EXTRA NEW STORY:
Published in The Music (QLD) | 21.08.13 | Issue # 2
Published in The Music (NSW) | 28.08.13 | Issue # 3
Published in The Music (VIC) | 28.08.13 | Issue # 3
BAND OF BROTHERS
Forming in the ninth grade, All Time Low could barely play their instruments. Approaching their ten-year anniversary with the same line-up, guitarist Jack Barakat looks back on the dream that became a reality while Daniel Cribb tries to decipher the magic formula.
After seven weeks in Europe, All Time Low’s Jack Barakat finds himself slumped on the couch, watching baseball and eagerly anticipating their next journey. “We’ve played Europe so many times now that we’ve got a good following there. We were over there opening up for Green Day for seven weeks, so it was awesome, but it was definitely a new crowd; we were playing to a bunch of new people,” Barakat begins.
It’s only been five months since their appearance at Soundwave, and a return next month is proof of their tireless efforts. “If you see us at a festival and you see us at a headlining show, it’s a completely different show. With festivals, we’re working a bunch of new fans over and putting on a less relaxed show; we’re a little bit uptight and focused when we’re on festivals because we’re trying to gain some new fans, but if you come see us at a headlining show at a club, it’s going to be a lot more relaxed, we’re going to be messing around with people and bringing people up on stage. It’s a different kind of vibe.”
It’s not that the four-piece make a conscious effort to spend almost all of the year on tour, it’s just all they’ve ever known. In ninth grade, Barakat was playing in a band with a few friends when he met vocalist/guitarist Alex Gaskarth. They got Gaskarth onboard and then slowly tweaked the line-up to somewhat of a local “dream team”, finding the best drummer in the school, Rian Dawson, and finally tracking down Zack Merrick, a bassist that everyone in town was raving about. At 17, while other students where sending off college applications, All Time Low were sealing envelopes addressed to record labels and trying to scope out a manager.
“We could barely play our instruments, we definitely didn’t know how to write songs – we were just playing covers at that point. I definitely didn’t think we’d be doing it for a long time,” he admits. “We were so young when we started playing, and we got pretty serious about it by 17, so at that point, I mean, most people still don’t know what they want to do. We knew that we wanted to play music. There was never anything that we were passionate about that wasn’t music, so no one ever even talked about or thought about college. Going to college wasn’t even a real thing.
“We’ve been touring for so long now that we have it down to a science – we get along so well. We all kind of grew up together and it’s really like a touring family. We don’t really have a problem at all.”
On top of that, they’ve had the same line-up since forming. “A lot of drugs,” Barakat swiftly responds when queried on the secret. “No, I’m just kidding,” he laughs. “We have a really good time touring and if you enjoy doing what you’re doing then it kind of makes for a stress-free environment where everyone’s in good spirits, everyone’s in a good mood. If you’re enjoying it, it makes it a lot easier to keep doing it.”
In the blink of an eye, from playing Green Day covers at their parents’ houses to supporting the band on a European tour, ten years passed. “At this point in our career, we realise we’re a career band; we’ve made it this far, we can make it another ten years, easily. I mean, it feels like it’s gone by so quickly. We’ve proven to ourselves and the people that we’re going to be around for a while and we’re not going anywhere.”
The release of their fifth studio record, Don’t Panic, saw them leave major label Interscope, a choice that ensured the mentality between one another remained relaxed and productive. “It’s just a good feeling to be able to do whatever we want, when we want to do it, how we want to do it. We can kind of be a little bit more relaxed about everything and just be on our own schedule. I guess it’s a little bit more like being your own boss. It’s cool – it’s definitely the right move for our band, and I think it’s cool to be on a label where you get a lot more attention rather than being on a major.
“It wasn’t as terrible as I’m sure other artists have had. We still had a lot of creative control, we still wrote all the songs – no one was writing songs for us or any of that kind of stuff – we just had more people giving their opinions; more cooks in the kitchen, and I mean, there was so many people giving their opinion that it was swaying everyone differently and no one could agree on the same thing, so everything took longer.”
The main aspect of being on a major label that was appealing was the financial support provided. Now everything has to be paid for by the band and they no longer have a budget to tour with a large crew. Once finalising a budget for it, they’ll be employing a full-time cameraman on tour to piece together their second DVD. “Since the last time we’ve done a DVD, we’ve toured the world a bunch of times. I think this time, it’s going to be a lot more involved with world stuff, and not just the US tours we based the first one on”
Although they’re about to embark on their second world tour of the year, they’ve still taken some time to record a couple of songs and write some more. A new record won’t be out anytime soon, but with any luck they’ll find a substantial break next year to get stuck into album number six. “I think Don’t Panic was quite possibly the strongest comeback we’ve ever had, and I’m not really saying it’s a comeback because we didn’t really go anywhere, but I just feel like it really kind of re-energised our fanbase, and re-energised us as a touring band. I think it was definitely the perfect record to make at the perfect time.
“At this point we’ve kind of found our sound, and there’s always going to be an aspect of us that’s going to be a little more rock than pop, and there’s always going to be a couple of songs that are going to be a little bit more poppy. So [the new songs] are definitely similar, and I think it’s going to be a Don’t Panic 2.0. At this point we’ve honed in on our sound and I think we’ve got it.”