All Time Low Bringing High-Energy Show To Freakfest

The pop-punk band All Time Low will bring its high-energy show to Madison as the headliner of Freakfest, the city’s annual downtown Halloween celebration.

Freakfest is set for Oct. 29 on State Street, with gates opening at 7 p.m. All Time Low will perform on the Capitol Stage, which will be located on State Street at West Mifflin Street, near the state Capitol.

The band formed in the suburbs of Baltimore in 2003 around singer/guitarist Alex Gaskarth and guitarist Jack Barakat, who started out playing Green Day and blink-182 covers. The two soon added bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson to round out their energetic rock sound and frenzied live show. Through relentless touring, the band has worked its way up to becoming one of the biggest bands currently on the pop-punk scene.

The band released its debut full-length album, “The Party Scene,” in 2005 and went on to sign with the indie label Hopeless Records in 2006, just a few months before they graduated from high school.

The band’s 2007 release “So Wrong, It’s Right” starting gaining them wider attention. All Time Low’s third record, 2009’s “Nothing Personal,” fared even better, debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard chart and earning them positive reviews from outlets as far-reaching as Alternative Press and The Washington Post.

This summer, the band released its Interscope debut album “Dirty Work,” on which listeners can hear the band’s love of classic punk and rock in many of the songs, with nods to Def Leppard classic stadium rockers and punk rock icons like the Clash.

Singer/guitarist Alex Gaskarth recently took a break from pumpkin carving to chat with Channel 3000 about the band’s latest album and Halloween festivities.

Channel 3000: How has the tour been going?

Alex Gaskarth: The tour is great. We’re carving pumpkins right now. We’re playing in Long Island tonight. It should be a great show — lots of fun, lots of kids, lots of smiles, lots of hugs.

C3K: Are you familiar with Halloween in Madison and its reputation?

AG: I am. I’m very familiar — it’s going to be a good time.

C3K: Where does Halloween rank for you as far as holidays go?

AG: It’s pretty much the most important holiday of the year. Um, yeah, I celebrate it pretty hard — and for like the entire month of October.

C3K: What kind of things do you like to do?

AG: You know, you got to dress up, you got to make an effort to be awesome on Halloween. I like to go out and get hammered, and then chase little kids around with candy, which is the only day of the year that you can do it legally.

C3K: What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve come up with?

AG: This year, I’m going to wear a tuxedo and a sign on my chest that says “Sorry,” and I’m going to be a formal apology.

C3K: Do you have a favorite scary movie you watch around Halloween?

AG: I do. Probably my favorite is “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Pretty awesome. Freddy Krueger, good guy.

C3K: What are the differences in how the band performs as a part of a larger event like Freakfest compared to playing your own show where people come specifically to see you play?

AG: I think the biggest part is we’re going to be playing in front of a lot of people who may not know who we are. So I think a big part of it is really trying to get the crowd involved and win people over and leave a lasting impression.

C3K: Your latest album, “Dirty Work,” was released this summer. How would you describe it?

AG: It’s a really fun record. It’s cool because we got to try some new things on this one. We didn’t just make a straightforward pop-punk record. We used some outside influences and did some things we’ve never done before, which was a really good time. And it ended up taking the record in a lot of cool directions.

C3K: What’s an example of different influences you brought in or something that was new for the band?

AG: I think we referenced some older bands, some ’90s bands like Third Eye Blind, and old Green Day and Foo Fighters and Eve 6 and bands like that, and I think that helped take us in a cool direction.

C3K: Do you have a favorite song from the new record that you particularly like to play?

AG: Yeah, I think my favorite one to play right now is probably “Forget About It.” It’s just a lot of fun to sing, and it’s a cool song; we have a lot of fun with it; the crowd likes it. “Time-bomb” is also a really fun one. It’s kind of a crowd favorite, so the crowd gets pretty pumped up.

C3K: On the new album you co-wrote the song “I Feel Like Dancin'” with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer. What was that experience like?

AG: Rivers is the man. It was a really cool writing experience. He’s sort of an idol to us in a lot of ways. So it was cool to get in a room with him and pick his brain and find out how he goes about writing songs.

C3K: How did that collaboration come about?

AG: It was kind of random. It was something where they were on (the same label) Interscope at the time, and we just kind of reached out and thought it’d be a cool idea and he was into it.

C3K: Are their other musicians out there that you would especially love to work with if you got the chance?

AG: I think working with Dave Grohl would be really cool. I’d like to work with Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic. There’s a lot of people that I’d love to collaborate with. Dave Grohl is probably the biggest one right now.

C3K: What was it like to have such early success as a band and be signed to a label when you were still in high school?

AG: We didn’t actually sign until our last year of high school. To be completely honest, nobody really knew the difference. We were still the same kids, so it didn’t make that big of a difference. What it did do is we no longer gave a (bleep) about high school. We were so over it and so ready to get out of there and start touring and be a real band.

C3K: How would you describe the band’s sound to someone who hasn’t heard you guys before?

AG: Dirty sweaty fun.

C3K: The band’s name is All Time Low, but what would you say has been the high point for the band so far?

AG: Good question. I think we’ve had a lot of high points. We keep setting ourselves goals and new things that we want to achieve. I think we’ve had a lot of successes as a band. There’s always moments where we’re like, ‘Damn, this is amazing.’ Each time we put out a record. When the song “Dear Maria (Count Me In)” went gold, that was a big one for us. Selling out multiple nights in London at the Brixton Academy, that was big because that venue is so historic and very cool. So there’s been a lot of moments.

C3K: If you weren’t currently on tour or writing music, what would you be doing?

AG: I don’t know. To be completely honest, if we weren’t in a band and the band wasn’t functioning, I really don’t know what I’d do. I didn’t really have a backup plan. Failure was not an option. So I can’t answer the question very well because I just don’t know; it was never something I considered ? I guess one thing is I’d like to do something that helps people, so maybe some kind of therapy or psychology or something.

C3K: What’s next for the band?

AG: We’re going to be doing a lot more touring. We’re wrapping up for the year with a fall tour and then, right after this, we have some time off. Then we head back overseas to the U.K. We have a Canada tour lined up opening for A Simple Plan, which will be really cool. And we have some great stuff planned for next year. One thing that may surprise people is that I think we might be looking to write and record a new record sooner than later. And we may start working on something early next year, who knows?