Admittedly, I’ve never been an All Time Low fan. Their overproduced music seemed teeny-bopper tailored, which was also reflected in their uncomfortably young, girl-heavy crowds. Now the value in that is huge; it attracts a crowd of “normies” to pop-punk that would likely otherwise stick to Ed Sheeran and the like. But it’s a scene probably unattractive to typical blink-182 or Green Day fan, and definitely doesn’t draw anyone from, say, the Buzzcocks generation.

All Time Low was the Smirnoff Ice of pop-punk until their recent release of Wake Up Sunshine. Each track is nuanced with the opener “Some Kind of Disaster” being an absolute standout. While its first verse leaves listeners believing they are in for nothing original, the catchy chorus provides more substance while the bridge kicks the song into high gear before a stellar finish.

“Melancholy Kaleidoscope” is the catchiest song on the album while “Drive” is nicely layered tune perfect for blasting on long, summer road trips, uplifting enough to make you forget about that face mask you’ll have to wear upon arrival. “Getaway Green” and ‘Wake Up, Sunshine” have a cozy 90s pop-punk feel to them. “January Gloom’s (Seasons, Pt. 1)” is maybe the best written song on the album, which includes a pair of nice collaborations.

There really isn’t a skippable song on Wake Up Sunshine. Even the atmospheric interlude is worth the repeat button. While the album drops in quality a smidge as it approaches its end, “Basement Noise” is a feel-good closer nodding to the band’s humble, Maryland roots.

Lyrically the album excels; there aren’t any cringeworthy tunes to speak of. The production is excellent and each track is distinctively different from the other. Wake Up Sunshine is All Time Low’s most completely album. It exemplifies how pop-punk bands should develop. It also dropped during the onset of the coronavirus shutdown, providing a much-needed uplift for the fanbase.

There’s nothing to complain about here. Wake Up Sunshine isn’t going to change the world, but it’s an excellent album and should attract new fans to All Time Low. 

author: PunkIsNotDead


All Time Low have made a comeback after two years with their eighth studio album, Wake Up, Sunshine. Released on 3 April 2020, it encompasses two decades of experience and artistry into an album that will be universally loved. 

This release was no doubt supposed to be the soundtrack to many summer getaways, but instead will have to rely on nostalgia. The listener yearns for the comforting embrace of musicians they haven’t listened to since their teenage years, no doubt stuck inside their former bedroom ‘Sleeping In’ and resolving never to take a summer day for granted ever again.

The collaboration with Blackbear on ‘Monsters’ runs with the throwback to brighter times; the R&B artist first shot to the Top 20 of the Billboard Chart in 2015 with ‘idfc’. ‘Monsters’ has a catchy melody and addictive chorus and immediately stands out for its pace and energy. 

Ninth track ‘Favourite Place’ featuring The Band CAMINO carries the home comforts of a childhood bedroom and ties nicely into the lyrics: “‘Cause I’m not too far / and you’re my favourite place”. Similarly, ‘Safe’ is a gentle, plucked guitar melody with intentions to round off a long day. 

The motif of noughties nostalgia is explored in different ways, but finds its place in each track. ‘Clumsy’ makes use of distorted, spacey verse vocals bridged by a bouncy, pop-punk chorus, before ‘Glitter & Crimson’ takes things downbeat with a gentle acoustic melody and muted drum beats. Headphone users will be able to hear guitar riffs and vocal harmonies that just wouldn’t sound the same on a speaker or through a computer.

‘January Gloom (Seasons, Pt.1)’ is an upbeat song with a laidback bridge, where frontman Alex Gaskarth’s vocals slide over the melody like butter. Its continuation, ‘Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt.2)’ has low bass guitar and upbeat drums, with the nostalgic feeling emerging in: “Sad summer days don’t fade away / don’t fade away from me no”.

‘Sleeping In’, ‘Getaway Green’ and ‘Melancholy Kaleidoscope’ are all fast-paced, bright tracks with loud drums and trademark rock guitar. You remember how it feels to have the wind in your hair and the sun on your face — a sensation many of us are no doubt pining for at the moment. 

‘Trouble Is’, throws you head first into an disorientating pattern of beats. The chorus is also the same, and doesn’t have a set rhythm. This matches the feeling of the lyrics, describing a breakup or parting: “Trouble is / I don’t wanna let go”.

The song flicks the switch to moody noir; title track ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ continues to explore the darker side of the record, slowing things down with an interlude before the cut back to business as usual in ‘Safe’. ‘Interlude: Pretty Venom’ has magical verses and chorus, and is a slow paced, acoustic plucked guitar track. It is another close favourite, with reminders of adolescent classics such as Panic! At The Disco and Twenty One Pilots.

Lyrically, the bleaker moments provide space for reflection, and the band comes out of its moody spell urging the listener to “see how good you are.” The instruction to see the good in ourselves is a reminder we could all use right about now.

In a Forbes interview, Gaskarth said that the album hoped to “give fans a sense of comfort amid the turmoil, much like it did for the band members as they made it”. And, as the album finishes with ‘Basement Noise’, it certainly feels as if the band have achieved this aim. The track has an emotional edge to its melody, and the distorted vocals at the beginning give it a dreamy effect. It almost feels like you are lying down and looking up at stars – perhaps those glow in the dark ones you stuck to your childhood bedroom ceiling when you were younger. The lyrics reflect the band’s journey as musicians, the track a perfect end to a stellar comeback.

Wake Up, Sunshine was a fitting introduction for me to get back into the music I loved when I was younger. If you’re looking for a mood boost, I’d recommend you put on some headphones, sit back, and transport yourself back to your own ‘Favourite Place’…  

author: Amelia Oprean


The Last Young Renegade experience left All Time Low feeling unsure of their future. A break from the band offered its members renewed perspectives, but before they could move forward, they needed to reconnect with who they truly are.

author: Jake Richardson

“If I’m being completely honest,” Alex Gaskarth begins, “our hearts weren’t in it.”

This stark admission comes as he reflects upon the culmination of All Time Low’s campaign for their last album, 2017’s Last Young Renegade. Calling it quits wasn’t necessarily on the cards, but still, the band had no idea where they were going next. Following what they describe as “pretty much 12 years straight on the road”, enthusiasm had been replaced with near-complete burn-out.

The decision was made, therefore, to put everything on hold.

“My mind was occupied by the fact that, creatively, I didn’t know what the next step for All Time Low was,” recalls Alex, the band’s vocalist, guitarist and chief songwriter. “This was the first time that we actually thought the next thing we needed to do was to take some time away, and put a pin in things. If you’re tired and inspired, it’s not hard to keep pushing, but we were tired and uninspired at the end of the Last Young Renegade cycle. If we’d sat down immediately after that campaign came to an end and tried to write a follow-up, I think the end result would’ve been terrible.

“That was the moment we realised we needed to hit reset on All Time Low.”

New album Wake Up, Sunshine, unveiled last month, is the ultimate result of that break, but its creation wasn’t one that came about purely because of recharged batteries. All Time Low found themselves at a crossroads when they sat down to begin work again last year, a situation that required consideration of what had paid off so well for them in the past, as well as reflection on the trying events of recent times. Soul-searching was needed in order to write what might be the most important album of their career.

Such a revelation might come as a surprise to the wider world. From the outside looking in, it would appear as though things were ticking along rather smoothly. Last Young Renegade had been a departure in style, leaning more on alt-pop than the pop-punk sound the quartet – completed by guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson – made their name with. But its critical success had pleased the frontman (“All the reviews said we’d grown up, which was great to read,” he remembers), and All Time Low managed to extend the campaign with the release of the well-received pair of singles Everything Is Fine and Birthday.

For Jack, however, it had all become too much to handle.

“I was exhausted when all of that finally ended,” the guitarist says. “It felt like we’d been at it non-stop for so long. I needed to step away and take a breather. Honestly, things have felt a little suffocating for me in the band in the past, because All Time Low has been my whole life. I’ve spent more of my years in this band than out of it. At times, that takes its toll.”

Jack, like his bandmates, welcomed the break, but rest quickly turned into restlessness. He’d been so used to the structure of his life revolving around band activities that he confesses to “waking up and not knowing what to do” without it.

“The absence of the band left me a little lost,” he continues. “I was questioning what I was doing with my life.”

