All Time Low Down with Jack Barakat
The pop-punk band likes that hyphen right where it is.
Those who blew off All Time Low as just your typical East Coast high-schooler garage band might soon do a double take at their radios. After eight years of storming continents and dropping four studio albums, Baltimore-born All Time Low has brought its cheeky alternative anthems to mainstream attention, from laying down tracks for movies “Alice in Wonderland” and “Jennifer’s Body,” to appearing in “Girl’s Life” magazine fashion shoots and MTV reality shows. On Wednesday, the band will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. at The Blue Note. Until then, ATL guitarist Jack Barakat reflects on fame, fortune and finagling genre lines.
[MOVE] By high school graduation in 2006, you already had out two studio albums and an EP. How?
[Jack Barakat] We got really serious about music really fast. Not only about the actual music itself, but also the business of it and what it takes to really make it in the music industry. We were good at networking and at getting ourselves on really good tours. There was a lot of appeal to us. We were all extremely good looking (laughs), but we were really hard working, and we had really good songs. That was a strong appeal, when a young band has good songs.
[M]Where do you pin-point All Time Low’s “big break"?
[JB]Signing to Hopeless Records was a really big deal. It was our first time being officially in the music industry— first time having a release you could buy in stores.
[M]How goes working with Interscope Records, who released your latest album, Dirty Work?
[JB]You have a lot more people to talk to when you’re on a major label. Everything has to be run through a lot more people. The best thing that came out of us signing Interscope Records was us having this universal record that is available in every country in the world. It made us into a worldwide entity.
[M]What is your approach to the mainstream recognition as an alternative band?
[JB] We have this special fan base where we kind of ride the line of mainstream success and independent band lifestyle. We started really organically with all the same members. It wasn’t like an overnight sensation type thing. It was something we really had to work for. We sign after every show. We tour countries where not a lot of bands go. We work hard to make sure everyone’s happy.
[M] You’ve headlined international tours, graced magazine covers and even had the term “All Time Low Ho” coined in reference to certain enthusiastic fans. So, do you feel like you’ve “made” it?
[JB] No, I don’t think we’ve ever been like, “Yeah, man, we’re fucking famous!” That’s never been something that comes out of our mouth. We always want to get better. We always want to improve. We always want to become a bigger band. You can’t be completely happy with success until you realize that you can’t grow anymore. We’ve got a lot of room to move. We’ve got a lot of places to go.
[M] Why should people who’ve never heard of All Time Low give a listen?
[JB] We create a whole world where you can just get away from your problems and enjoy music. It’s like you’re in this community of just awesomeness.