All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth Talks Creative Freedom + Warped Tour Excitement in our PV Q&A

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It's no secret that All Time Low have  had a lot going on in recent months. There was the infamous parting with Interscope, the reclaiming of their creative independence, the dropping of their epic and anthemic "The Reckless And The Brave," and the question that's been lingering on everyone's mind — what about that new record? Frontman Alex Gaskarth was kind enough to take some time to catch up with us, and from the sound of it, that record will come in due time, and they're enjoying taking their time to ensure it's dropped and delivered right. Here, Gaskarth sheds light on the album's step back towards a more raw sound, the important lesson he learned from his time with Interscope, and [because 'tis the season] why he's pumped for this year's Warped Tour. Check it out, spin "The Reckless and the Brave," and be sure to catch ATL en route Warped — after all, they'll be jamming across America all summer.

PureVolume: You’ve mentioned that this new record is getting back to your roots and what the band has always been about. Do you feel there was ever a point where you had lost that? Or was it more that you had experimented a bit and found you wanted to get back to the beginning?
Alex Gaskarth: It’s really delicate ground to tread, because it’s hard to say we’re getting back to what we used to do. I don’t think we’re ever going to write the same songs we were writing when we were 17 years old — it’s just not realistic, we’ve learned so much, and our taste has changed and our style is so different now. So I hesitate to say it’s getting back to what we used to do, but it’s definitely a step back towards focusing on the raw music, rather than the high-gloss production that we did on our last couple of records. This one’s a little more raw and a little more ballsy. But that being said, I think the reason for the change and the progression is sound, was mainly that we [had been] trying out new things, seeing where we could take ourselves, and this time around it was just a conscious decision to make sure that we captured the energy and the rawness that we used to do.
PV: When it comes to the album’s themes, would you say there was ever anything you had intended on making this album about? Or did its themes just develop naturally, based on what you’ve been going through as a band?
AG: It didn’t start out as being a conscious effort. With every record-writing process, a lot of the time you sort of don’t know what the theme of the album is going to be until you’ve written some of the songs, and then you start to just get a feel for where you’re going with it. It wasn’t until we were halfway through the record when we realized what [it] was all about. It took us forever to come up with the album title and all that stuff. We usually do that last, based on the central ideas that are on the record, and that didn’t really come to the end. So it kind of came naturally, as far as what we were going through and what we were writing, it sort of led us to the final product.
PV: For the new album, it was just you guys and [producer] Mike Green. Did going about this process without the label help you, as a band, to better trust in your own artistic vision and judgement?
AG: Absolutely. I think a big part of the process was the freedom that we had to create the record. I think that might have been the most positive element of what we were doing. We were so excited that this was a really laissez-fair process in terms of outside opinion. It was really just us and our producer working on the record, and it really did allow us to stretch our creative muscles so to speak.
PV: Besides “The Reckless and the Brave,” can you give an example of a song that you think holds true to that — that really stretched your artistic abilities?
AG: Yeah, we haven’t really announced song titles or anything, but there [are] definitely a lot of songs like that on the record. There’s this song called “Somewhere In Neverland” that really targets back to our days of So Wrong, It’s Right and things like that. I think that those songs would never be written with outside influences. This process has really allowed me to be as imaginative and as creative with my lyrics, and with my themes, as I wanted to be, which is awesome.
PV: Has this process made you interested in continuing forth as an unsigned band, or did you like being part of a label and having your music backed by that sort of a scene?
AG: That’s a really tough question. We’ve never tried releasing anything as an unsigned band, so I don’t know. There are obviously limitations to both, there are upsides and downsides either way you look at it. So, we’re not hesitating to sign to a label, we’re just kind of waiting to do exactly what’s right for us. That was the biggest thing this time around. We weren’t going to just jump at the first opportunity or whatever it was. We’re taking our time trying to figure out what the best way to release this record is — whether it’s on a label or just ourselves.
PV: Is there a label that you’re in talks with right now, that you’re thinking may be the best direction for you should you choose that route?
AG: There are several. It kind of becomes a slightly gray area as far as how much of that you’re supposed to talk about, so I’m not going to name names, but the process is definitely getting to the point where I think we’ll know sooner rather than later.
PV: In the aftermath of the Interscope situation, what was the greatest lesson you learned from being signed to that label?
AG: I think the biggest lesson we learned was just to believe in ourselves. You know, take outside opinions and criticism, and even compliments, with a grain of salt. I think the thing [with Interscope] was that there were just a lot of cooks in the kitchen during that last record-making process. There were a lot of people saying ‘this is going to be huge, this is great,’ there were people saying ‘try this, try this,’ and eventually it just gets to a point where everything is being over thought — there’s too much happening. So the lesson that I learned would be to just trust in what we do and do it to our best abilities. And that’s what people should be judging — not the work of a million minds.
PV: Now that "The Reckless and the Brave" has dropped, have you gotten any closer to picking an official release date for the album?
AG: We’re being really careful with that one [laughs]. Last time around we sort of announced the date, we thought we had the date, and then the date got pushed back like, twice. So it really threw a lot of people off as to when the record was going to come out. So this time, until it’s locked in and being shipped to stores, we’re not going to announce anything.
PV: You guys are going to be on Warped for the full tour. What are you most looking forward to about spending your summer on Warped?
AG: I think what I’m most excited for is the amazing bands that are on the tour this year — it’s such a good lineup. It’s a lineup that honestly brings me back to the days when I was going to Warped Tour, when our band wasn’t anywhere near big enough to even play it. So, it’s definitely going to be a cool experience sharing the stage with bands that we’ve looked up to for a long time — but then also, it’s always the camaraderie. It’s basically summer camp for the touring artists. It’s a really good time, and you make a lot of friends, and that’s really another aspect of it that I love.
PV: Who are some of those bands you looked up to, that you're most excited to see?
AG: It’s going to be really cool watching Yellowcard, New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, The Used — I’m very excited they’re all on board.
PV: What’s your craziest Warped Tour memory?
AG: There are so many [laughs], but there was a dance competition one year — I think it was the second year we did Warped Tour — and I think I came in second or something, and [I was] up against a professional dancer, so I think I held it down for the band there that night
PV: Wrapping up, is there anything else you can share with us about the new album or what’s to come for ATL?
AG: The album will hopefully be out this year, and we’re super excited about it. We’re at sort of a transitional point right now, and there’s a lot of news to be announced in the coming weeks, so for anyone paying attention to this interview, just keep paying attention. Keep your eyes and ears open, because I’m sure we’ll be coming back with more info soon.

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