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.

source: https://www.kerrang.com/features/why-all-time-low-had-to-reset-everything-for-wake-up-sunshine/

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.

source: https://www.upsetmagazine.com/features/all-time-low-interview-apr20

We speak to Jack Barakat following the release of their new album Wake Up, Sunshine

author: Malvika Padin


From four lifelong friends in love with music to global icons who traverse genres, All Time Low – aka Alex Gaskarth (lead vocals, guitar), Jack Barakat (lead guitar, backing vocals), Zack Merrick (bass, backing vocals), and Rian Dawson (drums) – have come full circle by harkening back to the youthful energy of their initial days on their eighth full-length studio album, Wake Up, Sunshine.

Lead guitarist of the Baltimore band, Jack Barakat describes the album with three simple words ; “ATL is back.” Delving further he explains, “A lot of the record musically and energy-wise reflects our early music and it’ll probably remind fans of that past sound.”

With nearly two decades of experience and a lot of genre experimenting behind them, the quartet – formed in 2003 – return to their pop punk soundscape once again. Reflecting on their motivation for this, Jack offers, “We did a 10-year anniversary re-recording of our album Nothing Personal so getting back to that mindset, we had a new energy and we were inspired to write power pop. Our last record was moody and a kind of night-time driving record so we wanted to give people something from the past ATL.”

On the trajectory their sound took from pop punk to moody soundscapes and the reason behind it, the guitarist comments, “Early on we hadn’t really toured or played that many shows, we only had the experience of growing up, playing in our parent’s basement or a few local shows.”

“Over the years of touring the world, and being exposed to so many different kinds of music like metal, hip-hop , indie rock and having our own tastes change, we’ve been able experiment with our sound more. While still being All Time Low, we have our eyes and ears opened to different genres.”

Detailing the band’s song writing process, both in general and for this album in particular, Jack says, “When it comes to song writing Alex is really good at putting himself into other people’s shoes and reflecting on the past when writing, but I personally am more comfortable with expressing things I’ve been through in almost a literal sense like a diary entry.

“Since I don’t have much experience with writing, tracks where I contribute to the lyrics I’m particularly proud of. In this album, that would be ‘Monster’. It also has a cool blend of sounds and there’s a great feature from hip-hop master blackbear which fits so well.”

Since they’ve done everything from hip-hop to indie, talking about genres that remain unchartered for All Time Low is particularly exciting for Jack. He mulls over it for a while before exclaiming, “ We haven’t done much of hard rock collaborations. A country mash-up might be cool too. Maybe in the next record!”

The exposure to different genres is a natural extension of the band’s year-long tours. Having travelled the world for the better part of a decade, there are a lot of countries that feel like home to All Time Low. Describing his favourite place to play, Jack reveals, “Asia is a favourite, Japan in particular. Over the past 10 years we’ve probably been there 10 times. It’s not just the music or our connection, it’s the people and how welcoming they are that makes it so great.”

But in a world so wide there are many places that ATL haven’t yet had a chance to visit. Naming a few, he says, “We’d love to go to India. It’s on my top three to visit. My brother went to India and loved it, so I’d love to experience myself. I think Africa is another one.”

Despite not having visited some parts of the world, the band’s message is one that stretches out to all of humanity and is something the world needs to hear right now. Speaking of the all-encompassing message of their music, Jack says, “Everything’s going to be okay. There’s so many beautiful things around us, life is worth living.”

This message, and the connection they hope to forge with their listeners, is important for All Time Low. Even speaking of the best and most frustrating parts of making music, the word ‘connection’ makes appearances.

Talking about the best part, Jack offers, “The feeling when you get the chorus right and your mind switches to the thought that fans will be singing back to us soon. When we make it, the song is our baby and we have a special connection with it. Then it becomes everyone’s baby.” And about the frustrating bits, he says, “Writing a song that you think is amazing and it doesn’t connect with people like you thought it would, that can be hard because it can make you doubt yourself. But if you loved it while you made it, then you just need to trust yourself.”

