It’s been over a decade since All Time Low set off on their journey to become the pop punk kingpins that they are today. With their new LP ‘Future Hearts’ having just dropped, the charismatic outfit aren’t showing any signs of slowing down their game. We caught up with guitarist Jack Barakat to chat about the new record, a return to Australia and his career prospects as a cheerleader.
Hey Jack, it’s Peyton from Killyourstereo. Thanks for doing the interview for us today.
Yeah, no worries.
How are you guys?
Good! We have like three days off, so we’re just kinda enjoying it.
Fair enough. ‘Future Hearts’ is streaming pretty much everywhere now – have you guys been scoping the reaction?
It’s an album that we’ve been really involved with and kind of waiting to get out, eager to release, so now that it’s out we’re interested to see what everyone says.
It was an interesting decision for you guys to stream it on Australia’s iTunes First Play initially.
Yeah, we’ve kind of built up a really good relationship with iTunes. We have a younger fanbase, we consider ourselves mostly like a digital band, so we have a good relationship with iTunes and we were really happy to be able to do it on there. Obviously it was going to come out in Australia, because everything does first. The Australian fanbase was like our first [opportunity] to see the reactions of people because they heard it first.
Yeah, it was cool for Australians to have it because we sometimes get things delayed.
This is your sixth studio album; do you feel like you’ve actually become more mature in your sound and did you want to reflect that on the album?
I do think that we’ve become more mature in the fact that the songs are…I think we’ve become better songwriters every album. I don’t necessarily think the lyrics are more mature. Just depending on the song, you know, there are some songs that are about us being much younger and growing up. I do think it’s sometimes really mature but also that there are some things that have stayed the same throughout the years which I think makes it special and makes it unique.
I guess on that note of maturity, you guys are all adults now, so who are the ‘Kids In the Dark’ on your new single?
There’s a lot of songs on the album, from a lyrical standpoint, I have some problems answering questions because Alex [Gaskarth, vocals] writes all the lyrics, but I do know that a lot of songs on the album are from the perspective of when we were younger and we were in high school and about to…become adults so I do think that in that sense everyone can connect with it just because we’ve all been there in our lives. We’ve all kind of been to places where we need help or we feel like we’re alone.
That video was very cool; are you planning any others for the album?
Yeah, I’ve got to assume that we’re gonna do a couple more. We’ve definitely had a couple of discussions about wanting to really focus in on the music videos for this album and make sure they’re all pretty awesome. Not to say we didn’t do that before but we’re definitely taking our time with them this time and making sure we love every aspect of the videos.
The ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ video with the zombies was pretty rad.
You’re welcome. Have you guys tied the knot on the Slappy Joe’s Burgers concept for that clip?
Yeah, yeah, that was just purely for that video. Maybe we’ll bring it back at some point, but it was just kind of like a little fun thing to tease people with and kind of [to] get people talking and no one had any idea what it was. It was just funny to see people react to something that had nothing to do with the actual song, but it turned out to be a funny little teaser.
Maybe one day you can sell food at the merch stands.
Yeah! It’s kind of getting me hungry thinking about it.
Moving on, were there any major struggles recording this album, like tough tracks to finish up?
Yeah. There are always struggles. I do think that this album had more struggles than we had in the last couple because we had a new producer and you know, we loved working with [John] Feldmann and the product was obviously great. We loved that record but that was a new experience. We definitely struggled; once you have twenty songs written, you kind of struggle to figure out which ones are actually going to be on the CD. It’s always kind of a battle between ourselves, everyone has their favourites, but in the end we all agree. But yeah, it was difficult at the end, everyone wanted their favourite song on the album, so it was a little difficult.
Are you releasing the scrapped songs somewhere down the track?
Yeah, a couple of them became B-sides and deluxe songs, which is awesome because I think there are going to be three or four extra songs that aren’t on the standard one that will get released, which is always great. But yeah, there are some of them that will never see the light of day. That’s just kind of the nature of the beast.
You mentioned on Twitter that ‘Missing You’ was your favourite song off the record. I know that you don’t write the lyrics, but could you talk to me a bit about who they’re directed to? It seems like a pretty fan-based song.
Yeah, you know, ‘Missing You’ is the one that I think we can really connect with just because we hear the stories of everyone struggling with depression and self-harm and it’s something we deal with on an everyday basis. You know, listening to our fans having to go through the misery of it. I think it’s just a song that hopefully will help some people and reach out and if it provides help for even one person then the song was worth it. I honestly think it’s one of the catchiest songs that Alex has ever written. It’s probably one of my favourite songs he’s ever done in general. I’m really proud of that one, and I think it’s dynamically a really cool song, because it’s not just a typical acoustic song. It’s like an acoustic song that has an upbeat side to it. It has some sad lyrics in it but I do think overall it’s a happy song and it’s meant to bring people to a good place.
It definitely does. Do you struggle sometimes with more serious fan interactions?
I think more than anyone in the band I probably do the most, just because I’m such a goofy dude. I do have a serious side to me but it’s not really the kind of thing that I like to put out in the open very much. So I do, I don’t wanna say I struggle with the serious side, but I do sometimes not really know what to say when people say serious things to me. Honestly, I’m honoured by it, but sometimes I’m caught off guard. I’m not good at it, you know like, saying really meaningful things. So I do think that sometimes people don’t really confide in me as much as they do with Alex, you know and Rian [Dawson, drummer]. But it does make me feel good to know that we do help people. But yeah, Alex is the one that is better at giving advice.
That’s understandable. Do you think ‘Missing You’ is likely to cement its place in your live show alongside ‘Therapy’ and ‘Remembering Sunday’?
