All Time Low's epic ditty 'A Love Like War' is seven years old today. Yeah, we don't know where the time has gone either. Anyway, we thought it only right to take a closer look at exactly what makes the song and its video tick.
Seven years on from its release and 'A Love Like War', the massive tune by All Time Low featuring Pierce The Veil's Vic Fuentes that appears on Don't Panic: It's Longer Now', has become a staple of scene culture. Both the track and video are of the highest quality, yet there is still a lot there to be dissected.
Let's go in together.
So the symbol that appears at the start of the video when the title flashes up is the Great Seal Of The United States. You can tell because of the 13 arrows being held in the eagle's left talon and the olive branch in the other.
If you piece together all of the dialogue from the film that's being played in the background of the movie theatre the band are you get this:
"Wowzers, you're an angel"
WAR COMES TO AMERICA
"I've been living a lie"
"Please! One more chance."
"We've been double crossed"
"I never loved you"
So the basic story seems to be that a man and woman fall deeply in love. At the time when the war comes to America it appears that the man has been lying to the love of his life resulting in her telling him that she never truly loved him. This happens at the same time that he's called up for battle. He ends up in the warzone and eventually dies in a rather gruesome manner.
The reaction that the band and Vic give to the story line of this film is rather interesting. They throw up their middle fingers at the guy which means that they believe that he was definitiely in the wrong and derserved to be dumped. Yet they are angry when he is dying, throwing their popcorn at the screen.
In the next frame Alex is choking on a massive bag of popcorn, Rian is crying and Zack is clapping like he is impressed by the outcome. When the credits roll they throw their hands up in the air in disgust and give it a big thumbs down. It's not exactly clear what they actually think of the film that they have been watching. Are they annoyed that it ended in such a way? Do they feel as though the man who was sent to war deserved his fate for what he did to his girlfriend? If they hated the storyline so much why did they watch all the way through to the end?
Also they are drinking and causing chaos in this cinema while a rather tragic love story takes place before them. Are they actually that invested in this story? Do they care about the characters?
Then there are more questions to be asked about the actual film. What did the man do? What was so bad that it completely broke up his relationship? There's a point where he is screaming at his ex for leaving him, like he cannot believe that she isn't giving him a second chance. Did he deserve what happened to him? Does he actually die in the end or is he just gruesomely injured? Does his ex know that he has been killed, and how does she react? Does she regret ending things on such a sour note?
There is a lot left unanswered.
We haven't even got onto the actions of the band yet.
If you watch very closely, Rian only eats one piece of popcorn throughout the whole video.
He takes a bite at the very beginning when all of the lads are sat down and Jack starts playing guitar. Then he gets a load thrown at him while he is trying to play drums not once but twice, which we are sure was a total inconvinience. He's then seen having a sip from a can of what could very easily be Rockstar Energy. Then he starts putting his drum kit together all on his own. Not a lot of time for eating that delicious popping corn.
Then he gets knee deep into a bottle of what looks a lot like whisky. It's no wonder that on such an empty stomach he ends up propped up on his drum kit having a little nap. Then to round things off he has a bit of a cry as he watches the conclusion of the film. Very much an emotional rollercoaster for our mate, and it poses a lot of questions. Does he even like popcorn? If so, why didn't he bring his own snack to the cinema if he knew he couldn't have popcorn? Why didn't he fill up on the hotdogs that are so clearly advertised?
Zack does very little except get rowdier and rowdier. He's sitting in the back of the cinema for most of the shots until he starts throwing popcorn at Rian. He's also the one who originally pulls the bottle of whisky out from below his seat. He is the reason that everybody starts getting a bit drunk it seems. He then starts to throttle Rian at one point before eventually tackling Jack to the floor in front of the janitor's closet. As stated before, he finishes the video applauding the film. So why was he so aggressive? Why did he feel that alcohol was needed in this scenario? What game is he playing where he wants to beat up his other band mates? Has the film pissed him off so much that he has had to turn to drink?
Jack and Alex are relatively calm throughout really. They really get into playing their instruments and have a good old bounce around the movie theatre without getting into much trouble. Why are they not as rowdy as Zack and why are they not as drunk as Rian? Is it to show either side of a relationship using the four bands members? Two of them spiralling out of control while the other two stay calm and collected? Is it not as deep as that and just the fact that Zack and Rian can't be trusted to behave themselves?
Well Alex does choke on a lot of popcorn too.
Then we have Vic. Why has he come to the cinema with this lot anyway? He stays pretty much out the way of the other four's hijinks and is relatively calm throughout the film. The only moment where he looks a little uncertain is when his and Alex's hands touch, like seen below:
So let's compare the narrative of the video compared to the lyrics of the song.
It feels as though the song is about a relationship that'ss falling apart. The two people want to be together but don't feel like they love each other enough and are going through the motions. It's very sexually charged rather than emotionally. It's about how difficult it is to hold on to what you love when it just isn't working out. Fighting all the time, considering letting go and everything in between. This works very well when put up against the film that the band are watching as the relationship portrayed on screen feels unhealthy and unnatural. Perhaps the war that the man is fighting is wholly sentimental rather than literal. The band's reaction to this is possibly out of denial for their own shortcomings. The drinking, fighting, arguing. They are all symbolic of the things that can tear a relationship apart and them shouting at the screen when the film finishes is them not being able to come to terms with the truth.
We go together or we don't go down at all, afterall.
To conclude, All Time Low and Vic Fuentes created a song and a video that has so many more layers than many of us even really realised. That is the beauty of good songwriting. It can surprise you at any moment and keep you thinking long after the song has finished. That's why seven years on we are still talking about this brilliant slice of pop-punk.
Well done lads, you're great.
All Time Low's new album 'Wake Up, Sunshine' is out now via Fueled By Ramen.
Pick up a copy from our mates over at EMP from right HERE