Trusting themselves seems to have worked very well for the group if their illustrious career is any indication. Reminiscing about the highlights of ATL’s long journey, Jack explains, “When we headlined Wembley Arena, which at that point was our first time, it was an indescribable feeling. The first couple of moments is surreal and mind-altering. For the first three songs we were in awe that this was actually happening to us.” 

Jack, alongside his band and the rest of the world, are paused at the moment for reasons that everyone knows – for now he eats his “nutritious” breakfast of a shot of vodka and eggs – but All Time Low have big plans for the future. “One thing we’ve got planned is genre-defying stuff like crossovers. We want to have tours where different influences mix and different kinds of people come. ”

With a little more wisdom, a lot more experience and the same old love for music, All Time Low are back and they’re here to stay – always!

Wake Up, Sunshine is out now. Read our review of the record here.

source: https://www.gigwise.com/features/3376236/all-time-low-on-defying-genres-trusting-themselves-as-musicians-and-breakfast-with-a-shot-of-vodka

“Some will put you in a good mood, some will make you miss and appreciate the days of hanging with your homies”

author: Spin staff


With everyone sequestered and self-quarantining due to the coronavirus, we’ve asked our favorite artists to come up with playlists that keep you entertained. Here’s Jack Barakat of All Time Low:

Truth be told I thought I thought quarantining would be a lot more difficult. I get to sleep in my own bed, wear the same pair of sweatpants for weeks on end, and drink mimosas at any time. Would I like being on the road promoting our new album Wake Up, Sunshine!? Hell yes, but we’re having to do that from the comfort of our own couches, so we’re gonna make the best of it! I’ve put together a list of songs that I’ve been listening to during this strange time of isolation. Some will put you in a good mood, some will make you miss and appreciate the days of hanging with your homies, and some will make you wanna have a dance party with your favorite body pillow.

The Weeknd – “Save Your Tears”
I can’t stop listening to this entire album but I figured this song says it best: Save your tears for another day!

Best Coast – “Everything Has Changed”
Well, it has! This song is about being happy with everything in your life-changing for the better. It’s a nice hopeful song.

Lovely The Band – “Waste”
It’s been very cool watching their sound evolve from their first album to this one. Also, any song with some sax has a very special place in my heart.

Soccer Mommy – “Circle The Drain”
Bring on the ’90s vibes. Bring them ALL ON. This song is such a vibe and one of my favorite new discoveries.

Kacey Musgraves – “Oh, What A World”
I was super late to the party (pun intended) to Kacey. She is truly a special artist and I think this song is unique both lyrically and musically. I just love her honesty.

The Menzingers – “London Drugs”
Turn the lights down low, pour a Guinness and pretend like you’re in a late-night pub. This song will help set the scene.

070 Shake – “Guilty Conscious”
This song is super honest and such a vibe. This girl is gonna be massive and I’m here for the ride.

Maggie Rogers – “The Knife”
It’s hard to pick a song off this record but right now I’m loving this one. It makes for a perfect living room dance party from a fellow Maryland artist.

Halsey – “you should be sad”
Fuck I love her honesty. I could listen to any Halsey song any day but this one has been spinning a lot recently.

Niall Horan – “Black And White”
I love listening to Niall belt on this one. It’s a perfect song to blast at any time. Don’t worry, your neighbors will thank you.

5 Seconds Of Summer – “Wildflower”
The melodies in this song are infectious and unique. It kind of reminds me of the 90s and I love that. I dare you not to dance.

Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers – “Islands in the Stream”
When he passed away recently I did a little dive and rediscovered some gems. This song will hit you in the feels.

blackbear – “me & ur ghost”
’80s synths, infectious melodies, and post-breakup lyrics. Let’s go!

All Time Low – “Monsters (feat. blackbear)”
I’m gonna end this with one of our new ones! This is a song I’m super proud of and I knew it was special the day we wrote it. I can’t wait to play it live once we’re allowed to leave our couches ? be safe everyone!

source: https://www.spin.com/2020/04/jack-barakat-of-all-time-lows-playlist/

Our lives would be some kind of disaster without All Time Low’s ‘Wake Up, Sunshine.’

author: Mackenzie Hall


Pop-punk stalwarts  All Time Low  are no strangers to reinvention—they’ve been doing it for the better part of two decades. With their latest record,  Wake Up, Sunshine , the boys are eager for you to hear what they’ve been keeping secret for far too long.

