All Time Low’s “wrong decision” is the right choice

Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low told us during our Vans Warped Tour interview that they weighed making the "safe choice" (college) versus following their dreams (music) after high school.Photo by Tim O'Shei

Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low told us during our Vans Warped Tour interview that they weighed making the “safe choice” (college) versus following their dreams (music) after high school.
Photo by Tim O’Shei

To All Time Low, a four-piece pop rock outfit from Baltimore, dreams are nothing to take lightly. Hard work, perseverance, and unyielding ambition have helped ATL reach the level of popularity they have today. The band has a widespread legion of fans, with more than 2 million Twitter followers collectively. And those fans are located across the globe: This fall, the band released its fifth full-length album, “Don’t Panic,” with a three-day series of concerts in Tokyo, London and New York.

ATL was formed in 2003, when all the guys were teens who simply wanted to play good music.

“We never expected to get where we are with this,” front man Alex Gaskarth, sporting pink hair, a loose-fitting tank top and ripped jeans, told us during Vans Warped Tour last summer. “We started in high school. We were super young, just doing it for fun.”

ATL’s goal has never been to achieve fame. From day one they have been making music because they have a passion for it. When faced with the decision to attend college or pursue their music career, Alex voiced the band’s thought process: “Do we follow the beaten path and go to college and do what our guidance counselors are telling us to do is safe or do we take a once in a lifetime opportunity and go for it?”

“We wanted to see payoff,” Alex said, “or (see) if it could pay off.”

He added, “To all of us, it was a clear-cut answer.”

Lead guitarist Jack Barakat, a tall, lanky guy with blonde streaked black hair jumped in. “We made the wrong decision!” he joked.

Alex played along. “I could be a lawyer!”

I could be a doctor!” Jack said, mockingly.

Alex Gaskarth and All Time Low released their fifth full-length album, "Don't Panic", this fall.Photo by Mary Hartrich

Alex Gaskarth and All Time Low released their fifth full-length album, “Don’t Panic”, this fall.
Photo by Mary Hartrich

Conversations with the guys of All Time Low are prone to go like this. They are serious musicians and seriously hard workers, but they have a funny side – and it comes out both onstage and off.

For example, when I asked them about their use of social media, here’s how the conversation went:

Alex: “Twitter?”

Me: “People send out tweets about what they’re doing.”

Alex: “Birds? Like carrier pigeons?”

Me: “No, like people.”

Jack: “Oh, the thing that Al Gore invented. The Internet!”

And then they got serious. ATL “learned to use (social media) very quickly,” Alex said, and “immediately saw the impact it had.”

Jack added, “The cool thing about Twitter is when you don’t have a new record out and when you’re not touring it’s still a way to stay relevant with your fans and be like ‘Hey, we’re still here!’“

So what we can learn from ATL about fame and the rock life?

• Chase your dreams, not fame.

• Take your work seriously, not yourself.

• Use social media to build a fan base and keep in touch with them.

And that’s not all. We caught up with ATL a second time this fall in Rochester, New York, shortly after the release of their fifth album, “Don’t Panic,” and sat with Alex on the band’s tour bus to learn about the project.

Click here to read my review of “Don’t Panic” and watch my interview with Alex.

— Mary Hartrich
LSY! music editor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s