The meaning Jack was searching for came from an unlikely source. Coping with struggles in his personal life as well as coming to terms with an existence without the demands of All Time Low involved, he got together with singer-songwriter Kevin Fisher and poured his feelings into the pop project WhoHurtYou, eventually releasing the EP Stages in November of last year.

“That was a period of growth and transition for me,” Jack recounts. “WhoHurtYou was me finding a path forwards and embarking on a new journey, which was really helpful and something I obviously needed. It was scary to step out like that, but I’m glad I did.”

Alex, meanwhile, had a creative itch to scratch of his own. 2019 saw the birth of pop-punk power duo Simple Creatures, a band formed with blink-182’s Mark Hoppus. Similar to what Jack was doing with WhoHurtYou, this music was a far cry from All Time Low’s core sound, the band’s two EPs, Strange Love and Everything Opposite, blending pop-rock with elements of electronica, new wave and ‘80s synth-pop. It almost sounded like what All Time Low had done on Last Young Renegade pushed to the extreme.

“What was driving Last Young Renegade was my desire to do something new, and I think that’s what you then saw taken further with Simple Creatures,” Alex explains. “Working with Mark allowed me to do something with no expectations or history tied to it, which I found really beneficial. Doing something new felt good, and it gave me a fresh perspective on All Time Low, and I know it was the same for Jack with WhoHurtYou. I’ve always been at the forefront of the writing for All Time Low, so it was good for him to step away and do something where he could be like, ‘This is mine.’ We both came back to the table refreshed and ready to go again.”

Before Alex and Jack could think about the future of All Time Low, they needed to take stock of their past. The Last Young Renegade cycle had seen them try some new things. Straying from their long-successful pop-punk formula was brave, but not everyone was on board.

“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some uncomfortable moments,” Alex acknowledges. “Last Young Renegade was certainly perceived differently than our previous material, and that meant we questioned whether people liked what we’d done. The fan response wasn’t what we were used to, and I think some people didn’t know what to do with the songs. There were definitely times when the reaction felt disappointing, because we’d poured ourselves into making something different and it didn’t seem to connect with people right away.”

The original vision Alex had for Last Young Renegade was an even greater departure than that which fans actually received. He now admits that it was initially envisioned as a full-blown concept album set in a “Stranger Things-esque, Upside Down world.” There was even a suggestion that the band might break free of the All Time Low moniker and perform as ‘The Young Renegades’ on tour.

“I wish we’d leaned into the conceptual side a little more,” he admits now.

It’s clear that, despite it being a solid record, All Time Low’s identity had become muddled. The desire to get away from the juvenile, joker-in-the-pack image they had cultivated on their early pop-punk classics was understandable. After all, the members of All Time Low are now men in their 30s. Alex even goes as far as to reluctantly accept that there’s a “brand” around ATL built largely upon what they were doing a decade ago – something which, particularly in recent years, he’s been looking to shake.

Simultaneously embracing the past and forging a new way forward had become a challenge, but 2019’s 10-year anniversary of Nothing Personal marked an opportunity for Alex, Jack, Zack and Rian to reflect on where the band had once been, and analyse the clues it may hold for their future.

It’s Still Nothing Personal: A Ten Year Tribute, released last year, saw the quartet re-record their breakthrough third album, alongside a string of anniversary shows. Getting to grips with the material that set them on the path to stardom sparked a period of reflection, as they reminisced about the songs that put them where they are today, and looked at how the unadulterated energy of that album could inform All Time Low’s next move.

“The Nothing Personal celebrations reminded us what makes this band special,” Jack says. “It demonstrated what sets us apart, and we took that into the new material. It felt like a fitting way to end one era and welcome in a new one.”

All Time Low’s rapid rise in the rock world meant that, by the time Nothing Personal rolled around, they had producer hook-ups and co-write opportunities galore. The band went from writing in Alex’s basement to working on songs with people such as Terius Nash, a man credited on the song Too Much, who has also co-written pop hits by the likes of Britney Spears and Rihanna. It wasn’t the kind of creative environment afforded to many young pop-punk bands in 2009, but fast-forward to 2019, and off the back of celebrating the legacy of their biggest hits, Alex decided it was time to go old-school.

Hitting up Rian, he suggested All Time Low should book their drummer’s studio in Nashville, Tennessee for a month and do things the way they used to – four friends in a room with no outside influences offering input. It was there that Wake Up, Sunshine was born.

“There was no pressure or expectation, just us getting in a room and seeing what happened,” Alex recalls. “That approach continued throughout the rest of Wake Up, Sunshine’s creation. We didn’t allow any outside pressure. We locked ourselves away and jammed like you do when you’re first starting as a band. It reminded me of what making So Wrong, It’s Right was like. We hadn’t worked that way in a long time.”

A trio of exciting new songs quickly flowed. There was Some Kind Of Disaster, the upbeat yet confessional first single, as well as summery smash Getaway Green – which the band would go on to debut at their 2019 headline slot at Slam Dunk – and pop-punk rager Melancholy Kaleidoscope. All Time Low were living in the moment, rolling with whatever felt right and making music that made them happy.

“It felt good to be in a room making music with the boys again,” Alex remembers.

After hearing those early ideas, Jack also sensed a rebirth was on the cards.

“I remember hearing the initial songs and my first thought being like, ‘Fuck, I’m excited for this!’” he says. “Alex had smashed it – it was a great starting point.”

This time around, though, Jack felt he had more to offer. After acting as a primary creative force with WhoHurtYou, he wanted to be more involved in shaping All Time Low’s future.

“I had a big hand in writing a couple of the songs on this album, which was a great feeling,” he enthuses. “In the past, I didn’t have the confidence, and to be honest, the knowledge, to be able to contribute in a major way. But writing songs and lyrics with WhoHurtYou and finally being able to tell my story with that band meant that coming into Wake Up, Sunshine, I was feeling a lot more creative and confident about my All Time Low ideas. More than anything, it felt great to finally be someone in the band who was more than a performer or the guy who provides comic relief onstage.”

The song Monsters, an exciting collaboration with hip-hop artist blackbear, was one such song bearing Jack’s mark. A vibrant coming together of pop-punk, alt-pop and rap, it’s the kind of thing the band were shooting for on Last Young Renegade, yet retains the spikiness and energy that characterised the All Time Low of old. It’s a track that was written during the second part of Wake Up, Sunshine’s creative process, whereby the band had relocated from Nashville to Palm Desert in California.

“We literally drove everything we needed for a studio out to a house in the desert with our producer, Zakk Cervini [Poppy, Yungblud],” Alex says. “What made this record really special was that for the first time in many years we were living together while we were writing and recording. We’d wake up, get breakfast, grab instruments and start playing.”

Throughout Wake Up, Sunshine’s 15 tracks, you can hear that sense of rejuvenation and reconnection with All Time Low’s past. There are a couple of songs – Pretty Venom and Basement Noise – which stray more towards alt-pop territory, but in no uncertain terms this is a pop-punk record, infused with massive choruses and carpe diem spirit. Infectious tracks such as Clumsy and Safe are sure-fire anthems, the latter finding Alex triumphantly declaring, ‘Put the car in drive and don’t stop running ‘til you’re long gone.’

It sounds exactly like the kind of thing you’d expect a group who came up in the pop-punk world to be making now they’re grown men. Wake Up, Sunshine is a throwback to the ATL of old, but it doesn’t simply replicate the past, striking a key tone of youthful vibrancy throughout.

It’s a feel-good listen, but that doesn’t mean the band, and Alex in particular, didn’t get put through the emotional wringer in order to make it.

“One overarching theme that inspired Wake Up, Sunshine is that of getting better and feeling comfortable in your own skin,” Alex offers. “The title is about waking up to a new life and feeling rejuvenated, but it’s also a call to action. Coming up with the title was like me grabbing myself by the collar, slapping myself in the face and saying, ‘Wake up, dude! It’s time to do things right.’

“I’ve been through some dark times recently,” he continues. “Coming out the other side was a big thing on this record. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and my identity, and that gets both explored and put to bed on Wake Up, Sunshine. This album is me coming to terms with who I am, as well as reflecting on where we’ve been with the band and looking to the future.”

