Ever look at something and think, “that doesn’t quite belong?” Well that’s how it felt the first time I saw All Time Low in a city other than Baltimore, this summer at Warped Tour. What made it even weirder is that, the hundreds of kids screaming for them thought it was a perfect fit. Rumor has it—a large portion of the country agrees. What happens when our hometown boys aren’t just ours anymore?

author: CO


Sitting in a black van in a college district of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I sat with the boys of All Time Low, and tried to make it all make sense. As I said, the boys were on the legendary Vans Warped Tour all summer, and as I witnessed in city after city, these boys weren’t our little secret anymore. They won the Energizer Contest to play ten minutes longer in Boston, over the Boston natives, Boys Like Girls. Also, pretty strangely there was a huge crowd in Colorado? One thing I was curious about is where there wasn’t a huge crowd. “Fuck You, Boise!” they said, obviously they didn’t do to well there.

“I think we’re taking most of December off,” Rian says. Right after this tour with The Starting Line, they’re heading right back out on tour with their friends in Boys Like Girls. The annual All Time Low Christmas show looks like it’ll still happen, and you could see a few surprises this winter.

Like Fall Out Boy, and My Chemical Romance, All Time Low has become the band everyone hates to love or loves to hate (check out last month’s issue if you don’t believe me), either way they sell a lot of CDs and have some of the loyalist fan bases I’ve ever seen. Some kids when they toured Europe went to 8 of their 10 shows.

Another instance of fan loyalty is the story I’m sure you’ve all heard this by now, the guys have a set of new promo shots where everyone can see that they’re… big boys now. A girl was suspended from her middle school for displaying it. Not only did Alex deliver a public statement, but they hope to be able to do something nice for the girl. Obviously, All Time Low must be doing something right, and in my opinion those pictures are one of the best publicity stunts I’ve seen since that bubble…

“We get a lot of hometown love… It could be our worst show, and I think people would still love us.” “We still get a lot of hatred for not playing the old stuff.” Last time I saw All Time Low at Recher, you couldn’t hear Alex singing over everyone in the crowd screaming the words. Baltimore loves their boys, but don’t hold your breathe about hearing “Last Flight Home” (my favorite All Time Low song ever), but they know their roots, and maybe we’ll get to hear “Noel” a few more times.

“Matt Squire’s wife came up with the idea for the name, she said ‘It kind of seems like everything you guys do are sort of questionable at times, morally and ethically… but it works for you.’” “So Wrong, It’s Right” does fit All Time Low’s persona well, and they say they tried to incorporate everything they did involving the album around that title. Unfortunately it also spawned “So Wrong, It’s _________” myspace names for the last month, but I guess we can live with that.

Alex’s favorite bands are Blink 182 & Jimmy Eat World, so obviously they listen to them on the road, in addition, when I asked I got a lot of friend promoting, Paramore, The Starting Line.” Oh and randomly enough… Kanye West. “If our album doesn’t outsell 50 & Kanye… combined we’re actually going to become a folk band…”

“It smells like ass back here,” Rian chimes in. Jack and Rian sat in the back reading the two newest issues of the Scene Trash, and eating the snacks I had just given them. Zack sat on the floor with his cell phone in hand, texting away. Matt Flyzik, their tour manager and almost as well known as the band itself from his days in Underscore, sat in the front seat, throwing out a few words here & there.

“Do you guys keep up with the locals back home?” “We try as much as we can.” Jack pulls out our new compilation I had handed them earlier in the day, and they asked who was doing well in the area and I could tell they really were curious to know. I dropped the usual names, and through out a few more they should check out, they even thought about heading out to a few shows when they get back home.

At the end of the interview we sat around for a while and laughed at all the categories they won in the Scene Trash Awards, from most overrated to best looking to best vocalist. I’m proud to say these boys are from Baltimore, and haven’t let the fame go to their head. They’re still the boys you knew and loved when you spent your weekends sober at churches. Oh and if you didn’t know them, then they’re the type of boys you want to know, and not because they’re “famous” or “hot,” (don’t get me wrong they are both of those things) but because they’re fun, young, “zesty” (their words not mine), and they don’t take themselves too seriously.

