Phenomenon. It’s a word that shouldn’t be thrown around too loosely. It should be reserved for the sort of entity that touches all corners of the world, and whose reverberations can still be felt in some way, shape or form long after it’s broken through. Phenomenon is the only way to truly describe what All Time Low became when they released ‘Nothing Personal’. Without doubt the moment the Baltimore quartet transformed from pop-punk upstarts to genuine megastars, their third full-length is a record that, even 10 years after its release, continues to inspire those who let it into their lives. What was it actually like to be inside of this phenomenon as it was taking place, though? Well, let’s find out...
By the time that All Time Low had to start thinking about what album three would look and sound like, they were flying high off the back of the work they had already put in. Second album ‘So Wrong, It’s Right’ had pricked up plenty of ears with it’s sugary-sweet take on pop-punk, and word had started to spread far and wide. It was time to really make a statement of intent and show they were more than just a flash in the scene pan.
“I remember us all feeling like the ‘So Wrong, It’s Right’ cycle had put us on a trajectory,” vocalist Alex Gaskarth reflects. “We were starting to notice people paying attention to the band and there was a lot of hype generated, so we wanted to capture that. It was a lightning in a bottle moment. We wanted to make sure that we were on top of it and were able to continue riding the wave.”
“That being said, we were nervous too. The sophomore slump thing was thrown around a lot. This was the point where people would either continue to care or just stop caring.”
In hindsight, it’s easy to look back on periods such as this and consider whether Alex, guitarist Jack Barakat, drummer Rian Dawson, and bassist Zack Merrick were thinking about what the future held for them or where this upcoming record would take them. The truth is that those things weren’t as prominent in their minds as you’d think. These were four lads who had all just turned 21. Before anything else, they were just trying to live their dreams, plain and simple. After all, how can you have fun riding the wave if you’re worrying about when you’re going to fall off? “We were a band that started in Rian’s mum’s basement,” Alex laughs.
“We weren’t put together by a label. We weren’t given classes on how to carry ourselves or write songs. We had to figure all that out for ourselves. When we went into making the record it was about what felt the most fun to play and what was going to be cool to do. We never sat down and said, ‘Let’s make this sort of album’. That’s not how we approached things back then.”
So Wrong It’s Right’ had set the foundations and got the wheels turning, but this time around, the band had to spread their wings even further. Taking inspiration from ‘Decomposer’ by The Matches, a record which featured nine different sets of hands behind the production desk including Mark Hoppus, John Feldmann, Mike Green and Rancid’s Tim Armstrong to name a few, Alex set out to work with as many different producers as he could to develop an album with more texture and variety than anything he’d written before.
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