Having gone through a sticky patch collectively and as individuals in recent times, 2020 finds All Time Low returning with a renewed sense of faith in the music they’ve been making for the past 16 years, and Wake Up, Sunshine sees them wearing their scars with pride. The reception awarded to Getaway Green at Slam Dunk, and the subsequent online clamour for it to be released has given them confidence that the direction they’re heading in – one which builds on and embraces everything they’ve done up to this point – is the correct one.

The outpouring of love for Some Kind Of Disaster and its lyrics (“It’s a message from me saying, ‘Despite everything I put you through, thank you for still being here with me,’” Alex says), meanwhile, has helped him come to terms with his anxieties, flaws and mistakes.

“It’s about that first step in the process of sitting down and confronting your demons and vices,” Alex says of the openness with which he approached Wake Up, Sunshine. “Denial, dismissiveness and the feeling of inadequacy are all present. That song in particular is about acknowledging how people screw up, but that we’re stronger when we forgive, both others and ourselves. All told, this music is an ode to important people in my life, particularly the fans.”

Despite fan adoration and lyrical honesty, though, it’s the bond between the four men in All Time Low that shines brightest on these songs. The creation of this album has seen Alex, Jack, Zack and Rian grow as people and as artists, and rediscover their identity as a band. And in their eyes, it’s the friendship between them that’s holding this all together in 2020, just like it did in 2003.

“It says a lot that you can put the four of us under a roof in the desert and we can make a record without killing each other!” Alex jokes. “But in all seriousness, we grow together in this band – we’re always there for each other and act as our own internal support system. Even when times get rough, we resolve things before they get unhealthy. We’ve got such a good thing going in All Time Low, so there’s no reason to do what a lot of bands do and blow themselves apart over petty shit. When you’ve got it this good and you’re still making new fans over 15 years after you started, egos aren’t necessary.”

“The year off was a great reminder of how special what we have with All Time Low is,” Jack adds. “Being away from it for a while, I realised that I was probably taking it for granted. It’s easy to get lost within it all and feel like you need to get away to do something else. Going away, doing another project and then coming back and playing those Nothing Personal shows gave me a newfound respect for how amazing what we’ve built with All Time Low is. It’s made me value what we have that much more.”

Despite all the pressure, expectation and turmoil that comes with this life, things still feel as good as they did when All Time Low first embarked on this journey, seemingly.

“They absolutely do,” Jack concludes. “We started off as friends and we’ve been through a lot of changes in life and with the band, but I think those experiences have brought us closer together. We’re a family, really, and I see the bond between us as unbreakable now. This band, in my eyes, is together forever.”

He pauses.

“In fact, All Time Low doesn’t even feel like a band anymore. We’re brothers. That’s what makes this special.”

All Time Low’s new album Wake Up, Sunshine is out now via Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic.


“I woke up on a Tuesday // Felt like a Friday night to me… // Everyday’s a holiday // We stay hot when it’s cold outside, you know // Haven’t left your place in days,” All Time Low sing on “Sleeping In”, a track from their eighth studio album Wake Up, Sunshine. In the spring of 2020, many, many people are no doubt nostalgic for the time mere months ago when staying inside for just days felt extreme. Wake Up, Sunshine is itself something of an exercise in nostalgia going back even before the early part of this year, as suggested by not just the cover (which mocks the audio information which was commonly printed on the front of albums in the early Sixties), but even to a degree the title, which seems more reflective of some of the optimism which pop music trumpeted in older days.

That said, it’s probably a bit ironic (intentionally, we can hope) for the Baltimore pop-punk outfit to open an album called Wake Up, Sunshine with a song called “Some Kind of Disaster.” Still, the track is bright, energetic and an overall a decent starting point. The bouncy, aforementioned “Sleeping In” keeps things awake, while the ambiguously titled “Getaway Green” is another fun and exciting up-tempo ode to escapism. The title track is a tight, solid rocker which introduces a surprising but effective hair metal hook between the chorus and the verse while the overall song presents a positive message consistent with the theme (“Wake up, sunshine // ‘Cause somebody loves you for yourself”).

“Pretty Venom” (good title!) then introduces what’s essentially the middle section of the album (it’s even subtitled “Interlude”), the “sad” part, first with this mid-tempo acoustic number. “Favorite Place”, follows as a collaboration with promising Memphis rockers The Band CAMINO. This track is an uplifting, poignant entry into rock’s “I-Wanna-Come Home” lyrical subgenre (“’Cause I’m not too far //And you’re my favorite place”). A pre-listen peek at the track listing would make it hard not to notice the songs called “January Gloom (Seasons Part 1)” and “Summer Daze (Seasons Part 2).” Though the latter title is a bit of an overused and annoying cliché. By this point, coupled with the album’s cover artwork, it should be obvious that we may be dealing with that anomaly known as a concept album. The good news is both “seasonal” songs are tight and catchy pop.

Wake Up, Sunshine closes with “Basement Noise”, one of those autobiographical songs about an artists’ musical career (“… just stupid boys making basement noise”). A navel-gazer like this tune may seem like a rite-of-passage for a band that’s been around as long as All Time Low has at this point. Unfortunately, this last-minute thematic departure does nothing about the relative sameness in terms of the sound and feel on most of the album. All Time Low’s biggest strength probably lies with lead singer Alex Gaskarth, whose voice is more listenable than most others in the genre, which is particularly fortunate since as a start-to-finish listen, the album tends to become a bit droning by the third act. Still, Wake Up, Sunshine probably won’t have many less discriminating fans of the band or the genre of pop-punk in general.

author: Richard John Cummins


What would All Time Low do? It’s a question the band held close during the recording of their eighth outing, ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’. They’ve thrived embracing the cavalier, carefree attitude that comes with youth, but after nearly two decades together, what next?

author: Steven Loftin

“You start to have that identity crisis of you either become R.L. Stein, writing another Goosebumps book; where you just end up churning them out and simply change some names of the characters,” singer and guitarist Alex Gaskarth muses, chuckling.

“Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that. But it’s a very fine line to walk where you’re either regurgitating the same thing that you’ve done a million times, or you’re going completely off on a tangent at the cost of maybe alienating some of your fans.

“We’ve built something up over 16 years, and there’s an expectation for what people want from this. It’s finding that space and meeting those expectations while also staying true to ourselves as artists and not just regurgitating another Goosebumps novel.”

After the touring of 2017’s ‘Last Young Renegade’, which saw them explore different territories both sonically and conceptually, the good ship All Time Low needed to dock.

“We should be clear about this, too: there was no, ‘Alright guys, it’s time for a break’,” drummer Rian Dawson dazzles with his Hollywood smile. “It was not a hiatus. It was more, ‘We don’t need to do anything this year, we’ve earned a vacation.”

Just as Rian says, the time off wasn’t for any need to escape each other. The core of All Time Low, finished by guitarist Jack Barakat and bassist Zach Merrick, has always been the teenage bond that still runs as strong today; with the four of them sat around a bar table with Upset, at ease, and a clear air of ‘friends before band’ and smiles never wavering.

“I remember Alex told me about Simple Creatures,” he motions to his bandmate. “We’ve been in the band for fifteen-plus years, and we’ve never really talked about side-projects at all. I remember the call, he’s like, ‘Hey, so I’ve been writing with Mark [Hoppus, from blink-182] a lot, and we’re thinking about doing this thing’. And it was just same with Jack [and WhoHurtYou, his band with singer/songwriter Kevin Fisher] – there was nothing but excitement. There was no resentment about it or anything like that. We were all very much in contact.”

“It was really nice to have some time to ourselves,” Alex agrees. “You know, we all got to do various things; whether it was just spending some time at home with our families, which is always great and very welcome, or whether it was diving into new projects new endeavours. Jack started a new thing, and so did I. It was kind of a way to reset, get some headspace and clarity and just move away from All Time Low world for a minute. We’d been on tour for so long too.”

“Fifteen years!” Rian laughs. “Everything just kind of fit into place in the discourse. There was zero contention, zero anxiety about that. No, ‘But what about All Time Low if you’re doing that, and you’re doing that?!'” He continues.

“It was just like, ‘Okay, yeah, you guys flex that creative muscle that you need to, and then when we come back, we’ll be able to focus in on what we need to do next.”

“It definitely refocuses you to take that year off and to be able to do whatever creative processes you want to do on your own maybe. And then it also just made me realise at least like ‘Fuck, I really miss it’ in a very good way,” Rian says.

