All-American Reject talks new album
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 23:04
Anyone who listened to the radio in 2005 is familiar with the All-American Rejects’ double-platinum hit “Move Along,” which was played at every house party, backyard bonfire and roller skating rink across America.
Other fans may recall earlier hits by the band: songs from their self-titled debut album such as “Swing Swing” to further album releases such as “It Ends Tonight” and “Gives You Hell,” which became the most-played song of 2009 at Billboard’s Top 40 Chart, spending four weeks at the No. 1 spot.
Throughout their 13-year career, the All-American Rejects have more or less conquered the world of pop music, being one of the “Billboard 200 Artists of the Decade.” Not bad for a group of guys from Stillwater, Okla.
Now, with the release of their fourth album, “Kids in the Street,” the All-American Rejects are ready to conquer again, this time exploring new sounds and new concepts, namely lead singer-songwriter Tyson Ritter’s struggle through what he calls “a quarter-life crisis.” The Oracle caught up with the band’s rhythm guitarist and back-up vocalist Mike Kennerty to talk about the new album and life on the road.
The Oracle: How would you describe “Kids in the Street”?
Mike Kennerty: On our last record, “When the World Comes Down,” we tried to do different things and kind of jumped all over the place, and it didn’t really flow the way we’d hoped, but I think with “Kids in the Street” we really kind of nailed what we were going for — I feel like it’s the culmination of all our previous records finally coming together in the best way we could make it.
I actually heard the album the other day for the first time in a couple of months, and I was really proud of it and felt it turned out really good. You know, sometimes you go back and you nitpick, “Oh, we should have done this and this,” but this one I’m really happy with the way it is. I don’t think I’d touch anything.
O: Kids in the Street was produced by the Grammy-nominated producer Greg Wells, who has worked with artists such as Adele, Katy Perry and OneRepublic. What was that like?
MK: You know, Greg is an amazing mind. He’s a musician, he’s a producer and he was a great kind of coach more than anything. A lot of producers just make you meld to their methods; like you go in, you make the record. But (Greg) really kind of acted like a 5th member and met us halfway and really just inspired us to go in directions we hadn’t been. We really wanted to make something that was a cohesive piece of work, and he really helped us with that.
O: 2010 was a huge year for the All-American Rejects. You performed at the Winter Olympics, you had a DirectTV performance at the Super Bowl, you were featured on Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” soundtrack and you toured with the Warped Tour festival. Was there ever a moment when you really felt you were achieving superstardom?
MK: You know, we’ve been doing this for a decade now — like, we quit our jobs a decade ago, but it’s just been this steady thing. We did “Swing Swing” in 2002 and it got popular and we were like, “Wow! This is great!” And we appreciated it at that moment and lived it up as much as we could at that moment, and then came “Move Along” and we crossed our fingers that we’d still be able to do this professionally and network and download better and then “When the World Came Down” and “Gives you Hell” became like our biggest seller, it blew our minds.
O: Frontman Tyson Ritter said in a Billboard interview that the new album was born out of a personal, three-year quarter-life crisis. Is this a more serious album than your past releases?
MK: I think Tyson definitely stepped up lyrically and came out with his best personal lyrics, and he creates a mood throughout the album that really kind of ties it all together as an album. As opposed to just 11 new songs, this is something where you start at song one and listen the whole way through — you kind of take it as a journey.
I think musically we all pushed ourselves to go directions we never had, try techniques recording we’d never done and just try to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and do something different, and I feel like we did that. We made what I think is probably our best record and hopefully will be the one that people point to in the future when they think about us.