Sunday, 01 November 2015 11:32

All Time Low: From MySpace to Now

Written by  Eric Mitts
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All Time Low All Time Low COURTESY PHOTO

All Time Low wsg Sleeping With Sirens, Neck Deep, One Ok Rock
The DeltaPlex, Grand Rapids
Nov. 13; 5 p.m. doors; 6 p.m. show
$32.50 GA floor; $29.50 GA grandstand; (616) 364-9000

Although the new movie Fan Girl is a wish-fulfillment for steadfast All Time Low fans, it’s also an astonishing honor for the chart-topping pop punk band.

“To have a movie out there that loosely revolves around us means we’ve had some kind of impact on society as a whole,” All Time Low vocalist/guitarist Alex Gaskarth told Revue. “That is crazy to think about.”

In the spirit of teen flicks like Mean Girls, Fan Girl follows a teenage superfan as she works on a film class project and ultimately lands at an All Time Low concert. Co-starring Meg Ryan and Kiernan Shipka, the movie premiered on ABC Family last month. It’s inspired by screenwriter Gina O’Brien’s own daughter and other social-media-obsessed millennials who have latched onto the band’s open embracement of online networks like Facebook and Twitter, going all the way back to their early days as a high school band self-promoting on MySpace in 2003.

“I feel it’s really important to have a solid connection with the people who are fueling your fire,” Gaskarth said about the band’s loyal fans. “Music is very special to people and I know we have very passionate fans, many of whom see our music as a way of coping with, or letting go of, their everyday struggles. I never expected it to be like that when we first started, but over time I’ve come to realize that the very real moments we can share with our audience makes the community around our band that much stronger.”

Before their appearance in the fictionalized Fan Girl, All Time Low had only previously appeared in their own 2009 documentary titled Straight to DVD.

“I live my life according to Purple Rain,” Gaskarth quipped when asked how movies influence him personally.

Known for their onstage humor, All Time Low’s latest tour is inspired by yet another of their favorite movies: Back to the Future. “I’m a little bummed I don’t have a hover board yet, if I’m being honest,” Gaskarth said.

The band is currently co-headlining their Back to the Future Hearts Tour with Grand Rapids post-hardcore transplants Sleeping with Sirens, while supporting their newest release: Future Hearts. The record is the band’s sixth LP and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard chart this past spring.

“It’s really about looking back and reflecting on how far we’ve come from the days when we were kids touring in a van for the first time,” Gaskarth said about the album.“To our fans, it’s a message to keep pushing forward because dreams come true with perseverance. We’re living proof of that.”

Something of a super fan himself, Gaskarth grew up in the same Maryland music scene that helped birth other successful pop-punk bands like Good Charlotte and SR-71 around the turn of the millennium.

“There were a lot of great bands coming up when we were,” he said.“The local music scene was beginning to thrive and there was a little community that made some ripples in the industry. We were one of a few lucky bands who managed to catch that ripple and turn it into a wave, but it really all comes down to how nurturing all the people were in the community.”

With all of their success, All Time Low most often is compared to pop-punk heavyweights Blink 182, which Gaskarth takes as a high compliment, especially after working with Blink vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus on the Future Hearts track “Tidal Waves.”

“I grew up listening to Blink, mimicking their stage banter and generally just loving the fact that they all seemed like they were having such a good time playing music and being in a band,” he said. “They definitely shaped us as we grew up into what we are now, so I don’t mind the comparison. I’ve never really thought our music sounded much like Blink. It’s more of the way we’ve always thought about our live show and our attitudes about what we’re doing. We’ve never taken ourselves very seriously. Our job is ridiculous, so we maintain that attitude when we take the stage.”

So when asked if he could hop in a DeLorean now and go back in time to talk with his 19-year-old self, Gaskarth concluded he isn’t sure if that guy would like him very much.

“I was kind of a shit back then — thought I knew everything,” he said. “I’d tell him to trust his creativity and his gut, but stay humble about it.”

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