Reminiscing on the iconic early-2000s pop-punk scene, one of the first bands who come to mind are none other than Baltimore four-piece All Time Low. With over fifteen years of experience as a band, they’ve assisted in not only defining a genre, but also raising an entire generation of emo kids.
Just when we thought the world was at an all-time low, our pop-punk forefathers have decided to bless us, gearing up to release their eighth studio album, Wake Up Sunshine. Since the band’s last album Last Young Renegade back in 2017, the band went into a much-needed hiatus to work on other creative projects and “live their lives.” The break seems to have done the band a solid, coming out the other side with fresh motivation and a brand new album to boot.
“I think it put us in a really good headspace,” says frontman Alex Gaskarth. “It kind of circled and back and got us back together and started making us think about making a new album and that's kind of what’s led us to this point.”
Of course with the benefits of being an experienced band comes the hurdle of staying relevant and making sure the music is still unique and interesting.
“It’s not always about going out and making a record that’s extremely left of centre and different to what people know you for,” explains Gaskarth. That’s something that we have learned just over time. There’s a lane that All Time Low can operate in, and fortunately, thanks to our fans that’s a very wide lane.
“I think the biggest thing for us is just making music in the moment that inspires us and that we’re going to want to play live forever. I think particularly in the case of Wake Up Sunshine, the fact that we all came together and we were all under one roof making this album - we actually all lived together for a month in Palm Desert! We took some songs that we already written in demo form, and then we wrote a bunch more and we pieced this album together in a way we used to do it back in 2009 and 2010.
“It’s something that we just haven’t done in a while and that energy and that interconnected creativity was really valuable because I just think we captured something that was extremely true to what was happening at that moment.”
While embracing the tried and tested methods of writing and recording an album, the All Time Low lads have also showcased some unique collaborations with hip-hop artist and producer blackbear, as well as label buddies The Band Camino.
“We’ve had collaborations all through our albums and one of the big things for me is working with friends,” Gaskarth says. “I don’t necessarily just like reaching out to a hot artist and being like, ‘hey you’ve got to feature on this because it’ll help our streams,’ you know?
“I really like to work with people who are in our universe - in the orbit of All Time Low somehow. With Band Camino, they’re our label mates and I just love what they’re doing. And when we wrote 'Favourite Place', the song that features them, I just felt like there was a little twinge of what they’re doing in that song. I kind of felt like they indirectly influenced and inspired me in a way on that one.”
It’s also worth noting that blackbear's vocal feature will be the first ever time there’s been a rap feature on any All Time Low song, which may come as a bit of a surprise to some of the band’s oldest fans.
“With blackbear, it came together because of our producer, Andrew Goldstein. He writes with Bear and when we wrote ‘Monsters,’ we just felt like it could use something,” says Gaskarth. “We hadn’t ever thought about collaborating with an artist like blackbear before, but we liked him as a guy. So we sent him through the song, and he pretty much wrote the entire second verse and it took it to a whole new place.”
As for the themes of the album, Wake Up Sunshine is about stepping into the light after overcoming dark times surrounding internal mental health conflicts.
“There’s a lot of sunshine and lemonade on this record which I love. And then I think, personally, it’s all about working through things. [It’s] just about being open with yourself and being honest in writing stories that help you grow as a person. To me, it was almost like telling myself to wake up and things get better. And I hope that message conveys to anyone listening to it.”
And what a more fitting time to release a positive and wholesome collection of music, as the world attempts to navigate through this strange era overshadowed by the overwhelming anxiety of COVID-19?
“It’s interesting because nothing like this has ever come close to happening to us while we’re putting out a record, or to the world. It’s equal parts very odd to be experiencing it as a human being with every other human being, like we’re all sharing this weird anxiety,” Gaskarth says.
“I’m really grateful that the record is uplifting and can hopefully deliver a message of positivity and escape during a fairly heavy time. And then as far as it actually coming out, it sucks but it sucks for everyone right now. Like, do we push the record back, do we start cancelling tours: what do we do? And it just didn’t feel right to do that. We could try and push the album back and have better first week numbers or some bullshit, but it’s more important right now to come together and show people that there is still light in this world.
“Hopefully this record can be an outlet or a bit of an escape for our fans so, that’s why we’re sticking to our guns and we’re going to put this thing out. Everything else is secondary, we can always tour. The world will come back to normal. Things are going to get flowing again and once that happens, we’ll be ready to hit the road and play shows for people.”