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Interview: Jack Barakat – All Time Low

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With their new album ‘Future Hearts’ being released and charting exceptionally well I was very lucky to get some phone time with Jack Barakat of All Time Low. In the interview we speak about men in boxer shorts (me), red wine, Future Hearts and working with John Feldman, 5SOS and more. Enjoy and make sure you get your ears on Future Hearts which is out now via Hopeless Records.

 

How you going man?

What’s up, Sean from Australia?

 

Aw, not much. I’m just hanging out in my bedroom at the moment and living the dream; talking to musicians while running a website.

Are you wearing pants?

 

I’ll tell you what man; I am just in my boxer shorts at the moment.

Dude. Fuck yeah! Just relax. Just chillin’.

 

All I need is a beer. If it wasn’t half past nine in the morning I’d probably be having one.

I’m drinking some red wine right now man. We’ve got a friend who’s a master wine sommelier and he came out and has checking out all of these red wines at rehearsal. And, I know we haven’t started the interview yet but you can have this, my favourite wine is this wine called Mollydooker and it’s from South Australia. I’m fucking obsessed with it.

 

Well, there you go. We’re getting credit already, which is great.

I love the Australians.

 

So now we’ve got the pleasantries out of the way, half naked men and other men drinking wine, let’s kick the interview off.

Yes, a Game of Thrones.

 

Yes, this is actually the real Game of Thrones that’s leaked and everyone is watching.

(Laughter) Yeah.

 

First off, congratulations! The album has been released and it’s charting incredibly well all across the world. How does it feel to finally have the album out?

Thanks man! It’s like you’re pregnant and you’ve been sitting with a baby for nine months and you’re like, I just want this out of me. That’s what it felt like. We’ve been sitting on this album for a couple of months now and I’ve just been so eager to get it out; we all have. So it’s nice to finally have it out and to hear what people think. It’s so weird to have our biggest week for any record we’ve ever had, out of like six albums. I think it’s just weird. It’s so rare and unique and a testament to how awesome our fans are because, fuck, it’s not easy.

No, definitely not. Especially in this day and age where it’s hard to sell records let alone for a pop punk band to be charting high. So it must be a great feeling to have that relevance and that fan base that’s forever growing.

Yea, it feels really nice. It’s a nice thing for any indie band; I think it’s a big deal just to show that you can do it. Not saying that we’re this big almighty, but if you work hard and write music you love it can happen. I hope that no one gets bummed out that no one’s buying records these days but you know it is possible to do it.

 

Definitely. You’re on Hopeless Records, which is one of the biggest indie labels out there. You’ve been with Hopeless and you’ve signed to a major, and now you’re back home again. This is your second time around on Hopeless. How does it feel to be in this position; as an indie band getting to call the shots in comparison to being on a major label?

It feels good, especially this deep into our career. You know, when your band’s had six CDs you kind of want to do your own thing and you want things on your own terms just because you’ve tried stuff out and you know what you like and you know how you like to do stuff. We’re not stubborn old men or anything, I’m not gonna say we’re veterans, but we are well versed in releasing an album. So it’s cool to do it on your own terms and to have someone like Hopless backing us who is very cooperative and very supportive. It’s kind of a big team effort and it’s nice to have that.

 

That’s awesome to have that sort of control this far into your career. There are a lot of bands that keep getting bigger and bigger but getting less and less of a say.

Yeah, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be in a band that doesn’t have control over their own music and their own destiny. It feels good to have more of a partnership with your label and not a dictatorship.

 

With that being said, being given the choices of what to do, you obviously would have had a huge say in who was going to produce the album and you went with John Feldmann who is pretty much the God of pop punk productions. Was that an easy choice for you guys?

Yea, it was. I’m not going to say it was the first choice because we didn’t decide until a couple of weeks into talking about producers, which is weird and funny and kind of doesn’t make sense. With John Feldmann, for some reasons we didn’t even think to go that route. We had kind of been talking with a couple of producers and talking to a couple of guys who weren’t really interested and weren’t really responding and we were like, what the fuck, why don’t people wanna work with us? We had a couple of guys that wanted to but we wanted a certain sound a certain energy that was different from what we’d done in the past so we didn’t wanna go to anyone that we’d been to. Until we were sitting around one day in San Diego to perform at Comic Con and we were all like, let’s hit up Feldmann. That was someone we’d all grown up idolizing from a band’s standpoint and a producers standpoint. So we emailed Feldmann asking if he wanted to produce our new album and responded almost immediately with fuck yes. We were just like, dude, that’s it? There’s no managers, there’s no agent, just do you actually wanna produce a great album? And he said fuck yes. So he was our guy.

 

It must be a dream come true. He’s got such a list of bands that he’s worked with and now to add you to that must be a great feeling.

Yeah, man. All we wanted was someone that was passionate and wanted to do it because we knew that we needed someone to have our back. We’re not on a major and we don’t have all this money and all of this financial support so we need to make this great album that’s almost going to sell itself. So we knew when we saw that email that this was our guy.

 

Talking of John Feldmann he produced the 5 Seconds of Summer album and you and All Time Low have been known for supporting that band when they’ve been getting a bit of a bashing. Did you want to have a little bit of a say on why it’s important for bands like 5 Seconds of Summer who are actually charting, why it’s important for this style of music that you’re in?

It’s crazy to me that any band would shit on them because they’re paving the way for all of us to keep doing what we do and to have a guitar on the radio is so rare these days and I don’t think people realise. Yeah, 5 Seconds are a bit poppier but it’s still rock’n’roll. It’s pop rock, so it’s not that different from what we do. So to have someone like them actually be on the radio and top charts it’s so good for our genre and what we do and I don’t think people realise it. I just think it’s really important that they’re doing what they do and they’re paving the way for all of us. I don’t know if they realise that, but it’s true.

