All Time Low Get High on Pop Rock

Originally published in Guitar World, February 2011

The Baltimore punkers switch musical gears for Dirty Work.

"I would say this is the least pop-punk record we’ve ever made,” says All Time Low guitarist/frontman Alex Gaskarth of the band’s new album, Dirty Work. “I would call this more of a pop-rock/alt-rock album for us. There are definitely elements of pop punk—where we came from. But this album was an effort to develop our sound and hone in on great songwriting rather than conform to the boundaries of a certain genre.”

That’s risky talk for a band that has always defined itself as pop-punk standard bearers and heirs to the Green Day/Blink-182 legacy. But Gaskarth’s co-guitarist, Jack Barakat, jumps in quickly to reassure long-time ATL fans. “It’s not like we did a complete 180,” he says. “We’re still a very guitar-driven band. We always have a gritty punk feel to our music. Even if it’s a poppier song, we need to have that heavy guitar tone just to make it All Time Low.”

Dirty Work was a long time in the making. Songwriting for the disc began in December 2009. In what has become standard ATL operating mode, Gaskarth co-wrote all the material with the disc’s many producers. The project reunited the band with Butch Walker, who contributed to their previous album, Nothing Personal, and Matt Squire, who produced their 2007 disc, So Wrong It’s Right. They even did one song with Jonas Brothers producer John Fields. But the bulk of the production was handled by Mike Green, who has worked with Paramore and the Matches.

“We took the hip-hop approach,” Gaskarth says with a laugh. “But working with a lot of different producers is good, because it pulls you in all kinds of new directions.”

The album even includes a song that Gaskarth co-wrote with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, “I Feel Like Dancing.” “I went to Rivers’ house and we wrote it there,” Gaskarth says. There’s also the obligatory acoustic ballad. This one’s called “Daydream Away.” “It’s a real panty wetter,” Barakat announces.

Will the disc achieve ATL’s goal of satisfying their fan base while expanding their audience? “You’ll hear some songs on there and go, ‘I didn’t know All Time Low could write a song like that.’ ” Barakat says. “But it’s still all All Time Low.”

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