘Bad Romance’ vinyl suit dancing part.”


“That was fun and one of our higher budget videos. We had free rein to make it ridiculous. We ended with the Lady Gaga scene, so we were in platform heels and latex suits from head to toe, having to do a choreographed dance after a 12-hour video shoot. It was the most brutal thing – shooting that for two hours, sweaty in vinyl, and having a hard time walking in heels. Katy Perry said she liked the video. We go way back with her – she opened for us on a big leg of a tour we did right before her first record blew up.”

2. Which sermon-giving rapper did you once do shots with?

“Oooh, I have no idea – probably on account of the shots!”

WRONG. It was Kanye West. 

“Oh, OK! That was at the VMAs the year he flipped out [2009] and got onstage and gatecrashed Taylor Swift‘s award speech. Jack [Bakarat, All Time Low guitarist] and I were sitting one row back from Kanye, Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Kanye had a bottle of Hennessy, and turned around and said: ‘You guys want some?’. We were like: obviously! That would have been been insane enough, but then the Taylor thing happened and we were like: Oh my God! We’d never seen anything go so off the rails and become uncomfortable so quickly. We had to sit there through the aftermath of it. He left and never came back to his seat, but we were just mortified!”

3. Which five albums and EPs feature credits from both you and Mark Hoppus?

(Laughs) “Well, it would obviously be the two Simple Creatures EP’s – ‘Strange Love’ and ‘Everything Opposite‘. Then it would be All Time Low’s album ‘Future Hearts’, and we both wrote a song for a City (Comma) State EP. Are you sure there’s one more? Interesting!”

WRONG. You missed out McBusted’s 2014 self-titled album which you both wrote tracks for.

“Oh my God, of course! I’d forgotten Mark wrote songs on that. Blink-182 were one of the reasons I got into wanting to be in a band, so now to be collaborating with him and in a band together [Simple Creatures] is surreal.”

Will there be any more music from Simple Creatures?

“Absolutely. We’re already working on potential quarantine music while we’re all on lockdown. He’s in Idaho – he escaped while he still could – and I’m stuck home in Maryland, so we won’t be doing it in person but we’re sending ideas back and forth and we’re always talking about what the next steps are for Simple Creatures. It’s in the works.”

4. Which boyband had a UK number one in 2010 with a song called ‘All Time Low’?

“That’s The Wanted.”


“I know that because one of our manager’s managed them. I actually wrote a song with Max [George] from The Wanted once they split up and he was trying to do a solo thing. It never saw the light of day, but it was a dope song – it sounded like ‘Suit & Tie‘-era Justin Timberlake. He’s a very talented dude. I’m a huge pop fan – that sensibility bleeds through into everything I do – so writing for other artists allows me to fully scratch that itch without making All Time Low a boyband.”

5. Which singer once patted you on the head in a garden centre?

“(Laughs) Cliff Richard .”

WRONG. It was Rod Stewart…Unless you’ve also bumped into Sir Cliff ferreting through the foliage?

“Oh shoot! I screwed up – it was Rod Stewart! My bad! Wrong British pop personality! I was two-years-old so I don’t remember it that well, but my mom re-tells the story that he was standing behind us in line at a garden centre I turned round to say hi to him – the way kids do to strangers. She didn’t realise at first who I was talking to, then just went, ‘Oh shit!’. Apparently he was super-nice to me. Years later, our guitarist Jack was having lunch in Beverley Hills and ended up sitting across from him [Rod] and his son. Jack introduced himself and told that story – which Rod thought was insane.”

6. Which All Time Low song appeared in The Only Way Is Essex in 2017?

“(Laughs) That’s a good question! If it’s 2017, maybe ‘Good Times‘?

WRONG. It was ‘Dirty Laundry’.

“Agggh! Dang! Same record, though [‘Last Young Renegade’], so I was close.”

You grew up in Essex. Did you have the accent then?

“Yeah I did! We lived in a really chill small village outside of Epping. Our next door neighbours had really strong London accents, so I’d hang out with their daughter, running around like an Essex version of The Goonies, and come back with the thickest London accent. My parents – my dad’s from up north and my mom’s from Wales – were just like: ‘What? Whose kid are you?!’. (Laughs) People send me clips of The Only Way Is Essex saying ‘This is you – these are your people’ – but I’ve tried pretty hard to avoid watching it, to be honest!”

7. You’ve played shows at the grounds of two Premier League football teams. Which are they?

“Uh – Emirates is Arsenal, right? And then I think we played Manchester – so either Man United or Man City?”

