Was the single made in the same way as Wake Up, Sunshine – with all four of you under one roof?
“It wasn’t possible, to be honest. Jack and I wrote the song with our collaborator friend, Andrew Goldstein, who we also worked on Monsters with. So the three of us were actually together; we did like a week of writing together and everybody got tested, and everybody was kind of holed up in one space safely. We banged out a handful of songs in that moment, and Once In A Lifetime was a product of that writing session. We did end up getting the other guys in town – Rian and Zack both came into Los Angeles, and we recorded drums and bass and got everybody’s take on it. But it was a bit more remote this time around just because it had to be. But the core of it was still there, you know?”
You’d said there was an effort to make the last album have a fun, summer, light feeling, compared to Last Young Renegade which was a bit darker… Where does Once In A Lifetime fall, musically?
“It’s interesting, because obviously the subject matter is darker; it’s a song about dealing with loss and accepting loss. I think that was something that was a very universal constant for people through 2020; it was a very difficult year for most people, and we were able to write that song from a personal place. But as you peel back the layers and the surface meanings of the song, there’s a much deeper thing going on to it that I think was sort of cast from the shared experience that we were all going through in a very bizarre year. And I think a lot of the new music kind of lives in that world. I don’t want to say that it’s ‘dark’, per se, but [compared] to the fact that Wake Up, Sunshine was a light, celebratory, energetic record, I think this is maybe a swing in the other direction, ever so slightly, just because of the times. I think it would have been impossible for us to be holed up in our rooms for months and be like, ‘Let’s write happy songs!’ (Laughs) It just didn’t feel that natural at the time.”
It’s quite personal and specific – but have you also been writing more existential stuff lately just purely inspired by these strange times?
“Yeah, this song, Once In A Lifetime, kind of lands right in the middle of that. It was definitely inspired by events going on in Jack and I’s lives, and watching what was happening in the band and things like that. But, beyond that, there’s very much this looser, bigger concept of dealing with loss – that really kind of solidified the core concept of the song. And, you know, I’ve never heard ‘once in a lifetime’ used in that way before, of sort of referring to a negative, and, ‘I hope it never gets worse than this’ kind of thing. And that relates back to the line in the middle of the chorus, where we are self-referential and drop our own band name! It was an interesting dynamic, because on one hand we’re sort of talking about hitting your lowest point, but at the other end of that there was also this internal conceptual thing about how the band All Time Low is an escape for us as the members of it. You know, Wake Up, Sunshine was very much like a celebration of our band – it was us going back through the years and taking the pieces of our music and our sound that we love the most and putting that into new music. And I think, in a certain way, this song is a continuation of that, but we’re also sort of referring to what Wake Up, Sunshine was and how it lifted us and carried us through a lot of things. I think that’s kind of a cool meta commentary on the whole thing!”
Was the name drop a happy accident or was it intentional like, ‘Ooooh, I know what I could do here…’?!
“Sometimes you’re writing lyrics and filling in the lines, and obviously the rhyme scheme worked! In the moment, it just made a lot of sense to have that be the lyric. But as we wrote it down, we all looked at each other and went, ‘Can we do this? Is this okay to say? Or is this really cheesy?’ But the more we sat with it, the more it made sense – on so many different levels. And if you can’t drop your own band name after 15 years, then what have you been doing?! I feel like we’ve earned the right at this point!”