At the time of this interview,  Alex Gaskarth  is recovering from the flu. He’s at home in Baltimore, coming off a three-day run of underplay shows with the rest of his All Time Low bandmates. “It was the worst fucking timing,” he says of the sickness. “It sucked. I was all medicated up and trying to fight through it.” 

It’s not the first time a lead singer has fallen ill for an important performance, but this is a special set of circumstances. All Time Low were in the midst of promoting their new single, “ Some Kind Of Disaster ,” and—though fans didn’t know it at the time—their upcoming album, Wake Up, Sunshine.

But the band didn’t arrive there overnight; their January-long teasing campaign practically drove fans to riot in the streets. The journey to Wake Up, Sunshine took all of 2019—as well as their collective mental and emotional well-being.

 “We weren’t feeling super-enthusiastic about making another record when we wrapped up the  Last Young Renegade  cycle,” Gaskarth says. “All Time Low historically haven’t taken a ton of breaks, so this came at a great time. It allowed us to step away and explore some things that were unexpected but pleasant surprises.”

He’s speaking, of course, about the myriad of enterprises All Time Low have taken on in the last year.  Jack Barakat , guitarist and jokester foil to Gaskarth, began the emo-pop project  WhoHurtYou  with frequent All Time Low collaborator Kevin Fisher. Drummer  Rian Dawson  continued to build up clientele at his recording studio in Nashville. Bassist  Zack Merrick  currently lives in Hawaii and organizes regular beach cleanups in addition to his musical stylings. And Gaskarth himself teamed up with his childhood hero,  blink-182 ’s  Mark Hoppus , to create the dream-pop project  Simple Creatures .

“Alex had called us all separately and told us he would be doing the project with Mark Hoppus,” Barakat says, speaking from his home in Los Angeles. “He was probably surprised to hear my answer of, ‘Well, maybe we should take a break.’ I was a little burnt out from touring. At some point, you’re like, ‘Well shit, I just missed my entire 20s.’ Well, not missed, but I toured my entire 20s.”

For the first time in years, there wasn’t a rush to start the next project.  Fueled By Ramen  hadn’t set a deadline to get in the studio, so for the moment, the band let Last Young Renegade sit. It had already been one of their most ambitious projects—a darker, more moody All Time Low than 2015’s  Future Hearts  or 2012’s  Don’t Panic . “To be honest,” Barakat says, “at the end of Last Young Renegade, for the first time, it felt like we didn’t know what was next for All Time Low. There wasn’t a clear path or an obvious answer.” 

While the question of the band’s future might have been a difficult one, even more mind-boggling was what the members would do with themselves. 

“It’s always difficult for me to take a break,” Gaskarth says with a sigh. “That’s when my mind wanders, and I go to a weird space, mentally.” He admits that part of the reason he dove headfirst into Simple Creatures was his eagerness to fill idle hands just as much as it was a new creative outlet. “When you have some time away from [the band], you actually have a bit of an identity crisis,” he continues. “‘Well, what do I do now? What am I doing with myself? Who am I? What do I mean in this big world—if not the person onstage playing shows for people?’” 

Barakat agrees, adding, “All Time Low are such a big part of our own personal identities; we’ve been doing it since we were 14 years old. We’ve been doing All Time Low longer than we haven’t been doing All Time Low. So when you take a break from that, you lose yourself a little bit. Or at least, I did.” 

Far away from the day in, day out of call sheets and set times, the members of All Time Low floundered a little. The only marks on their calendars were for  Slam Dunk  in May 2019 and possibly  a string of anniversary shows around their 2009 album   Nothing Personal . The rest was wide open. Other bands might see this as a chance to drift apart, maybe consider calling it quits for more than just a year. But, according to Dawson, that was never a possibility. 

