Dear Mr. Gaskarth and the entire ATL family,
I would like to start out by saying congratulations on your successes as musicians, from being a homegrown band coming up through the self promotion of myspace and digital media to what you are now, most notably receiving the accolade of being signed to a major label. This is a huge feat to accomplish in today’s scene, reserved only for the acts that really, and I mean really make it. As a huge supporter of you and your work, I am absolutely stoked to have that honor bestowed upon such goodhearted dudes. Since the beginning you have always done your best to hang out with fans and treat everyone as equals. With the amount of fame and attention that you have gotten in the past couple of years or so it would be easy to let all of it go to your heads, but instead you remained true to your values and always put your fans first at shows.
As I mentioned before, I have been a big supporter of your music, and your live shows since seeing you all in 2007 at Toad’s Place when you were out supporting Boys Like Girls with We The Kings. At that point in my life I had not heard any of your songs, but your set absolutely blew me away. You were full of energy and just tons of fun to watch. Your sound was entirely different than the bubblegum pop-punk that had been coming out at that point (see boys like girls “heroine”). Your sound was more raw, emotive and pleasant (I will never forget the first time I heard Jasey Rae acoustic, just amazing), not to mention the musicianship was just there. You could tell that the lyrics you were singing meant something to you. Coincidentally, neither of the bands that were on that tour had much success or adoration after that point, while you moved on to bigger and better things. I saw you again in 2010 when you guys visited UConn for a free show and again, I felt the same way about you that I did in ‘07, the energy between you guys and your fans was absolutely amazing.
The rest of this I say with a heavy heart, and trust me it makes me very sad to have to type what comes next.
I have always bought and listened to your albums, I will defend against anyone who says otherwise, Put Up or Shut Up, The Party Scene, and So Wrong, It’s Right, will go down in history as classics in the genre. They will always sit along side the likes of “From Under the Cork Tree”, “Sticks and Stones”, and many others, in my eyes. When Nothing Personal came out, I heard weightless as a bootleg about 3 months before the album release. I felt like it was a little different, but I loved it none the less, “Maybe it’s not my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year” was my mantra for a while after that. Then came your marketing campaign and it was absolutely genius. Seriously, the Nothingpersonal.com, #nothingpersonal trending on twitter and even the t-shirts were absolutely amusing. Then the video for weightless came out, and it was hysterical as well, just like all your other videos, the sound was different but it seemed like the basis of the band had not changed. Even songs like “Too Much”, I endured, figuring it just like the album in general was a hiccup in an otherwise immaculate career.
This week, Dirty Work came out, and I expected and hoped for the best from you. I have listened to it all the way through, and I am just let down in general. This album, you had a chance to do great things with. This was your shot, with Nothing Personal, you attracted the major label attention, with Dirty Work, it was time to unleash that sound that made millions of kids relate and come to the shows in the first place. Instead of a great album, instead of this game changing gem, we received an over produced and underachieved plastic disk. The songs are unimaginative, stale and robotic. I do love “Heroes”, its an amazing song and I will probably listen to it a bunch but honestly, overall, What happened to the band that wrote “Running from Lions”? The band that gave me goosebumps when I heard “Remembering Sunday” for the first time? As I began flipping through the songs to try and find some sort of semblance to the band I and many, many others knew and loved, I realized this band was gone. Instead of the raw power and emotion, we were given a clap track, which seems to be a new instrument in the band. Instead of great musicianship and great vocals, we were given synths and autotune. I believe I am not alone in saying that I feel as if All Time Low as a band has abandoned the true fans that fell in love with the lyrics, the sound and the general antics. Fans that knew that they liked listening to ATL before they knew what they looked like. Fans that weren’t there to take pictures and sneak onto the bus after the show to steal a pair of Alex’s underwear.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I am all for progress, I really am. And I understand that there is a need to explore new sounds and create different things. I am in no way that kid who goes to shows just to say I only loved a band because of their back catalog. But I feel that progress should be a step forward and not a step back. There should be a way to make that progress without abandoning the kids that gave you support in the first place, the ones who came out to the shows in basements when you guys were riding in a van, those kids. Unfortunately, It happens to some of the best bands, I mean just look at Fall Out Boy. I think All Time Low needs to remember where they came from, the scene, and bring that to the main stream. New Found Glory did it, Blink did it, Green Day did it, these are all bands that will go down in history as bands that never compromised themselves to sell records. I think you, as a band need to look back before moving forward, and think about the true fans. Is “I Feel Like Dancin’” the song you want to be remembered for when you are no longer a staple in the music business? Do you want to be remembered as a band who made fangirls dance and throw panties on the stage? or a band that made people fucking feel something?
I really do hope to be proven wrong with the next album, if there is a next album, I hope that you will be able to make it past this phase. I am afraid that if there isn’t some sort of change or return to your roots soon, there might not be a band in the near future. What will happen when your good looks fade? Will the music that you make be able to keep up with you and be timeless or will it fade into the background with every other band who “almost” made it into legendary status? You guys are talented, anyone who has listened to the back catalog knows that, you have the potential to be great. I hope that it is not too late, lest the kids have already forgotten. I hope to see you step away from this neatly packaged bubblegum and return to a sound that meant something to someone, that was messy and fun and not meant to be kept in the reach of children, because there is nothing “Dirty” about a clap track.