As someone who wasn’t blessed with Sky TV growing up, I found discovering new alternative music more difficult than my other greebo friends. Without Scuzz, Kerrang! TV or MTV Rocks, I felt like I had to try harder than everyone else to keep up. So whenever Viva or 4Music treated me to a Top 100 Rock Songs countdown every six months, my whole day would be a write-off. I’d sit in front of the screen making notes on my tiny LG phone (which would later be covered in Asking Alexandria stickers – thanks, Kerrang!) of every song I liked which I could later rip from YouTube. This is how I found almost every band I loved at 14: Black Veil Brides, We Are The In Crowd and, most importantly, All Time Low.
When ‘Weightless’ came on, the video stuck with me as I recognised Mark Hoppus and Pete Wentz’s cameos, finally making me feel like I had some insider knowledge here. Through YouTube, ‘Weightless’ lead to ‘Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)’, ‘Lost In Stereo’ and ‘Therapy’; the videos for each one intriguing me even more. The talk show style of ‘Damned If I Do Ya’ was hilarious in comparison to the music videos I usually saw on the UK Top 40 chart shows - you’d never catch Britney or JLS smashing a plant pot over someone’s head. The latter two’s live videos showed me exactly what I’d been missing out on when seeing The Wanted multiple times and the behind-the-scenes elements fuelled my love for the band members themselves.
Eventually I got the album Nothing Personal for Christmas. After years of blasting it in the car along with the likes of their previous album So Wrong Its Right and Green Day’s American Idiot, my mum will regret to inform you that she knows every line of every song backwards, and later revealed that she used to listen to it even when I wasn’t there.
Each song ended up becoming attached to random high school memories: me and my friend obnoxiously singing ‘Break Your Little Heart’ in BTEC Music lessons to annoy all the “hipsters”, ‘Lost In Stereo’s half-time grooves being the first song I ever learnt on drums, and thinking I was able to relate to ‘Stella’ the first time I had a beer at a house party… Granted, at the time I couldn’t relate to any of the lyrics but evidently that didn’t stop me from wholeheartedly trying to.
In retrospect, Nothing Personal is certainly not perfect. There was no underlying concept behind it and with songs such as ‘Hello Brooklyn’ and ‘Keep The Change, You Filthy Animal’, it certainly didn’t break new grounds for pop punk, but for me it was the album that changed my whole music taste. This also meant that I fell very deep into the fandom. Not before long, my social media handles became different variations of HeatherAllTimeLow and skunkjalex as I became more and more invested in the culture. Trying to find out as much information as I could, I’d spend every waking moment watching interviews on YouTube; BryanStars quickly becoming my saviour and the reason I went into music journalism (yeah I know, I’m judging me too).
It’s quite sad that I’ve fallen out of love with the band in recent years considering I always thought they would carry on releasing music that would grow along with me, however albums Future Hearts and Last Young Renegade just didn’t connect with me in the same way. Still, not many songs have the power to fill me with such strong nostalgia my chest physically twangs, even if I am in a club five double vodka-cokes down, but every track on Nothing Personal somehow does.