All Time Low

author PP date 21/07/11

Alex and Jack of All Time Low are quite the duo to handle in an interview, because their off-stage persona is not much different from their extravagant and high-energy on-stage personas where they just love to tell juvenile jokes and generally act retarded. For example, straight after the rounds of interviews finished you could hear Alex screaming from the top of his lungs by himself in an empty room. So to steer the two into a direction that could be used for a serious interview turned out to be a challenge in the beginning, thanks to previous interviewers who had mostly been from teen pop magazines designed for high school students. Fortunately it succeeded to a reasonable degree, check out the results below: First of all, let's do a round of introductions for the record.
Alex: I'm Alex. This is my life companion and life partner, Jack, and we are one half of All Time Low. Are you guys excited to be back?
Alex: Surely. Absolutely. It's been a while, and I'm just excited to play for this crowd. We've been doing a lot of festival shows lately, so it's kind of nice to break that up and do an intimate headlining show. You guys are going to West Coast Riot tomorrow, right, and it's a bit more of a punk and hardcore festival. What do you think about that?

Alex: Yeah. I don't know, it should be fun. There are some great bands playing, I think it will be an awesome crowd, and I'm gonna bring the punishment. Cock punishment. You guys have a new album out called "Dirty Works", how are you feeling about it?
Alex: Fucking good. I'm stoked.

Jack: It's the best album ever released of all time.

Alex: And the sales prove it. It sold ten million copies already. In Denmark alone [laughs] So it's your first major label record, right, and I read that it got pushed back already a couple of times because of some re-structuring at Interscope which was out of your control?

Alex: Sort of. It was just...shit happens. We didn't wanna get caught up on it, so we hung back and waited, and put it out in June. It's a summer record anyway, it's the right vibe for this time of year.

Jack: All Time Low, we're a summer band. We've released every single album in the summer. So what do you think is different being on Interscope compared to a previous label of yours?
Alex: More zeros behind the checks. [laughs]

Jack: We've had more resources, and we've been able to have bigger opportunities as a band. We've been able to sell more records in other countries other than just the US.

Alex: Yeah, this is honestly the biggest global debut for us ever. The record is widely distributed this time around, and that's the cool thing about a major label. They really are a global entity and they can get you out there everywhere. We're now touring to back it up, but it's cool seeing the reaction on a global scale to the album coming out. Obviously that probably meant that you had a much larger production budget than before. So while you were writing and recording in the studio, how did that help you?

Alex: It allowed us to work with the people who we really wanted to work with, namingly Neil Avron mixing the album.

Jack: It kind of takes a lot of stress off of you because you don't have to worry about any of that stuff, you can just worry about the actual songs, not worry about who's gonna be mixing it...

Alex: ..whether we can afford it, things like that. It's more just like "what do you wanna do, what's gonna make this record great", we just went for that and focused on that. Was there any sort of pressure or requirements from the label that you had to do things in a certain way?

Alex: Not really.

Jack: They just kind of let us record it and they loved it.

Alex: With a band like us, we've been around for a long time and we have an audience and a fan base, and so it wasn't so much a matter of a label having to tell us where to go or what to do with our music. It was more like "we support what you do, continue doing it, welcome to the family". It was a very cool and healthy creative process in that sense because they allowed us to write what we wanted to write. We turned in the tracks, and they were behind it, they were for it, so that's awesome. The previous album had tracks like "Weightless", which were kind of playful in a way, and this one sounds a bit more mature and maybe a bit more serious sound wise. Would you guys say that you're moving slightly more into the poppier and poppier realm compared to your roots and what you started out with album per album?
Alex: I don't know. It's a good question. I think maybe we're veering away from pop punk, perhaps, I think we still have the root of it, but I definitely think that our influences are broadening, and our sound is definitely changing into something a little bit bigger than just one niche. It's weird because some people insist on trying to group us into that category of pop punk or whatever it may be, and I'm just more concerned about writing songs that have universal appeal that anybody can pick up and listen to and enjoy. So I'm not so much worried about staying within the confines of a genre. I'm just kind of worried about sounding like All Time Low, and making sure that the songs are great. When you guys really broke through for the first time was with the "Dear Maria" song on the first record. On that one you had sort of a faster and like you said, a more pop punk sound. Are you ever afraid that some of those older fans might be dropping out because you guys are moving away from pop punk?
Alex: I don't know, I don't think so. The reaction to this record has been pretty good so far. I think there's something for everyone on there. I definitely think that there are a few songs on the album that pay homage to the older sound, and then there are songs that veer away quite a bit.

Jack: And you definitely don't want to write songs just for the fans, you also have to please yourselves. So you just kind of have to write songs that you love and hope that everyone else likes them.

Alex: Yeah, there's a funny balance there between writing songs that you think are gonna appeal to your audience, and you obviously don't want to throw anybody too much of a curveball and lose your audience, but at the same time, you do have to write what pleases you and what you're into.

Jack: You don't wanna write the same record over and over again.

Alex: That's the main thing, we're focused on growth. Do you guys see yourselves ever going back to the older style, or is it more going to be this bigger-sounding, larger-venue fitting sound from now on?

Alex: I don't know. I really can't say. This was the next logical step in our creative journey, I guess. This is what came naturally to us, this is what we wanted to write. I don't know where our heads are gonna be when we start writing again, but I'm not even thinking about it right now because the record just came out. I was looking through some initial response from the media online. Obviously there are some really good reviews, but there are also a lot of mixed reviews, I would say. Does the criticism affect you in any way?
Alex: No, not really.

Jack: We've never been the kind of band that all the critics love.

Alex: We've never been critically acclaimed. If you put the word pop in your genre, critics are never going to be on board. You have to be like indie, or alt, or something for people to appreciate you critically.

