All Time Low Front Man Alex Gaskarth Talks About Pop Music and Why Rebecca Black's 'Friday' is Terrible

Categories: Q&As
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Something about All Time Low's front man Alex Gaskarth is immensely appealing. It's unnerving, especially since I am not a 15-year-old girl. But Gaskarth is charmingly candid, and is much more thoughtful than your idea of a pop-punk singer with highlights. After the jump, read about why he loves pop music, what he thinks of Rebecca Black, and what he's listening to now. 


OC Weekly: So, you're in Florida. How's your tour so far?
Alex Gaskarth:
It's been great; the bands are really cool; we spend a lot of time with Somerset, and have been with Yellowcard since we were all on tour in Europe, so everyone's been meshing really well.

Are you playing songs from your forthcoming album, Dirty Work?
Yeah, we're playing a couple of new songs--"Time Bomb," which I leaked, and "Under a Paper Moon."

Why'd you leak that one?
We felt people needed to hear something new, and we felt like "Time Bomb" was a good first listen.

Why is your album called
Dirty Work?

The title sums up the theme of the album. It's what I've been doing for the past two years. It's a balance of partying, touring, having a great time and countering that with maintaining relationships with family and friends. It all blurs together and becomes very difficult at times. A  lot of songs on the album is about loss and trying to rebuild those bridges.

Isn't that the requisite part of being a rock star?
I don't know, I never read the handbook. It just hits you in the face. You learn.

What's it like, anyway, to be a rock star in the age of Facebook and Twitter?
I imagine it's very different from what it used to be. We live in an age of communication and sharing of ideas, thoughts and content. I think it's about to become a golden age for bands. It's all about the performance again because music isn't selling well and it's all being played on the Internet for free. I think in that sense [the Internet and social networking] changes the dynamic. But it's also very cool because you can connect with your fans like never before.

How do you differentiate yourself from Internet musicians who get famous on the Internet, like, say, Rebecca Black?
I don't know. That's a completely different world. We've always been a band who wrote our own songs and toured, but that [song being popular] is really indicative of the times. That's not necessarily an example that I'd use of the positive side music. Obviously it's manufactured and it's a terrible, terrible song, but kudos to the girl. At least she's doing it, and I respect that.

You guys cover a lot of pop songs during your shows. What songs are you covering now?
I've been covering "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry. That's one of my favorite songs. The sentiment of it and the lyrics are so genius. It's a great song, and I really wish I wrote that song.

Are there other songs on the pop tip that you're into now?
The thing is, I'm such a big fan of pop, it creeps in what we do all the time. I'm a big fan of Maroon 5, sometimes we'll throw that in there. I really like Lady Gaga, obviously. I really like Madonna, and Nicki Minaj is actually pretty sweet too.

What is it about pop that appeals to you so much?
I just like the concept of pop. The name comes from popular, and it's such a funny term to even label music. The music is written to be catchy and accessible, and the minute you listen to it you're hooked.

I think there's something to be said for music that can connect to the masses in such a quick way. It's sort of like you're doing something right. Because music is such an internal thing, that if there's a song that catches your ear and immediately you're hooked and remembering the words, that's genius.

But we were just talking about "Friday," and that's catchy too.
My issue with that song is that there's really no thought process to it whatsoever. The lyrics ... the second verse actually makes me want to throw up, I can't listen to it. Whereas "Teenage Dream" has that simplicity too, there's something beautiful about it. There's nothing beautiful about the simplicity of "Friday."

What have you been listening to lately?
I've been into the new Neon Trees album lately. It's a perfect example of a rock band doing something poppy but maintaining an edge that I admire.

How does it feel to be selling out shows and playing bigger and bigger rooms?
It's very exciting. That's the dream. Being in the music industry is a risk and a challenge, but so far it's good.

Do you worry about not staying relevant?
Of course. There are so many other bands out there that are also doing it really well. That's the biggest fear. Our band is definitely about expansion and growth, and we want to reach as many people as we can and there's always the fear that we'll just drop off the map completely. But you can't let that bog you down. You just have to make music you believe in.

All Time Low perform at the Grove tonight with Yellowcard, Summer Set and Hey Monday. The show is sold out.

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