Six Pack: Life Lessons from All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth

Welcome to Six Pack, our mini compendium of the quirky, entertaining, informative and sometimes just plain daft aspects of rock music. This week, All Time Low frontman Alex Gaskarth discusses the big things in life: Valentine’s Day, the concept of success and how to roll with the punches…

ON VALENTINE’S DAY “It’s just a day. I’m kind of a scrooge when it comes to stuff like that. What’s that day compared to any other day. Why is a romantic gesture on August 6 any less of a thing because it’s not on that day. Basically, Valentine’s Day is a day I can’t get a fucking reservation in a restaurant. I’d rather go out the day before.

“Having said that, I think I am a romantic. I’m a songwriter for chrissakes – how can I not be? I enjoy making people feel good in all kinds of different ways, whether by writing a song or talking to someone one-on-one. It’s very gratifying to make someone happy.

“I’m like to keep things simple. You don’t have to do the grand romantic gestures, you just need to make an effort. Cook someone dinner, share a bottle of wine and have a good conversation. That’s a much cooler thing to do than the over-the-top stuff. I think you’re trying too hard if you have to do that. You can’t go wrong with some braised lamb. It never fails. If you get some great New Zealand or Australian lamb, bang that up with some good sides and pair it with a good red wine, then there’s no way you’re not getting laid.”

ON SUCCESS “It’s easy to think, ‘I don’t give a fuck what the critics say, I’ll just go back to my bedroom and play my guitar for myself and the three people who listen to me online.’ That’s fine but I play music for a reason and that’s to play it for as many people as possible. Lots of bands say they don’t give a fuck what people think of them. I do give a fuck. I want people to love our music. I want people to think that we’re the coolest band ever.”

Photo: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

**ON ONSTAGE BANTER **“It’s hard to think of most outrageous thing Jack [Barakat, All Time Low guitarist] has said to me because there have been so many strange things. We’ve both said some weird stuff – we never know what’s going to be said. There’s really no filter or limit. It’s about pushing back and forth to see who says the most offensive thing first. We have a lot of fun.

“We’re doing it out of good fun, none of what we say is meant to be taken seriously. I think most people realise that. We’re just poking fun. There have definitely been times we’ve offended someone though. We’ve had people try to return merch, try to get their tickets refunded, all kinds of stuff. I mean, come on: do you research! It’s not a secret we’re this kind of band! Just Google us. I’m pretty certain it’s written on the Wikipedia page that we’re a bunch of assholes… If you can’t shrug it off, maybe you don’t belong in the crowd.”

Photo: Ragnar Singsaas/Redferns via Getty Images

ON HIS EMOTIONS “I’m not an angry person but I am very reactionary. My gut reactions are very immediate and irrational. That initial reaction can be a bit fiery. I think that’s the sort of reaction that people who do what I do have – you draw on internal resources and your reactions for inspiration. You have to be like that, otherwise everything comes out bland and overthought.

“I trust my gut – it’s not always right though. But there is some merit in having a little afterthought too. It’s always a battle between the head and the heart for me. The heart speaks first but, every now and again, I go, ‘Oop, shit, said too much…’

“I don’t just blow up. There’s a calculated way about how I get through things. I like to solve the problem at hand. I’m not going to smack anyone in the face – my fire is to get up and get on. I get determined … Wait, hang on, that sounds quite ruthless, like I’m an evil dictator. I’m the Lex Luther of band members.”

Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

ON CRITICISM “Some people think we’re assholes, some people think we’re in it for the wrong reasons, some people think we’re not genuine. The part that gets me are the people who think we’re only in it for the money. We could have taken commercials, we could have been on fucking Taco Bell boxes and taken the paycheques for all of those things. That’s not what the intention of this band is; our intention is to get our music to as many people as possible.

“It sucks when people don’t believe that. But you can’t focus on the negative too much though. That’s what tears a band apart. If a band is overly worried about what the haters are thinking, they can fall apart. They let the criticism into their head. That changes you and you start making choices based on making other people happy rather than making yourselves happy. That’s something we’ve always wanted to avoid.

“But yeah, it’s a bummer when you see someone overtly hating on the band because this is what we do. This is our everything.”

Photo: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

**ON CHILDHOOD **“I was always mischievous as a kid. I was the class clown. I’ve always liked putting on a show for people, but it wasn’t until later in my life I realised what that meant. Until then, I just assumed I was an asshole. I was always the kid who was goofing around, laughing at the teacher and wanting people to laugh at me. I liked being the centre of attention.

“Personalities like that are very black and white to people – either you love it or hate it. I had a lot of really good friends, and they would have taken a bullet for me – and vice versa. But there were a lot of people who despised me because of my personality. They thought I was annoying as shit.

“When it came to girls, I’ve always been a wolf howling at the table. I’m like the wolf in Jessica Rabbit, sitting down at the table and losing his mind over the girl. I’ll be the guy banging at table, hollering, with his eyeballs popping out on stalks. I was always the kid who was asking girls to the dance when, really, it was fifth grade and what the fuck was I doing asking a girl to a dance? I had no real fear of rejection. You can always brush rejection off and try again.”

Tom Bryant

Tom Bryant is The Guardian's deputy digital editor. The author of The True Lives Of My Chemical Romance: The Definitive Biography, he has written for Kerrang!, Q, MOJO, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, The Mirror, the BBC, Huck magazine, the londonpaper and Debrett's - during the course of which he has been attacked by the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass player and accused of starting a riot with The Prodigy. Though not when writing for Debrett's.