Interview with ALEX and RIAN from ALL TIME LOW
With an incredible career that spans 14 years and counting. Selling over 1.5 million albums worldwide. Creating 6 successful studio albums with number 7 only weeks away from release. Racking up 100 million plus views on YouTube. Headlining numerous sold out tours across the globe. Receiving a bunch of awards including four Alternative Press music awards, five Kerrang! Awards.
Winning the coveted title of Best Pop Punk Band at the Top In Rock Awards and finding mainstream success by repeatedly topping the charts, AMNplify’s Cassie recently got to sit down with one half of the biggest and most loved bands in modern music today at their Sydney show to talk all things tour, music and their new album Last Young Renegade – Alex and Rian from All Time Low.
Boys! Alex, Rian. Welcome back to Oz!
Alex – Hello! Thank you!
Rian – Thank you!
It’s been a little while…
Alex – It has!
Rian – Too long I think…
Alex – Two years, too long
Rian – I’ll say too long
How you going?
Alex – Great! Happy to be here! Yeah, we played Brisbane last night. It was awesome! Really good times so that was kinda like, set the bar high for tonight. But I have high expectations, Sydney’s always a good crowd.
Sweet! So I think that was my next question… So you did start the tour in Brisbane last night, what’s it like being back on stage in front of an Aussie crowd?
Alex – Feels great!
Rian – Yeah, they’re very receptive to the new songs which is obviously always important but we played ones from over 10 years ago and they knew those too so it’s always cool to see that it spans over the decade.
With fans old and new, you know the era of 2008 (the peak of pop-punk music) and you guys (All Time Low) were playing smaller venues, it’s crazy to think the fan-base has grown. The younger ones have kind of caught on and become fans and lovers of your music…
Rian – Yeah!
Alex – Absolutely! Yeah, it’s pretty incredible. Kinda feels like we’re on our second or third wave of new fans which is really cool. I think we’ve had a lot of fans that have grown up with us which is rad, and they’re still coming back. We’ve seen a tonne of people at meet and greets and signings and stuff on their third-fourth-fifth time seeing us but yeah, then there’s tonnes of people who have never seen us before which is exciting. You know it’s really cool when you get that fresh group coming in! It’s cool like people are jumping on board with the new albums and then are going back and learning the back catalogue as well so it’s been solid.
You’re doing six major shows this tour, your biggest ever tour down under. You’ve brought along Neck Deep and The Maine for the ride. What can fans old and new expect from All Time Low this tour?
Alex – Well it’s bigger venues so it’s kind of a bigger show in general…
Rian – Yeah, I think this is our first tour we’ve been able to bring our own kind of production, our own lights, our own sound; made our own show.
Alex – Definitely! We’ve never had all the extra production, the things that kind of create moments so that’s been an exciting thing to really work around that.
So you’ve been involved heavily in the production this time around, would you say?
Alex – Yeah!
Brilliant! Do you rehearse your shows or do you just kind of wing it?
Rian – I think we do!
Alex – (laughs) Yeah, we do! Absolutely. Once we kind of get in the flow of things, you don’t need it as much but I mean even up to today we were just rehearsing a new song we were adding in to the set so…
Rian – We basically get together before a tour and work through a setlist, and songs like Weightless or Maria, we don’t really need to practice those so much so when we get to them, we get to them but the newer songs or songs we mightn’t have played in a while we always make sure we have locked in.
What are you most looking forward to seeing while you’re down under? Have you got any cool activities planned?
Rian – (laughs) We don’t have time!
Alex – No unfortunately, we really don’t. The shows are all stacked. We flew in this morning and we’re just here so, same with tomorrow we are flying to Melbourne.
Rian – We had one day off, we were flying back to Sydney to do a bunch of press.
What do you all like to do when you have some down time away from all the music and all the touring? Do you have any favourite hobbies you like to do when you get some down time?
Rian – More music!? (laughs)
Alex – Yeah! Rian literally bought a studio so when he’s (Rian) not, when we’re not on tour we’re hold up in the studio all the time; usually working with other bands. Similar to me, I’ve been doing a lot of writing for other acts; been trying to get more and more into that so I’ve been spending some of my off time working with other people.
Rian – It’s kind of funny, some people don’t think of it this way but like when we go home, that’s our vacation, you know what I mean… Not that this is work at all, but in a way it’s what we do so when we go home we just kind of like to do nothing. Go on hikes…
Alex – Yeah, it feels good just to get back to doing normal stuff like not going out every day and not being in a new place all the time, just like being central.
Rian – Being normal…
Alex – Like just going to my local bar, like you know just stuff like just catching up!
Rian – You have no idea how good it is to like sleep in your own bed, you know what I mean. We love touring but also love being home so that’s our time to just disappear and do whatever.
Video by Cath Connell Photography
Let’s talk new music. The single, the album. Dirty Laundry is the first official single from the album. I’m sure I’m not the only one that sees this track as dark, nostalgic and incredibly reflective. Was that the idea you were trying to take on in this song? Do you see All Time Low kind of going down a self-reflective music type path?
