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Band Profile

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by FantasyAlliance.cm, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. By the time Alex Gaskarth was a senior in high school, he was fed up with the boring classes and caged-in feeling, but he wanted to lead a successful life, so he did his best to slack off the rest of the year. He wanted to be the best he could be, so he decided not to go to college. He was going to be a rock star.

    His parents thought he was an idiot.

    Well, maybe he is an idiotic rock star.

    Gaskarth, who graduated in 2006, is attracting crowds of hundreds of teens, many his own age, to sing along with his band, All Time Low, at the Warped Tour.

    All Time Low has been around for four years, but now that the band is out of high school, they have started to build a national fan base. Girls swoon over them. Critics rave. Alternative Press featured them on their list of “100 Bands to Know in 2007.”

    Seeing them featured in Alt. Press and hearing their simple chord structures reminiscent Blink-182, it is surprising to learn that Gaskarth was once completely ignorant on the subject of punk rock, only listening to top 40 pop. Then he met Jack Barakat, who went on to become All Time Low’s guitarist.

    “Jack introduced me to punk through Blink-182, New Found Glory, NoFX, MxPx, and other bands in the genre,” Gaskarth said.

    That was in seventh grade. Two years later, Gaskarth, Barakat, drummer Rian Dawson, and bassist Zack Merrick started playing together.

    “We started out trying to write music from day one,” Gaskarth recalls, “But it wasn’t very good, so we stuck with what was—Blink-182.”

    They played Blink-182 covers freshman year at local venues and lost a few battle of the band concerts. One year later, they felt their songwriting skills were developed enough, so they released an original four song EP for Emerald Moon Records. They followed that up in 2005 with their first full length, The Party Scene.

    All the while, the Baltimore natives were touring up and down the East Coast during spring and summer breaks. On one of those tours freshman year, they were fortunate enough to run into the band Amber Pacific in Virginia Beach. They kept in touch, and, in 2006, Amber Pacific advised its record label, Hopeless Records, of the rising stars. All Time Low’s first Hopeless release, Put Up or Shut Up, a compilation of past hits re-recorded, has sold over 45,000 copies since its release in June of 2006.

    “We took a little criticism for putting so many old songs on there,” Gaskarth said, “but, it was a new thing for us, the first time we were coming out on a national level, so a lot of people who hadn’t heard of us were going to hear us. We weren’t ready to go out and write a new album, not enough had happened to us since the last one. We tried not to short change anyone so we threw on two new songs: Coffee Shop and Jasey Rae.”

    Their sound is most often compared to that of Blink-182 and Green Day. Gaskarth says it also has a lot of pop in it.
    “I still listen to a lot of pop,” he says, “In fact, there’s one song on our new CD [So Wrong, It’s Right] with a part that sounds just like Jennifer Lopez. Everytime that comes on, I’m like ‘Aah, Jennifer Lopez,’ and I blame myself for listening to too much pop.”

    So Wrong, It’s Right is set for release on Septermber 25, and it will be the first measurement of how much their success has grown since high school. Touring two weeks with Warped in 2006 and the entire tour this year has built them a national following. Their shirts, purchased as much for their playful look as for appreciation of the band’s music, are popular attire for Warped attendees.

    Gaskarth still can’t fathom his success: “It’s been intense. I can’t really put into words how I feel. I’m still waiting to wake up.”

    However, he still doesn’t consider himself a rock star.

    “That’s just a kid joking to his parents when he says he’s going to be a rock star.”

    Can he reach that magnitude in a few years?

    “Absolutely. I plan on taking over the world.”

    Maybe not the world, but All Time Low may soon be taking over the music charts.
  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    FA -

    Thanks, as always, for posting in the Workshop. Sorry if the piece hung for a few days, but I like to give other folks the chance to weigh in before I do. And it's summer, so everybody's at the beach.

    I think the thing to concentrate on today is your lede. Check your copy again, though, for little errors like "reminiscent Blink-182". I'm assuming an "of" went over the wall somehwere.

    I found the lede sort of flat and confusing, truth be told. In features especially, your lede has to work. It's nearly impossible to recapture a reader if the lede is weak.

    Not to sound prescriptive, but go back and reread your first sentence. Four clauses, four thoughts. Which is three too many. And it's a run-on. So mechanically, lyrically and biographically, it's kind of a mess. Simplify.

    The money shot in the lede as it exists now is the idea that his own parents thought he was an idiot. So punch that rather than bury it. Try something like this next time...

    Alex Gaskarth's parents thought he was an idiot.

    Like every male high school senior since the dawn of Elvis, Alex Gaskarth believed he could become a rock star. In fact, his plan was to become a rock star instead of going to college. Demonstrably idiotic.

    Thus, when he actually became one within a year, the mood around the Gaskarth family dinner table brightened considerably.

    Gaskarth, who graduated in 2006...

    A not very fine example, but punchier and more to the point of what you're trying to do. Play around with it. Thanks again for posting.
  3. dude

    interesting story, but Blink 182 has as much to do with punk rock as Tim McGraw has to do with opera
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