"We wanted to do something new and different and essentially catch people off guard..." hmv.com talks to All Time Low
For the seventh studio album of their career, Baltimore pop-punks All Time Low are making some serious changes.
First and foremost, there’s a big change in the band’s sound on new album Last Young Renegade. Helped by PVRIS producer Blake Harnage, the album sounds colossal, a massive upscaling from the buzzsaw pop punk of their early records.
Second, the lyrics. This is frontman Alex Gaskarth’s first crack at a kind of concept record, it sees him playing with characters, stories and sizeable themes, all through this ambiguous character of the Last Young Renegade.
Finally, they’re off to pastures new literally, this being their first album for new label Fueled By Ramen, making them now labelmates with Paramore, Panic! At The Disco and Twenty One Pilots.
We spoke to frontman Gaskarth about why they wanted to make some changes, why this is his stab at a concept album and new life on a new label…
How did you want this album to move on from what you’d done on Future Hearts?
“We wanted to redefine All Time Low. We wanted to do something new and different and essentially catch people off guard. We wanted to come up with a new sound and a cohesive storyline. We wanted something definitive.”
How much of that sound came from working with Blake Harnage?
“A lot of the songs were already there. We knew we wanted to have a lot of vintage synths on the record and Blake is really good with those. We also worked with Colin Brittain, and he mixed it and gave it this incredible depth.”
How was recording? Was it a lengthy process?
“Recording took about a month and a half, we were down in Los Angeles at the same place they did Pet Sounds, so it was a room with a lot of cool history. It was very relaxed and casual, I loved making this record.”
It’s quite different from what you’ve done in the past, were they any moments where you thought: ‘We’ve gone too far’?
“No, everything was pretty much on the table and we were all open for new ideas. At this point in our career we know when something isn’t working. Nothing made us feel uncomfortable, anything that felt different was the good kind of different. We wanted to push things forward. It’s been great to see how many people have been liking what we’re putting out, even long-time fans, it’s get when people get on board when they know you’re trying something new.”
You’ve got a collaboration with Tegan & Sara on the record, how did that come about?
“We’re huge fans of theirs. I wrote that song ‘Ground Control’ as a duet, with a female part in mind and they were at the top of the list. The song had the feel of the synth pop they do and so we reached out and they agreed. It worked so well, it’s one of my favourite songs on the record.”
You talked earlier as the record having a story, would you describe it as a concept record?
“I’d use the term ‘concept record’ pretty loosely. There are concept record that go a lot deeper than this, records with multiple plotlines and characters, but this record does have a story. It’s about this vessel, the Last Young Renegade and their fall and rise again. It is an album that takes you on a journey and is designed to be listened to in full.”
How much of the character is you? Or is he inspired by someone from a film or a book?
“Ah! Is it a he or she? I’ve actually left it ambiguous, I wanted everyone to be able to identify with the character, but it does come from me. It acted as a device to let me get out of my own head and to be able to write from a very personal perspective without feeling like I was putting too much out there. Mixing personal things with storylines means I could take things and run with them, it’s blurring the line between reality and fiction, it makes for a deeper stories.”
Would you say this is your darkest record to date?
“I don’t know. I think there are darker themes on this album and it goes to places we’ve never gone before, but it also comes right back around. So maybe.”
This is your first album for your new label Fuelled By Ramen, why did you decide to move over to them from Hopeless Records?
“We’ve actually been signed to Fuelled By Ramen in secret for quite a well. It was quite a smooth transition actually and they both worked together really well. Having such a smooth move really helped with this new album, took away some pressure.”
You left Hopeless to sign to Epic Records back in 2009 and then ended up going back after just one album. Were you nervous about trusting a major label again?
“It stills feels like an indie label, even though it’s under the Warners umbrella, it’s a small team of people who care passionately about their bands, the roster is tiny, it’s not run like a major label. You get great attention to detail. It’s a label we’ve loved for a long time.”
How’s your live set shaping up? You’ve got a lot of songs to choose from now…
“It’s actually a big point of contention between us, choosing what to play and what not to. This new record has brought a different dynamic and it’ll allow us to make something really cool with our live set. It’s not just fast song, fast song, fast song any more, we can shift tempos. We’re loving playing the new songs live, it’s been really rewarding.”
All Time Low’s new album Last Young Renegade is out now and available here in hmv’s online store.