Alex – Um, I don’t know about for the future, I think we’re always gonna write what we wanna write in the moment but this album very much became all about that. It’s a really reflective record and it has that kind of nostalgic quality to it lyrically and then obviously we crafted the music to fit that. I was going back and listening to a lot of music I grew up on, just things that were kind of out of the box for us, stuff we had never pulled from influence wise before – going back and listening to The Cure, Depeche Mode and Prince and Bowie, taking… like not taking song ideas but just figuring out like what little details made their music great and feel the way it felt and trying to kind of adapt that and bring it in to what we do to pepper in new flavours that maybe people wouldn’t expect to hear on the record.
Rian – I think (Dirty) Laundry was a great example – it was a great first single because it kind of captures the record as a whole, it has these new bits and these new themes but by the end of it it sounds like more “old” All Time Low if that’s what you call it. So it gave fans a nice, whole image of the record in one song.
How would you describe then your musical style? Your genre.
Rian – We stay away from that (laughs)
Alex – Yeah, I don’t really care (laughs). Honestly, I don’t like that question.
Rian – Really? (laughs)
Alex – Yeah! We’ve never really given a shit. Other people kind of give you that name and that label. For a long time, we’ve always been cast in that “pop-punk” bubble because that’s the world we came out of.
Rian – During that time you had most people saying ‘they’re not pop-punk’ (laughs)
Alex – We were influenced by, like at the time, Blink, Green Day, NOFX, bands like that and we came up on the Warped Tour scene so that was very much kind of what we were all about. I understand why we sort of fit into that but I think the more we’ve gone along we’ve tried to kind of move around. Like I don’t exclusively listen to “pop-punk” music or any one genre really, I’ve always been a fan of pop and alt and rock and all kinds of things so at any given moment we’re kind of drawing from all different pools of influence.
Rian – And not to mention, just say you not label yourself but do say ‘we’re a pop-punk band’ or ‘punk band’ it kind of limits on what creatively you’re willing to write. If you’re stuck in this box of ‘oh, we’re a pop-punk band’, ‘we’re a rock band – that’s all we can do’ then it’s just like ‘okay let’s just write the same 15 records over and over again’. It doesn’t become fun creatively, it doesn’t become fun to play live. We know what “All Time Low” is, we know what we wanna be, we know where we’ve been and we just kind of stay within that confine.
Alex – I think the biggest thing is, over time we’ve found what works and we know what doesn’t work so we can move around within that space of what we know works but kind of introduce new elements and as long as it doesn’t feel uncomfortable to us – I found that’s sort of the biggest proponent for our music connecting with our fans like when we feel great about it people pick up on it.
You gave yourself room to grow…
Rian – Yeah!
Alex – Yeah, absolutely. We didn’t set out to make a pop-punk record or really any record, we just kind of invented the sound that fit the characters on the record, fit the story and created this kind of universe for the album, for the music…
The new album, Last Young Renegade is finally released on June 2. Exciting times! What was the writing process like for this album? What pushed you to create another album?
Alex – We don’t have any plans of stopping so continuing the creative process, making records, making more music for people… When the time is right, it’s right. We got about two years past the last record and it was like ‘we can write some more music’ so yeah, it felt very natural so we just kind of got to work on it… And yeah, the process was really cool. We knew we wanted to make a record, started writing new songs and we got lucky early that we wrote a few songs early in the process that felt like they would really help shape the album so from there we went and chased what else could fill in the spaces around those songs.
Rian – He (Alex) did something cool this time too, he’s never done it I think where he went out on these writing journeys …
Alex – Excursions…
Rian – Like in the middle of nowhere, California, Nevada, wherever it was. No distractions or anything like that. The way it was set up was really cool. If you get bored or you get stuck on one song you go next door and you can start writing another one and there’s nothing to take you away from it.
Alex – Yeah, I basically went on these writing trips, invited some friends and we’d rent out a house and we would put multiple studio set ups in those houses so at any given moment I was kind of working on 4-5 songs at a time so if you got stuck on one and rather than being like ‘oh whatever let’s go get coffee’ and never come back to that, you’d kind of be like I’ll go next door for a minute and while working on another song you’d have a revelation that would finish the other song next door. So it was good! It kind of helps to put yourself in a bubble sometimes.
You’re going to have to give me some tips! (laughs) Your last studio album, Future Hearts topped the charts – UK, US. Do you have high expectations and different goals this time around with the new album, knowing Future Hearts was so successful?
Alex – I think we have high expectations in the sense that we want it to succeed and we want to keep growing the fanbase and hopefully this will be the biggest record we’ve ever put out. That being said, I think the chart position and things like that are so fickle, that it’s so fluid all the time, there’s a very good chance we were only number one and number two because there was nothing else that came out that week. We were really proud of the numbers that we sold and were so stoked that the fans came out and showed up and bought the record but as long as our fans are engaged and get out there and wanna buy it, that’s really all we care about.
Video by Cath Connell Photography
If you only had three words to kind of describe the new album to fans and to people who are only just discovering your work, what would you say?