Yeah, I really do. I do think that ‘Therapy’ was written as more of a real personal song for Alex. We never intended for that song to do what it has; obviously we’re happy that it helped people but the song was therapy itself for Alex, I believe. ‘Missing You’ is kind of more of a song that we purposely wrote to help our fans and get them out of any rut that they’re in but ‘Therapy’ became that song, and I hope that ‘Missing You’ will as well.
That’s so nice. It definitely does help fans, and your fanbase is pretty awesome and dedicated as well.
Yes, yes they are indeed!
Just on your live show, now that there’s new material are there any specific songs you’re phasing out?
Yeah, I mean, it’s always difficult when you’re making a set list, especially after six albums. I think we have like eighty something songs at this point and as much as we’d love to play them all live I think there’s only so long you can play a show every night when you’re on tour for 300 days a year. It’s hard to pick favourites so we try to take into consideration the last time we played the city, what songs we played. We just want to make sure that every show is kind of a different experience for everyone and that they don’t keep getting the same show.
You guys recently played Wembley. Is there any venue that you still want to play or anything that you still want to do after that? Wembley’s pretty huge.
Yeah, Wembley was kind of the biggest thing that we’ve done as a band and I’d like to say it was a landmark. Back when we did our last DVD Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City was the biggest thing we’d done at that point. So we like to see these things as landmarks but also use them to continue to grow. We obviously want to keep playing music for the rest of our lives. It’s awesome to be able to grow from these experiences and you know, we’d love to play a venue like that in Australia. That would just be incredible. So it’s the kind of thing where Wembley was the best and we filmed it for a DVD but hopefully the next time we do a DVD will be even bigger, maybe in Australia or Japan. It’s cool to kind of have it be an event, around the world.
You guys are so well-established now that you probably could do that. Speaking of, you’re influencing bands in the way that artists like Blink-182 influenced you. For example, 5 Seconds of Summer started up with All Time Low covers on their Youtube channel. Do you ever stop and think about how formative you are for up and coming bands?
To be honest, I don’t think we still fully grasp the fact that bands see us like that. Back in the day, when we first started touring with bigger bands, Good Charlotte said that to us. Good Charlotte knew that we were obviously big fans of them, they’re from our hometown and they’re kind of one of the biggest motivators for us starting a band. They said “one day you’re gonna be that band for younger people” and we were kind of like “yeah, yeah whatever, we don’t believe you”. It still feels weird when bands say that to us – it’s awesome – but I never really think about it. I never sit at home and I’m like “5 Seconds loves us”. We consider bands like that friends now, and it’s cool and it feels good but I try not to think about that.
It’s cool, I guess, that the bands you looked up to were Good Charlotte and Blink-182, and Joel Madden and Mark Hoppus are both on your album now.
Yeah, it’s weird to think about that. I don’t think that will ever feel normal, to be like “oh yeah, Mark’s on our album”. That’s always gonna feel cool to me, it’s never gonna get old.
You know that song ‘All of This’ by Blink-182 with Robert Smith on it, the track with Mark Hoppus on your record sort of reminds me of that song.
That’s actually pretty cool because I know that when that song and album came out, Blink said “The Cure is our favourite band and we idolise them” and they were so happy to have their idol on that record, so it’s kind of a similar thing.
Everything’s coming full circle.
On another note, I was at the Soundwave show in Sydney where your set got rained out. I’ve heard there are plans to come back to Australia in the works?
Yeah, Australia is one of those places where we kind of try to come back as often as possible. We’ve been a band for eleven years and we’ve been to Australia like seven times or something. We basically try to come at least once a year. Because of what happened in Sydney, I’m sure we’ll come back sooner rather than later to try and make it up for everyone.
Cheers! Looking to the future, you co-own a bar and you have your Glamour Kills imprint. Are you planning any other business ventures?
I don’t know, to be honest. I’ve never been one to sit at home and plan these things, pre-planning all these awesome things, I just kind of hope they work out. It’d be nice to do something else, the clothing thing’s fun and the bar thing is fun, but it’d be cool to do something else. Like, I don’t even know. Maybe I’ll play sports, I wanna professionally play sports. I’m not good, though.
What sport would you play?
I’d be a professional cheerleader, probably.
Cool! Like for the Baltimore Ravens?
Yeah, probably the Ravens, or maybe if you pick a team for me I’ll come and do it in Australia.
I’m up for that, like a rugby league team or something?
Yeah, pick your favourite team, I’m down.
Cool, I’ll see you next time you come to Australia; I’ll get you a uniform.
(Laughs). Thank you.
You’re welcome. Do you DJ at your bar?
Sometimes I do, not really well. I just kind of go up there and play Taylor Swift songs or something. Alex is a better DJ than me.
Just to wrap up the interview, could you tell me your most anticipated record for this year and your favourite album right now?
Most anticipated, um…
Apart from yours.
Currently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Lana Del Rey and I heard she might be doing a new album this year, so that’d be cool. I would really like to hear Blink do an album with Matt Skiba, I don’t know if they would do that but now that they’re playing shows and everything it’d be really cool to hear what they would come up with.
That would be rad, that would be like a supergroup record.
It’d be awesome. I am excited for new 5 Seconds, I don’t know if that’ll come out this year or next year but I do know they’re working on songs.
Do you have a favourite Lana Del Rey song? I love her.
She’s the best! It’s really hard for me to pick a favourite, but she has this song called ‘Shades of Cool’ that sounds like a James Bond theme song.
I get that! Thanks for doing the interview Jack, congratulations on the record.
‘Future Hearts’ is out now via Hopeless Records.