“It’s like coming back to school, except you like school, and you like everyone there, and you actually enjoy it!” Jack laughs behind sips of gin.

When it came to the four of them getting back in the classroom, or studio, it had to be something special. While they did drop the double A-side of ‘Birthday’ / ‘Everything Is Fine’ out of the blue back in 2018, “At this point, we didn’t feel like we needed to do that again,” Alex says for their decision to go all-in on an album.

“We’d done that, and it served its purpose. The big thing with those two tracks was that we felt as though ‘Last Young Renegade’ was tapering off record cycle wise, and we had a lot of touring left to do. So, we felt like it needed some kind of injection of a new excitement. It was a nice little transitional moment to wind down that record cycle, but without it feeling like we dragged it out.”

So, endeavouring to keep everything barebones, they took themselves away to a house in the desert, where the band set up shop with one simple purpose in mind; to be All Time Low.

To do this, they stripped things back to basics, no rigid timescale, just living and breathing what they love. No one was aware a new record was being made, it was just the four of them – and a producer, Zakk Cervini – hanging out, pushing away any of the bullshit that can crop up from being a band for so long.

“We’re in a unique position because we’ve made a lot of records,” Alex ponders. “This is record number eight for us, and I think, to be honest, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Sometimes having a more rigid timeline and needing to deliver on time actually pushes you to make something great in the constraints of what you’re working with.

“But at the same time, it’s all cyclical, and sometimes that can be too much. The beauty of this album is that the break and a lack of pressure came at the right time. It came at a time when we needed that to make a record that truly represents what All Time Low is in 2020.”

While all four figures of All Time Low were present, and doing what they do best, it was the addition of producer Zakk that helped Alex, Jack, Zach and Rian bring it all back to that question; what would All Time Low do?

“Zakk is the first producer we’ve ever worked with who was a fan first of our music,” Alex says. “He said to us before that he grew up listening to All Time Low, so it’s pretty cool to make a record with a 100% professional and insanely talented producer, but also with that added caveat that he grew up on our music.

“You don’t often look back and reference your own music when you make new stuff. But in his mind, he was able to know where the energy is, and what he wants to unlock from you and that made for a really interesting time again.”

Having met Zakk after Alex worked with him on the Simple Creatures EPs, “He was someone that was fresh in our mind to do our record,” Jack says. “I think that had a lot to do with it as well. Alex liked working with him a lot, and we knew him personally, but All Time Low hadn’t worked with him a lot.”

“Speaking personally, creatively, Simple Creatures gave me an avenue to do something that was very different and off the wall,” Alex says of its marks on ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’. “There were no expectations tied to it, and it was nice to be able to go do that and then come back with an almost even more focused sense of what All Time Low is and should be. It should sound like what we are trying to do.”

The moments in their career that haven’t kept the same timeless sparkle as the cough that introduces ‘Dear Maria’, or the positivity laden chugging guitars that welcome ‘Weightless’, are still ones that have a story. There’s no animosity to anything they’ve touched so far ultimately because it’s helped shape ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’, and the All Time Low of 2020.

“I wouldn’t use the term like, not worked out,” Alex reasons on any past endeavours. “But I would just say that, in the context of this album, doing it in this free-flowing way felt very appropriate. It felt like having that freedom was the best way to get this out, it created a great environment for us.”

“If it wasn’t working we were like, let’s just swim for two hours,” Jack pipes up, confirming the relaxed nature with another chuckle.

“And what’s cool about [having no expectations] is that wasn’t the intent really,” Rian says. “Again, after taking some time off and exploring other avenues, we all came back because we all knew what we wanted to do for the next record without even discussing it. Which shows how genuine it is; how it feels, and I don’t think that would have happened if we didn’t take some time and reassess to figure out where all the pieces lie.”

“It wasn’t a board meeting record where you sit down, and everybody goes, ‘What are we gonna do?!'” Alex eludes to past experience.

“The beauty of where we sit with it is that I’m still a fan of all the music I grew up on, and the music I grew up on is what moulded the sound of All Time Low – for all of us,” he says, met with resounding nods around the table.

“So, because I’m not ashamed of our roots and our beginnings, and where we came from, it’s very easy to still exist in that space and feel comfortable doing so. We’re not looking at ourselves and being over-analytical and going like, ‘Oh, we’re fucking 30, we can’t write fast songs anymore. They have distortion! It’s like we’ve got to grow up and make moody analogue, with clean guitars’, you know what I mean?

“Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that either because our last album, we very intentionally went a different direction and made a more synthy, weird album, and at the time, that just felt right.”

“It felt like it had been kept in for a while. We just needed to write that, and get that out there,” Rian adds.

The lesson that these toe-dipping exercises brought forward was predominantly self-belief. “It’s our name on it, forever,” Rian reasons. “So we have to be proud of it, even if it’s at the expense of some fans sometimes. If we’re not stoked on it, then it becomes a case of to not mention it, or to play it live. We connect with our fans very much in a live setting, so if we’re playing songs that we don’t love or do feel regurgitated or anything like that, it’ll show through pretty easily with us.”

Admitting that they’ve made records with the compromise of songs being written, or put on them, as “what’s beautiful” about where they are now is proof that the All Time Low are a band that are still yearning to develop. They’re still the four boys that formed a band in high school, where opportunity called, and they aren’t letting it get away.

They take losses on the chin, and break down the essence of what those missteps may have been, to lead to them making ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’. And it’s this balance that keeps Alex’s words of “we didn’t want people to see through it; it’s not just us that end up feeling – there are songs we never play for a reason,” echoing through those carefree desert days and nights.

“There are some songs we don’t play anymore because we didn’t really vibe with them to begin with, and then on top of that, when we did play them you could tell that the fans didn’t even buy-in because we didn’t either in our hearts.”

“Even we didn’t buy-in,” Alex continues his admission. “So at this point for us, the biggest thing is it has to feel so rad in the moment. We all have to be stoked on the energy that occurs right when you create it, because that thing is the magic moment. Eight months later, you might hate the song, but remember how you felt in the first five minutes when you were first writing? And if everyone in the room was jumping up and down going ‘Fuck yeah!’ That is what’s going to translate at the show, right?”

It’s this energy that propels through the London underplay show they play while they’re in town. Alongside every classic track from across the All Time Low arsenal, the likes of ‘Some Kind of Disaster’ and ‘Get Away Green’ slot so naturally alongside that Alex’s next exclamation is beyond agreeable.

“Those are both songs that had that energy about them. It just felt like this is quintessential All Time Low – but in the here and now. I had those moments where I would listen to the songs, and I’d be like, ‘I feel like I’ve heard these songs 5000 times and they’re still career-defining – but [the album’s] not even out yet!” he smirks.

When asked what their favourite moments on ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ are, given it’s a fifteen-song strong effort, the conversation ends up snowballing into the band naming every song with its merits, not a single one forgotten. “This is going to sound douchey to say, but there was just no fat to trim – I’ve listened to it so many times, and I’m just in love with it,” Rian sparkles.

Last year marked the tenth anniversary of ‘Nothing Personal’, undoubtedly the album that cemented All Time Low’s place in the pop-punk canon, where they tacked a more focused view on growing up with the acceptance of their success and the voices they were speaking for and to.

Celebrating their seminal effort brought with it various facets, and for Rian the hunger was there to keep going. All Time Low have always been the kind of band that revels in the chaotic madness that comes from the electric energy of a gig.

This little break from the break to honour this chapter should have had an effect on ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’, given its return to their roots, right? According to Alex, not as big a part as you’d think.

“I think they helped for a lot of reasons, but I wouldn’t say that the shows, or even the 10-year tribute; I don’t think that they had any bearing on it because most of the music was written at that point,” he shrugs. “But I will say that from a reinvigoration standpoint, it definitely got us thinking about our beginnings and being appreciative for the fact that we were where we were.”

“Seeing how excited people were at the shows and realising how meaningful that record was to people,” he continues, “I think really amped up this new record because it feels to me like it’s going to fit in as a very classic All Time Low record. One that, three or more records from now would be like, ‘Oh, that’s a top three or whatever else’.

“I just think that it speaks so much to what All Time Low is – it feels very much like this band’s record, you know? Which is weird to say because it makes it sound like I value other records less or differently. But it’s just like, this feels like such a culmination of everything we’ve ever done slammed into one thing, and you don’t always get that magic.”

