This was the first single to be released by American pop punk group blink-182 after they reformed, following a four year hiatus.
The song was originally titled "The Night the Moon Was Gone." Guitarist Tom DeLonge's daughter thought that name up.
DeLonge told Billboard that this song has "got a little bit of (Pink) Floyd, a little bit of Rush, a little bit of blink in there. It's crazy, but it somehow sounds exactly like where we left off (in 2005). It's an amazing song."
In an Alternative Press article, Mak Hoppus stated: "Lyrically, its all about how everybody has the same wants, fears and desires. No matter who you are, no matter what vantage point. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to get by."
On February 8, 2009 Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, and Travis Barker appeared onstage together for the first time at the 51st Grammy Awards ceremony since December 2004. This song, the first new material released by blink-182 following their indefinite hiatus, was posted in full to Blink182.com late on July 14, 2011, then officially premiered the following day at 10:30 a.m. on Los Angeles radio station KROQ.
Although the song had been around since the Californian pop-punk trio started jamming in early 2009, they decided the tune needed more work and delayed its release for a couple of years. Hoppus explained to MTV News: "'Up All Night' was the first song that we started writing when the band got back together. The foundation of the song remains largely the same as when we first began, but over the past two years, as we've been recording other songs, coming back to this one, working on something else, coming back to this song, it's gotten harder and heavier than its original incarnation. Initially the chorus had much more air. It was a lofty, synth-y chorus, but we wanted the first song that people heard to be much more of a rocker. We changed a bunch of the instrumentation, recorded heavier guitars and bass, and Tom [DeLonge] wrote the progression that the guitars take on in the chorus. Then Travis [Barker] took it over and the drums really solidified the rock element of the track. The half-time intro of the last section was all him, and I think punctuates the song very well."
Though the song retains the sing-along qualities of Blink's previous singles, its ripping main riff is much heavier than much of the band's previous output. Barker explained to Billboard magazine that the song is both "a logical step" from where the band left off [their self-titled 2003 album] and a hint as to where they might be headed in the future. "When we do go in [to make the new album], it's gonna be like that. You can't help but have everything on the table ... all the stuff we've done — like +44 and Angels & Airwaves — since we last played and recorded, it will influence the new stuff," he explained. "In the case of 'Up All Night,' it feels like it could've been on the last record, or right where the last one left off. It's kind of heavy, if you mixed Box Car Racer and Blink. It all makes sense. The pieces are all together."