All Time Low: Pure Radio Cosplay
Ever wanted to listen to a couple of your favourite musos just shoot the shit for an hour over a few tinnies? Well now you can – a couple of those cheeky All Time Low boys have been putting out an online radio show called Full Frontal, and it’s well worth a listen if you (like us) enjoy pop-punk and dick jokes. It was with that in mind that we chatted to Alex Gaskarth about new labels, new horizons and just generally being funny.
First off we here in the BLUNT office have been really been enjoying the radio show that you guys have been putting out, where did the idea come from to do that show?
Thanks man, I appreciate that! It was a random sort of thing, we’ve been familiar with Idobi radio for a long time and we’ve been friends with Tom who works there for years, back from when we were kids in a local band. He’s from the BC area so we’ve always known him. As Idobi’s grown, and so have we, he recently came to us with the idea of us doing a show, which is of course a terrible idea on his part [laughs]. We talked about what the dynamic of it would be, and we decided the best idea would be for it to be almost like an extension of our live show, so that the kind of ridiculous stuff we say on stage would carry over into this weekly global broadcast where you put me and Jack in a room and just let us talk nonsense for an hour at a time. It’s good fun and we just have a few beers and enjoy ourselves and learn some things that some people might not know!
Do these conversations reflect the way you guys talk when you’re not in the public eye and you’re just hanging out?
That’s really always been the dynamic between me and Jack when we’re together, we’ve always been these two idiot kids and we’re always around each other so we’ve never grown out of that. So it’s fun to share that with other people through a weird medium the way we do on our radio show.
Did either of you have any on-air experience before now?
Only in the sense of doing radio interviews and stuff like that, we’ve never hosted anything before. We’ve hosted countdowns and stuff, but nothing like this. If there is any kind of professionalism to it at all, it’s just us copycatting what we see people do when they interview us. But we’re amateurs, we don’t know what we’re doing.
What’s it like to be expected to be funny for an hour non-stop?
It’s weird, but luckily for us it’s not a live broadcast. If it does become a live show down the road, the good thing is that right now we’re getting to learn how the dynamic of the show works. This way, if there’s awkward moments, or we say shit that just isn’t funny, we can stop and start again and work out how to change it up and keep the pace going. No one’s really showing us how to do it, but we’re able to make mistakes and teach ourselves as we go.
Do you ever get nervous before these shows the same way you would before one of your concerts?
Totally! And especially because of the lack of audience! But we try to get as many people in the room as we can, we bring in friends and the crew, because it’s hard to judge whether anything you’re saying is even funny at all if there’s no live audience with you. Our best gauge is that if there’s a few people in the room and they’re chuckling, then we know we’re doing something right and we can stay on that tangent. But if it’s all like crickets, we move on. But sometimes it’s really hard, like if you’re not in the mood or things just aren’t clicking. There’s gotta be that chemistry between the two of us, so if it’s not there one day we just have to stop and come back to it when we’re feeling a bit looser.
What kind of topics are you going to delve into in the future?
We try to find the weirdest weekly news, that’s one of the things we stuck with for the first few episodes. Anything that catches our eye. We don’t wanna talk about politics, we don’t wanna talk about the tragedies going on in the world because people hear enough of that everywhere; it’s force-fed to us on a daily basis. We want people to just have an hour of nonsense, it’s the non-news that nobody needs to hear about, but there we are, two guys talking about it in graphic detail. It just makes for a fun hour of comic relief where we can forget about the bullshit. But we are planning in the future to do some more guest interviews and have fans call in and make it interactive – that element should take it to a whole other level. We’re gonna do it for as long as we can while people want to listen to it!
Let’s talk about your most recent album. You guys spoke about the desire to make Don’t Panic an album that was more definitive of your own sound rather than derivative of your influences. Now that it’s been out in the world for a while now, do you think you achieved that goal?
Yeah, definitely! The reaction to the record so far has been so positive and the way the songs have gone down live has shown us that we used the right formula. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out. It’s stood the test of time and the record is still selling pretty well every week, considering no one buys records anymore really! It’s a very positive thing for us.
A lot of punk bands these days seem to face either a lot of criticism or a lot of praise when they put out a record that shows them maturing as a band. Was this a more grown-up album for you?
I would say so. We definitely matured, but we also explored a lot of things that made us catch on in the early days. I think we tried to examine what made the previous albums great, and what made them stand out to the people that appreciated them, and then harnessed those elements and tried to combine them into one. That was kind of the dynamic for Don’t Panic.
Are you working on a follow-up to that album yet?
There’s a little bit of chatter on the wire… we’re already a year into that album, so something’s gonna have to happen soon! The gears are turning, but it’s a little early to make any official announcements, but I would certainly say there’s something on the horizon.
What’s it like to be back on Hopeless Records after being with a major label for a while?
I can’t stress how awesome it is for a band like us. The major label situation just wasn’t for us. It’s a different game, it’s single-driven, video-driven and radio-driven, and that’s not really what this band has ever been about. For us it’s about putting out albums and touring and growing from a grassroots approach. While it’s a bit slower, it’s what works best for us. It’s not about throwing a million dollars at something and hoping there’s a payoff. It’s a slower build-up, but usually it’s a cheaper option and it just makes more sense to have that approach. So being back with Hopeless is a breath of fresh air. When we realised we had secured an amicable release from the label, our first choice was to try and make it work with our old label, because they know us, they get it! So that was where we went.
Have you ever faced criticism from punk purists over your music style?
I think we’ve always had criticism from punk purists! I wouldn’t say that we are a pure punk band so I guess there’s always been people who have felt we’re too poppy or not “real” enough, but I don’t know what the fuck any of that means, it falls on deaf ears. We just make music we love. We grew up on Green Day and Blink-182 and New Found Glory. These are bands that do have some kind of direction and vision, but at the same time we’re not trying to be too “credible”, we’re not trying to be revolutionary, we know we’re not Led Zeppelin, we’re just a pop-punk band having fun doing what we do and making the music we love, that’s all that’s important to me.
Pick up All Time Low’s reissue – Don’t Panic: It’s Longer Now! – from UNFD now.