Ahead of the first live episode, we find out exactly what to expect from Alex and Jack's new variety show.
This week, All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat announced Crash Test Live, a new variety show in the vein of their Full Frontal podcast. The show will also be recorded live, unfiltered and unedited.
The first episode is set to take place live on Twitch today (May 29) at 4pm EST / 1pm PST / 9pm BST.
We jumped on the phone with Alex and Jack to chat about what to expect from the show and how it feels to be promoting new album 'Wake Up, Sunshine' in such unique circumstances...
Where did the idea for doing Crash Test Live originally stem from?
Says Alex Gaskarth: "To be truthful this idea had been kicking around for a while. Ever since we put Full Frontal on an indefinite hiatus, there have been various moments in time when we considered bringing it back from the dead and rekindling it as a podcast or whatever. Then the more time we spent away from it, we came to the conclusion that if we were to bring it back we would bring it back in a different format. Podcasts are great, Crash Test Live first and foremost is a podcast, but in 2020 there is so much more than you can do with it.
"A lot of that came from the fact that the last few episodes that we did of Full Frontal were taped in front of a live audience. We were on tour and we taped a load of these things at comedy clubs and it just changed the feel of the show so much. It felt like this really cool interactive thing and there was such a good back and forth there and that was interesting to explore in that format. We found the format didn’t take a hit because of it. At first we thought that people wouldn’t connect if there was a live element to it, but the feedback we got was that was some of their favourite stuff. Those two things combined into us obviously being stuck at home due to the pandemic and having time to think about what different things we could be doing right now to be entertainment. It just culminated in this perfect storm."
Says Jack Barakat: "Yeah, I don’t know if it wasn’t for the pandemic we would have even done it this way. It came together when we were all on our Zooms and thought ‘Oh shit, let’s put this online’. The live versions of Full Frontal we were doing felt like a mix of old live shows and the podcast. It felt really natural to us. It could have been terrifying but we felt really comfortable doing it."
What was it about those live versions of Full Frontal that you liked so much?
Jack: "They basically gave us the opportunity to talk about things that we wouldn’t necessarily talk about on stage and in interviews that weren’t purgent to the band or what we were doing. We got to talk about other things and explore different regions"
When you first started Full Frontal, what were your initial intentions?
Alex: "At the beginning, we initially just wanted it to be an extension of our live show banter. It was already the interaction that me and Jack already had on stage which is so familiar to the fan base, and a big part of the show in a way. We felt like in that format we could explore that and get some more topics involved that made it all that more ridiculous. In a show setting we’re there to play music so we have to actually shut up and play the songs."
Jack: "Even though sometimes we don’t."
Alex: "So it was inspired partially from boredom, where we thought ‘What the fuck do we do?’ whilst on tour in the hours between the sound check and the gig. The first one we ever did was on a festival site somewhere in Europe on the bus. We went outside and were parked next to Simple Plan and we thought ‘One of the dudes in Simple Plan has a podcast, let’s ask him what that’s like’. So we pulled him on the bus and interviewed him for our first episode. It was just stupid fun. We didn’t go in with any purpose or point and the show structured itself through those first few episodes. The first few episodes are us rambling for an hour. Then we thought we should have some sort of structure to this, so we started putting the pieces together and being our dumbass selves. Someone would just have an idea of the cuff. Like ‘Let’s have a quiz between Jack and a listener’. That became a staple part of the show and is a segment that we are bringing back for Crash Test Live. I think it’s actually going to be funnier now."
Jack: "Yeah, these questions are actually hard. It makes Jeopardy look like a walk in the park."
Why did you initially stop then?
Jack: "One of the reasons we actually stopped was because we were all in different places. We stopped touring as much and we stopped to write a new record."
Alex: "Yeah, it got taxing to do because we were always sitting down and doing it together in our back lounge. But what’s interesting now and how we’re approaching it with Crash Test Live is we can do it remotely."
How the world is now has almost changed the perspective on how you can do things remotely. A few years back you wouldn’t have really considered the possibilities but now nothing is off the table…
Alex: "This is absolutely the perfect time for it."
So how are you feeling about going into this new format and doing it live and unfiltered?
