The air is thick in the smothery, little office room right under the roof of the Batschkapp Club in Frankfurt/Main which we have designated as our makeshift interview location. We are sitting on wobbly desk chairs across from two members of the Pop-Punk group All Time Low, the drummer Rian Dawson and the guitarist Jack Barakat. They gonna answer our questions about their tour life, career and their new album "Dirty Work" which has been, appropriately for the hot weather, described as a fun and summer record.
Allschools: Hey guys. Thanks for taking some time for us.
Rian: Yeah sure. Hey girls!
Allschools: Happy Fourth of July! Are you celebrating at all or are you missing the US?
Rian: We miss it, but last night we did a festival where the Black Eyed Peas headlined and around 2 am they set off fireworks, which is a very common thing to do on Fourth of July in America. So it was nice to have a little taste of home.
Allschools: Can you just sum up what All Time Low is all about for the people out there who don't know who you are?
Jack: All Time Low is a fun power-pop group from the United States and our theory is "No one gets left behind".
Allschools: You've been to Germany a lot now, do you still enjoy playing here?
Rian: The shows in Germany are always really good for us. I think we play here more than in any other country in Europe, except for the UK maybe.
Jack: One good thing about Germany is the food. They have great food.
Rian: The shows are really always great. The first show we ever played in Germany was sold out. It was only 300 people, but still.
Allschools: You just got done playing a bunch of festivals all over Europe, for example Hurricane, Pinkpop or Southside. Do you generally enjoy playing festivals or do you prefer playing your own shows?
Rian: There's pros and cons. The great thing about playing festivals is that you play for an audience that might not even know who you are, so we have a great opportunity to get new fans and expand our fan base, because we get to play with bands we'd usually never get to play with, for example Black Eyed Peas or Linkin Park. The downside is you're in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere for about 24 hours with nothing to do.
Jack: Plus you don't get to experience the city at all. So from a touring standpoint it's not that fun, except for the shows.
Allschools: Have you seen Frankfurt at all so far?
Jack: Yeah, we drove into the city today and we're staying at this awesome hotel. I like it.
Allschools: Your new album came out recently, do you think it took a step in a different direction from your other two records?
Rian: Yeah, I think each record is in one form or another a babystep towards whatever we're becoming. We put "Nothing Personal" out in 2009, so it had been two years since that record and we have new experiences, new musical taste, new musical skills... I think each record should sound a little bit different than the one before. If a band puts out the same record over and over again, it gets kind of monotonous and boring. That being said: There isn't a song on "Dirty Work" that you listen to and think "That's All Time Low?" Every song still has the All Time Low feel to it.
Allschools: Do you think you had a song like that on one of your other albums?
Jack: Not really. I think Alex (Gaskarth, vocalist of the band) has a very distinctive voice.
Rian: Exactly. At the end of day we're a pop-rock band and we don't stray too far from that. We might have one song per record that strays from that a little, for example on "Nothing Personal" we had "Too Much", on this new album we have "No Idea". On a 12-song record why not have one song that's a little bit out of the box.
Allschools: How did you come up with the name "Dirty Work"?
Jack: It's kind of an explanation of what our lives have become between touring and carrying on relationships back home with our friends and family. At the end of the day it just feels like "Dirty Work".
Rian: Alex, our singer, described it as what we do: Dirty work.
Allschools: Why is it "dirty"?
Jack: It's fun and everything, but you're losing touch with all the people at home.
Rian: It's not to be taken literally though.
Allschools: Do you have a new song on the new record?
Jack: My favorite song is probably "Do You Want Me".
Rian: Mine is "Guts", but honestly I've never listened to one of our records as much as this one, so I'm excited to play all the new ones.
Allschools: You collaborated with different other artists on this album. For example you wrote the song "I Feel Like Dancin" together with Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. How did that happen?
Jack: We heard that he was writing with bands and Alex had our manager email his manager and Rivers was immediately totally into it because he'd heard about our band. So he invited us over to his house which was kind of weird.
Rian: Generally you do co-writes in studios, but we just did it in the living room of his house.
Allschools: How long did you have to stay there to write the song?
Jack: The song was finished in about 30 minutes.
Rian: There's something to say about sitting in a house and treating it like just a good conversation with a friend. Because that's what "I Feel Like Dancin" is about, it's about having a good time. Being in a studio and treating it like work wouldn't fit with the vibe of the song.
Jack: It's a feel good track that just kind of came to us.
Allschools: Additionally Maja Ivarrson from The Sounds also sang on the song "Guts" on the new album?
Rian: When Alex was doing the vocals for that song we thought it would be nice to have a female counter part doing the high harmonies. We are all big fans of The Sounds and we've done a couple festivals with them, so again we just kind of asked through the management and she said yes.
Allschools: You've been playing music for a long time now. Do you still get nervous before shows?
Jack: It depends on the show. If we're playing a festival for 30.000 Linkin Park fans we get a little nervous
Rian: For festivals you really have to work sometimes to get people interested. For those shows it's not really "being nervous", but it's a challenge. As a oppose to tonight, we're going to go out there and have fun. It's our crowd, so we don't really have to work to win them over. We're going to play a great show for them, but we don't have to tell them who we are.
Allschools: Have you ever had any negative experiences with crowds that don't know who you are?
