Dirty Work was All Time Low's first album with Interscope records and this song sees them stepping away from their pop-punk origins, into more sophisticated midtempo rock territory. Frontman Alex Gaskarth explained to MTV News, the album represents a shift for the band - hence the album title: "I think one of the big things that came along with this album, and the process of making this album, and the whole jump to a new label, [was] a lot of anxiety. About where were we going to go, so there's a lot of that on the record," he said. "And there's also [a lot] about reaching a point in my life, personally, where things were starting to be torn apart, relationship-wise, and not having the time to be with certain people. And a lot of that's reflected in the album, feeling as though I was an island stuck in the middle of an ocean.
[So] Dirty Work was inspired by the subject matter on the record, where it's this toss-up of being wrapped up in what we do, and having the fun and the good times, and kind of pulling that blindfold down in order to ignore the fact that other problems are crumbling around you.
You have these songs about the good times, and then there are also these songs about 'Wow, because of these good times, everything else is completely burning.' And 'dirty work' was the first ... set of words that came to mind to define what I had been doing for the past two years. It was 'dirty work.'"