The last year or so has been one of the biggest in All Time Low’s ten year career. With a full main-stage stint on the Vans Warped Tour, a new album after a move back home to indie label Hopeless – following a series of hiccups on major label Interscope – and recently being announced to play 2013’s Soundwave Festival, the near future looks equally as exciting for the Baltimore pop-punk four piece. Vocalist and guitarist Alex Gaskarth chatted to Kill Your Stereo about the above and being on the same page as Metallica.
Hey Alex, how’s it going?
Really good thanks!
Awesome. Now you guys are playing Soundwave in a couple of months and as far as I know you guys actually requested to play. Any truth to that?
Yeah we did. It’s a funny story actually. We weren’t on the festival but we saw the line up being announced and thought it was incredible and that we just have to play. We’d been having discussions about when and how we’d next get to Australia and after we saw the bill it made perfect sense. We have a really good relationship with AJ so Jack our guitarist just kinda tweeted at him saying put us on and he just said “alright”.
That must be pretty cool, I mean Metallica actually did the same and asked AJ to play the festival. So you guys have reached that level where you can just make demands now…
Oh yeah we’re on the same page as Metallica (laughs) we get that quite a bit…
Like you said this year has an amazing line up with some legendary bands that myself and I’m sure many others grew up listening to such as Metallica and Blink-182. Is there anyone playing who had an impact on you that you really want to check out?
The one band that I listened to as a kid that I really want to see would have to be The Offspring. We recently were over in Japan with them and just from there you forget how many songs they have that impact you when you’re growing up. And they still put on such a great show, they bring it. So yeah, really keen to watch them.
It’s not your first time playing Soundwave and you’ve also played the Counter Revolution spin-off festival as well. What keeps bringing you back to play shows like that?
Festivals are a really good way to get out there, I mean it’s such a long way to travel. We’ve only been there a couple of times, I think this will be our fifth time? We just think it’s nice to come over with other bands like us who will bring out a crowd that will appreciate our music and that of our peers – they’re the people you want to play to. The festivals are really fun, but we also think that it’s getting to the point where we want to headline our own shows too where possible.
Is there anything like a headline show in the works at the moment? I haven’t seen you on a side show yet…
I think almost all of our times there have been supports on sidewaves. We were trying to sort out a support slot with Blink though, but I think they already had prior commitments. We don’t want to just sit around and do nothing in between festival shows so we’ll work on our own [headlining] show and see what we come up with.
Now you’ve recently put out a new album “Don’t Panic” which from what I’ve seen has been given the thumbs up by both critics and fans, how have you found the reception?
Oh thanks man, yeah the reception for the new album has been incredible. We came into this one with something to prove after the varied success of our last album; it was time to show our fans, and others, what we do best and that we don’t need the backing of a major label.
Speaking of the major label and that album “Dirty Work”, you had a lot of producers and contributors to the songwriting of that album. Was that something you were comfortable with or was it kind of like they were looking to take control to make top 40 hits?
I’m not really sure how it was perceived by everyone, but it definitely wasn’t that we were force-fed or anything. We’d used that approach before on “Nothing Personal” and it worked out previously and felt like the right move. I guess it turned out that that method had run its course with us. The real problems arose because you’d be working on something and someone would say “oh this needs to be remixed, that needs to be remastered, you need another producer to work on this song” – that major label attitude – but I was thinking “it feels good to us, why are we doing this?” Stuff like that is what really hurt the release of the album, we thought everything was ready to go, hype had been built up and we were ready to start the cycle of that album but there was always something that needed fixing and it gets to the point where people are asking “when is it coming out?” but you just don’t know because it was out of our control. It’s heartbreaking you know? You spend that whole year of your life putting it together but someone else changes things. That’s what broke the deal for us.
You’re back on an indie label now, Hopeless Records where you put out “So Wrong It’s Right” and “Nothing Personal”, do you feel back at home and in control now?
From a business standpoint we’ve always been hands on ourselves where we can be. When we re-signed with Hopeless there were the same staff there as when we started there in 2006 so it was like going back to what we already had before – as opposed to when we were on Interscope there was a lot of change; there were two different A&Rs, three different marketing guys and two different heads of staff, it was really unstable. So those experiences brought us back to people we’re familiar with and if anyone is going to get it, it’s them. Basically we’re back with our family.
Did you feel a sense of freedom on the new album then? And what was the process like for “Don’t Panic”, who worked on the album with you?
Well our producer we chose actually worked on five songs on Dirty Work, and they are five of our best songs in my opinion. That’s Mike Green, he’s worked with some amazing bands like Paramore and Set Your Goals, and he’s a guy who really understood our band. Neil Avron mixed it and as far as I’m concerned he can do no wrong; he’s mixed and produced some of our favourite records so putting those two together it was perfect.
You’re coming up to your ten year anniversary as a band which is a pretty impressive achievement, particularly for a band that started in high school and keeping the same line up throughout. How have you guys managed to survive and have such longevity without straying too far from how you set out?
We’ve just surrounded ourselves with good people. There’s always help when we need it so it’s never overwhelming. Creatively we’ve always been fine and touring – which is the most important part – we’ve just got really great relationships. All of us grew up together, we’re from the same town and we’ve always had the same goal. They’re not your friends they’re your family; we’re brothers. Whenever there’s tension or angst… it’s just like sibling angst, it’s shit you work out. It’s like it’s with your family so you work through it.
A few bands have celebrated anniversaries lately. At Soundwave a couple of years ago Millencolin were celebrating ten years since “Pennybridge Pioneers” and New Found Glory have done special ten year tours for their self-titled album. Do you guys have anything like that lined up for the future to mark the occasion?
I think we will do something, although it’s ten years of the band forming rather than any of our releases. Actually, we put out an album called “The Party Scene” which only had 2000 copies pressed – I think the anniversary for that will be 2013 or 2014 so a re-issue is something I’d love to do. A lot of those songs are floating around the internet but I think a lot of people would have never heard them. I mean, we think a lot of those songs sound bad (laughs) but it’d be interesting and I think we’ll work around that.
Thanks for your time Alex, we’re all looking forward to catching you guys at Soundwave in February.
Thank you! Take care and come say hi.