Perhaps it is the inevitability that many of the big league bands from the pop-punk worlds will always drop their “punk” sound to shift over into the pop laneway. This is where Alex Gaskarth and his fellow trio of All Time Low members now find themselves on their upcoming album, ‘Last Young Renegade’; a record that’s definitely more pop than rock or “punk”. Ahead of their Australian tour kicking off next week with Neck Deep and The Maine, I question Gaskarth about their sonic change, their welcoming into the Fueled By Ramen family, his hosting of award shows, and that Jon Bellion song – you know the one.
Scope the full interview below!
author: Alex Sievers
Hey there Alex, how are you doing today?
Hey man! I’m doing good, just in New York right now. We did a big photo shoot today.
Yeah, I was told about this. How was the photo shoot? Are you guys getting tired of them?
[Laughs] Nah man, we’re just really used to it by now. There do end up being long days, but you just do it until you get it right and it all looks good. It’s fun. It’s the also first promo round back for the new album so it’s exciting times.
Cool! Have you had any really weird or silly photo shoots lately or did you get those out of the way in the early part of the band’s career?
Fortunately, we really got those ones out of the way earlier on. You know, these days it’s about trying things that we haven’t done yet, and just the art of compositing photos; the whole platform of it is really versatile these days.
Yeah, easily one of the big attractions of the actual art of photography, I think. Now, with this fast approaching tour, it made me realise that you guys haven’t announced a full ‘So Wrong, It’s Right’ ten-year tour or shows this year, putting you in a minority of bands NOT doing that kind of thing in 2017. I know you’ve said to other outlets that you guys may squeeze one in this year, though.
It’s funny, as a lot of bands are doing it. We do want to pay respects to that album as it’s a big part of why we became a band and the progress of our career; it was our first full-length on a major label too. It’s very significant to us, but in saying that, we’re still making new music. We don’t want to dwell too much on the past, and we’ve also played a lot of those songs in every set up until right now, so they won’t go away. We’re always paying attention to that record live. But yes, our focus is not to dwell on old material.
Fair enough, Alex. And in terms of new material, you guys have ‘Last Young Renegade’ out on June 2nd. Now, I find that many bands from the mainstream rock and pop-punk worlds eventually move away from their “rock” or “punk” sounds to that of something far more poppy. Which is what you have here with ‘Last Young Renegade’. But some people attribute this sonic change to signing with Fueled By Ramen. What do you say to that?
Well, straight up, it’s got nothing to do with the new label. When a band changes labels and something in their sound changes, people can make that connection because it’s easy. Signing with the label [Fueled By Ramen] over a year ago in secret when we were wrapping up things with Hopeless Records. Early on, we were working on the record just by ourselves. As for the sound change, we’ve been a band for ten plus years now and we’re looking for something different to play; to try new things and reinvent. To be honest with you man, when I listen back to it, it doesn’t feel that left of centre to me. I don’t think that ‘Dirty Laundry’ goes that far out of the All Time Low sound. I tend to feel that when you don’t change, bands and music becomes old-hat and they get too complacent. While people might get thrown off by it, I also think it keeps people on their toe, and they can grow with the band rather than watching that band stagnate.
Well, Fall Out Boy dropped a new single recently, ‘Young And Menace’, and that’s creating a wide range of responses from casual and die-hard fans because it is so different from where they came from initially. While I hate the new song, they’ll probably grab plenty of newer or younger fans through this change.
Yeah! I think there’s always some give or take with shifting your sound. I think that’s just how it is with music; you can’t have it all. It also depends on where people are in their lives and other relative things. If we were to go heavier, there might be a lot of fans who will say “Oh, I liked their poppier stuff more”. On this album, we were trying to create this ambience, this world, that had these connected threads like with the 80’s analogue synths that we used; to create a new sound palette that we haven’t messed around with before.
Okay… well, I think a good example of that ambience and such is on a song like ‘Ground Control’, with Tegan and Sara on it. I think it nails that vibe, for sure, even if I am not a big fan of it.
[Laughs] well thank you, man!
No worries. Kind of an odd question, I suppose, but with a band of your size and your album pre-orders, do you see decent numbers from pre-orders and does that actually help out in debut charting positions?
You know, that’s a good question. I’m sure it does! We have an amazing and a voracious fan base that really comes out and shows up for us, so I’m sure it helps our initial numbers. To be honest, I don’t worry about that part all that much. I just focus on making music that we love and music in which we think our fans will enjoy too. It really feels like a lot of people and many of our fans are on board with this ride and that we can go anywhere with it next.
You do have an insanely dedicated fan base that’s for sure! Away from the album, with you and Jack hosting the APMA’s last year and in 2015, and honestly, while it’s not the Grammy’s, what’ was that actually like? Is it something that you’d wanna do again?
It was very surreal! It was one of those things that we didn’t know what it’d be like, but that we’d do it anyway. We get up in front of a lot of people to play our music, so that element of it wasn’t that shocking. But what was is that we’re not up there delivering lines, reading prompters, and speaking to the script of a show. That was a very different experience and it was a cool way of doing something very cool. It was a blast all-around.
I can imagine so. On what you said about reading lines and speaking to a script, have you ever found yourself doing that on-stage for All Time Low?
No, it’s the exact opposite, actually. Aside from the order of songs we’re playing and what not, whatever happens…just happens. We always treat our shows that way and it’s an integral part of our live show. If we scripted too much it would take away from what made our live show special. Between songs, we really do just see what happens. And sometimes its great, sometimes its funny, other times it’s awkward, and sometimes it goes completely off the rails. But it’s always fun!
That’s what I think always made your live shows work well – the naturalness of it. As for a random, final question, have you by any chance heard the Jon Bellion song, ‘All Time Low’?
[Laughs] yes I have heard it!
What do you think about it? That guy’s using your moniker for a work of his. Personally, it’s a poor man’s Twenty One Pilots but it’s a sound that will do him well commercially.
It’s pretty funny. We actually gave him some shit for it when it first came and we think the song’s really good actually. We called him out on Twitter, saying something like “thanks man, now we have to see your video whenever we look ourselves up”. It was all in good fun and he’s a really nice dude. We have a tricky band name as it’s a pretty common name!
That you do! Well, I’ll let you get on with your next interview mate. Thank you for your time and I sincerely hope your Australian tour is smooth sailing the whole way through.
Oh, awesome. Thanks a lot Alex.