Alex: "I’m really looking forward to it because it’s an extension of what we do on stage. In the live setting when we are bantering back and forth we’re kind of playing characters of ourselves and it’s fun to lean into that and point out the personas that people perceive us to have and make a big thing out of them. What’s cool about being in a live setting it that you don’t really know what’s going to actually happen. We might come off the rails or we might not. It might go well or it might not. We could absolutely crash and burn and that’s how we named it. The potential for disaster is there and we recognise it and we embrace it. There’s going to be a little bit of chaos but there’s freedom within that. This podcast is born from a time where people are looking for something to do. If we can help people kill an hour in their day and feel good and entertained then that’s the mission."
Jack: "Also, I feel like people want something real right now. That’s exactly what this is. It’s not going to be pre-edited or anything. It’s just us unfiltered. I think the reason we are so comfortable going into it is because we have been doing so many things with the whole band in this form. We’ve done the track-by-track, we’ve been doing Happy Hours every week, and we’re pretty drunk in those as it is. That’s where it has all sparked from."
So what ideas have you had in terms of new segments or is everything very much sporadic and off the top of your head?
Alex: "Literally everything about this show is off that cuff and segments are being born just as we talk about what it could be. Coming out of the gates, we really want there to be a sense of familiarity. We’re bringing back a lot of the stuff that was so great about Full Frontal. The first episode is going to hark back to a lot of the stuff that made the original podcast a lot of fun. As we have had meetings about this and talked about it more, most of the things that are working, or what we think is going to work, has come from someone going ‘That will be funny’. The nature of the show is improvisational and what works in the moment."
And much like how people have popped up in the Happy Hours, are you open to as many people getting involved as you can?
Alex: "Absolutely. The guest aspect is a huge part of it. The Happy Hours have definitely inspired some of this, being able to pull people in so easily. The fact that this is everybody’s normal right now, jumping on Zoom calls and saying ‘What’s up’ to people. We want to check in and see what people have going on. The plan is to have a lot of guests."
With this becoming a part of the ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ campaign in a time where so many of your original plans have been put on ice, how has it been watching people respond to the album in such a positive way despite the circumstances?
Alex: "It’s been really rewarding in a lot of ways. This album for us was very cathartic. It really brought us all together again as a band and made us appreciate what we have. The record really reflects that. The record was very much a reset for the band and made us appreciate where we are going and what we’re doing. The record was really healing, and now it’s cool to see these songs connect with people and get the feedback of them helping people get through a weird and difficult time. Obviously it wasn’t planned that way and we never expected any of this, but at the same time it’s incredible to see that this music can help people get through what’s going on. It’s nice to know that it’s doing that when it was also so good for us to make."
Jack: "We made this record together and now we’re having to promote it apart, which is almost the opposite of it’s been the last couple of records. They’ve been made a little more disjointed and we have been in and out of the process and it hasn’t really been all of us in the same place. So we made this record all together in the same house and now we’re promoting it from across the world together. Though it’s cool because our fans are getting the chance to really sit with it and really take it in. When we perform it live they are going to know these songs inside and out. It’s a rare situation."
Alex: "By the time we’re playing this record for the first time, this will already be a classic All Time Low record!"
Jack: "It’s made me try to be a little more creative, Alex as well. We’ve had to figure out different ways to reach out and connect with our fans. We’re trying to see things in a positive way."
Alex: "It’s just a new challenge. Every record cycle you go up against something and you have to find new ways to connect. This one is just that much stranger. It’s a weird thing to be up against but, looking back, this band has always been very tactile and agile. When shit gets thrown at us we roll with the punches and we do what we need to do to show people a good time. That’s always been the ethos of this band."
Do you think that having to work on things in this way will have an effect on how you do things moving forward into future projects?
Alex: "I definitely think it will reshape how a lot of people do things moving forwards. It’s really shown how easy it is to connect and how much we take for granted within our separation from one another. It’s so easy and immediate now to reach out and communicate. It’s hard to say because we’re so in this and still promoting a record that we’ve just put out but I can only imagine that down the line when it comes to doing something else, we’re going to take a lot of what we learned and apply it."
Jack: "Personally it’s given me an even bigger appreciation for our fans. We were all terrified when we found out that we were still going to release the album and some of it wasn’t going to ship. I think that seeing how our fans have taken the record and reacted and helped promote it and been so loving with it has given me a newfound respect for them. We wouldn’t have known this side of them if it weren’t for this whole thing.”
You can pick up a plethora of special pre-order bundles for physical copies 'Wake Up, Sunshine', set to be released on June 05, from right HERE