“Any chance of moving up to a major label?” “We’ll see.”

source: http://scenetrash.com/Interviews/AllTimeLow.php

In the last All Time Low review, a user by the name of blacky646 commented under the negatively-scored panning by Anchors, saying (edited for your viewing pleasure): “I think it’s time you guys let younger people review pop-punk. Leave youth music alone.” So here I am, the “younger people” and it’s only gonna get worse, blacky.

So my good ol’ hometown heroes have cooked up another uninspired disc devoid of any authenticity with It’s So Wrong, It’s Right, and frankly, won’t get more than a “well, it’s catchy” from me.

But to the point: This band is made for teenage girls. I mean, check the totally sweet lead-off track, “This Is How We Do,” with its cute gang vocals and edgy-as-fuck lyrics like, “Boys, raise your glasses / Girls, shake those…” Was he going to say “asses”? Wow… these guys ROOL! I’m going to post those on my MySpace right now, matter of fact.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Oh, no, sir! After countless tracks of the same song, we get to the band’s second single, “Dear Maria,” with more “cute” girl/alcohol references. Around this time of listening, All Time Low successfully removed all the remaining endearing qualities of the genre. Is this really what pop-punk is like now? €˜Cause if it is, you can count me out; I’d rather listen to Tom Delonge sing me a cappella renditions of Good Charlotte songs.

Being from Maryland and a sexy teenager, I constantly had this band shoved down my throat. But now this is my liberation. So to all you Marylanders: I do not like this band.

I feel so much better now.

author: mikexdude

source: https://www.punknews.org/review/7600/all-time-low-so-wrong-its-right

Every summer Warped Tour rolls into town with it’s cast of merrymaking, music and shenanigans.  For a music fan, it’s an all you can eat buffet of your favorite bands melting your faces off with their rock, metal, ska, pop, crowd-surfing goodness, call it what you will brand of music.  Warped Tour has turned into more than just a music festival, it is now it’s own subculture with the bands on the tour making up their own self-sufficient community that seems to takes care of each other in the true sense of brotherhood (AND the occasional sisterhood!).  It’s a lesson that could be learned by a lot of us about doing the things we do for the love of it, rather than for the paycheck.

author: Stacie Caddick Dowty


This year we spent a whirlwind day at Warped Tour in Mansfield, MA catching up with bands, watching a lot of great music, and interviewing as many bands as we could between the tornado warnings and torrential downpours.  In part 1 of our multi part Warped Tour coverage we bring you the comedic genius of Alex and Jack from All Time Low and We The Kings.

What’s it like to be thrown into the music industry at such a young age?  (Touring with guys that are 5-10 years older than you, learning what is legit in the industry and what isn’t…)

Alex:  At first it’s a little bit overwhelming.  I think as time as gone on, over the past two years, it’s become a little more normal for labels to snag bands when they are younger.  I think there a lot of bands our age or even younger that are getting signed, and getting put on the road immediately after high school just like us.  I think it’s going to become more of a regular thing, cause I think the sooner your start the better you are going to be at that prime time, when it’s time to actually go to that next level.
Jack:  We’ve been dealing with the industry a lot, because we started our band like five years ago, and we got signed like three years into it.  So we got in pretty early.
Alex:  Definitely.
Jack:  Exactly.
Alex:  What he said…

I see that you are currently involved in a charity event, with an autographed guitar to benefit “More Than A Zodiac Sign” which benefits the American Cancer Society.  What are some of your other favorite charity organizations that you are proud to be involved in and why?

Alex:  One of the organizations that we’ve tried to have an affiliation with is “Keep A Breast”, because we really value breasts.

I bet you do!

Alex:  …and we want as many people as possible, to keep them.
Jack:  Also, To Write Love On Her Arms.
Alex:  Yes To Write Love On Her Arms is another one.  Invisible Children.  It’s really cool being back on Warped Tour now, because a lot of these organizations we met on the tour last year.  That is how we got to know these people and what they are all about, so it’s cool to be back out here and support them with the knowledge of what they do.

What are you thoughts on cell-certs?  (Fans calling fans that can’t attend shows.)

Alex:  That’s awesome!  It’s bad ass!
Jack:  That happens?
Alex:  The craziest thing now is that you can do the video chat on some phones!  People are video taping the band playing and it’s going live to this other person.  It’s definitely a new age!

I’ve been a part of one that was being broadcast over Yahoo chat, and we had people listening in Sweden and India.

