All Time Low

In the midst of their Small Package Tour stop in Omaha, NE we were given the opportunity to sit down with Jack Barakat to discuss All Time Low's transition from Hopeless Records to Interscope, the inner workings of the bands upcoming release, Dirty Work (set for release in Spring 2011), as well as Jack's concerns before the band makes their way to Brazil later this year. A special thanks to Mr. Barakat for showing up to the interview clothed!

 

 

[email protected]: First off, thanks for taking the time out to do this. How are you guys feeling today?

Jack Barakat: Good man. I feel good. I feel energetic.

[email protected]: You guys are currently in the midst of headlining your “Small Package” tour alongside A Rocket To The Moon and City (Comma) State, which will be ending in the next few weeks. How has the tour been thus far?

Jack Barakat: It’s been great. We decided that we needed to switch things up and do a smaller tour to get back to our roots, and play smaller venues that we grew up playing. It’s been awesome. No barricades. It’s been messy.

[email protected]: Any standout moments comparable to that of the live DVD you released earlier this year? (Burrito fucking, penis flashing, etc.)?

Jack Barakat: There has been a lot of penis flashing, as well as the corrupting of the young and new band Before You Exit on their first national tour. As there was a lot of corrupting on our first national tour, so in a sense we’re passing down the torch.

[email protected]: How is it returning to your roots AFTER your breakout success, playing smaller, more intimate venues?

Jack Barakat: It’s really exciting and cool, because I feel the kids that come out to these shows are the ones who are the most energetic, most incredible fans who bought tickets as soon as possible. Basically they are super fans who know every lyrics to every song no matter how old the song is. It’s just been really exciting.

[email protected]: Earlier this year, it was announced that you will be releasing your follow-up to Nothing Personal early next year, titled Dirty Work. Is the album completed?

Jack Barakat: The album is about 93% completed… not 92% or 94%, it’s definitely 93%. We’re kind of in the mixing/mastering phase. None of the songs are mastered,  but most of them and mixed.

[email protected]: Would you guide us through the writing and recording process for the new album?

Jack Barakat: This album was much more focused on Alex’s writing and less of a band thing. It’s a record that has been bounced back and forth between touring and writing. Recording on the road while touring is virtually impossible, for our band at least. So a lot of the writing process was Alex writing songs and us going into the studio to put in our two cents and changing a couple things around.

[email protected]: In an interview with AbsolutePunk earlier this year, Alex said that the tentative release for Dirty Work was in January of next year. Is this still the case? It was rumored that the album would be released on January 17th, but that was quickly dismissed.

Jack Barakat: No, we’re probably looking at an early Spring release. I think it’s better for All Time Low because we’re a Summer band, and I feel uncomfortable, among other reasons, releasing an album in Winter.

[email protected]: It was revealed in late 2009 that the band had signed to Interscope Records. How was the transition from Hopeless?

Jack Barakat: It’s been good. It’s been really good. I think the really cool part about it is that it’s not like we’re a new band who signed to a major label, we’re an experienced band who has experienced a decent amount of success on a independent label. So, we kind of knew what we were doing going into it. It’s definitely been awesome to have a bunch of new resources open up to us that we never had before, meaning we can write with people that we could never write with before, recording with people, getting certain mixers/producers and everything. I think it basically gives us the feeling we need to reach our full potential with the new record.

[email protected]: With the signing to a major label coupled with the success of both Nothing Personal and So Wrong, It’s Right, was their any pressure put upon the band during the completion process of Dirty Work to essentially one-up your prior success?

Jack Barakat: Yeah, I mean, every time a band has a new album come out, it’s always expected that they’re going to up their one up their last record. I’d say there’s a lot more pressure associated with this record as it’s our major label debut. This is our first chance at radio and our first chance at having songs that could be heard on a global scale, so I think there is definitely a lot more pressure, for sure.

[email protected]: Both Mike Green and Matt Squire (who produced a majority of the songs on Nothing Personal) were brought on for production duties for Dirty Work.What were some of the determining factors for bringing back Matt for this record, as well as bringing on Mike?

Jack Barakat: Matt Squire has been with us since the beginning. He’s the guy who got us talking to labels in the first place, so I mean there’s a family factor. Also, him and Alex are great writers together. I remember the day they wrote “Weightless,” and they wrote it in 25 minutes. They just have an amazing chemistry together. The Mike Green scenario has just been an absolutely amazing experience. Our manager Keith came to us and told us he’d like us to write a song with Mike Green early in the process, so Alex went into the studio with him and within three days they had like five complete songs done. All the songs are on the new album, actually. Him and Alex have an amazing chemistry together. He added this sweet dynamic to the band we never had before. He made us think in ways we never would have thought before.

