Youve heard The All-American Rejects mythology before.
Talented small-town Stillwater high schoolers album gets scooped from the trash by a record label intern: music videos, hit singles, major-label deals, high-grossing worldwide tours and dalliances with celebrities ensue. In short, all the stuff that constitutes the first half of an episode of VH1s Behind the Music: you know, before the heroin problems and velvet capes.
But the band of scruffy, powerpopping teens that originated in 1999 and blew up nationally when catchy pop-punk was all the rage (Sum 41, anyone?) has managed to avoid the squabbles and noxious drama that have disintegrated the infrastructure of so many groups struggling with the weight and pressure of fame.
Weve never fought, said lead singer and bassist Tyson Ritter, all of 27 years old. Im not completely sure why, but it may be that we have two things in common: the fact that were from Oklahoma, and the fact that we want to stay in this band.
Now, little more than a week since the release of the Rejects fourth studio album, Kids in the Street, Ritter and company whose lineup has remained intact since DreamWorks Records released their 2003 debut look more like a perennial pop contender than some short-lived upstart.
We didnt buy into the hype of running and chasing success, Ritter said. Regardless of label pressure regardless of anything we always take our time to craft our next record. Because not only do we want to tour for a long time, we want to be proud of it, to share it. The bands that havent survived, they havent for a reason: You hear the falseness in the music they put out. And when you dont believe a band you love, you quit listening.
Raised them right
This dedication to
preservation has kept audiences ears. Ritter shrewdly has guarded
against the usual offers and requests to invite collaborators into the
That stuffs been an option, he said. People throw that shit at you.
One such opportunity manifested during the recording of Kids, after the Rejects heard the work of a fellow Oklahoman in Los Angeles, a gifted singer named Audra Mae.
voice was so massive and soulful, Ritter said. We got in touch with
her management because we loved her voice and that she was from
Oklahoma. You meet Okies out here and theyre always kindhearted, sweet
people. We hit it off like ham and eggs.
Mae, who was born at Tinker Air Force Base, raised in Edmond, and attended Putnam City High School, sings backup on three Kids tracks,
including the first single, Beekeepers Daughter, a playful pop
number thats cracked the Top 40 on three Billboard charts since its
Jan. 31 release.
mamas obviously raised them right, said Mae, an LA resident for nearly
a decade. You get used to bands where the lead singers just a
bullheaded idiot its not like that with them. Theyre really brothers
and they love each other so much, it was so nice to be around. We hung
out, talked about cars, Oklahoma, and Tyson filled up my gas tank and
washed the windows on my car cause hes the sweetest man alive.
Step up to the Street
enjoying worldwide success with hit singles like Dirty Little Secret
and Move Along (a finalist for Oklahomas official state rock song),
Ritter found himself hardened with cynicism after years of living in
front of a tape recorder. After a break in the band he described as a
ninemonth lost weekend in LA, he felt the need to channel his
quarter-life crisis into a record.
Instead of dialing up a
DJ to take advantage of mainstream pops dubstep craze or bringing Katy
Perry in to hatch a hit single, the Rejects did what they usually do
when they need to write songs: They fled.
this case, to a cabin in Maine. We go up there for the windows, cause
we stay inside the whole time, but the windows sure show a nice
picture, Ritter said. We found some really cool moments for the
record, like Walk Over Me, which I remember was one of those songs you
write in 10 minutes. Those are the ones that werent compromised by
are a throwback-type band thats unforgiving in its commitment to the
classic-rock eras idea of unforced, pure songwriting. At its best,
this process captures gushing, earnest moments of gleeful puppy love
(Swing, Swing), dramatic breakups (It Ends Tonight) and
when-all-else-fails optimism (Move Along). Its unique to the modern
a difference between being a mainstream band and being a mainstream
band that really floods itself into the mainstream, Ritter said. When
youre contriving collaborations and doing something that didnt
actually happen, I smell bullshit.
Hey! Read This:
OKS Chatter with All-American Rejects' Nick Wheeler