Amid touring for Last Young Renegade, Gaskarth set a goal for himself as he continued writing more tunes: Channel a more classic All Time Low sound, but through the lens of the production-heavier approach they’d used on LYR. In doing that, though, he wrote a handful of songs that the group wasn’t sure what to do with – until Warped Tour came knocking.
Once All Time Low was confirmed to play a string of dates during the opening weekend of the legendary punk festival's final cross-country trek in California (June 22 through 24), Gaskarth knew he’d at least found the right venue for “Everything Is Fine.”
“It had a great energy, it makes you want to jump and just go nuts,” he says of the song, “and we felt like that was the perfect medium to channel that song through. Because to me, that’s sort of what the Warped Tour is all about -- circle pits, crowd surfing, losing your mind. So that’s where we wanted to debut it -- and it did the trick."
Gaskarth says that he and his bandmates (Jack Barakat, Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick) witnessed perhaps the most crowd surfers All Time Low has ever seen during their final Warped run -- “I’m pretty sure like half the crowd was in the air, it was insane” -- which brought them back to the earlier, more chaotic days of the band. But while Gaskarth insists that no fans or artists were going half-assed since it is the last Warped Tour, he knew his band had struck a chord with their latest release. So they thought, why not keep this energy alive?
Following their Warped appearance, All Time Low began teasing another new track using the power of social media -- oh, and birthday cakes. The guys sent a cake to members of their Hustlers fan club who had birthdays in the last week of June, along with a link to a song called “Birthday.” And, naturally, that link spread like wildfire.
The guys officially released “Birthday” on June 29, but the quirky, ‘90s alternative-inspired tune had been sitting in Gaskarth’s arsenal long before that. The chorus’ opening verse, “You know I want you in the worst way, I need you like cake on my birthday" was a line the singer had jotted into a voice note on his phone, which ended up working perfectly with a grungy guitar hook he also had recorded into his phone while on tour.
“Suddenly we had this palette of this really quirky musical section,” Gaskarth recalls, “and the chorus kind of wrote itself. It was a little Queen-inspired, but then also '90s-inspired -- we were looking at bands like Cake and Beastie Boys and Beck, stuff like that. It felt like such a fun, anthemic song, that it kind of felt undeniable for All Time Low.”
The creatively provocative “Birthday” also serves as a more lighthearted contrast to “Everything Is Fine,” which Gaskarth wrote out of news fatigue in today’s tough political climate. “It’s sort of a song about escape, but also acknowledges that that is no way to live,” he says. “It's really about dealing with the panic and the madness that we sometimes see in the world and finding your place in that madness.”
Sound-wise, both “Birthday” and “Everything Is Fine” are undeniably All Time Low, with guitar-heavy hooks and feisty vocals. Gaskarth recognizes that while the fast-paced singles are indicative of what All Time Low have been at their core, they haven’t been shy about trying out new sounds, like they did with Last Young Renegade.
“I think every time All Time Low puts out a fast song, people call back to the old material -- because when we were 18, 19, 20, that’s all we knew how to write,” he says with a laugh. “Through the years I feel like we’ve worn a lot of different hats, and done a lot of different things. So it was really fun to write something with some energy and a different feel coming off the last record.”
With the Last Young Renegade days behind them and a joint venture with Dashboard Confessional ahead, All Time Low aren’t quite sure what their release schedule looks like from here. But in the way that Gaskarth describes the upcoming Summer Ever After Tour – “nostalgia meets the new” – he’s eager to not only add “Everything Is Fine” and “Birthday” to the set list (“I don’t think we have a choice,” he laughs), but also see what comes next for his band.
“We are in a place now where we can experiment, and that is really fun for us,” Gaskarth says. “Not just with our music, but with how we service it to people. So many artists are releasing singles when they feel like it and seeing what happens, so we may just keep doing that for a while, some mixtape vibes. Now that we’re kind of getting in on the fun, it creates some really cool moments for us. It feels pretty good.”