My introduction to All Time Low involved a stripper and a chimpanzee. It wasn’t until the second time I watched the video for their 2007 release “Dear Maria Count Me In” that I noticed there might be more to this band than gimmicks and familiar 1980s spoofs.
While the group embraces gnarly guitar riffs, sugary sweet melodies, the belting roar and clarity of lead vocals, and the rambunctious swagger associated with pop-punk, on their upcoming album Dirty Work, All Time Low’s creativity and artistic motivation are far more defined.
Considering the group was formed in 2003 when its band members were freshmen in high school, it makes sense that Dirty Work reveals vocalist Alex Gaskarth, lead guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zachary Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson wrestling with both personal and music industry growing pains. “[The album] deals with love and loss and kind of being thrown into a world at a young age that moves really quickly,” Gaskarth says.
“We tried really, really hard on this one. “It’s way better [than previous albums],” he jokes. “This time around we’re that much more experienced, we’re that much more aware of where we want to go and what we want to do as a band.”
According to Gaskarth, it’s a hunger to learn from artists from Billie Holiday to Billy Idol that defines All Time Low.“We’d like to reach out and become more universal in our sound. [Growing up] you either listened to rock and roll or hip-hop or whatever it was, and that’s where you stuck.” ATL, as their fans affectionately refer to them, refuse to stay limited to their genre. On Dirty Work, they even go so far as to reference the jazz standard “It’s Only a Paper Moon” in their song “Under a Paper Moon.”
In “Dear Maria Count Me In,” Gaskarth sings “There’s a story at the bottom of this bottle and I’m a pen.” Four years later, with pole-dancers and primates long since in their rear view, All Time Low is trying to prove that their story is worth writing.