WRONG. You supported Green Day at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in 2013. Chelsea have a venue underneath their stadium called Under The Bridge – which you played in 2012.

“Oh, Chelsea! That was gig was insane. That venue’s tiny and people were crowdsurfing directly onto the stage – and we hadn’t had the experience of playing a gritty punk show like that in some time and it was so fun. Our pedals were getting unplugged and it was chaos. The one at Emirates, opening for Green Day, was the complete opposite. It was one of the biggest shows we’ve ever played. We were inspired by Green Day growing up, so it was a cool full-circle moment, and that day they found out that my favourite song is ‘Nice Guys Finish Last‘ – which they hadn’t been playing. So that night, Billie [Joe Armstrong] dedicated it to us which was dope.”

8. What is the alternative title of ‘Actors’?

“There’s an alternative title?! (Laughs) I don’t know – because we never officially put that song out. It was a song that I leaked. I always thought it was just called ‘Actors’. What do you have?”

WRONG. It’s ‘Captain Barnacle And the Reverse Cowboy Effect’.

“Oh my God! Yes! OK! (Laughs) That was the file name for the song, because this was back in the day when people’s demos were leaking and I was hyper-paranoid someone was going to lift it off my computer, so I’d give all my songs fake titles and band names. For a while, our fake band name was Little Ts And The Bogarts – so ATL backwards. So ‘Captain Barnacle…’ was the fake title I gave the song, and when I leaked it, I forgot to change it. When I said: ‘Here’s our new song ‘Actors”, the kids were like: ‘What?!’.”

9. In the ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’ video, how much do drinks cost according to the price-list?

“Oh man! It’s probably something dumb like $666 or 69 cents? I’m going to say $4.50.”

WRONG. It’s $6 for ‘all drinks’ and $8 for ‘ladies drinks’.

“That video was an interesting shoot because we only wanted to hang out with the chimp [who features in the video]. He was great the whole shoot, but there was one point where he got over what he was doing and threw a chimpanzee temper tantrum and went tearing off around the club where we were filming. This is a baby chimp, but those things are strong as hell! So we couldn’t do anything until we was done having his little diva moment, but he was cute. All was forgiven!”

10. Can you name any two of the four British bands in All Time Low’s most covered songs, according to Setlist FM?

“(Laughs)  Oasis has to be one right? I think this counts – we played ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)‘ by  The Proclaimers  a bunch?”

CORRECT. You could have also had Adele and The Human League .

“I’ve never met any of them, but we did once do a Lorde cover [of ‘ Green Light ‘] and she said that she liked it, so that was cool.”

The verdict: 3/10

“That’s terrible! I feel like I should have done better than that. At the beginning I was flying, and then I started dropping the ball.”

 All Time Low’s new album ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ is out now. 

It’s been three years since All Time Low has released an album, but they’re back at it again with Wake Up, Sunshine.

All Time Low is one of those bands that many of us have carried on from our teenage years. With their signature pop punk hits, they have a magical way of making us dive in to all the feels. Although the band has eight other studio albums under their belt already, they’ve gone on to release their ninth today, and it’s filled with a multitude of good tunes.

Drawing from how they started as a band, All Time Low made a conscious effort to bring the members together under one roof in order to make this new album, which has evolved into 15 unique songs that take us right back to when we first discovered them.

With this return to a classic approach, we chatted with frontman Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low to get the details of their latest album, Wake Up, Sunshine.

author: Brittany Jenke

Don’t Bore Us: How are you guys feeling about the release of your newest album Wake Up, Sunshine?

Alex Gaskarth: I’m ecstatic! We’re so excited. Despite everything, it feels really good having this record coming out after spending all that time last year making it with the guys. Coming together the way we did to make the album makes this one feel that much more special.

DBU: You guys recorded this in drummer Rian Dawson’s studio back in Nashville – what was the experience like and how did it compare to recording your other albums in the past?

AG: I think what was so great about doing it the way we did this time by starting in Rian’s studio was that there really wasn’t any pressure and no expectations attached to it, which takes a bit of the weight off going into the beginning of the process.

We didn’t really even think we were making a record, at first. It was kind of like, ‘let’s get in a studio and see what happens and see what the next version of All Time Low will start to sound like’. I think that freedom to just work within our comfort zone and not have any outside eyes or ears on it just made us feel really good.

It made us feel like we were reconnecting with what All Time Low was meant to be in 2020. I think that helped us focus in on sending it to the right place when we finally decided that it was going to be an album, and that we were going to have to put all the pieces together.