Jack:  No more talking shit about Sweden or India…
Alex:  We have to watch our mouths now…

Adam Lavine has said that every band has an attention whore (someone has to be!).  Who in the band fits this description?

Alex:  It’s me.

That’s you?

Alex:  Yeah, no doubt!
Jack:  I love Maroon 5!

I see you guys are pranksters…

Jack:  More like gangsters!  Arghhhhhh….chika chika yeah!

What are some of the best pranks you have pulled, or had pulled on you, on tour?

Alex:  We killed We The Kings but they were resurrected.

Jack:  That was a funny prank.

Um, I was gonna say I just talked to them!

Jack:  We were like ‘Ha, now you’re dead!’

Alex:  We went on stage for the last song and just cut all their heads off.

Jack:  Everyone was like “Oh My God!” – then a few seconds later their heads came back on.
Alex:  Someone shit on our van.  It was our old merch guy, and it was his last day working for us.  So to commemorate the occassion he took a shit.
Jack:  So we killed him and his family.
Alex:  We beheaded him too, but they weren’t resurrected, we left them.

Being that you guys never yourselves too seriously…

Jack:  What makes you say that?  How dare you!

What about fanfiction scares you?

(Ed. Note – Q:  Wtf is fanfiction?  A:  Fanfiction is Fans writing fiction about band members getting in on with other fans or bands.  That’s the official Websters Dictionary definition at least.)

Jack:  Ooohhh…
Alex:  It’s not so much that it scares me.  It’s that it arouses me to the point that I question my own sexuality.  I’ve has sex with so many other people in bands that it scares me.
Jack:  It’s awkward.  Like “Hey Travis” from We The Kings, “How you doing man?” Uhhhh…
Alex:  I’ve fucked Panic At The Disco, I’ve fucked Cobra Starship, I’ve fucked Fall Our Boy…
Jack:  So now when we meet those people it’s awkward.
Alex:  It’s like so… I’ve fucked you in theory, then their weirded out and it’s awkward for the rest of the day.

Was anyone else besides Rian a High School marching band guy?

Alex:  He was in the middle school band.  He played the idiot.  Rian was like Lead Snare.  He was bad ass!  Rian was Nick Cannon!
Jack:  Nick Cannon is hilarious!

Now that you’ve been touring bigger venues over the past year, hitting Warped this summer, do you still go home and practice in the basement?

Alex:  No!  Mostly because we were eating all the food in our parents houses and they were like “Please just get the fuck out!” No, I think the big thing is that we tour constantly enough now that practice is just the first couple days of tour.  You just kinda get into it and get into the swing of things.  Once you’ve done it that many times, you really don’t forget it.
Jack:  When you are as good as us, you don’t really need practice.
Alex:  I once learned to play Eruption with a blindfold on and no fingers.  Eruption is an Eddie Van Halen solo for those of you who don’t know.  It wails!
Jack:  I need to shave my pubes.

Where did THAT come from?  That was random!

Jack:  sorry…

I read that as youngsters you were into hip hop and top 40 stuff like Backstreet Boys, is that true?  What turned you into the direction of playing pop-punk?

Alex:  Jack turned me in that direction.
Jack:  Yeah I was into Top 40 and Blink-182 was in the Top 40 at the time.  I got Alex into Blink by…
Alex:  Smoke…
Jack:  I got Alex into Blink by having him listen to the “Mark, Tom and Travis Show” which is their live CD.  After that he was like “Wow, that’s the best band ever!” and we were like “Let’s start a band like that!” and we were like “ok!”
Alex:  That is exactly how it happened.  Yeah, before we hit puberty our voices were really…now we all sound like Barry White.
Jack:  Hey baby.

Do you have any special plans while you are on Warped to hobnob/chin wag with anyone in particular?  Or is there any particular band you are excited to see perform?

Alex:  What?!

Hobnob and chin wag…

Alex:  I’m not going to hobnob it with anyone!  What are you saying Madame?!  I’m going to hobnob the shit out of Gym Class Heros.
Jack:  Gym Class, Cobra, We The Kings, Every Avenue, The Audition, Just Surrender *big exaggerated deep breath* Set Your Goals… I think that’s it.
Alex:  I want to kiss Katy Perry!

Me too!

Jack:  That’s a very bold statement sir, because Travis is dating her, so we may want to lay low.
Alex:  I want to kiss Travis as well.