“What I didn’t count on was missing the guys so much,” he says. “You’re not away from them for more than a couple [of] weeks, maybe a month at a time. That was what I realized the most: ‘Wow, I miss these guys when I’m not with them.’ Being in this band for 17 years, not everyone can say that. We’re very fortunate.”

They didn’t even have the intentions of writing any real body of work—just getting together and jamming, like they did back in high school. Luckily, Dawson had an all-inclusive recording studio just across the country. In January 2019, Gaskarth, Dawson and a few regular All Time Low collaborators debunked to the honky-tonk capital to start All Time Low: Phase Eight.

Along for the ride was producer  Zakk Cervini  (blink-182,  Waterparks ), with co-writer Andrew Goldstein ( blackbear ,  5 Seconds Of Summer ) joining the Palm Desert sessions, both of whom have rich history with All Time Low. (The former produced Future Hearts, while the latter produced Last Young Renegade.) Thus, it didn’t take long for everyone to get writing. 

“The first [complete] song we wrote was ‘Some Kind Of Disaster,’” Gaskarth says, speaking of the anthemic lead single that kick-started Wake Up, Sunshine. “That was the moment where we all said, ‘Well, this sounds like it could be the next version of what we’re going to do.’” It is, simply put, a fantastic All Time Low song. Opening with just Gaskarth’s vocals and the strum of a guitar, you can hear the way it’ll travel from the walls of underplay clubs to the edges of festival fairgrounds. It rings out the way “Something’s Gotta Give” or “Backseat Serenade” do on previous All Time Low albums—an immediate hit that fans grip on to for years to come. 

For a band who had just booked some studio time on a whim, this was a welcome win. There weren’t even whispers of putting together an album—at this point, they were lucky to be cranking out songs. But after the success of “Some Kind Of Disaster,” they were ready for more.

“By the time Nashville was over, we had a record,” Dawson says. “Well,” he clarifies, “I mean…we had 15 songs. But we were fortunate to have the time to step back and reassess.”

With that, they headed to  Coachella . We’re kidding. But they did go to Palm Desert, one town over. It’s a popular vacation spot for Angelinos, two hours inland (six with traffic), with plenty of fancy Airbnbs and upscale taco spots. All Time Low found a spot to stay in August 2019—the only requirement being a pool—and got to work, this time with the entire band.

While the bones of Wake Up, Sunshine had been formed in Nashville, Palm Desert was where they started to assemble the album. Almost seven months later, they could look at what they had made with fresh eyes. But through it all, they kept the DIY feeling close.

Even if the writing was done, the work wasn’t over for All Time Low. After a quick jaunt up to Big Bear Lake, California, to wrap up the last of the production, they finally had a finished record. Then it came time to organize and execute the string of Nothing Personal anniversary shows, still with the secret of Wake Up, Sunshine in their back pocket. Shortly after the release of “Some Kind Of Disaster,”  they announced a series of underplay gigs , some at venues they hadn’t played since their teenage years. 

“We hadn’t played shows in so long,” Barakat says. “We thought, ‘Let’s reinvigorate not only the fans, but ourselves.’ It was a way to get the die-hard fans super-stoked but also [give] a present to them. Thanks for everything. And thanks for sticking around.”

It’s a statement that’s consistent throughout this camp. Throughout all three interviews, everyone is careful to acknowledge just how long the All Time Low phenomenon has sustained. It’s not by accident. The band don’t wallow in schmaltz—Barakat is too busy cracking them up with dick jokes—but they know that this is a special thing. On the record, one track stands out to Dawson as the beacon for how far they’ve come. 

“‘Basement Noise’ is probably the best closer we’ve ever put on a record,” he says. “We’re talking about my parents’ basement—it’s where we would practice [in high school]. I played it for my mom, and she teared up.” All Time Low are known for powerful closers (from “Lullabies” to “Therapy” to “Afterglow”), and “Basement Noise” follows through yet again. The chorus simply repeats “They’re just stupid boys making basement noise/In the basement/Noise in the basement” with an acoustic guitar. For all the talk of DIY aesthetics, it zaps you back to the early aughts, with tighter jeans and terrible haircuts, with four teenagers lying on the floor of a basement, dreaming about the future.

