All-American Rejects rebound from adventures in excess
ST. LOUIS -- All-American Rejects singer Tyson Ritter had to do some finding of himself, after a period of time living in excess, before the band could get to its new album, "Kids in the Street."...
ST. LOUIS -- All-American Rejects singer Tyson Ritter had to do some finding of himself, after a period of time living in excess, before the band could get to its new album, "Kids in the Street."
After touring for the Oklahoma band's successful 2008 album "When the World Comes Down," Ritter moved to Los Angeles and, as rhythm guitarist Mike Kennerty puts it, completely lost himself.
"He was hanging out with some bad folks, some bad women and seeing too many sunrises," Kennerty says. "I think that was something he had to go through. He hadn't lived outside of the band to know what was out there. He had to make some mistakes by himself."
The issue with Ritter, and to a lesser extent the other members of All-American Rejects, was they all left home at an early age to ride the success of the band and didn't take much time out to enjoy the success as adults.
"We never built lives for ourselves outside of the band, and that hit Ty hard," Kennerty says of their singer, who found some help through the band's other guitarist, Nick Wheeler.
Things never got so topsy-turvy that the future of the band was in question.
"I always knew we would come back again," Kennerty says. "We're the rare band that gets along really well. We don't fight, though we have little disagreements here and there, but no blowouts.
"The thing that keeps us together is that we all have the desire to do this. We never flaked about that. And we know we're lucky for what we have and that it can go away at any moment."
Ritter's path led to a burst of songwriting, resulting in "Kids in the Street." Kennerty describes it as the band's best album lyrically.
"It's the most personal," he says. "It tells the story of the past few years of his life. That's the inspiration of where the songs come from."
That's exemplified by the album's lead single, "Beekeeper's Daughter."
Kennerty says that song is a "snapshot of when Tyson was at his most carefree party time, when he didn't give a (crap) about anything except hooking up and having a good time. That song reflects that."
"Kids in the Street" also is a step forward musically, Kennerty says.
"We were unafraid to push ourselves in different directions, and we made our most diverse record," he says. "We took chances musically and stepped outside of our comfort zone."
The album includes horns, for example, a first for an All-American Rejects album.
"We wanted to try horns before but said no, it was a terrible idea," Kennerty says. "We'd tried it and listened back and said no, it doesn't work. But now it was the right song and the right place."
All-American Rejects also used a 30-piece orchestra and allowed synthesizers to find a place on the album, representing another step for the group.
Producer Greg Wells helped the band along that path, but he adapted to the band rather than have the band adapt to him, and he encouraged the musicians to experiment.
In the end, the band's latest is its first that feels like a complete record from start to finish.
"We were always very concentrated on songs, but sometimes that doesn't translate to the best album," Kennerty says. "This time we found a happy medium."