In closing we’re making a summer mixtape..

Alex:  a laser… Magma… Mix Tape…

..from the bands on Warped, what’s one song from any band on the tour that you think should be included?

Alex:  Is Tyga on Warped Tour?
Jack:  No.
Alex:  Damn because I was going to say Coconut Juice would be a great summer song.  Lets go with Skyway Avenue by We The Kings.

Do you have any particular song you would like to include my friend?

Jack:  No… Damn it!  I’m really bad off the top of my head.  Cobra Starship!  Paparazzi!

(Alex and Jack bust out into song, singing Paparazzi.)

source: http://theywillrockyou.com/2008/07/warped-tour-exclusive-part-i-all-time-low-we-the-kings/

author: David Peisner


In the back of a tour bus parked outside Amos’ Southend Music Hall in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early October, All Time Low singer Alex Gaskarth sits barefoot, his knees pulled almost to his chest, his nose and mouth buried deeply in a Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler. Between deep breaths from the small humidifier, he works his voice up and down a scale.

“Zoo zoo zoo zoo zooooo zooooo.” Deep breath.

Gaskarth usually starts warming up his voice an hour before stepping onstage, slowly working it from the lower range he speaks in to the higher range he sings in. Today, he’s struggling.

“Aaaah-ooooooh-aaaah.”

He coughs, then blows his nose. “Shit, it’s so breathy. It’s fatigue. I’ve been partying too hard.”

Voice problems notwithstanding, Gaskarth is doing all right. Ten days ago, his band released their second album — think Jimmy Eat World if they’d just graduated high school — which sold nearly 15,000 copies its first week, an impressive number for a bunch of 19-year-olds on a midsize indie label like Hopeless Records. Outside the venue two hours ago, he was mobbed by teen girls requesting photos, autographs, hugs, and in one case, a bracelet off his wrist. And in 20 minutes he’ll take the stage — third on a four-band bill that includes like-minded outfits Boys Like Girls, the Audition, and We the Kings — to the ear-piercing squeals of those same girls. When he does, he’ll sound considerably raspier than he does on record, but even those who’ve never heard his band before will likely recognize Gaskarth’s highpitched keen. While it would be unfair to accuse each of tonight’s singers of sounding identical, they all traffic in a vocal style that’s become a sort of emo and pop-punk membership card.

“There’s this connotation with pop punk that the vocalists are often whiny and monotone,” Gaskarth said over dinner hours earlier. “[Producers] push the vocals a lot and compress them, so it sounds as if it was lo-fi. People just get used to hearing it.”

An incomplete list of bands whose singers can be categorized as purveyors of “emo voice” would include Fall Out Boy, Plain White T’s, the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Hawthorne Heights, Motion City Soundtrack, the All-American Rejects, Yellowcard, the Starting Line, Cobra Starship, and Permanent Me. Surf MySpace’s emo pages and the sound is inescapable.

And at a time when nobody is supposed to be buying music, Fall Out Boy have sold more than four million albums, the All-American Rejects around three million, Yellowcard more than two million, and both Plain White T’s and the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ most recent releases will likely go platinum. More important perhaps, even the bands without major-label marketing dollars are selling well: Besides All Time Low’s recent release, Hawthorne Heights’ two Victory Records albums have sold 1.5 million copies, and Motion City Soundtrack’s Even If It Kills Me debuted at No. 16, moving 33,000 copies its first week. Not since alt rock was a post-grunge playground dominated by the likes of Bush, Creed, Silverchair, Live, Candlebox, and 3 Doors Down have so many bands become so successful by sounding so much alike.

“Every ten years in rock, there’s a new voice that defines the next generation,” says Matt Squire, who coproduced All Time Low’s latest and has worked on albums by Boys Like Girls, Permanent Me, and Panic! At the Disco. “When I was growing up, it was the grunge thing — that man voice that started with Eddie Vedder and Alice in Chains. This latest generation has a very distinct style. For me, there’s a lot of bounce and attitude in it.”

Daniel Levitin is a former producer and recording engineer who is now a cognitive scientist and author of the book This Is Your Brain on Music, which examines humans’ psychological and physiological reactions to music. He points out that there’s a good reason this has become the genre’s dominant style. “When a singer is singing near the top of his range, adrenaline starts pumping, the body and vocal chords tense up, and that raises the pitch,” he says. “This signals an intensity and an investment in the material you don’t get in the lower ranges. The brain is attuned to the strain that comes with singing at the top of your range and senses emotional urgency, which is perfect for emo.”