[email protected]: How do you feel the use of multiple producers affected the overall sound of Dirty Work. Obviously the band are no strangers to using multiple producers, as Nothing Personal’s production “team” consisted of Matt, Butch Walker, and David Bendeth, to name a few.

Jack Barakat: We’re all about using multiple producers on our records. We actually had just as many producers on this album as with Nothing Personal. There’s a Butch Walker track on this album, as well as a track with John Fields. We’re all about mixing things up and keeping it fresh. I’m not 100% into the one producer/one record thing because you get a lot of the same sounding songs. It’s cool to have a bunch of variety.

[email protected]: Earlier this year, Alex posted a demo of a song titled “Actors” on his blog. Will the song make the album?

Jack Barakat: “Actors” will not be on the album, which is why we released the demo just for the fans to hear it. We’re going to end up recording 15-16 songs and there are only going to be 12 on the album. So there are definitely going to B-sides and stuff that will be eventually get released in some sort of way.

[email protected]: In an interview with MTV, Nothing Personal was described by Alex as “Unicorn Poop,” later stating that the album leaned a little too pop for the band (not to say that it was a bad record in the least bit). Why do you feel, at this point in your careers, and after the immediate success of the album, it’s important to shy away from the polished pop-rock sound?

Jack Barakat: Well, I think what he meant was, with Nothing Personal we were kind of afraid to be pop or afraid to be rock, so the songs ended up in a weird medium. Whereas on this record, there are a lot of pop songs, as well as a lot rock songs. There isn’t a mix of the two. I think they are a lot more distinguished this time around. There is definitely pop, but there is definitely more rock. It’s not so much like Nothing Personal where the songs were kind of poppy, but also pop-punky. It’s pretty much black and white

[email protected]: Overall, would you say the album (Dirty Work) is the most mature outing from the band up to this point?

Jack Barakat: Definitely. From a musicianship standpoint, the guitar work is the best, the vocals are the best, the drumming, the bass, everything just sounds awesome. The parts are just great

[email protected]: Do the lyrics and lyrical themes throughout the album follow this maturation?

Jack Barakat: There are a lot more serious songs on this record, compared to anything we’ve done in the past.

[email protected]: Stylistically speaking, do you think Dirty Work will satisfy fans who prefer your back-catalog releases such as Put Up Or Shut Up, The Party Scene?(or even So Wrong It’s Right for that matter?

Jack Barakat: I like to explain Dirty Work as a mix of our older records and our new stuff. I think everyone is going to be stoked. It should attract a bunch of new fans. It appeals to a much larger audience than our last record.

[email protected]: At the moment, are there any plans to release a single ahead of the album’s release? Any word on when said single will see the light of day

Jack Barakat: Absolutely. We just haven’t figured out what the single is yet. We’re looking for an early year release for the single.

[email protected]: After the “small package” tour culminates in the next few weeks, the band will have a short break before a short stint in Brazil before heading to Europe. What are you looking forward to most about once again going global?

Jack Barakat: We like to consider ourselves a global band, and one thing I love about it is that we’ve created a large fan base over there (in the UK). This will be our, I want to say, our tenth time headlining in the UK. At this point, we have such a large fan base over there, I think it’s safe to say we’re bigger in certain markets in the UK than we are in the States, which is awesome. The kids over there are so stoked when we make a trip over there. It’s also the first time that Yellowcard has toured over there in awhile, so that’ll be cool taking them out.

[email protected]: It’s known that Brazilian fans have a reputation for being slightly obsessive over their pop-rock/pop-punk favorites, of which All Time Low is included. Any concerns looking ahead to the tour?

Jack Barakat: From a fan standpoint, no. There are no concerns. I don’t think we have John Lennon fans who would try to kill us or anything. From a country standpoint, as far as stability, I think we’re kind of nervous because we really don’t know much about South America and we’ve never been there. We’ll probably have some sort of security with us just to make sure we’re not going into dark alleys and buying crack from hookers, or getting shot, stabbed, raped,  or kidnapped. Too much shit that we know about…

[email protected]: Has there ever been a moment in your careers as musicians where you’ve had to take a step back and take everything in

Jack Barakat: That’s what I love about being home. Every time I’m home it’s really like being brought back down to earth.

[email protected]: Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from listening to All Time Low?

Jack Barakat: Ultimately, just learning to let go of the darker times in your life and have a good time. Just don’t get stressed over the little things and make sure you’re enjoying life to the fullest.

The Small Package tour is truly a show not to be missed. If you are unable to get your fill of the band on the tour, be sure to check out their back catalog to tide you over for the band's upcoming major label debut, Dirty Work.  

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