All Time Low popped by last week for a fleeting visit to play an unforgettable headline show at Auckland’s Powerstation. I got to have a chat with them and found out that on top of being one of the best bands in the world (I acknowledge my bias), they’re also just really cool dudes. Following a brief discussion about how much jet lag sucks, and how they were all “pretty much dead”, we got onto more important topics, such as their upcoming album Last Young Renegade, how completely useless carrier pigeons are, and back up plans for if their rain soaked gear didn’t work at the show that evening.
So, congratulations on signing with Fueled By Ramen!
All: Thank you!
Yasmin: Obviously you kept that quiet for quite a while, what made you decide to do that?
Alex Gaskarth: Uh, we sort of just felt like it was the right move, we were still technically signed to Hopeless, well not, signed to Hopeless, but we were finishing things up with Hopeless Records while we were working on the deal with Fueled By Ramen so we just had things that we were still promoting, like our last record and our DVD that came out and stuff on an older label. So we just felt like announcing a new label while still promoting stuff on an old label would just get confusing for people, so yeah. We just decided to do all that stuff in secret, and then announce it once there was a little space.
Rian Dawson: And also the labels, it was really cool cause during that time, the labels, during that time period, were actually working together.
Alex: Oh yeah, no, it was awesome, it was such a smooth transition.
And so you’ve got quite a new sound with this new record, had you already decided to go down this path sonically before you decided to sign with Fueled By Ramen, or was that kind of as a result of signing with them?
Alex: No, I think, I think we were already sort of on that path, you know, there’s kind of an interesting, like, um sequence of stepping stones I think from our last record, Future Hearts, to the new one, I kind of, you know, obviously Future Hearts had its kind of staple kind of older, older sounding All Time Low songs on it, but um, I think the way we released singles and the way that we built that album out, it kind of started moving us towards what we wanted to do on this record and obviously, the song that came out on the DVD, Take Cover, I think was the perfect kind of transitional song, saying like, “here’s where we were, here’s where we’re going”.
Jack Barakat: It’s kind of interesting because we uh, when we were meeting with labels, we kind of had a vision for what we wanted the record to sound like already, and Fueled By had the same vision, and so we knew what we wanted to be – what direction we wanted to take before we signed. And you know, Good Times and Last Young Renegade were songs that we had written before we had even signed.
Alex: It felt like an important moment, you know I think um, it could have been very easy for us in the moment to, to kind of go back and make another record that sounded like our old stuff, um but I think, being – it was our seventh album, and we’re 10 plus years into our career like, it felt really important to kind of do something new and try something different and put us on kind of a new trajectory I think, for the years to come. Otherwise I think, you know, bands get stale.
Yasmin: Yeah, it’s important to grow.
Alex: Yeah. We don’t want to get stale.
So with the music videos, you’ve released them in ‘volumes’, is that because you’re going to release one for every song? Or…? We can hope!
Alex: We’ll see, we’re three in right now, with a fourth one on the way and, um, you know, it’s only a ten song record [laughs] so it’s very possible that we could get all the way there but, um it was really important for us to make something really visual. We’ve never done anything like this with a release, or with our music videos, so I think, one of the big things we wanted to go for with Last Young Renegade was world building. We felt like we had these really strong songs and this really cool aesthetic, um sonically, and then we really wanted to visualise that in the record, in the music videos as well. Um, and so yeah, it’s been kind of this cool thing where we’ve been able to tie everything together and everything that’s come out so far feels connected, it’s creating this little world that it all lives in, um and yeah, I think it would be amazing if we keep going on. We’ll see, we’ll have to, we have to get to the next step first. Volume four is next, and then we’ll see where it goes.
Yasmin: It’ll be like a Save Rock and Roll deal by the end of it
Alex: Yeah, right!
Okay, question for each of you: do you have a favourite song on Last Young Renegade?
Jack: I do!
Jack: I don’t like any of ‘em. I have ten least favourite songs.
Rian: It’s hard to pick, I think… I’m gonna go with Afterglow.
Yasmin: Can you tell me why?
Rian: Yeah! It’s one of those songs and it was added on super late, really late actually. It was written almost after the record was done pretty much, and um, it just, the record – and it’s the first one that really does this – it kind of takes you on a journey lyrically, thematically, musically, like it’s not just one single feel. You go up and down, and we didn’t really have a song that felt like it closed off. Like the record felt a little open ended, um and Afterglow as a song, lyrically, production, everything’s just really perfect for the last song on the record and it’s…
Alex: It needed that moment, it needed the, the Last Jedi moment, you know where you have –
Alex: You have her handing off the light sabre and it like, sets you up for the next thing –
Jack: Rian doesn’t know what you’re talking about.