But there’s a sense within the community that emo voice is wearing out its welcome. “Too many singers want to sound as sweet and innocent as possible,” says the Starting Line’s Kenny Vasoli. “People are less aggressive in this music than they should be, considering it came from punk rock. You don’t hear a lot of guys in the emo scene with dark, smoky, soulful voices.”

Some observers, like producer Tim O’Heir, who has worked with the All-American Rejects, the Starting Line, and Say Anything, are even more fed up. “It’s a lack of style,” he says. “It doesn’t seem like a lot of these people actually grew up wanting to be rock singers. We don’t have many Jaggers and Bowies. Nobody wants to be ostentatious; they want to keep it humble. The rock singer of yesterday is not the rock star of today.”

Most genre tags are problematic ways of classifying music, but few have been the source of such near-universal derision as emo, short for emotional hardcore. Those credited as its earliest practitioners, from the mid-’80s to early ’90s — Rites of Spring, Embrace, Jawbox, Jawbreaker — accepted the designation grudgingly at best but were spiritually united in their mission to bring a sense of melody and lyrical sensitivity to hardcore punk. The singers in this first wave didn’t adhere to a single style or come off as particularly whiny. But with the bands that followed — notably Sunny Day Real Estate, the Promise Ring, Lifetime, and the Get Up Kids — the general contours of what is now recognized as emo voice began to take shape.

Interestingly, though, in a poll of 17 emo or poppunk singers (see sidebar), those pioneering bands were rarely mentioned as particularly influential. Instead, the touchstones were more recent: Jimmy Eat World’s Jim Adkins, Saves the Day’s Chris Conley, Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara, New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik, and especially blink-182’s Tom DeLonge. “This era we’re in is really when all the kids who were influenced by blink now have their own bands,” says DeLonge, whose new group, Angels & Airwaves, recently released their sophomore album. “I hear the influences in the way they sing.”

As O’Heir sees it, “blink really opened the door for this same-sounding vocal thing where you adhere stringently to the melody. Fall Out Boy is a prime example. [Patrick Stump] is a phenomenal talent, but he doesn’t stray from the notes he writes.”

On Fall Out Boy’s early material, Stump’s voice is decent but undistinguished. However, on their more recent work, particularly this year’s Infinity on High, his voice is fuller and at times practically soulful, suggesting that emo voice could be as much a product of youth and inexperience as anything else. “The thing is, most of us probably never had vocal lessons and don’t know how to sing technically,” Stump says. “But we want to do something melodic and clean. Those two things are at odds with each other; that makes for the nasally quality. But I also remember emulating bands like NOFX and the Sex Pistols who sang out of their noses.”

Max Bemis, frontman for Say Anything, whose pointedly titled recent album, In Defense of the Genre, features cameos by Conley, Lazzara, Pundik, Vasoli, and Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba, says he went through an evolution similar to Stump’s. “When I was 17, I’d try to ape Chris [Conley] all the time,” he says. “But I think I’ve developed my own voice. Touring has a lot to do with it — learning how to use the microphone as an instrument.”

Even Conley admits, “Back in the day, I’d sing as high as I possibly could, because I didn’t know how to get my emotions out. As I grew older, I didn’t have to strain like that — I was more willing to let those emotions come out gently. The strained vocal is something high school kids that don’t fit in might identify with, because it makes them feel like someone is feeling their pain.”

O’Heir, for one, finds the pervasive influence of singers like Conley distressing. “Saves the Day: Here’s an adult who sings like he’s in sixth grade,” he says. “Maybe it’s a generational thing, because I like wit, sex, and violence in vocalists — Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones.” O’Heir, who’s 44, contends that this new generation of rock singers grew up watching and listening to industry-assembled pop stars, which has resulted in tamer, less ambitious performers. “Rock is a manufactured thing today, and the fans know it. That’s what they grew up with.”

Connecting this vocal style to prefab pop is somewhat harsh — most of these bands write their own songs, play their own instruments, and sprang up organically — but looking at the fan base, Levitin sees a link, too. “The whole idea is to make music that would be nonthreatening to 14-year-old girls,” he says. “You see this all the way back to teen idols like Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, and Leif Garrett, as well as New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys. All these guys don’t sound like they’re going to drag you by the hair into some seedy motel room and have their way with you.”