 

It’s such an awesome feeling to see a bunch of young up and coming musician and also they’re an Australian band that have just sort of sprung up and taken over the world in the pop rock scene. You’d have to be slightly deaf or slightly ignorant to think that some of their songs aren’t catchy.

Yea man, but haters gonna hate. When it comes down to it there are songs that are so catchy that you’re definitely lying to everyone and yourself if they’re not getting stuck in your head.

 

Speaking of Feldmann and who you’ve been working with, you also got to work with Mark Hoppus from Blink-182 on the song “Tidal Waves”. Now this isn’t the first time that you’ve recorded with him but it’s the first time you’ve let it be on an album. What happened the first time with the missing Hoppus song?

At the time we were young and we were just trying to write with as many people as possible and we just happened to be able to get into the room with Hoppus. You know, the song didn’t sound like anything else on the record. The song didn’t get enough love and it wasn’t up to par with anything on the album. It was just like a writing session that happens all the time with artists. Every band and every artist has tons of songs that they write that never see the light of day; it’s very common. It just happened to get a lot of press because, you know, it was with our idol. It got a lot of people talking about it because it was us meeting our idol for the first time but honestly the song was okay but we didn’t love it. We’re not going to release a song that we don’t love, even if it’s with fucking Bono, you know what I mean? So we kept the relationship with Mark and we became closer friends and we played shows with Blink and when it came down to doing this album we thought Mark would be great on this song. It was a very natural thing and it was nice.

 

It must be a pinch yourself kind of moment having someone you look up to just in the contacts on your phone and being able to say, I think he’d be good on my album then all of a sudden he’s there.

If I could rewind right now to when I was 12 years old watching TRL and watching the “All The Small Things” video and fast forward to this moment, I wouldn’t believed it and I’d probably fucking explode or some shit. Mind fuck; I’d just explode into pieces.

 

So with recording the album, as we were discussing leftover songs and whatnot, were there any B-sides that didn’t make the cut this time around for the album?

Yea dude. We wrote a lot of songs for this CD, which was nice because it was our first break from the band. We took eight months off from touring which we’d never done before. We’d been touring for like eight years straight so we thought fuck it, let’s just take some months of and relax and let it come naturally. Don’t force anything, no deadlines, and no tours. Just go home and see our family and friends for the first time in years. Just take it easy and let the songs come naturally. So by the time we go into the studio around September/October we had songs to work with and we wrote more when we were in the studio with John. Everything was so natural and there was no rush, there was just this good vibe and I think that’s why this album came out so great.

 

This is coming from a fans point of view because I absolutely love Future Hearts and I’m selfish; do you think there will be a kind of extended edition like what you did with Don’t Panic in the future?

That was something that we didn’t really plan at all. It was like, well we wanna keep touring but Don’t Panic’s been out for almost two years so let’s write a couple more songs and kind of keep this album going. So that is something that we haven’t even discussed yet. We’re still kind of buzzing off this album to be honest. But I wouldn’t put it past us to do something like that. Our band has always been completely driven off touring. We are a touring band so anything that could help us do that more, we’ll do it. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep touring.

 

Awesome, and speaking of touring, you were recently here in February for Soundwave. How was it to know that you had this whole new album in your back pocket but not being able to play many of the songs?

Oh man, it was frustrating. I think we did get to play “Something’s Gotta Give” on Soundwave… I’m pretty sure. It was good to have something out there. To be honest though, I don’t love playing new songs in a festival environment. Because when it comes to a festival a lot of people probably won’t know your band really well at all so playing more familiar songs is a little more conducive in having a better show. They might not know the band but they may have heard the song before; hopefully that’s the situation. So I was thinking that I was bummed because we couldn’t release the songs but I was thinking that when we come back next time kids will know all these new songs for us to play. So that’s kind of where our mentality is. And also, I hate when we play these songs live that aren’t just released yet because I don’t think it’s a great way for the fans to hear the songs for the first time.

 

Definitely. I suppose you put in a lot of effort with the production and everything and you want people to experience it the way you intended before the live version.

Exactly. We don’t want people to hear our songs for the first time through like an iPhone video on YouTube.

 

Well we’ve almost gotta wrap this up Jack, but with speaking of touring and it’s always the typical last question, and again from a fans point of view… You were here in February but with the new album out is there anything partially set in stone for when you’ll be hitting our shores for the Future Hearts tour?

No dates yet but I am pretty confident in saying that the next time we come back we’ll be headlining a tour. It’s one of our favourite places to tour out of everywhere that we go so we obviously will back sooner rather than later. I feel like we haven’t done enough headlining over there and we kind of like the headline festival formula, so hopefully we can mix it up and get a little bit of both. I don’t know for sure but we might a festival offer or everything I’ve said is bullshit. But as of now our plans are to headline when we come back.

 

Awesome. Well I can tell you from the way that the album is charting here, and even just from my reaction to the album, you’re going to be more than welcome when you finally do come back.

Thanks man! Yeah it’s our first time charting in the top five, I think it was number four, which we’ve never done before. So it’s nice to see that kind of reaction in a place that we love touring. Honestly, we’re just gonna keep coming back no matter what but to chart at number four is a really big deal to us and to see that fucking excites us. It’s a big deal.

 

And very well deserved as well, may I add.

Thanks man.

 

Alright Jack, well have fun with the rest of your interviews that you’ve got and congratulations again and it’s been great chatting to you for the website. Hopefully we’ll see you sooner rather than later.

Yeah! Come out to a show and we’ll have a couple of drinks.

 

Definitely will.

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