Alex: It’s a force awakening, it needed that, it needed the thing that – it felt like it wrapped up the story, the character on the record, but yeah. It needed to get there to get to the next thing. But uh, what about you Jack?
Jack: I think Good Times is my favourite, uh it was the first song that was written for the album, Alex sent it to me and I remember me telling him it was his best song he’d ever written.
Yasmin: Was this during your little travels through the desert?
Alex: This was before.
Jack: He sent it to me via carrier pigeon.
Jack: It took literally three months to get there, I don’t know why anyone ever used that.
Alex: A crow landed on a cactus…
Jack: There has to be a better way.
Alex: … with a letter tied to its leg. I read that letter. It said, “Alex, where are you? Please come home”…. My favourite right now, I think, is Life of the Party. Something that always happens when we make a record is that I get, I mean, it happens to all of us but I think because I’m so in it from very beginning to very end, I have a really hard time uh, like, by the time I get to the end, I don’t know if anything’s good anymore, so now that the songs are releasing, it’s kind of like the weight is lifting as people hear the songs and kind of, we get the feedback and people are like, “Oh! We really love this”, I’m like, “Oh, thank God”. So that just happened with Life of the Party, so that one right now is like fresh in my mind as being like, yeeeah.
Yasmin: Yeah it gets like that when you’re creating something, hey, where you look at it so many times that you just don’t even know.
Yasmin: What about you, Zack?
Zack: Uh, I like Life of the Party, I just, I’ve always liked darker songs, not necessarily in like a, it’s not like sad, it’s just a deeper and darker song, and I always like that kind of feel of music so, it’s nice.
So you said in an interview that you posted on Twitter last week, I think it was AOL, that you and Tegan and Sara had a mutual fan thing going on. What’s it like in general, when you find out that someone you’re a fan of is also a fan of you?
Rian: We assume that no one is a fan of us.
Alex: To be completely honest, we’ve never been like, to our fans, we’ve always had an amazing fanbase, but we’ve never felt like one of those bands that like, other bands love. You know there’s just some of those bands out there that, they’re bands’ bands and we’ve never really gotten that. So um, it was very cool to kind of hear that a band, or a group that we loved and looked up to, that there was mutual.
Rian: I just think that it was cool that they were kind of willing to, go out of their comfort zone and our comfort zone.
Yasmin: I can’t wait to hear [the Tegan and Sara collaboration].
Alex: Yeah! It’s another one of my favourite songs on the record actually. It’s a really cool song. Uplifting. It’s nice.
Have any of you completely lost it meeting somebody?
Jack: Pretty much everyone.
Yasmin: Everyone you come into contact with.
Jack: Any human being.
Alex: He’s very unstable.
Zack Merrick: I think if Chris Pratt walked in the room, Jack might…
Jack: I’ll just jump off the fucking balcony.
Rian: “It won’t get better than this!”
Jack: “I’ve peaked!”
Rian: Um, we try to keep our composure. There’s definitely times where afterwards we’re like, “Uhhhh, holy shit”.
Alex: Yeah. I had a hard time… I couldn’t bring myself to approach um Imogen Heap. She’s –
Rian: Oh yeah, you were texting me so much.
Alex: Yeah, I like, pretty much, as Rian said, I think we always manage to keep our cool even with like, heroes, like Dave Grohl, people like that. Like –
Jack: It was hard keeping my cool with Dave Grohl.
Alex: He’s very approachable though, you know?
Jack: He’s very approachable.
Alex: He’s a super nice dude so that takes some of the edge off, but it, like, it was at an airport and she was travelling, I didn’t wanna like, interrupt and be that guy, but I’m also like, she’s one of my biggest musical inspirations as a songwriter, and so, yeah that one. I was like sweating.
Jack: He didn’t meet her.
Yasmin: You didn’t meet her!
Alex: Noo, I didn’t really get to say hi. But then we, I messaged her on Twitter and we ended up talking for a little while after that, so, I got to say, “What’s up?”
Rian: We’re also of the advantage that, you know, we have fans that kind of lose their cool a little bit when they meet us and we know that, we know what that feeling’s like. We also know it’s nice to be able to know you’re a fan and they’ll talk to you as well. So that’s the kind of thing that when we meet people, like um, Dave or like Mark Hoppus, or any of those guys, any of the guys from Green Day or whatever, you kind of just have to put yourself on their playing field and pretend like you’re their peer, even if you’re not.
Yasmin: That’s all I’m doing.
Alex: Totally, you’re losing it on the inside.