“It was also playing those shows and feeling that connection with the audience while playing those songs. When we were writing new music a lot of the time all I could think about is how is this going to be live… but how are we going to do this live? And every single one of those songs just makes sense live like there’s no real thought process of how it will work the crowd.

“It’s like all this work, and I feel like those ‘Nothing Personal’ shows, like you said, reinvigorated that sense of that fan-band connection – we’re all in this together and all of these songs I believe will have that connection, which isn’t always the case. Sometimes you need to prove it, but with these, it’s just like, ‘Oh that’ll work’.”

“We found that out real fast playing ‘Some Kind of Disaster’. The first time we played it, we were like, ‘Ooop there it is!” Zach says, amazed.

“That was one of those moments in a band where you’re like,” Rian says with his mouth agape and wide-eyed. “And that was definitely one of ’em. Even ‘Get Away Green’, when we did it at Slam Dunk – that was out of nowhere. We just played a new song. It was Alex’s idea we were like, ‘No, we’re not doing that’,” Rian chortles.

Jack adds, laughing: “Yeah, I was so against it, but it ended up being really good!”

“And then by day two, everyone’s singing along!” Rian marvels. “I was gonna say the opposite happened when we took that year off. I was just like, I wanna play more shows! I mean, finally, we did at the end of last year, when we did those ‘Nothing Personal’ shows. I remember on the last Jersey one we were texting, and I was like, ‘Can we just fucking keep going?!'” His excitement palpable.

“Sometimes we have to step away from something to realise how much you take it for granted,” Jack adds.

“Yeah, you not so much take it for granted, but it’s like, ‘Okay, we’re doing another tour’,” Rian reasons.

“I take it for granted!” Jack jokingly retorts.

“[It was an] autopilot of like, ‘Okay, this year is set’, and then it goes away and it’s just like, ‘Oh my god!; like, halfway through the year I was just so ready to get back on the road.”

The bare essence of All Time Low can no doubt still be heard echoing from the concrete of Rian’s parent’s basement when they first began, chaotically rattling through blink-182 covers. So, it’s fitting that this should be the sentiment that rounds off All Time Low Mk VIII with ‘Basement Noise’.

“That song was written in a moment of reflection and looking back on the very beginnings of this band and what it was all about,” Alex says.

“I think what’s interesting about that song, and how it frames and ends the record is that it very much describes what we were feeling while making this album because it was reminiscent of how we started making music in Rian’s parents’ basement. It was very much a callback to those feelings, those emotions and so exploring that in that song felt very…”

“It’s very meta!” Jack quips.

While love, yearning, and the inevitable heartbreak, are the bread and butter to all music genres, in pop-punk the angst that thrashes around, hoping for someone to understand, does have a life-span. Often, bands that start out in this world fall into the trap of being proper adults still trying to process those thoughts that do change with time, through no-longer-youthful eyes.

Alex’s reasoning for how All Time Low adapt to this pitfall continues the trajectory of self-awareness and knowing how to balance being true to processing what he needs to while ensuring the factors that drew the world to the band stay.

“A big part of it is that it’s all the lens that you’re looking through,” he says. “Even when there are songs that feel reflective of our older material, it’s all being done through where we are now as people and as friends and as, you know, encounters that we’re seeing in our 30s or whatever.

“At the end of the day, it would feel insincere to be writing about the things I was writing about when I was 20. We’re not forcing it and being like, ‘We’ve got to sound like we’re still 21 years old’, it’s more about just casting the right net and getting the thought out of it, whether they’re memories or whether their experiences or whatever and then putting it putting it through the lens that feels right.”

Which is why ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ does genuinely feel like the next great All Time Low album. It dabbles with the future, while deeply rooted in that understanding that the action-packed tunes, and the minds that created them, are in this with us. Exposing the main trend for the album, even its title feels like Alex talking to himself, reminding he and his bandmates of the fact they’re living their childhood dream.

“A lot of the album is very reflective,” he says, eyes focused. “Like a kind of self-reflection, but there are a lot of parallels between talking about the band, and fanbase, and how we’ve all come up as a unit together.”

Of course, the All Time Low fanbase – including their own official Hustlers Club – is an important factor behind the band’s success, but they’re also the ones who whip the tide of creative change into a confusing mess of stillness and wary adventure. But for All Time Low, they know they know they have a responsibility to evolve, as referenced on ‘Melancholy Kaleidoscope’ which sees a rousing chorus ending with “Can’t be 100 if you’re only giving 95.”

“[That is] a perfect example of a line that does speak to the band. You’re never going to be your best self if you’re not giving your best,” Alex says.

“That is how, at least I, personally, felt at the end of the ‘Last Young Renegade’ cycle, you know? I think we were just a little burnt out,” Jack adds.

“Sure. That’s why we weren’t ready to go make a record,” Alex continues. “But for me personally, that song is also about being okay mentally. You can’t begin to fix what’s going on with you, or whatever, if you’re not invested in starting to fix yourself. It was kind of that song for me. It was a wake-up call for myself to say, ‘Hey, like, you know, you can feel better’.”

There generally tends to be three components to growing as a band, and in the vast majority of cases, most only get the choice of two; success, founding members or longevity. But somehow All Time Low have all three. What do they put that up to?

“I think the brotherhood of this band is what has kept this band going,” Alex muses, “and has kept the band feeling fun and fresh and like we want to do it. And I think the reason you see a lot of bands over time dis-band is that it does become a job.”

“As much as that sucks to say because you’re doing the coolest thing in the world, it’s true. You know, there are people that do get to a point where they’re like, ‘I can’t fucking stand being around this person anymore, I need a break’. I need to go do something for myself, whatever it is, and in this case, we’ve never had them. I feel like whenever we’re off tour for a long time, we’re always texting each other being like, ‘I fucking can’t wait to be on tour again’.”

Now All Time Low is a bonafide name that can pull headline slots and arena tours, the fact bands they grew up listening to, and formed their sound around, haven’t lasted as long with such success, with no line-up changes is remarkable.

Even blink-182, the band that gave them cause to start scrappily covering pop-punk songs, succumbed to a ‘hiatus’ after side-projects became involved, and had line-up changes after less time than All Time Low to boot. All told, they’re a band who are a solid form of just what it means to be a band.

“I mean, it’s pretty wild when thinking about that, we, sixteen years into a career, still get to make albums and they still feel great to us, and people are still engaged.” Alex beams. “They want them and want to hear what we have to say and do next. Beyond that, it’s just cool to see this band grow and change and evolve and shift with, you know, sort of what All Time Low is and what people perceive us to be.

“We’ve always operated within a wheelhouse of All Time Low. It’s always been fun to kind of push the walls and the envelope what that is and what we sound like,” he continues.

“With every record, we hone and enhance and change that style a little bit. But to me, especially with this album, it very much feels like a quintessential All Time Low record. And this is going to be one that you know, ends up feeling very classic in our catalogue.”

Hours after Upset’s interview with All Time Low, they head off to a BRIT Awards party where afterwards Jack posted a band selfie on Instagram with the caption; “You know how they say don’t start a band with your friends? That’s why I started a band with my BEST friends.”

There’s no more proof needed. They may have taken the odd detour, but the lost young renegades are once again found. 

Taken from the April issue of Upset. All Time Low’s album ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ is out now.


All Time Low became a band in the year I was born, 2003. They’re actually a month older than I am. Four members came together in the suburbs of Baltimore and built their pop-punk empire through years of guitar-smashing, rockin’ concerts and impressive albums.

I became a fan of the band in the middle of 2015 and quickly became obsessed. The obsession dated back to “The Party Scene” in 2005 with “So Wrong It’s Right,” “Nothing Personal,” “Dirty Work,” “Don’t Panic” and “Future Hearts” quickly following.

“Future Hearts” basically discerned my music tastes for the last five years. It included hits like “Something’s Gotta Give,” “Kids in the Dark” and “Dancing with a Wolf” which showcased each amazing talent from the band. Alexander Gaskarth made new strides in his vocal range, Jack Barakat was able to jam out but also create touching riffs on guitar, Zack Merrick absolutely killed it on bass throughout the album and drummer Rian Dawson elevated the album in a new way that he hadn’t done on the previous ones.

