An Interview With All Systems Go
An album release from All Systems Go hits all the sweet spots when it comes to driving pop punk with a great edge to bring alongside tons of color and character that thrive throughout the course of the release.
The Non-Fiction album never really lets up and showcases such classic energy when it comes to the genre but does so with a cross between a youthful and a mature approach songwriting wise which creates elements of subgenres within the record as well.
One of the best things about this release is the amount of heart that it actually has which is amazing because you get a record that comes at you with tons of bright hooks and this massive display of honesty in the lyrics and throughout it all, even though this is a pure pop-punk album if you grew up there certain time periods, you will recognize some of the different influences that were Incorporated on a record like this.
Good music that displays any sort of impactful passion and heart normally comes from places that are real.
They have something very genuine about them and although it's not incredibly straightforward every single time, being able to write songs about things in such a straightforward manner and being so incredibly honest about it makes a difference to The Listener.
So, you have this great sense of personality that grows throughout the course of the record, and this is part of what gets you so attached to it.
It works this way with pop-punk semi often, but it's got to be done right and these guys do it right.
These tracks were written with plenty of great hooks and choruses that stick in your brain and bounce around in there until you listen to it again but there's also that side of it that comes through so authentic and even anthemic at times that it creates this great atmosphere.
There's definitely more than meets the eye when you first listen to the album and there are certainly some layers to be peeled back here but what gets me is this addictive energy that they put out because you were able to soak that in.
When that happens it actually feels really good and that's part of why the album is so killer.
These guys also create an energy that feels like the songs were recorded live on the floor in a way because they're feeding off of each other the entire time they're playing so that vibe comes through.
I'd actually love to see them live because if the energy is even half of what it is on the record it's probably going to be amazing.
This release misses absolutely no marks and does everything right while balancing heart, technicality, energy, maturity, and a childlike sense of wonder still.
With the release of such a well-woven album we wanted to have a sit down with All Systems Go to see where this record actually came from and what might be coming up next for the band.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with the Non-Fiction album! This record had a massive energy and as much color as there was character! How did this album come about?
After releasing our EP “The Waiting Room” in 2019 and going through the phase of being an “online band” while the pandemic shut the world down, we were thinking of what our next step as a band should be especially since we grew our following from that EP. Around November 2020 our friend Chris (of the band Aftyn) who had been interning in a studio with Nik Bruzzese (Man Overboard) and Ace Enders (The Early November) had told us Nik was moving to The Gradwell House, a studio that’s super local to us and that he was looking to work with more local pop punk bands. So we decided our next step would be working with a producer on our music for the first time, since we had only self-recorded or worked with a sound engineer for our first two releases.
The front half of Non-Fiction is more introspective, covering topics like how proud we are that our band survived the pandemic and continues to thrive in our scene 6 years in, talking about the feelings of being too self-critical, falling behind in life, and being able to open yourself up to those close to you. The back half of the album gives a nod to specific people in our lives: bad influences who we don’t like, people we’ve grown apart from or [been] broken up with, our childhood selves, and Devin’s fiance. Our musical approach to our sound on this record and lyrical approach to the topics covered make us really proud. We’ve talked amongst ourselves about how ASG with us at 26-27 years old is so much different from when we were all 20-21 and first started this band.
Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you guys as a band? When did you get together?
ASG is a reiteration of a band Devin and I (Matt) started in high school. In middle school, us and our other original members, Kyle and August, were all involved in the school’s musical, which is how we became friends. We knew each other from doing concert band but became close during our school’s production of “Seussical” our 7th/8th grade years. Around that same time Devin and I were obsessed with Guitar Hero and started learning how to play guitar, Kyle had a drumset in his garage, and August had said (since he knew how to read bass clef) he’d learn the bass if we ever wanted to start a band. Fast forward a couple years, we started our first band But We Aren’t Canadian the summer right after my sophomore year, and that lasted all the way to right after high school graduation.
Fast forward another 3.5 years after taking a break from music altogether and (since he was a grade behind the other 3 of us) not seeing Devin for a long time, he reappears at a hangout and we immediately start talking about music again. A lot of big conversations happened and in July 2016 we started All Systems Go with the 4 original members of BWAC, with a goal to do it bigger and better this time.
Our first few shows were acoustic open mics. Kyle soon realized he wouldn’t be able to prioritize relearning full drums, so we asked Joe if he wanted to fill in. We’ve known him since we were kids as well as and he was one of the best high school percussionists in South Jersey back then. We were going to do the next upcoming open mic acoustic but we were curious and asked if he could bring part of his kit so we could plug in, and immediately something clicked. From that moment on he was the drummer for All Systems Go.
