All Time Low talks Utah and conservative critics

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Smart and sexy, the band members of All Time Low have grown up in the spotlight. The Maryland natives were signed before they graduated high school, and have toured with punk-pop giants Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy, Boys Like Girls and Good Charlotte. Lead singer Alex Gaskarth spoke with QSaltLake about their latest album, what to expect at their show, and how they respond to criticism and protest from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. All Time Low will be at In The Venue, Aug. 19, with Mayday Parade, The Cab and We Are The In Crowd.

Dirty Work is a terrific album. I think it combines some of your darker, edgier sounds with some tongue-in-cheek antics with great songs that we’ve grown to know and love with All Time Low. Was this a conscious effort, and was there any specific inspiration for the album?

Absolutely, one of the big challenges with this album was to push ourselves beyond the pop-punk we’ve grown up in and explore different influences. We really wanted to get back to some of the ’90s music we grew up with – early Green Day, Third Eye Blind, Eve Six – sort of incorporate that into the new sound, and show some kind of development.

You signed to Interscope Records for your latest album. Has it been an adjustment?

Well, it was like going from being big fish in a small pond to small fish in a pond full of sharks. But the team we came into really appreciated our band and our sound. They never made any sort of attempt to change us or push us in a direction we weren’t comfortable going. They also helped open doors in international markets and reach new fans.

My favorite track from your latest album is “Return the Favor,” I think it adds a new dynamic nature to the CD. What can you tell me about that track in particular?

That’s one of my favorite songs as well. We’re really going for Queen meets Muse meets All Time Low. We just had fun and it doesn’t sound like much else on the album. Having the piano play such a heavy part of the song and adding the strings gave it more of a vaudeville sound.

A lot of talk has been made about the band maturing and since you guys started right out of high school we were able to watch you grow up. What do you think? How has your music changed?

I would definitely say it’s changed and matured. We were just kids that grew up in the pop-punk scene and as we’ve grown and changed, so has the music. Our influence has expanded to the pop and hip-hop world, and all kinds of music. A lot of tastes are driving us in different directions. It’s allowed us to push ourselves to the next level.

How have your fans changed? Have they aged with you?

We’ve been really lucky. We have a terrific fan base that’s grown with us. There are people that were coming out when we were 17 and 18 years old, and we still see their faces at our shows. We’re really pleased we’ve created an immense community around our band. At the same time, our change in sound, direction, pace and popularity has brought in new, fresh faces from around the world. It’s very cool to know our fan base is developing.

How do you think that so many people have come to know the All Time Low brand, but you’ve had very little airplay?

It’s interesting for us because we’ve never been the band that relies on radio play. That kind of band sort of becomes only as popular as their current song on the radio, and when there’s nothing playing, everyone just forgets about them. We took a grassroots approach through the Internet, touring and it’s been a cool ride. Those are the fans that are going to stick around, and are not fickle.

You’ve been in Utah recently, do you like performing for Utah crowds? Is there anything different about people here?

Utah is really cool. It’s one of the few places where we’ve had quite a bit of success with radio. We recently played a radio festival. It’s been really cool because we sort of noticed a big change in our crowds. At first the crowds didn’t know what to do with our band. But now they understand the vibe and feel.

What can your Utah fans expect at the show?

They can expect a good time, a lot of energy. We’re all about creating an ambiance that’s welcoming. Go and forget real life for a minute. Come vibe with us and have a great experience. We really feed off the audience and it’s going to be just a cool show.

The list of people and groups protesting your music is pretty extensive, including the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which led a protest at one of your Philadelphia shows, how do you respond to the criticism and attacks?

We sort of have a lighthearted approach to things. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our music we take seriously, but ourselves we don’t. We don’t necessarily subscribe to conservative lifestyles. Those groups are looking for us to say something back. I truly despise groups like that and normally I don’t like to even give them any attention because all they really want is to be in the press. It was really only when they came to our show that we were moved to say something.

That kind of group and hatred certainly are not welcome at our shows. It’s not a good environment. I don’t think that’s a message that we need to be hearing. We’ve got a lot of young people coming to our shows and we especially don’t need that kind of hatred there.

Do you have any advice for your young gay fans in a conservative area?

My biggest thing is stay who you are. Don’t let your surroundings try and deny you what you want or who you should be. You should know there are people who will accept you for who you are. Don’t be confined to the conservative nature of the surroundings. Be true to yourself and don’t worry about what others think.

Any last words for your QSaltLake readers?

Thank you so much for reading about our band. We’re super excited to play and we hope everyone can come check us out.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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