But Bemis suggests there’s a generational divide at work here, and that those who only hear emo voice as hypersensitive and meek are likely on the wrong side of it. “A lot of people that come from the old school don’t get it,” he says. “They’re so used to metal bands or early hardcore — this is a reaction to that. You don’t have to be some kind of bro to get threatening. Kids with high, girly voices can sing just as passionately with anger.”

A few nights before All Time Low’s Charlotte show, Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba is playing solo in Atlanta. At 32, Carrabba is a relative emo senior citizen. About 30 minutes into the set, he steps to the mic between songs and looks out at the crowd.

“Ian MacKaye is still alive, despite the Internet rumors today,” he says. MacKaye, of course, was the singer/guitarist of Embrace and Fugazi, and the voice of Minor Threat. But the mention of his name tonight is met with several seconds of silence, followed by a lone voice that calls out: “Who’s Ian MacKaye?”

” ‘Who’s Ian MacKaye?’ ” Carrabba says incredulously. “You’ve got to know why you like what you like,” he continues, shaking his head. “Never mind. I’ll blog about it.”

The absence of historical perspective is hardly unique to Dashboard fans. Every generation inevitably complains that the kids today just don’t understand what good music is, don’t respect their trailblazing elders, blah blah blah. But O’Heir maintains that in emo, this ignorance is a real factor in what he sees as the genre’s key weakness. “I just worked with a young band, and their music history starts with the Chili Peppers,” he says. “They will not go back and listen to a great singer, like a Bowie, because it sounds old and weird to them.”

John Janick, founder of Fueled by Ramen, the label that’s home to Fall Out Boy, Cobra Starship, and Cute Is What We Aim For, admits that many of these new vocalists do seem to be shaped more directly by their peers. “The guys in all of our bands grew up in this style of music, going to shows all the time,” he says. “So they’ve got to be influenced.”

In this way, emo voice’s popularity has become exponentially self-perpetuating. Lou Giordano, a 50-year-old indie-rock fixture whose emo production credits (Plain White T’s, Taking Back Sunday, Sunny Day Real Estate) top a long career working on records by Mission of Burma, Hüsker Dü, and the Lemonheads, notes that “until a few people broke the ice, people with higher voices and a nasally, reedy sound might not have even had the courage to get up and sing.” He attributes emo voice’s current prominence to the simple fact that “it’s easier to sing up high. You can put your full volume into it really easily. People have trouble singing in the low register because they’re not trained singers.”

Giordano has also noticed a uniformity in the way this new crop of singers is being produced. “There are definitely some unspoken rules about how to present the vocals,” he says. “The breathing is in there, and the vocals are very dry, with not a lot of effects, reverb, or delay.” Like Gaskarth, he also notes that the vocals are very “compressed,” which essentially means the natural peaks and valleys in the volume of a singer’s performance are squished together to make it sound more consistent. Dan Levitin says that the thin vocals on some of these records often seem to be the result of engineers taking some of the bottom end out of the voices to keep them from getting buried behind the guitars and snare drum.

O’Heir believes there’s something more insidious at work. “Fewer and fewer bands are making records in studios today because record companies don’t have any money to pay professionals to make records,” he says. “So you’re not using great microphones that give the vocals warmth, presence, and depth. You’re using the microphones you can afford at Guitar Center to plug into your FireWire device. All the indie labels have stopped using studios and producers. They’re like, ‘Here’s a couple thousand bucks. Buy yourself a laptop and make your record.’ “

Despite the industry’s financial woes, easy access to cheap technology means more bands are able to record, and online resources like MySpace and PureVolume have made it easier for them to get heard. “Sometimes, you have groups getting signed before the singer has a chance to tour and develop his voice,” says Craig Aaronson, senior vice president of A&R at Warner Bros. “I think people just sing what they know.”

As the Starting Line’s Vasoli puts it, “Bands like Hawthorne Heights are singing real high and real safely, and then other bands see how successful that band is and hop on the train.”

All the while, the industry continues to do what it always does — chase after whatever’s selling. “A couple years ago, when the music was taking off, you could see major labels scrambling to sign anything with a high voice,” says Vasoli. As part of a deal between their label, Drive-Thru, and MCA/Geffen, the Starting Line’s first two albums were released by the major. “They were all about signing the next New Found Glory or blink-182.”

