Entertainment

A Baltimore boy's best-kept secrets: All Time Low hit the road

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You actually know All Time Low-- you just don't know it yet. You've probably seen some incarnation of them back in high school, in the form of teenage hopefuls rocking out in their garage and badgering you to check out their new gig. This Baltimore-based four-piece is fashioned from the same pop-punk cloth.

For lead singer Alex Gaskarth, music is a top priority. Long gone are his teenage days of performing Blink-182 songs, however-- Gaskarth and his bandmates are now basking in worldwide fame, musical success and after-party beer tabs.

"If I wasn't a rock star, I would probably be an accountant," Gaskarth convinces me over the phone. It works for a while, until I imagine the far-from-corporate-pretentious Gaskarth in a suit-- I allow myself to giggle.

Really, the guys from All Time Low are grounded, normal beings like you and me, with the exception of being endearingly prankish. Jack Barakat is a testimony to that. The band's lead guitarist humours fans with an endless stream of witty comments such as, "Hey haters! I can't hear you, got too much awesome in my ears . . . Wait, that could be a tumor."

An "awesome" fictional tumor just might have been the inspiration for All Time Low's latest album, Dirty Work, which was released in May 2011-- that, and a large amount of passion and hard work. Working alongside Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Maja Ivarsson (The Sounds) and John Feldmann, All Time Low produced perfect-summer party-vibe tracks like "I Feel Like Dancin'," "Guts" and "Heroes."

As Gaskarth talks to me, he practically gushes about how it was an honour and an amazing experience collaborating with such talented musicians and producers. He even lets me on a couple of little secrets-- his celebrity crush on Natalie Portman and his excitement when working with his musical heroes. Even stars get starry-eyed.

"When you walk out from that experience [of collaboration], you take a part of them with you," explains Gaskarth.

Dirty Work is a stretch from All Time Low's usual pop-punk output. Gaskarth experimented with different song writing styles, resulting in songs leaning either more to the pop or rock side. But stepping out of their comfort zone has proved worthwhile-- from Sao Paulo to Glasgow, All Time Low tickets have been sold out.

"From the past year leading up to this, to now; from the transitioning from label to label, from touring on the road and from coming to terms with the fact that we weren't at home-- this is our life. It's fun and it's dirty work," says Gaskarth.

Certainly, rock stars are privy to privileges and perks, but what does it for Gaskarth is that his band members are always there with him.

"We are brothers. We are united in arms . . . and in cocks," jokes Gaskarth, at which point I lower the volume on my phone's speaker so my conservative parents won't hear and be scandalized.

"We spend a lot of time with one another. We also understand one another in what to do and what not to do, so we know how to make this thing work. We love each other."

Dirty Work may sound like typical pre-teen pop music, but think again. Gaskarth, whether he would admit to it or not, is a poet. He describes the music video for "Time Bomb," which depicts an epic struggle for love where the protagonist saves the day and gets the girl. This music video, however, is indicative of something more. Behind the world renown and bawdy jokes, what ultimately makes All Time Low worth considering is how they make hopeless romantics-- of any age-- cool.

Info. box: All Time Low will be at the Stampede Corral Feb. 13 with Simple Plan and Marianas Trench. For ticket information, visit livenation.com

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