After “Future Hearts,” I was expecting another fantastic album. A couple of months went by, and the band released cryptic clues and excited fans about a new album even more. However, when “Last Young Renegades” released in June 2017, I, along with a lot of the other fans, couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.

It’s not that “Last Young Renegades” was bad, it was that the album wasn’t classic All Time Low. There were good songs, like the title track and “Afterglow,” but the overall vibe was off. It was a darker path that they hadn’t explored much. It felt like they were forced to take a new path that wasn’t comfortable with them.

So, when I heard that their eighth album “Wake Up, Sunshine” was to be released on April 3 I was excited but also nervous. I didn’t let myself get expectations up just in case the album was bad.

I listened to the album straight through the minute it came out, and I couldn’t be more pleased to say that there was no need to fear all along.

“Some Kind of Disaster” was first up on the album, and was also the first song to be released. On Jan. 21, I finally let go of some of my worries as I listened to it for the first time. The song is incredibly upbeat in nature and has an incredible climax right after the slowing down of the bridge. The drums are steady, the bass is subtle, the guitar supports the song and Gaskarth’s vocals kick off the album in an authentic All Time Low style.

Next on the album is “Sleeping In,” an upbeat want-to-dance-around-the-room song. In this song, the bass takes more prominence in the verses while the guitar kicks in during the chorus. The quick tempo also adds to the fun of the song, as well as the lyric “dirty laundry,” an Easter egg for fans of the track “Dirty Laundry” from “Last Young Renegade.” In the last album, it meant secrets that pile too high cause damage, but in this case, it’s accepted as a sign of life and how a healthy relationship can thrive even with it.

“Getaway Green” definitely stands out among the album. The song was previously played in a few concerts and was electric when performed live. Fans like me were desperate to hear the studio version, and it did not disappoint. Barakat starts the song with a strong guitar, and it keeps going throughout the whole song. The best part of the song is definitely the bridge, where Gaskarth’s vocals are brought to the front line while a simple guitar and drums support it. Overall, it’s a great song to shout along to.

Following “Getaway Green” comes another rock song in the softer “Melancholy Kaleidoscope.” It’s still very much a rock song but it has a softer tone as it goes to the chorus and onward. This is definitely a song where Dawson does a great job of drumming throughout. The song also stands out in lyrics with drops of wisdom “can’t be 100 if you’re only giving 95.”

“Trouble Is” starts with a misleading vibe, but eventually builds to an incredible chorus. Gaskarth’s vocals shine in the chorus as he sings the main lines with his own back-up vocals. An incredible bass line also sneaks its way in and out of the spotlight. This song mixes what was good about “Last Young Renegade” and also the parts that were a bit more questionable, but still earns its place on the album.

In the first 12 seconds of the title track, the song was going in a million different directions all at once before it finally settled on a rocking guitar and drums. To me, this song stood out because it was a sign that All Time Low was back. It’s an upbeat song to blare on a car radio throughout a scenic drive while you and your friends shout along. The song stands out on the album for both the stellar fun lyrics and the incredible instruments.

“Monsters” featuring Blackbear is a song that completely took me by surprise. The song dramatically opposes “Wake Up, Sunshine” with its darker tone and lyrics. The genuine surprise lied in was the rap verse in the middle of the song. It was the first All Time Low song that even contained one, but it added on to the song in a brilliant way.

Another dramatic opposition comes in the form of the interlude, “Pretty Venom.” It has a darker tone like “Monsters” but has a softer touch. It brings in a softer quality from both the acoustic and electric guitars that haven’t really been heard since tracks like “A Daydream Away” and “No Idea” from “Dirty Work.” It tells a similar story to “Monsters”, but it contains a much more regretful tone. Once again, different, but still a good song.

The Band Camino is another favorite of mine, and their influence is definitely obvious as they perform “Favorite Place” with All Time Low. A strong drum kicks off the song along with the layered guitars from The Band Camino’s album “Tryhard.” It combines soft rock elements from “Future Hearts” and indie rock elements from “Tryhard” to make a catchy song that has a deeper meaning spread all throughout.

“Safe” isn’t a song that particularly stands out but has a good message especially in this era where things can barely be trusted as the world falls down all around us. It has a tone similar to “Kids in the Dark” from “Future Hearts” in where it’s an anthem about counting on underlying courage and using it to move forward in life.

“January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” starts off with a strong guitar and bass but leads to a softer chorus that builds throughout the song. Overall, not a bad song, but its somewhat sad tone offsets the good parts.

After the previous two tracks, “Clumsy” comes in like a brilliant ray of sunshine. The song immediately hooks the listener in and demands it holds attention throughout the entire thing. Vocals, guitar, bass and drums all have their individual moments in the song but come together in an amazing way. It’s reminiscent of “Break Your Little Heart” from “Nothing Personal” in the lyrics, but instead of being happy about breaking another’s heart, it’s regretful in a way. It definitely ranks high in terms of the entire album and is possibly among the best throughout All Time Low’s long career.

Another top-ranked song on the album is “Glitter and Crimson”. It tells another story of a rocky relationship against the world, but it’s overall sweet and melancholic. In this song, Merrick’s bass finally shines along throughout. Gaskarth also brings out never heard before vocals in the bridge, where it’s very close to pop-punk screaming, but it’s done tastefully and doesn’t take away from the song, but rather adds to it in a meaningful, heartfelt way.

“Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt. 2)” was everything that “January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” was not. It was upbeat with incredible instruments and a happier vibe that’s very similar to “Getaway Green”. With lyrics like “nothing gold can stay you told me so,” referencing a poem by Robert Frost, it hits close to home and can be relatable for everyone.

The final track on the album, “Basement Noise,” is a soft anthem for long-time fans. It tells the story of the boys playing in the basement for band rehearsals in the early stages, and how no matter the fame they gain, they’re always going to be “stupid boys making basement noise.” With a muted guitar and drums, the lyrics drive the song forward and leave the album on a bittersweet note.

Overall, the album was so much more than expected. There were surprises all throughout, and hints of past albums and memories brought more than a few tears. From Blackbear’s and The Band Camino’s features to impressive vocals and instrumentals and to the hard-hitting lyrics, this album feels like All Time Low is back, and that they are back for good.

Whether someone is a dedicated fan of the band or not, the album is still a great piece of work with many different songs for fans of pop-punk, alternative and rock genres.

Rating: 8 out of 10

author: Morgan Vehige


It was 2018 when pop-punk veterans All Time Low took a much-needed break after over a decade of hitting the pavement hard. It was warranted as any onlooker could see where the band was heading as they continued to run on fumes. Their 2017 full-length, Last Young Renegade, fell flat in the pop-punk group’s discography. They veered away from their sound to experiment heavily with the sonic landscape of the record, trying to tie it all together as a concept album. This, mixed with their leaving of home-bred label Hopeless Records to sign with Fueled by Ramen, created a body of work that didn’t quite connect. They went on to release a couple of one-off singles that felt more authentic to who All Time Low was, but the songs still didn’t feel as sturdy as they could be.

The group shortly found themselves taking a step back to do some musical soul-searching. All the members dabbled in projects, but it was frontman Alex Gaskarth and lead guitarist Jack Barakat that were most notable. Gaskarth teamed up with Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus to create an alt-electro duo titled Simple Creatures that found Gaskarth gleaming in a genre that he’d never journeyed down before. Barakat, on the other hand, helped in creating an infectious alt-pop side project, WhoHurtYou, that let the guitarist try to take songwriting by the horns. Fast forward to 2020, and it seems like the year of growth and musical recharge served its purpose as their comeback, Wake Up, Sunshine, feels like modern nostalgia of the culmination of the entire band’s discography. 

The ninth studio album documents All Time Low at their best. Soon after rerecording 2009 record Nothing Personal for the 10-year-anniversary last year, it felt like a vessel for jumpstarting much of the sound that is jam-packed in Wake Up, Sunshine. The record also couldn’t have come at a better time. With the state of global isolation, the pop-punk scene needed some familiarity to help distract them from the foreseeable future. The pop-punk scene needed a new All Time Low record. And, they delivered, as their April 3rd release was chalked full of the fizzy, poppy-punk anthems that the group does so well. Bursting at the seams with that top-down, screaming loud sound that dominated their earlier works, it’s a refreshing reminder of the powerhouse that All Time Low is when they get it right. Wake Up, Sunshine isn’t just a return to their roots musically, but it is a return to the themes of young love and the ever-chasing-youth that has always been their sweet spot. 

