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County Folk

Towsoneers All Time Low do it “For Baltimore”

Photo: Tinman Creative Studios, License: N/A

Tinman Creative Studios

A still from the “For Baltimore” video

Three-fourths of pop-punk quartet All Time Low graduated from Dulaney High School in 2006, the other from Towson High School the same year. The band has scored considerable success since leaving the metro area—earning gold records, headlining the Warped Tour, playing Reading and Leeds—and yet they rarely get mentioned as a Baltimore band. Maybe it’s because they’re from the county, or maybe their sweet harmonies and power-chord blasts are just too neat for local scenesters. Either way, they’ve made a solid claim for local love with “For Baltimore,” the first single from their recent Don’t Panic.

Singer Alex Gaskarth explains that the song (“The city comes alive/ When we’re together”) is both about falling in love in Baltimore—and the band falling in love with Baltimore. The animated, comic book-style video features the downtown skyline prominently, and quick glimpses of Penn Station, City Hall, the Aquarium, and a lingering scene at a rock club called “Bulls Head Live.” This weekend, the band wraps up a tour with sold-out shows at Rams Head Live Friday and the Recher Theatre Saturday.

City Paper: How is playing hometown shows different for you than the others?

Alex Gaskarth: All of our families live in the area, so they all come out. It’s always pretty hectic. We’ve got 60 people backstage drinking our beer. But it’s nice and I’m excited that we’re ending the tour this way. It’s a nice way to close it off.

CP: “For Baltimore” is a nice little shout-out to your hometown. Where did it come from?

AG: It kinda fit the record. The whole album is really an autobiographical acknowledgement of where we came from and how the band came to be. “For Baltimore” was sort of a necessary ode to the town that grew us. It came naturally. It was early on in the writing process. It actually almost didn’t make the record. There was something about it, though, that I couldn’t let go of. We decided to go back and rework it and it ended up coming together and being the lead single.

It’s sort of an ode to finding love in Maryland and also a reference to the band. It’s a little bit of everything, love for the city, how Baltimore sort of made us who we are, and how things came together because of the city we grew up in, and also kind of about the experiences we had of first loves in Baltimore.

CP: How did you get a local foothold when you first formed the band?

AG: Our first couple shows were just silly things. We played a talent show at a high school, which I don’t think we won. We played someone’s birthday party, things like that, anything we could do to just play in front of people. We were just excited to be a band. We slowly started working our way up to playing VFWs and church halls, and finally got in to some real venues like Ottobar and Fletcher’s, the Recher Theatre, Sidebar Tavern, and that’s what propelled us forward.

CP: So what made you want to do an autobiographical album?

AG: The record came at a time when we had just parted ways with Interscope Records and we were unsigned, making the album ourselves. There was a lot of self-realization in that time period. When I started writing, there were certain elements to the lyrics that really became about telling the story of where we came from, because we never really told that story before. The lead track [“The Reckless and the Brave”] is really about how we got our start, taking a chance, not going to college . . . to do this. The album kinda goes chronologically from there, ending with “So Long, Thanks for All the Booze,” which is kinda saying, this is what we went through to get here, we’re proud of who we are, and we’re ready to take on this next chapter.

CP: Anything you’re really looking forward to in coming back to town?

AG: I still live in Baltimore. It’s just coming home. I get to leave the show and go home and sleep in my own bed. After that, I’m just excited to go sit on my couch and have a beer. And walk my dog.

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