DBU: You’ve said that making this album under the same roof transpired into getting back to how you guys started and that it created some magical moments – what are your favourite memories of this process with Wake Up, Sunshine?

AG: A huge part of it had to do with the fact we came together and made these songs and this record in a way that we really hadn’t done in a long time. It felt like throwing it back to the days of So Wrong, It’s Right and Nothing Personal – not musically, but in the process.

The fact that we were all together, living under one roof, and working on this music, I think we just had real clarity on what all four of us wanted this record to be, to do, and to achieve the entire time.

I’ve got to say that my favourite memory was that it just felt like summer camp. It was all four of us and our producer living in this big house with a studio in it. It wasn’t a professional studio, it was a studio we threw together using Zack’s [Merrick, bass] gear. It felt really down and dirty and DIY. I think that was really good for the soul.

DBU: Your second single ‘Sleeping In’ saw the band partner with the North Shore Animal League America, raising money for no-kill animal shelters – what influenced you guys to help them out?

AG: We were just thinking of a good cause to tie the video concept in with. I wrote that concept as I had that funny idea for us to interact with these animals, and I thought, ‘let’s just go a bit further with that and let’s push this idea of animal rescue’. 

It’s a cause that’s important to us, and we just thought, ‘why not?’. In this day and age, let’s do good with what we’re putting out into the world.

DBU: The track ‘Favorite Place’ on the album featured The Band CAMINO, a band that’s also signed to your label – how did that collaboration come about?

AG: We’ve been very big fans of The Band CAMINO since they fired up, so we wanted them to be part of our family and part of the label. We felt like they would be a very cool addition to the family that we’re a part of now.

For me, when we wrote that song, I felt like I was sort of channeling some aspect of them, in a way. The delayed guitars and the melodies just reminded me of what they were doing with their music.

For that reason I just thought I’d reach out and see if they wanted to be involved and make it more of a collaboration. They were down, and it turns out that putting them on it did make it feel much more real and enjoyable for us.

DBU: The new tracks that you all have released so far have already seen a lot of love, including millions of streams. How has it felt to receive such a positive reaction so far?

AG: It’s extremely rewarding, gratifying, and amazing knowing that 15 years into this career people still have interest and want to enjoy what we’re putting out there. We just feel very lucky that people are continuing to support what we’re doing.

I think what’s rad is the way it happened because we didn’t originally plan to put out six songs from the record. We were going to have three out and then the record was going to drop. And then this whole global pandemic bullshit happened, and we were sort of forced to do things differently. So, we thought, ‘let’s just keep putting songs out off this record’.

What I love is that kind of serendipitously we have just enough time to put out the record leading to the songs interlude. What I feel that is really cool about that is that I think when you consume the album that way is that it gives it this whole new vibe, almost.

The first six songs, in my opinion, are very much a reintroduction to all the things people know about All Time Low already, and then I think the second half of the album takes us to a lot of new places. I really enjoy that we’ve got to share the journey that way, and have it feel like it’s been this progression.

DBU: What are you hoping that the fans will take away from this album given the current state of the world in the midst of COVID-19?

AG: I just hope that it’s a bright light. I hope it’s an escape for people. I hope it gives people a bit of hope and somewhere to go during this…whatever we’re going through right now. For us, making this record was really cathartic and healing for us in a lot of ways.

I think it really rekindled our passion for the band and each other. Not to say that it was lacking, just it’s nice when 15 years into a career that you can do something in a way that inspires you and suddenly makes the whole thing feel brand new. I hope that the sentiment carries over as people live with the music and digest it.

DBU: With all the madness that’s currently going on in the world, how do you feel it has affected you guys and your album release?

AG: We thought that putting this record out on time was important. Sure, we could push it back, but at the same time does that really do any good for anyone?

Sure, it might help our first week of sales, or something like that, but that’s really not what this is about. It’s about sending a message and being that thing to make people feel great. We need more of that in the world right now, so hopefully we can contribute in a small way or a big way, either way [laughs].

DBU: Are you guys doing anything special to keep fans engaged during this lull of live shows?

AG: We’ve been coming up with as many things as we can think of to keep people engaged and entertained and feeling connected to us. We’ve talked about doing a bunch of live streams and that’s started to roll out now. We’re doing a listening event for the release tomorrow, US time. Hopefully the audience can join and enjoy it.

Beyond that, I think we’re just kicking up as many ideas as we can. Our bread and butter really were the live shows, and getting there in front of people and doing that, so this is new territory for us and we’re finding our way through it.