“It feels like such a beautiful way to close the record,” Dawson continues. “We started in 2003 in ninth grade in my parents’ basement. Between marching band practice and me working at Rita’s, we’d sneak in our practice.” He pauses and takes a breath. “Now we’re playing all over the world.”

But right now, it’s just a normal Monday morning. Well, what passes for “normal” for All Time Low. And Gaskarth is just at home—not too far from that first basement where he found the chords for their first record. “Now we’ve been making records our way,” he says, reflecting on the process of Wake Up, Sunshine. “Here is the inherent risk: This record is just us, for better or for worse.” 

He pauses, then laughs. “Well, I think it’s for the better.”

This feature originally appeared in AP #380 with cover stars Palaye Royale.

source: https://www.altpress.com/features/all-time-low-wake-up-sunshine-interview/

 

Staring down 30, the beloved band opens up about keeping fans happy while diverging from the sound that made them huge

author: Brittany Spanos


In 2007, the four members of All Time Low hadn’t even hit the legal drinking age when a couple of boyishly goofy songs about girls began to push them beyond their local scene. Signed to the taste-making indie label Hopeless Records, the Maryland quartet released their scrappy but hopeful sophomore album So Wrong, It’s Right, and suddenly pop-punk had a new band of skinny-jeans-wearing heroes with frosted, side-swept hair.

A decade later, the band sits around a table in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, settling in for a late-afternoon round of bowling at the dive-y Gutter. Clutching beers and fresh off a day of press for their new and seventh album Last Young Renegade, the group of longtime friends – singer Alex Gaskarth, guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson – talk over each other with polite excitement and the type of easy comfort that comes with having been performing and writing with one another for nearly 15 years straight.

“It’s kind of crazy how adult we’ve become,” Barakat reflects. Between tours, the members have each found time to move away from the suburb of Towson, Maryland, where they grew up; currently, the four are spread between Hawaii, Los Angeles and Baltimore. With brief brushes of tabloid fame behind them – Barakat was most famously linked to Playmate Holly Madison and actress Abigail Breslin – the rockers are beginning to settle down. Gaskarth married his longtime girlfriend Lisa Ruocco last spring, while Dawson proposed to country singer Cassadee Pope earlier this year.

Even as they approach 30 and launch new families of their own, the experience of spending their twenties in the limelight makes the band feel as if they’re stuck in a “maturity purgatory,” as Barakat describes it.

“You’re thrown into situations at a young age that people that age usually aren’t exposed to,” Gaskarth explains. “So on that hand, it kind of matures you, sometimes before you’re ready for it. At the same time, as you get older, there’s less expectation for you to act mature. So you get stuck in this limbo between growing up and not having the same kinds of responsibilities as people who don’t live life on the road.”

All Time Low’s maturity purgatory comes with some perks: They can release their most “serious” album yet and still relish every minute of pre-release anticipation. Bowling against one another allows them to indulge in a bit of the harmless chaos that made them stand out in the first place. They pose obscenely, rib each other lovingly, and even though they’re keeping tabs on the scores, they prioritize having a good time over actually winning (though, for the record, Merrick, the band’s quiet jock, racks up the night’s highest score).

When it comes to sales, too, numbers aren’t everything to the band. Though, for the record, their previous album – 2015’s Future Hearts – debuted at a career-high Number Two, while Last Young Renegade marked their fifth Top 10 debut, a hot streak for any artist.

“The chart stuff is great, but we don’t rest everything on it,” Dawson says. “We care more about the career span, so to think about one day as a make-or-break, or anything like that, would be silly for us.”

“But I still think about it every day,” Barakat jokes.

“We’re not gonna be the people at the Oscars that are like, ‘Oh, no, we don’t care about these awards at all,’” Dawson adds.

“Oh, we want those awards,” Barakat chimes in again.