Running down the pre-album singles that were released, it’s opener “Some Kind of Disaster” and “Sleeping In” that pack the biggest punch. Playing to their strengths, they both reminiscence on the group’s biggest influences- Green Day and Blink-182. “Some Kind of Disaster” rides a feverish chorus, amplifying the electric rollercoaster that is found in any Green Day great. “Sleeping In,” though, pushes with heavy, roaring drums and fun melodic vocals while including a pop culture reference with, “If I said I want your body, would you hold it against me? Seven in the morning while I listen to Britney” that oozes with early 2000’s Blink. 

Surprisingly, the title track is a strong effort for the record. “Wake Up, Sunshine” is anything but a corny relief as it falls more into the category of self-love that could be the elevated sister of Future Heart’s “Missing You.” A genius play by Gaskarth here to provide a more laidback surf-rock sound as the song sits confidently in the middle of the record- the perfect break in between. The track bleeds into “Monsters” featuring Blackbear, which is one of the two features that is found on the album. Dabbling in the more experimental, this slick, electro-rap/rock blend feels more at home on Last Young Renegade than it does here, but it still offers a decent performance regardless of how fast it fades from memory. The other collaboration, “Favorite Place” featuring The Band Camino, braces the storm much better. It is a golden, uplifting tune that becomes an earworm as soon as one hears the infectious, booming chorus even though the lyrics focus on the downturn of distanced love. 

Elsewhere on the record, “Safe” is an addictive slow-burn that soars with a guitar-charged chorus that would be done a disservice if it isn’t listened to speeding down a highway with friends, “Glitter and Crimson” displays a stunning vocal from Gaskarth at its bridge while “Clumsy” is another highlight that could be easily slotted into a modern day So Wrong it’s Right. The soundscape plays off the grit of Don’t Panic while Gaskarth’s vocals mimic that of early All Time Low. It acts as a time machine for any long-time fan who is always just looking for something nostalgic.

The spotlight of the record, though, must be handed to the heartfelt closer, “Basement Noise.” Arguably the most impactful closing track from any All Time Low record, the song is a sentimental ode to the band’s origin story- documenting how they started playing in the basement of drummer Rian Dawson’s house back in high school. Most songs that relate back to an artist’s roots can come across stale and generic, but one doesn’t find that here. Featuring Gaskarth’s best lyricism of the record, “Basement Noise” is a seamless recollection of memories and nostalgia packed into a musical shoebox. It’s poetic. It’s raw. It’s real. And, it ties in everything the band has transformed into 15 years later.

Gaskarth’s lyrical prowess, though, doesn’t begin and end with “Basement Noise.” Instead, one sees the peaks of Gaskarth’s creative writing and ever so beloved metaphors and synonyms that dominated earlier works like Dirty Work and Don’t Panic all throughout. With lyrics like, “Alive in the age of outrage and outrageous behavior. They say it’s a calling. Are you living well in living hell?” in the title track, the evocative, “Turned the desert all to glass. Dropping bombs on future’s past. Nothing’s left for us, shadows dancing in the ash” that tumbles from “Clumsy,” the wordplay, “Serendipity and summer showers. We soak it up like flowers growing through the concrete, but nothing gold can stay” hummed in “Summer Daze,” or the thought-provoking, “How long can we be happy if happy ain’t good for us? ‘Cause being less ain’t good enough. But, being us feels good to us” that dominates “Glitter in Crimson” it is obvious that Gaskarth has rediscovered his lyrical groove.

Wake Up, Sunshine is a timestamp moment for a group like All Time Low. While it does revisit certain themes that have revolved around the group’s discography, there is a newfound fond that feels refreshing for the group to explore in deeper thought. One gets the sense of nostalgia that radiates from the record, but it’s a modern feeling of growing up and self-discovery that catapults the band forward instead of just recreating their past. It gives that fuzzy comfort of brighter days and hazy adolescence that has always gravitated fans to All Time Low’s sound. Wake Up, Sunshine feels like the sun cascading onto your face, and in these gloomy times, that is exactly what we need from music. This is definitely an album that will make others remember why they fell in love with the band in the first place. 


author: Hope Ankley


As Basement Noise, the closing track on Wake Up, Sunshine, deftly reaches its dreamy, nostalgic end, Alex Gaskarth and his bandmates are left singing a cappella: ‘Just stupid boys making basement noise in the basement.’ It’s the perfect note on which to conclude All Time Low’s eighth album for a number of reasons. For one, it’s a literal – albeit self-deprecating – statement about the making of the record, with the quartet collectively joining forces under the same roof to live and breathe this music together for the first time in years. But even more importantly, it charmingly captures the mood of Wake Up, Sunshine as a whole: thoughtful, light-hearted and, yes, even a little bit sentimental.

That’s not to say that All Time Low were desperately needing to recapture their essence here. But the band – Alex, guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson – had taken something of a left-turn on 2017’s Last Young Renegade, favouring conceptual storylines and a sleeker sound over the bright pop-punk that had soundtracked albums of their past. Alex has previously described this seemingly temporary vibe as “moody, neon, and like driving through the city streets at night time”. Now, the haze has lifted, and All Time Low are practically glowing.
If you’ve already taken a quick glance at Wake Up, Sunshine’s 15-song tracklist, you might have guessed this, and the Baltimore crew boast enormous confidence across the second-longest album of their lives (behind 2015’s Future Hearts). Crucially, each song is deserving of its place, with Alex’s songwriting talents in particular given the opportunity to flourish. Opener Some Kind Of Disaster sets the precedent early on, expertly twisting and turning from warm, mellow rock, to epic, anthemic sing-alongs and peppy pop-punk, as the frontman himself declares, ‘It’s all downhill ’til it’s a climb / Through blood and tears but I don’t mind / I’ll just keep singing on and on and on.’ Sleeping In and Getaway Green follow suit superbly, before early highlight Melancholy Kaleidoscope somehow manages to mask gloomy lyrical themes of seasonal depression within outrageously infectious melodies. It is the audio equivalent of a Vitamin D injection.

What becomes more clear as the rest of Wake Up, Sunshine plays out, though, is that All Time Low are both fine-tuning what has always made them so great, but also dabbling with new ideas. Trouble Is plays with an experimental time signature, while January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1) boasts a genuine attitude from Alex as he confronts his winter blues and admits he’s ‘A victim of the season / Need a better reason to be miserable.’ On Monsters, meanwhile, hip-hop star blackbear provides a powerful rapped second verse in what is arguably the most interesting, genre-defying collaboration the band have ever worked on. We can presumably thank both Alex and Jack’s non-pop-punk side-projects Simple Creatures and WhoHurtYou for that.

Indeed, these brief stints away from the band have benefitted them enormously, and the overwhelming feeling you’re left with after hearing the likes of Clumsy, Favorite Place (featuring The Band CAMINO) and Wake Up, Sunshine’s title-track is that All Time Low are on the form of their career here. Not only that, but it’s a feeling that doesn’t wear off, and such is the enthusiasm contained within, this is an album that will bring joy to its listeners time and time again. Long may these ‘stupid boys making basement noise’ keep doing what they’re doing.

Verdict: 4/5

author: Emily Carter


We speak to Jack Barakat following the release of their new album Wake Up, Sunshine

author: Malvika Padin

From four lifelong friends in love with music to global icons who traverse genres, All Time Low – aka Alex Gaskarth (lead vocals, guitar), Jack Barakat (lead guitar, backing vocals), Zack Merrick (bass, backing vocals), and Rian Dawson (drums) – have come full circle by harkening back to the youthful energy of their initial days on their eighth full-length studio album, Wake Up, Sunshine.

Lead guitarist of the Baltimore band, Jack Barakat describes the album with three simple words ; “ATL is back.” Delving further he explains, “A lot of the record musically and energy-wise reflects our early music and it’ll probably remind fans of that past sound.”

With nearly two decades of experience and a lot of genre experimenting behind them, the quartet – formed in 2003 – return to their pop punk soundscape once again. Reflecting on their motivation for this, Jack offers, “We did a 10-year anniversary re-recording of our album Nothing Personal so getting back to that mindset, we had a new energy and we were inspired to write power pop. Our last record was moody and a kind of night-time driving record so we wanted to give people something from the past ATL.”