Rian: Not really. I think the thing about our band is that even if you don't like the music, you still have a good time seeing us live. Half of the show is Alex and Jack talking back and forth to eachother and involving the crowd.
Allschools: Have you ever heard your own songs on the radio?
Jack: We've heard our songs on the radio a couple times. The thing about US radio is that it's very pop-oriented. The first time I actually heard "I Feel Like Dancin" on the radio was in Europe. The radio stations around the world are slowly jumping on the All Time Low train.
Rian: The UK has probably been the most responsive on the radio, they play it all the time. Hopefully the other European countries will sort of grab onto that.
Allschools: Besides being played on the radio, do you have any other goals that you would still like to reach as a band?
Rian: So far our career has been a constant gradient and we don't want it to stop. We've always been lucky enough to continue building our fan base and if we just keep doing it at the rate we're doing it, we'll still be playing in a band at 70 years old.
Jack: That sounds awful.
Rian: That's terrible. Maybe we'll retire before.
Allschools: But what's the end of your gradient?
Rian: It just keeps going. Ideally the end is being the biggest band in the world, even though that might not be realistic.
Allschools: Have you ever had any bad tour experiences?
Rian: This whole tour! The shows are great, but we've been plagued with problems.
Jack: Our bus broke down a couple of times, our air conditioning broke...
Rian: For the first three weeks of touring all our gear was in one of the lounges in our bus because our trailer was too small. The bus we have was literally the last bus available, haha.
Jack: The problem with all these festivals right now is that all the bands take up a lot of busses, so when we come over they give us whatever they have left.
Allschools: There's a lot of bands that are currently part of this "scene". What do you think sets you apart from all of them?
Jack: We don't take ourselves too seriously, which is definitely one thing that sets us apart from the other bands.
Rian: Another thing is that we tour pretty much non-stop. There's so many bands out there that if we were to take a couple months off, we'd might just be forgotten about. But we're always on tour, we tour 10 months out of the year and we just have fun. We don't take our situation for granted, we work very hard.
Jack: Not many bands tour the entire world. I think that's one thing that we're good at, reaching every little corner of the world.
Rian: It's crazy. Even bands that are huge can't tour the entire world. Like Blink 182 has never been to South America. It's kind of this new thing. As a band you need to have appearances everywhere. So if the market in one country is going down, you can go to another. It's great.
Allschools: Jack, you have a clothing line with Glamour Kills. How did you come up with the idea to start designing your own clothing?
Jack: I've always looked up to people like Pete Wentz or Mark Hoppus with their clothing lines. It's always something I've wanted to do. I just waited for the opportunity and grabbed it. At the time I pitched the idea to Marky (owner of Glamour Kills) and he was interested because we've been working with Glamour Kills for a long time already.
Allschools: Do you do the designs yourself?
Jack: No, I do consulting. I tell them what I'd like to see on a t-shirt because I can't draw, but all the shirt ideas are mine.
Allschools: You were influenced a lot by bands like Blink 182 or Fall Out Boy. Do you think you can identify with your fans better 'cause of being a fan yourself, ?
Rian: Definitely! Even while we're in this band, we're still huge fans of music and growing up we would go to shows every chance we got. We know exactly what it's like to wait in line for a show or stuff like that.
Allschools: You have a lot of very young fans. How do you feel about young girls screaming and collapsing in your presence?
Rian: It's flattering still, but I mean it's kind of been the way it is. It's crazy to us.
Jack: It's not like we started getting younger fans, our fans have just always been very young.
Rian: The lucky thing is that when we first started touring there were fans that were 14 and now five years later they're 19, going to college, and they're still our fans. These people remain our fans but then there's still another generation coming up.
Allschools: Do you think that through the new social media the experience of being a fan has changed?
Jack: Yeah, it even changed the experience of being a band. You have to act accordingly, you can't just get on Twitter and say whatever you want.
Rian: Also the position of being a rockstar is kind of gone now. The fans are involved with every moment of your life. They realize we're just the same as any other person. Back in the day, who knows what these rockstars were doing. When they weren't playing shows, the were living in castles, we thought. But now everything is just out in the open.
Allschools: Do you think that's a bad thing?
Rian: No, I don't think there's any more room for rockstars!
Allschools: Since you're on tour pretty much non-stop, do you think you're ever going to take a break?
Rian: Not really. We don't know what to do when we're home.
Allschools: Are you gonna make another tour DVD or do you think it's going to be too difficult to top "Straight To DVD"?
Rian: That DVD wasn't genius, it was just our every day life. We like to have fun because if you don't have fun on tour, you're going to hate your life. Especially us because we're on tour so much. We're lucky to have great relationships with everyone in our band and crew, they're our best friends.
Allschools: What are your plans for the summer?
Rian: After this tour we go home for about 9 days and then we go back on tour in the US.
Jack: We have a US-tour, Australia-tour, Japan-tour, Southeast-Asia-tour, then another US-tour and then finish up the year before we come back to Europe.
Allschools: Do you have any message for your German fans?
Jack: Thank you for being so awesome to our band!
Rian: If you're from Frankfurt, thank you for welcoming us to Frankfurt! Happy Fourth of July!
Allschools: Thank you for the interview.
Rian: Thanks guys.
Jack: Enjoy the show!