DBU: How are you guys utilising your time during self-isolation? Are you using it as an opportunity to get the creative juices flowing, so to speak, or are you just keen to see the reaction to this album for starts?

AG: Usually after we complete an album, I don’t start getting creative again until I’ve given myself a chance to digest and process. I like to flip gears and reflect on how it all went but also take a little bit of time to recharge the ‘creative batteries’.

In this case, given how everything is going on, I’ve actually felt pretty inspired and I want to dive back in already. I have no idea how I’m going to channel that yet, but I feel like it’s not the typical situation. I don’t feel the way I usually feel. There’s a lot to think about and process in a lot of this. It’s crazy and it goes pretty deep.

We’re really sharing in this experience on a global scale for the first time. Obviously there’s been pandemics before, but we’ve never been so interconnected in the way we are now, and I think it’s really changing the way we all look at the world. I think that will be an interesting thing to dive into.

DBU: Are you guys hoping to make your way back to Australia eventually? I know that things are quite unpredictable at the moment, but I know that fans would be quite keen to see you on Aussie shores again.

AG: Hell yeah we are! We have been talking about it since last year. Obviously we don’t have anything announced yet, and I don’t think anything official is on the books now that we have no idea what’s going on. It’s even harder to commit to anything.

Originally, our plan was to try to get over there sometime around our fall/winter, so your spring/summer – later this year. So, hopefully we can continue to do that and all of this will be distant memory, and we’ll be able to go over there and have a great time. We’ve just got to take it as it comes.


As All Time Low celebrate the release of their eighth studio album – Wake Up, Sunshine – we thought we’d ask frontman Alex Gaskarth to rank every ATL album in order from his least to (ahem) all-time favourite…

8. Put Up Or Shut Up (2006)

“This is a fucked-up thing to ask someone to do! These are my babies, and I know my ranking will bum people out. I kinda hate you for asking me to do this! Anyway, my least favourite is the EP, because it’s the rawest and most uninformed of our records. When I listen back to it, I cringe a bit.”

7. Dirty Work (2011)

“There was a lot of negativity surrounding this album, which is a real shame because it’s got some fucking good songs. I’d say Dirty Work is 75 per cent on the way to being a sick record, but we made a few miscalculations. It’s less the music and more the memories of that time that’s led me to place that album so low.”

6. Future Hearts (2015)

“This is sixth purely because the other albums have to go after it (laughs)! For various reasons, our remaining records rank higher. I do really love Future Hearts, though – it’s an album that I feel really helped define our band, and it’s got some classic All Time Low songs on it.”

5. Last Young Renegade (2017)

“Last Young Renegade was a necessary step for us, but it definitely feels like a tangent within the context of the band and the other albums we’ve made. This album doesn’t define All Time Low. Looking at the big picture, it was a growing thing that as a band we needed to do.”

4. So Wrong It’s Right (2007)

“This is the record that started it all, but it does feel a little like amateur hour when I listen back to it. It’s like looking at an old school photo. I know me saying that will upset some fans, though, because I understand it’s held in high regard by a lot of people.”

3. Don’t Panic (2012)

“Don’t Panic ranks high because it was our saviour. It came after a really tumultuous period that left us feeling very unsure about things. We’d left our first major label following a traumatic record cycle for Dirty Work, and Don’t Panic came along and acted as a soft reset for our band. It got us back on track.”

2. Nothing Personal (2009)

“Looking at things historically, this is number one. Nothing Personal is objectively the definitive All Time Low record – it ensured we were in this for the long haul, and solidified us as a band that could have staying power. It’s got some of our biggest songs, like Weightless and Therapy, on it, too.”

1. Wake Up, Sunshine (2020)

“Shamelessly, I’m declaring our new record the best one we’ve ever made. Wake Up, Sunshine takes the best elements of each era of All Time Low and blends them together into a shiny new version of the band. I’m really proud of it, and I’m convinced the songs will become staples of ours.”


author: Bryan Rolli

All Time Low lead singer Alex Gaskarth didn’t account for a global pandemic when planning the release of his band’s new album, Wake Up, Sunshine, out today (April 3). The pop-punk foursome is one of countless artists whose touring and record release plans got derailed by the coronavirus outbreak. But rather than postpone the album until it’s safe to get back on the road—and, consequently, more lucrative to promote it—All Time Low released Wake Up, Sunshine as scheduled in the hopes that it will give fans a sense of comfort amid the turmoil, much like it did for the band members as they made it.