Alex – Um… Moody, vibey…
Rian – Journey (laughs)
Alex – Adventurous
Rian – It’s cool, I mean most of our records are pretty much this (peaking) all the way through and you may have an acoustic song or something like that but from front to back it takes you on a musical journey and that’s something very new for us. I guess that’s not a few words but…
Alex – It was a few, it was a hundred and forty characters or less… it was a tweet.
It was a tweet?
Alex – It was a tweet’s worth!
You’ve been together as a band now for roughly 14 years, it’s been a long road and there’s obviously no slowing down or stopping for you guys. Is there anything else you would like to achieve as a band?
Alex – Always! The reasons I think we’ve managed to sustain is the fact we’ve never really taken our eyes off the next thing. Every time we’ve come up and achieved a goal we’ve set ourselves it’s like ‘okay that moment was great, now what’s the next thing?’ so we’ve always kind of strived for greatness and to continue to grow and get bigger and spread the word, to reach as many people as we can possibly reach around the world. What I’m most proud of with this band is the fact that we’re not just delegated to one country like some like I think it’s really great we can go everywhere in the world and have an amazing fan-base and an amazing following.
Rian – On stage yesterday, when we were in Brisbane, I was looking out there and was like ‘damn, that’s a lot of people’ for like anywhere, and it’s crazy like we’re 10,000 miles away from where we started and there’s that many people out there. It’s always a cool feeling.
2017 so far has proven to be such a busy but incredibly exciting rollercoaster for All Time Low. What is the plan for the rest of 2017 and beyond?
Alex – Yeah, I mean this. We’re rolling out music and the record will some soon in June, obviously and we have so many tours, we have dates booked through pretty much the end of the year; some aren’t announced yet. We’re kind of already talking about what’s happening next year, so yeah it’s full steam ahead really. And hopefully we get to come back here soon! Like quickly because last time it took us a little while to come back so hopefully. The goal this time will be to get back a little quicker than last time.
I think fans will love that, that’s for sure! So, to finish off we’re going to play a little 20 questions type game for a bit of a laugh! The catch is you’ve only got a minute to answer them all and we’ll see how this turns out!
Last thing you ate?
Rian – Nandos
Alex – What the hell did I eat? I didn’t have Nandos…
Rian – (clicks fingers)
Alex – Oh my god! Ah, ah, ah airplane food? No, lounge food. Food in the lounge
Rian – Minute’s gone!
Dogs or cats?
Alex – Dogs
Rian – Dogs
What’s your favourite dessert?
Alex – Spaghetti
Rian – (laughs) Ice cream cake… Spaghetti. Ice cream spaghetti
Summer or Winter?
Alex – Summer
Rian – Summer
Who is your favourite superhero?
Alex – Batman
Rian – Robin (laughs)
If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?
Alex – Batman (laughs)
Rian – Robin (laughs)
Alex – Crime fighting!
Out of the band, who farts the most?
Rian – Farts? Zac
Alex – Zac… Zac and Jack
Rian – Zac and Jack, yeah!
Alex – The other two!
Last person you spoke to on the phone?
Alex – My mum
Rian – Mum
Most embarrassing moment on stage?
Alex – The front of my pants ripped open, I had to play the rest of the show with a giant hole in the front of my pants
Rian – I’ll go with that one!
We’re you complaining about it?
Alex – I mean I just kind of had to do it, they just ripped
Rian – The crowd weren’t complaining, if you know what I mean! (laughs)
Most embarrassing moment off stage?
Rian – Oh, can’t say!
Alex – Recently, probably something I’ve said accidently in front of people, I say something stupid and look like an idiot in front of someone cool
Biggest man crush?
Alex – Chris Pratt
Rian – That’s good! Ryan Reynolds
Alex – Of course!
I’ll go with that! Favourite artist or band right now?
Rian – The Maine!
Alex – Yeah!
Rian – Neck Deep!
Alex – Yeah! Neck Deep and The Maine!
The song you’re most likely to be caught dancing to?
Alex – Um…
Rian – Backstreet’s Back
Alex – Yeah! He knows me…
100%! Yes! Last one… If you could meet one person from the course of history, who would it be and why?
Alex – Oh my god! Um… One person from the course of history, geez…
Rian – I’m terrified to answer this
Alex – There’s so many! Um, Mark Twain!
Rian – That’s good!
Alex – Oh right! Why…
Rian – To see if any of those quotations are real? (laughs)
Alex – Yeah, to see if any of those quotes are actually real (laughs). No, because he’s got some great, based on the things he’s said, his writings and what not he seemed to have a pretty good grasp on social structure considering the times and he seemed like a pretty down, progressive dude and I think I’d get along with him… And he also loved to drink! Which I also like doing
Rian – I am not going to try and top that!
That is an A+ answer! Thank you so much for today!
Rian – Thank you! That was great, thank you!
Alex – Thank you guys so much!
Interviewer – Cassandra Thomson
Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography
Video by Cath Connell Photography
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- Cassandra Thomson