A few years later in 2019, August had decided to leave the band and Dean joined. We had played a show with his previous band at one point the year before and when we had announced we were looking for a bassist he emailed us within an hour. Especially since he fits in with us Delran boys and is a great friend on top of being a fantastic bassist, we were extremely lucky to have him. We’ve been together for 6.5 years in total and all of it has been great.
Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?
I take a lot of inspiration from the struggles I see in the others I love as well as myself. More importantly I like to write about positive and uplifting moments to try and encourage others to have a more positive outlook on life. (Devin)
We draw a lot from our personal experiences in our songwriting. All of us are at the age where we still have a lot to figure out in life, and I think that we use our songs as a way to express the emotions that come with that self-discovery. A lot of ASG songs are more about the emotion than the “story,” and I think that gives our music a lot of authenticity and relatability. (Joe)
I feel like I’m overall a very grounded person, so any time I feel strong emotions from certain situations they tend to stick out in my mind when I’m writing about anything. As an example, our song “Homecoming” came from feeling really bad anxiety for a few days that I was falling behind in life, which I’d say is pretty unique for me since I only feel that way about anything maybe once in a blue moon. Usually when I write lyrics, probably because of how strong those feelings are, the words come right out and I don’t need to think about what I’m saying too much in order to get a message across. It feels very therapeutic being able to listen back to something I wrote and think about how I like the song rather than how bad I might have felt when writing it. (Matt)
Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
I am very impulsive with my writing. I tend to get a lot of ideas from the music I listen too. Some of our natural influences come from bands like blink-182 and fall out boy, but as of late the more complex and unique we develop our sound we find ourselves fetching ideas from past generations of music. (Devin)
My favorite band of all time is Rush, the influence of which on me as a bassist and as a songwriter is impossible to deny, but the bass lines of Pete Wentz and Mike Dirnt are in my head more often than not when I’m coming up with bass lines as well, plus metal bands like Iron Maiden and Seventh Wonder. (Dean)
I am a huge Paramore fan, so most of the time I’m just doing my best Zac Farro impression on the drums. For our most recent music, I’ve taken a lot more influence from bands in the pop punk genre like blink-182, State Champs, and Yours Truly. And of course, John Bonham’s drumming with Led Zeppelin is always legendary and inspiring. (Joe)
Buzz Slayers: What are you all doing when you're NOT working on music?
When we aren’t working on music we are either playing shows or out at the local venues checking out bands. I personally have found a lot of my favorite bands from going to local show (Devin)
When I’m not focused on our music or working I’m usually at the gym, playing trivia, or at the movies. I also love going to local shows to see our friends in other bands, that’s always a great night out to me. (Matt)
Usually suffering through grad school work or vegetating in front of some video games. I try to find time to take care of myself when I can so that I can focus on what’s important (work, school, and ASG + local music). (Dean)
I’m a music teacher by day. In my free time away from work and ASG, I like to cook, watch TV, play video games, and obsess over everything Star Wars. (Joe)
Buzz Slayers: Who's in all your headphones right now?
Heart Attack Man, Hot Mulligan, Four Year Strong, Driveways (Devin)
Counterparts, Four Year Strong, Foreign Hands, The Devil Wears Prada (Matt)
Blind Guardian, Kamelot, Gyorgy Ligeti, Polaroid Fade (Dean)
Paramore (always), Goalkeeper, Big Fat Meanies, Meet Me @ The Altar (Joe)
Buzz Slayers: Are you all doing any live performances right now?
Yes! This year we’ve played in so many cool places including locally in South Jersey, rural Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Boston, and New York City. Our most recent show was at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park NJ (the venue where Springsteen and Bon Jovi got their start). At the time of this interview we have shows coming up in Trenton, Philly, North Jersey, and Lancaster PA, and after a break for the first half of summer we’ll be going back out on the road for a few back to back weekender tours in the summer.
Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
We recorded demos for all 8 songs ourselves in my (Matt’s) bedroom. We spent a ton of time on them and thinking of how we could make them the best we could before finalizing them in the studio. For the actual album, we recorded it at The Gradwell House in Haddon Heights NJ with producer Nik Bruzzese, formerly of the band Man Overboard. Nik had a big hand in bringing the songs to their final form. We recorded the whole album a few songs at a time in three 4-5 day sessions across several months. The first day of these sessions was dedicated to pre-production and spending an hour or two reviewing how our demos sounded and how they could be better structurally and dynamically. Overall we spent about 100 hours in total at the studio and it was a great experience for us.
Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
More shows, in places we’ve played this year and new places. We also have a few new songs we’ve been working on, so we may be booking some studio time soon.
We’re enjoying writing music that’s really inspired by our top influences, so expect our next releases to be extra personal in terms of the sound that we consider to be our own (Dean)
Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
We are super appreciative of all your support! Continue to go out to local shows and venues to help keep this scene we love so much alive!
Thanks for all of the support! We love seeing your faces at shows, it makes it all extra worthwhile. (Dean)