On the trajectory their sound took from pop punk to moody soundscapes and the reason behind it, the guitarist comments, “Early on we hadn’t really toured or played that many shows, we only had the experience of growing up, playing in our parent’s basement or a few local shows.”

“Over the years of touring the world, and being exposed to so many different kinds of music like metal, hip-hop , indie rock and having our own tastes change, we’ve been able experiment with our sound more. While still being All Time Low, we have our eyes and ears opened to different genres.”

Detailing the band’s song writing process, both in general and for this album in particular, Jack says, “When it comes to song writing Alex is really good at putting himself into other people’s shoes and reflecting on the past when writing, but I personally am more comfortable with expressing things I’ve been through in almost a literal sense like a diary entry.

“Since I don’t have much experience with writing, tracks where I contribute to the lyrics I’m particularly proud of. In this album, that would be ‘Monster’. It also has a cool blend of sounds and there’s a great feature from hip-hop master blackbear which fits so well.”

Since they’ve done everything from hip-hop to indie, talking about genres that remain unchartered for All Time Low is particularly exciting for Jack. He mulls over it for a while before exclaiming, “ We haven’t done much of hard rock collaborations. A country mash-up might be cool too. Maybe in the next record!”

The exposure to different genres is a natural extension of the band’s year-long tours. Having travelled the world for the better part of a decade, there are a lot of countries that feel like home to All Time Low. Describing his favourite place to play, Jack reveals, “Asia is a favourite, Japan in particular. Over the past 10 years we’ve probably been there 10 times. It’s not just the music or our connection, it’s the people and how welcoming they are that makes it so great.”

But in a world so wide there are many places that ATL haven’t yet had a chance to visit. Naming a few, he says, “We’d love to go to India. It’s on my top three to visit. My brother went to India and loved it, so I’d love to experience myself. I think Africa is another one.”

Despite not having visited some parts of the world, the band’s message is one that stretches out to all of humanity and is something the world needs to hear right now. Speaking of the all-encompassing message of their music, Jack says, “Everything’s going to be okay. There’s so many beautiful things around us, life is worth living.”

This message, and the connection they hope to forge with their listeners, is important for All Time Low. Even speaking of the best and most frustrating parts of making music, the word ‘connection’ makes appearances.

Talking about the best part, Jack offers, “The feeling when you get the chorus right and your mind switches to the thought that fans will be singing back to us soon. When we make it, the song is our baby and we have a special connection with it. Then it becomes everyone’s baby.” And about the frustrating bits, he says, “Writing a song that you think is amazing and it doesn’t connect with people like you thought it would, that can be hard because it can make you doubt yourself. But if you loved it while you made it, then you just need to trust yourself.”

Trusting themselves seems to have worked very well for the group if their illustrious career is any indication. Reminiscing about the highlights of ATL’s long journey, Jack explains, “When we headlined Wembley Arena, which at that point was our first time, it was an indescribable feeling. The first couple of moments is surreal and mind-altering. For the first three songs we were in awe that this was actually happening to us.” 

Jack, alongside his band and the rest of the world, are paused at the moment for reasons that everyone knows – for now he eats his “nutritious” breakfast of a shot of vodka and eggs – but All Time Low have big plans for the future. “One thing we’ve got planned is genre-defying stuff like crossovers. We want to have tours where different influences mix and different kinds of people come. ”

With a little more wisdom, a lot more experience and the same old love for music, All Time Low are back and they’re here to stay – always!

Wake Up, Sunshine is out now. Read our review of the record here.


Even for longtime fans of the band, many of us were taken back by surprise by just how good Wake Up, Sunshine is. All Time Low have crafted their quintessential mid-career masterpiece that picks all of the best elements of each of their previous studio album efforts and expands upon these landmark moments with glowing results. The songs never stray too far from what All Time Low have accomplished in the past; they do these moments bigger and better on this record. This is one of those albums that grabs you from the very first listen, doesn’t disappoint, and still leaves you with a feeling of warmth and comfort through each of your repeat spins. In an age where some bands are postponing their releases in favor of garnering more attention in the fall, All Time Low have graced us with an early-summer treat that will stay in our daily rotations for the foreseeable future.

Alex Gaskarth paints a self-loathing picture of himself on the opening track and first single, “Some Kind of Disaster,” as he sings, “I’m a liar, I’m a cynic / I’m a sinner, I’m a saint / I’m a loser, I’m a critic / I’m the ghost of my mistakes / And it’s all my fault that I’m still the one you want / So what are you after? / Some kind of disaster.” This type of self-doubt quickly fades away, though as Gaskarth and his band ooze with confidence and swagger as the rest of the record unfolds. For example, on “Sleeping In,” All Time Low crank up the guitars and coast through the song with newfound ease with shimmering pop verses and a speedy chorus. The improved song structures and approach to their songwriting truly shows all over the LP and All Time Low have very little left to be desired. Each song feels like it takes on its personality and still fits succinctly into the bigger puzzle that is Wake Up, Sunshine.

“Getaway Green” is easily one of the more confident songs that All Time Low have written, and with its excellent guitar attack courtesy of Jack Barakat and Gaskarth, it never loses its momentum. Drummer Rian Dawson has some underrated fills in the track and helps make the chorus hit its intended heights. The song displays a great bridge too, as Gaskarth sings, “Do you want to know how the story ends? / Hazy and spun out, just more than friends / Weekend wonderful, a dizzy dream / A colorful lie, we made a hell of a team.”

Other songs in the front half of the record, such as the cleverly titled “Melancholy Kaleidoscope,” remind fans of the Last Young Renegade and Don’t Panic eras with subtle nods to their past work. From the humming sirens that play in the background of the verses to the overall metaphors of taking the time to do your self-care, the one lyric that stuck with me is the repetitious one of, “You can’t be 100, if you’re only giving 95.” If we don’t aspire to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, then what’s the point? Even somewhat straight-forward All Time Low songs such as “Trouble Is” never feel out of place on a record that has more redeeming moments than any of the recent ATL albums I can think of.

The title track is pure guitar-pop bliss and solidifies everything that the album has going for it. From the great build-up verses to the summery-feeling chorus, the song demands to be blasted on your next care-free drive into the city. The first half of the record closes out with “Monsters” that features a unique collaboration with rapper Blackbear. The driving bass line from Zack Merrick makes the song stomp with the some of the swagger that we have grown accustomed to from pop-punk veterans Fall Out Boy, but now All Time Low are taking their own stab at this type of scene royalty. The rapped verse from their collaborator doesn’t seem as out of place as I was anticipating, and if anything, it actually provided a little more variety to the album.

The interlude sandwiched in the middle of the album provides the listener with a brief chance to reflect on the material from the first half and take a collective breath to prepare for the great songs that follow. “Favorite Place” features another collaboration, this time with The Band CAMINO, and showcases some cool guitar work in the opening moments that initially reminded me of early-Angels & Airwaves. It could have been the best moment on the album if not for the pure gem of a track in “Safe.” It’s on that song that All Time Low come to full terms with their maturation as brilliant songwriters, regardless of what genre you want to plug them into. As fucking massive as the chorus is on this one, the bridge really stuck with me too as Gaskarth sings, “Just put the car in drive / And chase the county lines / You never know how far you’ll go / Ride the coastal highs / For every long goodbye / There’ll be a future down the road /
Why don’t you take a little time to get away?” The vocal effects on the bridge don’t distract from the beauty of the lyrics.

The latter half of the album features two songs that reflect on the changing of time (“January Gloom, Seasons, Pt. 1” and “Summer Daze, Seasons, Pt. 2”), and both of them further balance out the feelings that come with each passing season. The other songs around it, such as the dance-hall ready “Clumsy” are some of the best work of All Time Low’s career and only further showcases a band that genuinely fired on all cylinders on Wake Up, Sunshine. By the time you reach the concluding track of “Basement Noise,” it becomes that much clearer that the direction that All Time Low took was the right choice in the right moment in time for both themselves as people, as well as artists.

Wake Up, Sunshine checks all the boxes on what longtime fans of All Time Low have grown to be drawn to from the four band members, yet they still manage to blow away all preconceived expectations on what their band is or could become. This is a record that is going to stick with me for quite some time, and I’m sure everyone will be able to come back to it whenever they need that pick-me-up moment to help them get through their day.

author: Adam Grundy