So you haven’t been to New Zealand since before Future Hearts came out…
Alex: Yeah, that’s true! We were making the setlist today and that actually came up because we were like, I don’t think we’re playing enough off Future Hearts.
Yasmin: We haven’t seen it!
Alex: I know! I guess we did Something’s Gotta Give last time we were here.
Rian: It was such a short record cycle really, I mean –
Jack: We did Something’s Gotta Give last time? Oh yeah!
Alex: Yeah, cause that was out –
Jack: Was that a festival?
Yasmin: Yeah, you did Westfest and then the headliner in Christchurch.
Yasmin: So what was your highlight off that album cycle?
Alex: There were a lot of cool moments from that record, that record really did some, some neat stuff for this band.
Jack: I think for me personally, like headlining arenas in the UK was a big stepping stone for our band.
Jack: Pretty much a dream come true and uh, I think being, we had a really good time slot at Reading and Leeds Festival. That was a really cool moment for us.
Alex: Yeah definitely.
Zack: It was terrifying playing those festivals.
Alex: [Laugh] Shellshocked. Just stares into space. “I thought we were never gonna make it out”… Yeah, um, the arenas were definitely a big one, um, I don’t know. What else? There was a lot of cool stuff, I mean, getting to put out the second DVD.
Jack: I wish we didn’t drink so much, we’d remember it! [Slaps Alex’s knee] Sorry that was hard.
Alex: I know. It’s alright, I need that, I need a slap every now and then. Um yeah, the DVD for me was cool cause it kind of um, obviously there’s a lot of story to tell between the first DVD and where we were at that one so that was a really cool moment for us.
And what are you most looking forward to now with this –
Alex: Here? Today?!
Yasmin: [Laugh] No, with Last Young Renegade.
Rian: I think with Future Hearts I felt a sense of elevation from our previous records from our career and not only just like, sales and stuff, I dunno, the whole thing just felt like it got a little bit bigger and, if we can keep that going with this next record I think we’ll all be very happy.
Jack: I think I’d like to see our show become more visual, and –
Alex: And by that he means, more nudity.
Jack: Yeah, so if we could just like, lose the clothing altogether.
Alex: Yeah, I think Jack’s onto something with that because –
Jack: You’re onto something kid!
Alex: You’re onto something! Like we said, the record, the record feels very visual when you listen to it, it kind of takes you to a place and so to translate that to the live show would, that would be a cool feature.
Okay, so last question. You played in the rain/hail last week for the MTV Awards Festival, what’s the worst condition you’ve ever played in?
Alex: That could have been up there. That was up there because it was just, after a certain point it was –
Jack: It hurt.
Alex: Literally like, there were little pellets.
Jack: It really hurt [laugh]
Alex: Yeah it was pretty gnarly. And also the temperature dropped like 20 degrees while were on stage so my fingers started going numb and stuff, that’s usually the worst. I think we did an outdoor college show one time
Jack: Madison, Wisconsin
Jack: It was zero degrees – Farenheit.
Alex: And it was outdoors, it was very difficult to… feel.
Jack: It was pretty, it was fun though but it was…
Rian: The hail the other day, I mean the weird thing is, the stage is covered obviously, so it started raining and we were like, “Okay, sucks for the fans but we’re covered” [Laugh] But suddenly, something happened and it’s just, the rain and hail’s just coming from the stage in and it was just –
Alex: It came right at us. That’s gotta be the worst.
Jack: I mean the hail’s pretty big, it hurt. It’s like marbles falling from the sky.
Yasmin: The crowd was amazing, I feel like they just went harder as soon as it started.
Alex: I think what it was is that once they realised we weren’t stopping, they were like, “Okay, well we’re here now”
Rian: And we’re all thinking, “Can you guys leave?”
Alex: Let’s all stop!
Jack: I was thinking about a hot shower towards the end, for like maybe two or three songs.
Alex: It was cool though, that’s the kind of like, sometimes you get those moments and you just have to roll with it, and it creates something special.
Yasmin: They’re probably more memorable as well.
Alex: Exactly! I don’t think we’ll ever forget that.
Zack: And we’ll see tonight if all the gear’s broken.
Alex: That’s true!
Jack: See if all our guitars work.
Alex: All our stuff was literally packed up and shipped up that day, here, so we will see.
Yasmin: You could just do an acoustic gig.
Alex: We’ll do something! Just karaoke to the record.
Yasmin: That’s a great idea!
Alex: Just bring people up.
Yasmin: Do an entire tour just karaoke.
Alex: I like it.
All Time Low’s new album Last Young Renegade comes out June 2nd under new label Fueled By Ramen.
You can get all the details here.