Richard Reines, cofounder of Drive-Thru, says that at the time MCA/Geffen’s thinking was myopic. “We signed Something Corporate, a piano-rock band, and Geffen was trying to make them into a junior blink.” Reines says he’s disgusted by the industry’s follow-the- leader mentality and that, in the past few years, he has severed ties with MCA/Geffen and steered Drive-Thru away from not only this singing style but emo and pop punk in general.

“Look at Boys Like Girls,” Reines says. “[Martin Johnson] has that voice, he has the image, and it gets big. It’s Jessica Simpson for the alternative scene.”

Back at Amos’ Southend, All Time Low are backstage a few minutes prior to their set. As blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” blares from the PA, the crowd out front begins singing along, and Gaskarth shakes his head: “Maybe we should just go out and play blink songs.”

But when they kick off with “Dear Maria, Count Me In,” those assembled sing it right back to them. As Gaskarth struggles to reach the high notes, anyone looking to dismiss emo voice as the sound of teen idols will have plenty of ammunition: Of the 800 or so fans in the cavernous club, probably three-quarters are girls between the ages of 13 and 20.

But such a dismissal misses the point. This vocal style isn’t any less authentic simply because it’s beloved of girls. For those frustrated that every other rock singer these days sounds like Tom DeLonge or Jim Adkins, it’s important to remember that compelling vocalists aren’t usually born, they’re made. “The singers that will shine are the ones that will grow beyond this pocket,” Gaskarth said earlier. “Like Fall Out Boy — Patrick started out very much in the niche. Now he’s done something completely different.

“We’re in that pocket now,” he continues. “We’re a pop-punk band; we’re not trying to be anything else. But we’re on our first album and there’s time for us to grow.”

To the audience, though, Gaskarth’s vocal limitations don’t sound like limitations at all. As Tom DeLonge puts it: “Do you want to listen to some 37-year-old guy who sings perfect opera, or do you want a guy who sounds like he’s literally hanging out with you and your friends, singing about shit that you would do?”

For tonight, anyway, the answer to that question is abundantly clear.

source: https://www.spin.com/2007/11/whine-times/

Breathing on the heals of the Plain White T’s meteoric rise into mainstream is Baltimore, Maryland’s pop punk quartet All Time Low, whose latest album So Wrong, It’s Right on Hopeless Records was produced by Matt Squire (Receiving End Of Sirens, Panic! At The Disco) and Paul Leavitt. The band has made strides in their Sugarcult-dipped punk and their Cartel-coated emo-rock. Their music has reflections of a number of power punk bands before them and shows a huge amount of youthful energy that a contemporary generation of rock fans can latch onto and relate to immediately. Like the energetic soft-punk bands who inspired All Time Low to play music, the foursome are no doubt inspiring a new generation of young musicians to make music in the pop punk field.

The fat riffs from guitarists Jack Barakat and lead singer Alex Gaskarth deliver bold dynamics on numbers like “This Is How We Do” and “Let It Roll” while the rhythm section of bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson inject heady surges into the movements. Tracks like “The Beach” and “Dear Maria” deliver juicy guitar segments and vocal splurges like Taking Back Sunday as “Shameless” and “Vegas” produce a catchy fun rock buoyancy and a mainstream-punk buzz with shadows of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Their songs “Six Feet Under The Stars” and “Come One, Come All” have engaging rhythmic action while “Remembering Sunday” integrates gentle acoustic-rock tones with a punk-rock arsenal of thick guitar flourishes and stocky drumbeats. The music is fat and jumps with a fervid buzz, totally designed for the audiences at the Vans Warped Tour.

With so many pop punk bands to choose from, it is hard to differentiate All Time Low’s sound from the others, though their album is definitely enjoyable and has a finesse for accruing great mounds of kinetic energy. All Time Low’s album is music that is relevant to today’s generation of rock fans. I can’t say that any of the tunes are destined to become a classic in the near future, but the songs are a batch of lively rock anthems for today’s generation. The songs give immediate gratification and have lasting power for as long as pop punk is the dominant flavor of rock music.

author: Susan Frances

source: http://www.hybridmagazine.com/reviews/1007/alltimelow.shtml