Jack: The critics aren't the people buying the records and coming to the shows, so we don't really pay attention to that stuff.

Alex: Yeah, I think the major thing is that we have such an amazing and strong bond with our audience and our listeners. I'm really only concerned about that relationship.

NB: the next question left me feeling a little stupid as I confused their Malmö, Sweden show from two years ago to having taken place in Copenhagen instead (right next door, arguably), which dawned upon me moments after the interview. So bare with me for a moment here. I checked out your show two years ago, and I just walked outside, there's quite a long line out there already. It appears that your audience seems to predominantly consist of teenage girls between 15 and 18 years old or something like that? What do you think about that?
Alex: Hell yeah [chuckles]. I think it's awesome. One of the big things that's very cool and unique about this band is that we do have quite a dynamic group of listeners. We do have that demographic of teenage girls, but one thing's that's cool is that you cram a load of those girls into a room and then suddenly guys start showing up because they realize it's a great place to meet girls. So you sort of create this cool atmosphere with a band like ours where you have really sexy girls and really horny dudes. It's good for shows.

Jack: We're basically promoting population growth at this point. The government should be paying us! Keeping that in mind, though, do you ever wish at the back of your head that your fan base was a little bit older, the same age as you guys?

Alex: No way.

Jack: It's fun to play to, as creepy as it sounds, it's fun to play to younger girls because they're super energetic and they're always super passionate.

Alex: To be completely honest, I got into music the most at that age. It's the formative years of when you're kind of figuring out what you like for yourself, rather than listening to everybody else about what they like, and basing your opinion off that. So one of the really cool things that I love about our audience is that I see myself back then. I know how I felt about the bands I looked up to, and it's cool to kind of re-create that now from the other side. I love our fans.

Jack: Once everyone gets older they get too cool for school and they just kind of stand there at the shows. Guilty as charged.

Jack: That's how I am as well. When I go to a show I'm at the back just watching, I know how it is [laughs]

Alex: Hopefully these people will grow with us. I don't think it's one of those things where you hit 20 years old and suddenly you throw all your All Time Low CDs away.

Jack: That's what I'm gonna do.

Alex: Some people might, but I think one of the cool things is that we've watched some of our fans grow, and now they're in college, and they've literally been coming to shows since they were 15. It's cool to kind of share that with people and grow up. It's a legacy that The Beatles had, and a legacy that The Rolling Stones had, and plenty of bands. It's cool to be doing something like that on a smaller scale. Actually my next question was gonna be that, like lets say New Found Glory, when they started out they had the same kind of problem, or I don't want to call it a problem, but the same thing where they had a very young audience. But then as the years went by, and if you go to a New Found Glory show today, everybody seems to be older because the fan base grew up with them. Lets say in five years, or maybe even ten years' time, do you see you guys playing like a cross-cut of songs from all your albums, and then the audience being older because you would be a band for that generation in the same way?
Alex: I would like to hope so. I would like to think that this band will have a long career, and I'd love to think that maybe we'll end up in that kind of situation. Ideally I'd like to keep getting new fans. One of the cool things about the music that we play is that it has the potential to span a broad variety of ages and crowds. It would be great to garner new fans and it would be awesome to keep the old ones around as well, so I'd love that, for sure. So do you think that All Time Low could be the band for this generation? The one that they look back to nostalgically and look forward to seeing in the future?

Alex: Sure. I definitely think the potential is there. Whether it's true or not I have no idea, it's hard to say about yourself, you know.

Jack: We're in it for the long run. You guys are in a part of the music industry where the people are really internet aware and they find new bands all the time, right. What do you have to do to keep appealing to new music fans, or even the old ones that sometimes show very little band loyalty, so that they will keep on with you for the rest of your career?
Alex: The songwriting is a very important part of that, but also the community that you build is a product of the touring and the lifestyle that goes along with the band. Maintaining that relationship, always going out and signing for the fans, meeting everybody, making sure that they leave the shows having had an amazing time, an unforgettable time. Creating those memories for people, that's what keeps people coming back. They wanna come back for more. That's one of the big focuses, making sure that people wanna come back for more always. You guys released a video for "I Feel Like Dancin'", where you guys have a joke going around with the major label guy. How did that come about?
Alex: It plays into the idea of the song. Rivers (Weezer) and I wrote down, we wrote that song together. We were laughing the whole time writing that song because we realized what we had in our hands. It was something's very much a song that sounds like a single. And at the same time, it's really supposed to be sarcastically making fun of every song that sounds like that. So the joke there was only expanded upon when we did that video. I think the treatment was perfect for the song, and it really kind of helps explain that joke maybe to some people that didn't get it when they first heard the song. Yeah. Is there any truth to any of the video? I mean it's a very sarcastic look at your band.

Jack: Probably for other artists, but never for us.

Alex: Ironically, those are the horror stories that you hear about major labels and executives in the suits. But to be honest, we've never had to deal with it. It's kind of fun to be able to poke fun at it, because it's that nightmare that hasn't really...

Jack: It'd be a lot darker if we actually had to deal with it.

Alex: They're changing up their game plan. I think with the internet they really realized how fucked they are. And so they kind of have to play nice now. What's in store for the future other than touring with the album?
Alex: I mean that's really it. We have this set of new songs that we can't wait to play for people, so really now it's just about getting out there and exposing the world to it.

Jack: Bigger shows, bigger venues, more people, more cities. What's your dream show?

Alex: Us and Foo Fighters. That'd be amazing. Us and them at fuckin, I don't know, Wembley Stadium. 80,000 people and me and Dave Grohl jerking each other off. That's all that I have today. Thank you for the interview, do you have anything to add?
Alex: Not really. Thank you to anyone reading. We love everybody that has anything to do with our band, so thanks for the interest.

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