“We’ll take an Oscar,” says Gaskarth as the group erupts in laughter.

“An Oscar … can we?” Barakat offers innocently.

In the mid-aughts, All Time Low were part of a boom of young pop-punk bands becoming boy-band-level icons for even younger listeners in search of equal parts angst and irreverence following the success of Fall Out Boy. With So Wrong, ATL provided exactly that: Two of the most popular songs from the album are a tune about a stripper (“Dear Maria, Count Me In”) and a moving breakup power ballad (“Remembering Sunday”).

Onstage, the band was rambunctious, mimicking the lovable immaturity of their heroes Blink-182 by making dick jokes, climbing up to theater balconies and displaying bras on their microphone stands. Their combination of confidence and cluelessness made them both awe-inspiring and relatable to the even younger kids moshing in the pit. At first, the naughty banter was a defense mechanism for a young band that feared an empty room as much as they did a sold-out one.

“When there’s 25 people at a VFW hall and only three of them are there because they like you and the sound is terrible and the songs aren’t that great, you have to figure out ways to get people to look you up later on MySpace or PureVolume,” Gaskarth says of their early stage style. As crowds grew and they began to expand outside of the United States, the naughty-joke mentality aided them more than ever when they would play in front of “30,000 Rammstein fans” at European festivals. “It’s like, ‘OK, what can we do besides play our show that will maybe have these guys be like, “This band isn’t that bad”?’” Dawson continues.

In the time since that magical pop-punk renaissance from which All Time Low emerged, most of their contemporaries have broken up, reconfigured or moved on entirely. All Time Low, on the other hand, have only gotten bigger.

As the band gets older, their fans remain the same age, with hordes of teenagers filling out theaters around the world. New rock overall has become increasingly less prevalent on radio and the charts, though young pop-punk acts still generate buzz and cult followings. Many of the new generation of young, spunky rock acts – such as 5 Seconds of Summer, SWMRS and Waterparks – cite All Time Low as their biggest influence.

“I’m not just saying this to sound nice, but we’re never going to get used to people saying they started a band because of us,” Dawson says. “Whether it’s a high school kid or a 30-year-old saying Jack inspired them to play guitar or whatever it is, it doesn’t quite feel real.”

“You know that never happened, Rian, but thank you for making me feel good,” Barakat jokes.

For Last Young Renegade, All Time Low have settled into their version of adulthood. Off Hopeless again, they’ve joined Fueled by Ramen, a label with a roster that resembles an Avengers-style lineup of mid-2000s rock mainstays who can still fill arenas and top the charts, like Paramore and Panic! At the Disco. Much like those two bands, ATL have found a way to broaden their sound without jeopardizing what has made them so appealing to young listeners for more than a decade. A bit darker than their past work, the quartet’s seventh LP sounds like one of their most carefully curated statements yet. Gaskarth’s writing and singing are at the sharpest of his career, and the songs overflow with big pop hooks. His personal improvement is a product of years of heavy touring and and a tight album-release schedule, with the band having issued new LPs every other year since 2005.

“We kind of know what we’re doing now,” the singer says with a laugh. Recalling the sessions for So Wrong, Gaskarth notes how songs often arose out of random moments and spurts of inspiration. Matt Squire, who produced So Wrong, would refuse to let the singer back into the studio until he had lyrics to go with the sketchy instrumental arrangements that would come out of their spur-of-the-moment sessions. Now, the band has more focus and vision than ever before.

“It would be unfair to ourselves and unfair to our fans to not push ourselves to try and change and do things that people wouldn’t expect and haven’t heard before,” Gaskarth continues. “Sometimes the easy road is to keep repeating the pattern.”

Touring with bands like Green Day and Thirty Seconds to Mars inspired All Time Low to pursue more of an atmosphere they can reflect in a live show. For the mood of Last Young Renegade, they looked back to move forward: Instead of reverting to the youthful, party-centric vibe of their early releases, the band reflected on their lives and careers as well as the road they took to get to this point. The concept of nostalgia weighed heavily on the band while writing their new material. Gaskarth dug even deeper into his history and cites pre-band childhood memories – watching Ghostbusters and John Hughes movies, for example – as just some of the early moments from his life he used as inspiration.

