Ten years following the release of their iconic sophomore album So Wrong, It’s Right, pop-punk band All Time Low released their seventh studio album Last Young Renegade back in June.
The album would not be complete without the polished message of acceptance on “Good Times,” which alongside its visual, serves to remind older fans of why they fell in love with the band in the first place, while also inviting a younger generation along for the ride.
Previously, All Time Low front-man Alex Gaskarth had briefly spoken to the reasoning behind the “Good Times” video in a press release, saying, “We are so proud of this video, of [director Patrick Tracy] who helped us bring it to life, the small glimpses into amazing lives we see within, and the beautiful,diverse people it represents. Always be exactly who you are, and don’t live in fear of someone else’s judgment. Be brave, be bold, and find your happiness in yourself and the ones you love.”
Fans of the band are no stranger to their all-are-welcome attitude, clinging to classics like “Therapy” for support in adolescent years, which are all a part of the reason All Time Low has garnered such a cult-like following from their fanbase – along with, of course, tracks like “Dear Maria, Count Me In” and “Weightless” that never seem to come off throwback rotation, and strong recent releases like 2015’s Future Hearts and 2012’s Don’t Panic, which both saw top 10 debuts on the Billboard 200.
Recently, Alex Gaskarth spoke to Billboard about the nostalgia that comes along with “Good Times” video, and about the driving force behind inserting their ever-present message reminding fans that everything will be alright in the end. Read the entire Q&A, and watch the “Good Times” video below.
What was the main inspiration behind the video?
Well the inspiration really comes from a few different places. But, I think the biggest and most important is that we wanted to make a video that speaks for the youth. “Good Times” as a song always felt like it was paying homage to the past, and it felt very nostalgic. We always sort of felt it was a bit of a graduation song, so to speak. So that kind of crosses the video, as far as setting it in the high school years of these kids that you see in the video. A big part of that had to do with those moments of graduating are constant throughout life and that’s really what the song reflects. But we felt like kind of focusing it on one generation would be good for the context for the video.
Then we really just wanted to speak to issues that we feel like a lot of kids are facing on an every day basis in this country, especially right now. It was really important to us to, in the small window of time you have in a music video, to kind of convey this message that all these different kids from different walks of life are going through all sorts of different experiences, and it’s a video for the downtrodden. It’s a video for people who feel like they may be marginalized or categorized or held down because of that, and we just wanted to sort of leave them with a note saying “You’ll be okay. You’ll find your place. You’ll find your happiness.” Because I think it’s something a lot of people go through, especially at that age.
The video is built in short vignettes that come together — what was it about these specific narratives that made you choose to tell them over others?
Speaking to the fact that it’s a music video and you don’t have a ton of time to work with, it kind of makes doing any sort of video that has an element of social commentary in it a bit tricky. Because obviously, everything has to be pretty concise and to the point and not skirt around anything. So what we really wanted to convey was the idea that people are facing intolerance every day from all different walks of life, and there’s a certain irony there when you zoom back and see it from a big picture. People being oppressed because they’re gay, or people being oppressed because they’re of a different ethnicity, and just when you zoom out and look at it on a macro level, the intolerance seems sort of absurd.
We just wanted to convey the fact that it’s important to stick together and find help. By bringing all these different characters together that were all going through their own thing but finding solace and comfort and love in one another, I think there’s a really nice message in that, and the fact that even if you feel like an outcast or like you’re on the wrong end of some kind of treatment, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope.
On the lighter side, in the video I noticed a Maryland license plate in a showcase behind you in one particular scene — is that an homage to your hometown?
To be honest, in this music video in particular — kind of all five of the videos we’ve done for this record have little pieces of inter-connectivity woven through them — this one really felt like it needed to stand on its own, because of the narrative and because of wanting to represent the characters accurately and give them the story that they deserve. We still wanted to kind of pepper in these things that would make it fun for people who have watched and followed along for all five videos.
So yeah, the license plate is in there, and it’s actually the license plate from the car that I’m driving in the other videos. The Maryland thing is not necessarily a nod to Maryland, so much as it is connecting the universe I guess. And there’s a few other [Easter eggs], I think — maybe there’s a shot where the car itself is in the garage in one of the scenes and things like that. We just wanted to pepper in things that would feel familiar for people that were paying closer attention. I think that stuff is always really fun, but that was kind of on the more lighthearted side of the video. Just making it an experience.
As a fan watching the video, it definitely feels familiar in respect to older tracks like “Therapy” that sort of acted to unite fans, but had an obvious modernity to it — as if ushering in a new generation of fans with the same message, while not alienating the ride-or-dies, so to speak. Was this something you intentionally aimed for, or did it happen naturally?
Well that’s amazing. That’s absolutely what we want to hear. Whether it was intentional or not, I don’t know. I think sometimes those things, part of it is intentional obviously. The song itself was just kind of written. It felt like it was really an important part of this record and this band’s continuing legacy, and what we’re trying to make and do and create.
Then from there, I think some of the things just fall into place. It became very apparent that the song could be a vessel to carry an important message and we sort of felt that from the moment we finished writing it. We kind of tackled it that way. We knew that when we made a video, that maybe the video should have some kind of message of inclusion and a way to sort of communicate to the people that need to hear it that things are going to be okay. ‘Cause I think every now and then that reminder is important, especially being that the song is about kind of that point where suddenly life is changing.
Again, referring to it as almost a graduation song. I was writing it at a point in my life where I was not only reflecting on the first time that we left Baltimore but also applying it to where I was when I wrote it at 28, 29 years of age, and kind of moving out to L.A. on a more permanent basis and marrying my wife and all these new chapters that were kind of unfolding from my life and those things can be equally amazing and beautiful and also daunting, and a little bit scary. Because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And so, we wanted to reflect that in the song and in the video.
So we hope it kind of speaks to all generations, to your point — we do hope that it speaks to fans that have been there with us since the beginning when I had those first initial feelings as a 17-, 18-year old starting the band to now. And if fans have been following along for that long I’m sure that there are other people out there who are going through similar moments in their lives, and so we were hoping that song could speak to both new fans just jumping in for the first time and fans that have been with us for a long time.
You end the video with a quote, “When the night is dark enough the stars shine out,” which is loosely associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. Why did you select this particular line to conclude with?
I love that quote, I always have — and there’s like, eight different iterations of it, and it doesn’t seem to be attributable to anyone. MLK comes up, but it gets credited to a few people. But when we did the research and we kind of dove in… it appears that it’s actually not really attached to any one person.
But what I love about it is the imagery… especially the way the times are really now, there’s a lot of darkness out there and there’s a lot of negativity and I think a lot of that is getting exacerbated by information being so immediate and so deliverable. So I think it’s really easy to wake up in the morning and you check your Twitter and something had happened in the world and everyone is tweeting about it and talking about it and it’s upsetting and dark sometimes and I think it’s important to focus on the fact that even when things are, or seem extremely dark that the brightest and the best people often times shine through.
I think we wanted to encapsulate that in the message of the video and the characters, the fact that all these beautiful diverse people were able to kind of overcome and come together and tune out the bullshit and be better off for it, is really I think an important thing to remember in times when there’s a lot of negativity floating around.