All Time Low are planning on having a pretty quiet year as they regroup following the release of latest album ‘Last Young Renegade’: but they’re not disappearing completely. The Baltimore band are coming out of the woodwork for a bill-topping set at Slam Dunk (25th-26th May), and, according to frontman Alex Gaskarth, they can’t wait.
Hey Alex Gaskarth. Last year was super busy for All Time Low, right?
The last two years have been pretty crazy and pretty fun. We’ve been slammed. The ‘Last Young Renegade’ cycle was a good one. We went pretty deep. We circled the world twice. It was good to get it all in.
So what’s 2019 got in store for you?
We don’t have a whole lot of plans. Obviously, we’re coming over for Slam Dunk, but that’s the only thing we’ve got on the calendar right now which is definitely weird for us.
Is that break to work on new music?
The starting point is just to step away. There’s always new music in mind. We’re always asking ‘what’s the next thing going to be?’, but as of right now, there’s nothing official. We just want to take a step back, reflect, look at what we’ve accomplished and basically take stock in what we’ve got and figure out where we go from here. ‘What’s the logical next step for All Time Low?’ and to do that, we need to step away from it.
So you never feel like you have to take a break because it’s getting too much?
Honestly, no. We had a really rad record cycle, and we’re gluttons for punishment. We love being on the road. I hear all kinds of stories from other bands about how they get tired or burnt out, but we love being out there. We love playing shows, whether they’re massive shows or club shows or festivals. We just like getting in front of people. It never felt like it was taking a toll. It is super nice to get home and have a minute to yourself, but we’ve never felt like we need to call time on it. It’s more a well-earned break, at this point.
So, Slam Dunk.
It’s going to be a blast. Last time we did it was 2013. It’s exciting to come back and do it again, especially headlining. There’s such a good lineup, and it’s a really cool, straight-up punk rock show, which I think is the best thing. We do lots of festivals, and they run the gambit from being very eclectic to this one, being much more in the wheelhouse of the world we came up in. That’ll be a really fun way to come back to the UK. Last time we were there, we were headlining arenas, and it was very much our own thing.
It feels like a lot has changed for the band since you last played.
Playing Slam Dunk in 2013 was a big step up for us. It let us spread our wings, especially in the UK. Since then we’ve put out, two or three more albums. We’ve been around the world a thousand more times and had a lot more experience under our belts at this point. It’s a much more realised version of All Time Low coming back now, to what we were doing back then. We were still finding our way back then. It’s always been this slow growth for us. Now we’re coming back as a much more realised version of ourselves.
You’ve gone from being a big band, to being one of the biggest.
We’ve been very fortunate to continue to grow and be able to pull off what we have done. It’s incredible to me that people are still finding out about us and still spreading the word. At the same time, we’ve always stayed true to All Time Low. From record to record, we’ve done enough to grow, change our style a little bit, make tweaks and make adjustments and do things that keep the project exciting for people, even though we’re many years into a career now, but it’s never gone so far off the rails that we’ve lost everybody. We’ve been really lucky to find that perfect balance and find that really cool niche in music where people still feel connected after all these years. That’s what allows us to come back time and time again, and put on bigger and better shows. It’s all about picking how you come back. And coming back and doing Slam Dunk felt like exactly the right thing to do. Coming and doing a punk rock festival is going to be really fucking fun. I’m looking forward to it.
You released the singles ‘Everything Is Fine’ and ‘Birthday’ last year, which sorta show the two sides of All Time Low. There’s this boyish sense of humour, but also this vulnerability.
I think that’s always been the dynamic of All Time Low. Looking back, some people see it; some people don’t. Some people take one thing away; others take another. That’s part of what’s kept All Time Low interesting for people. It’s a layered experience. There are songs that are straight up, face-value fun but there are dimensions to it. We’ve always tried to have some depth and vulnerability in even our most brash, abrasive, lyrics. It’s served us well. I don’t know if we necessarily set out to do this, but ‘Everything is Fine’ and ‘Birthday’ do have both sides of that coin, which made for a fun mid-cycle release.
Is it tough to balance the silly with the serious, without diluting them?
We’ve always toed the line. It’s tricky though, every now or then, I’ll get in a mindset where I’ll want to make serious music, so we’ll do that, and it alienates half our fanbase. Then we respond to that by making something that’s way more tongue in cheek, and a little bit looser, and we alienate the other half. It’s this dynamic that we’ve had to learn how to navigate. You have to find the sweet spot. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s the magic of music. You’ve got to have the energy and let it speak for itself, and the other things will fall into place. At the end of the day, what it has always come down to is that as long as we’re having fun doing it, and as long as it feels good to us, then it’s always worked out. It’s a learning experience, and you feel that out as you go.
Live, it feels like, over the past few years, there’s been less emphasis on dick jokes and being funny, and more emphasis on everyone having fun.
We’ve changed. We’re thirty. When we were acting that way, making those jokes, we were kids. We didn’t know better, and it was par for the course, but we’re different people now. That shit is still funny as hell to me, we’re six-year-olds at heart, all four of us and I don’t think that’s ever going to go away, but part of it is that we’re changing with the times. We’re trying to create a safe, inviting environment for everyone. In the past, some of that stuff has contributed to some people feeling uncomfortable, and that’s the last thing we want to do. All of it, at least in the context of this band, was done with the best intentions at heart. We were never out to bum anyone out, so it’s something that we’ve looked at and re-evaluated. The biggest thing was focusing on putting on a sick, energetic show and adapting the songs to fit live and feel great. The banter has always been secondary, but now, it’s done with a little more care. It’s really important that we go out and make sure everyone in the room is feeling fucking awesome, because
That’s all that matters when it comes to going to shows. You’re going to listen to music, feel great and connect with people.
Taken from the June issue of Upset. All Time Low plays this year’s Slam Dunk, which takes place in Leeds (25th May) and Hatfield (26th).