“A lot of it became about that vintage feel of [my childhood],” he notes. “I thought that would be a cool way to present that emotion musically and sonically, so what we ended up doing was go back and find these analog synths and weird pedals that we dug out of strange equipment rental spaces.”

A year of major musical losses also served as inspiration. The band went back to listening to Prince, David Bowie and George Michael and studied the sounds and qualities that made those artists such icons both in and beyond their time. “We’d key in on a sound or a pad and just a tone and try to take that and pop it in [one of our songs] and see what happened,” Gaskarth explains. “It ended up transforming all the songs into what we ended up with on the record.”

All four members of the band knew that fans would likely be shocked when they heard new singles like the sobering “Dirty Laundry.” All Time Low came of age when social media was still nascent, and have been quicker to adapt to the changing ways musicians can interact with their fans than most artists who weren’t necessarily raised on the Internet. So when the song was released, they kept a close watch over the online response.

“I remember seeing a comment that was along the lines of, ‘Ah, I’m not sure if I like the song, but that last chorus is great,’” Gaskarth recalls. “In my head I was like, ‘That’s the part that feels familiar.’ When it gets big and goes loud, that’s what feels like All Time Low from 10 years ago. That was safe.”

Gaskarth has continued to keep tabs on what fans write about them on Twitter and other platforms and claims that the same person tweeted him a few days later to say that the song had grown on them.

“I’ve been like that with bands, though,” Barakat admits. “Even with the new Paramore, at first I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t get this.’ Then a couple listens in, I’m like, ‘Alright, this is fucking catchy.’ It sometimes just takes a second to comprehend.”

Dawson cites his initial disdain for Green Day’s slowed-down Warning, and all recall being taken aback by Blink-182’s contemplative self-titled 2003 LP, each being thrown off by their favorite pop-punk legends easing into adulthood without a fight. Eventually, all have come around to those two albums with time.

“It’s really important to have those moments where you kind of take the fan base and shake it.” –Alex Gaskarth

“I think the biggest thing when talking about Last Young Renegade is that we wanted to present something fresh,” Gaskarth returns. “I don’t want this band to stop, and I think if we went the safe road and kept making album one and album two over again, it would peter out. It’s really important to have those moments where you kind of take the fan base and shake it.”

Appropriately, All Time Low found camaraderie with a similarly cult-favorite band that has taken huge creative risks in recent years. Tegan and Sara are Last Young Renegade‘s sole guest stars, appearing on the synth-y, atmospheric “Ground Control.” The track is one of the more blatantly Eighties-inspired moments on the album, a reflection of Tegan and Sara’s own foray into big-hook synth-pop with 2013’s Heartthrob. Both acts felt a mutual admiration, and their collaboration yielded a delicate, melodic feel unlike anything All Time Low had pursued before.

“It’s nice because that chorus is all three of us singing,” Gaskarth says of his harmony with Tegan and Sara. “We’ve never done anything like that as a band, so it was fun.”

“Ground Control” is Last Young Renegade‘s penultimate track, followed immediately by what the band describes as their “best impression of Phil Collins,” the slow-burning “Afterglow.” Instead of building toward familiarity, like on “Dirty Laundry,” here the band strips away any trace of the uptempo pop-punk that made them famous.

“It leaves you with that cliffhanger of ‘Well, what’s the next movie going to be like?’” Gaskarth says of “Afterglow,” claiming it as one of the band’s most John Hughes–ian moments. “You wanna end on him with a boom box over his head. Or they’re all walking down the hall, and he throws his fist in the air.”

The band takes a moment to riff on this idea, and suddenly a character named Johnny is walking down the hallway of a school in a made-up film before a final-scene freeze frame. Barakat, in his best movie-trailer-voiceover impression, closes out their goofy, brief interlude:

And Johnny was never seen again. …

source: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/how-pop-punk-survivors-all-time-low-finally-grew-up-197349/