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All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth: “We Are Ready To Grow And Do Some New Things”

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 18 December 2017 at 17.30

Alex talks us through the best album of 2017. 

All Time Low were winners of Album Of The Year at the Rock Sound Awards powered by EMP. 

In the magazine Alex Gaskarth talked all about the process of making 'Last Young Renegade'. Here's a taste...

"The first time we signed to a major we were still in a contract with another label and it was that whole slippery awkward process of being bought out of a contract and moved over and shuffled into a new system that was falling apart at the time. But this time we just had no contract. We were unsigned. We had fulfilled our obligations to Hopeless and there was no bad blood there and no awkwardness or animosity. There was just no tension or awkwardness in the decision or the process.

As far as signing with a major, we signed with Fueled By Ramen and while they do fall under the blanket of a major label in the Atlantic/Warner system, they’re an indie label. They run like an indie label. They’re a small, intimate team of people that really give a shit about their artists and their music and always have. They were the first label we ever showcased for years ago when John Janick was there and they were based out of Florida. So it kind of all just made sense. The stars aligned and everybody was on the same page.

What was really interesting with hindsight being 20/20 was that we put out a different sounding record. When we started rolling out songs, we led with ‘Dirty Laundry’. I remember seeing the responses to it and at first I was really stoked to see that most people were really into it but there were always the people going ‘great this is what happens when a band changes label. The label makes them change their sound etc.’.

We kind of had to laugh because we knew this was going to happen. We signed this new deal and we made this slightly different record and then you’re cursed to have some people say ‘they’ve sold out, they’re being manipulated by the new system’. It’s like ‘no, that’s not how it works’. We had half the songs written when we signed there.

What was great about Fueled By Ramen and what is great about them is that it was actually the complete opposite. They didn’t impose anything on us. They were really passionate about the vision that we went and sat down with them to talk about. The first couple of meetings involved us explaining to them ‘look we feel as though All Time Low is in a place where we are ready to grow and do some new things. We don’t just want to come in and make ‘So Wrong It’s Right 2.0’. That’s not where we’re at so if that’s the band you’re looking for this isn’t the right partnership’. And they were like ‘no, you guys need to do you’. That’s what was so appealing about them. They’ve been so supportive of where we are creatively and where we are as a band now. They are a great family and they’ve got their shit together over there."

"Yeah, one of the main reasons being that we had written a lot of these songs at different times and so we had maybe 40/50 songs going into the studio. Whittling that down to ten is no easy process. I think a lot of the stress and the pressure stemmed from trying to make all of the pieces fit. It’s easy to write a song or to write many songs. It’s not as easy to get them all to play nice together in the context of an album, or as the kids call it an ‘era’ of a band.

We were building this aesthetic and trying to come up with a uniform sound for the album and that’s kind of where the character piece and the story came together because we had these songs, maybe four songs, that really felt like they could act as cornerstones for the record. They were ‘Good Times’, ‘Last Young Renegade’, ‘Dirty Laundry’ and I guess at the time it was ‘Life Of The Party’.

Those four were like very different songs but we thought very good, strong songs and sound like you could build something around them. From there we used those four as the stepping stones to get the other songs and pull them all together and figure out what songs felt right and what songs didn’t."

"For us it certainly did. It was one of the first records where we really made a conscious decision to not lay in walls of guitars, the bread and butter I guess. Every time we would record something that felt easy we would stop and question it. Not in a foolish way. Not in a ‘this is good but let’s scrap it anyway’ way. It was more just a ‘the obvious thing to do here is play a D power chord and then a G power chord’. When that felt like the logical way to go it was like ‘no, let’s stop and let’s dial it back and figure out a better way to accomplish that field but do it in a way doing something that we’ve never done before’.

That’s where we started pulling in the analog synths. We went to this insane gear shop in Studio City in California and rented and bought a ton of weird guitar pedals that I had never heard of before and just sat there for hours coming up with sounds. Trying to make things sound like they’re not supposed to sound. Singing guitar solos into a pick up and then blasting it through a compressor and seeing how that turned out.

Just shit that we had never really done before. It was fun and creative and sometimes kind of whacky and goofy and we didn’t use all of it but it made the process feel really exciting again. We all grew as musicians because of it. When it’s your seventh album and you can do things to make sure you grow and not get too comfortable then that’s a good thing."

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