“It’s not about chart positions. It’s not about how this record performs at retail anymore,” Gaskarth says. “All of those things you stress about so much pre-release, and then it’s really inconsequential compared to the little bit of light that your music can bring to people.”

That’s not to say the members of All Time Low are strangers to strong chart positions or retail performances. The quartet—Gaskarth, guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson—rode the mid-2000s pop-punk boom to a level of mainstream success that most rock bands only dream of. Its 2008 breakthrough single “Dear Maria, Count Me In” became a stone-cold genre classic, and a flurry of effervescent alt-anthems and Top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 followed, including a No. 2 peak for 2015’s Future Hearts. The pop-punk veterans took a detour into poppier, synth-driven territory with 2017’s Last Young Renegade, but on Wake Up, Sunshine, they’ve returned to the sound and spirit of the albums that first turned them into Warped Tour darlings and Hot Topic staples.

“When you’ve been a band for a long time, you get to these places creatively where you’re like, ‘I don’t want to do that again. I want to go off on a tangent here and explore some other stuff,’” Gaskarth says. “That was the record that we made with Last Young Renegade. And it was a really important step for us as a band to make that album, and to do it in a way that felt like we were pushing ourselves, because then we were able to take all of that and apply it to what we were doing here.”

Crucial to the making of Wake Up, Sunshine was getting all four band members in the same room to write together. After wrapping up an extensive tour cycle at the end of 2018 and returning to their homes—Gaskarth in Maryland, Barakat in Los Angeles, Dawson in Nashville and Merrick in Hawaii—the guys rented a house in Palm Desert, California last summer to write songs and live under the same roof for a month. The result is an album that crackles with youthful exuberance and the energy of a live show. The band members had no master plan when they started writing these songs, and their joy in simply jamming with each other is palpable. But Wake Up, Sunshine is also the work of a band that has honed its craft for 15 years, and All Time Low dispenses gargantuan hooks and festival-ready choruses with surgical precision.

Although many of the songs on Wake Up, Sunshine would sound right at home on early All Time Low albums such as So Wrong, It’s Right or Nothing Personal, other tracks prove the band isn’t too old to learn new tricks. Emo-pop singer Blackbear (of “Hot Girl Bummer” fame) spits a verse on aggro stomper “Monsters,” while indie pop-rockers The Band Camino grace the soaring, bittersweet “Favorite Place.” Still, Gaskarth says, the primary objective of every All Time Low album is appealing to the group’s core fanbase while throwing enough sonic curveballs to keep things interesting.

“We’ve been a band for 15 years, and one of the things you realize in that is that your career is going to ebb and flow,” he says. “We always look at it from a very grassroots approach in the sense of, we need to, first and foremost, make our core fans feel happy and connected with and like we’re in this for them. And anybody else that then wants to come on board for the ride, it builds outward from there.”

While the members of All Time Low would much prefer to promote Wake Up, Sunshine by touring relentlessly, they have been eagerly exploring new ways to connect with fans digitally for the time being, including live-streamed performances that are quickly becoming the new industry standard. Gaskarth and his bandmates feel uniquely equipped to handle this pivot to digital promotion, having capitalized on the burgeoning MySpace music scene at the outset of their careers.

“We were lucky in that we learned early on that the new digital platform at the time was going to be our best tool, a great way to reach out and have people discover us and learn about us without having to go out there and grind on tour for three years and do press junkets and things like that,” he says. “I think just learning to be adaptable early on was always something that we benefited from, and trying to never get too stuck in our ways as we continue on, and just be flexible with how things are moving.”

That flexibility has kept All Time Low at the forefront of pop-punk, even as the subgenre (and rock music at large) has receded from the mainstream. “The scene kind of evaporated, as scenes do,” he says. “It was this sort of bubble universe for a while that made its way to mainstream for a little bit. And then I think some of those bands that were at the top of it broke out and went on to do different things and sort of changed up their styles and evolved.”

Still, the singer is encouraged by the renewed interest in emo and pop-punk among younger pop stars and rappers, citing Juice WRLD as an artist who recontextualized the genre for a new generation of listeners. Having traversed that generational gap with his own band, Gaskarth feels optimistic about the state of rock and the democratization of all music.

“It’s just really cool to see that there are very few rules anymore,” he says. “It used to be that you had to be this one very specific thing to appeal to this niche market. Otherwise you were called a sellout or a poser or whatever. And now it’s amazing how amalgamous it all is, and how you can sort of blur the lines between genres. I think it puts rock and roll in a really good place, because it sets it up to have another heyday.”