Back in April I got the chance to sit down with Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler when their band The All-American Rejects made a stop at Le National in Montreal.
Having released their fourth studio album “Kids in the Streets” just three weeks prior to this particular tour date, I had lots to talk about with two veterans in the music industry.
CONFRONT: How have you guys been?
CONFRONT: How has the tour been so far?
TYSON: Great crowds. *silence*
NICK: *laughs* We survived the getting into Canada part.
CONFRONT: That’s important!
NICK: We have that behind us. Now we just need to get back. I think we’re coming back next month with Blink but I think that’s Quebec City.
CONFRONT: You played Toronto last night?
CONFRONT: How did that go?
NICK: Good actually! It’s always Toronto/Montreal. Every time one show is awesome and the other not so much. Toronto happened already and it was awesome.
CONFRONT: So the bar has been set.
TYSON: We’re expecting Montreal to be very painful.
NICK: The bar is high!
CONFRONT: What’s the reaction been to the new songs so far?
TYSON: Really cool. We’re playing a lot of new songs. We’re playing like eight new songs and nine old ones. The kids are either suffering through them and enjoying it or they actually know what’s up. It’s great to see our fans grow with us.
CONFRONT: Is there one that you love playing live?
TYSON: I love one that we don’t get to play yet. We play it at sound check every day. It’s called “Heartbeat Slowing Down”.
NICK: You didn’t want to play it! I’ll throw it in whenever.
CONFRONT: I love that song.
CONFRONT: You should definitely play that live.
TYSON: I feel like if it should go anywhere it should replace “Bleed” right? We should just start…
NICK: Interesting….two synth bass songs in a row. It’d be easy.
*Tyson trails off*
CONFRONT: You guys are on your fourth studio album now. How do you decide on set lists for the shows at this point?
NICK: It’s usually a pain staking process.
TYSON: Of deduction.
NICK: It’s usually a good week before we find something that works. I think the fact that we’ve got such a repertoire; to use one of your words. We play a couple of new ones and there’s a hit. Then we play a few more and there’s another hit. It just works. We got really lucky this time.
TYSON: We should do some sort of social media application where you can get a hold of the kids in the line and have them pick from about ten songs.
NICK: That’d be cool.
TYSON: We don’t have that knowledge yet. Until we do we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. It’s fun to pick through four records.
CONFRONT: Well you have a lot of good choices.
TYSON: We have a lot of different choices. I don’t know if they’re any good *laughs*
CONFRONT: What was it like to write “Kids in the Street?”
TYSON: It was tough.
CONFRONT: I saw that you guys went away a lot to writing retreats?
TYSON: We always go on little retreats. When we write we’re almost always together to influence each other to write. We take the material into our own little space and our work spaces are pretty close to each other. The presence of one another makes this chemistry happen. Writing “Kids in the Street” was like writing on a wall in a deep well and every letter you wrote was another step you could take up towards the light. It took us awhile to get out of the well. We moved to Los Angeles and I encountered a brick wall of life and reality. When you’ve been Peter Pan, locked indoors in Montreal and Washington this might as well be indoors everywhere. When you’re stuck in this time capsule it’s a process to find yourself without it. Guess what? I’m in Los Angeles and we’ve got our house. What the hell am I supposed to do with a house? What the hell am I supposed to do with a life? This record is about finding yourself at age 25 or whatever age. Songs like “Kids in a Street” throw to a timeless point. Its finding yourself through reflecting on the moment that you remember yourself last; being human. I couldn’t remember the last time I was because I can’t remember a time before this. Songs like “Kids in the Street” reflect on the people we were when we were in Oklahoma, the pure spirits that we were. When all you have to get in trouble with back home is a dirt road and a case of beer that’s not a bad problem. Now that you’re an older person you have a whole grocery list of things to get you in trouble.
CONFRONT: Are you going back to L.A?
TYSON: I’m not.
NICK: I will. I’ve made it home.
TYSON: Nick has a great place.
CONFRONT: Is there one song off this album that you’re the most proud of? I know that can be a hard choice.
NICK: You have eleven choices. Go!
TYSON: *laughs* I really love what we did with a song called “Affection.” It’s a really different journey for us as a band. It’s not my favorite overall. It’s one of my favorite accomplishments. We fused this Disney palate of orchestral sounds with this explosive Pixies sort of apocalypse at the end. I feel like we transitioned seamlessly in that song. Song wise I think “Heartbeat Slowing Down” is my favorite off the record alongside “Bleed into your Mind.” Bleed is really different for us and it’s got a groove. This is the first record we’ve written where I feel like you’re bobbing your head and tapping your feet. There are a lot of rhythmic cadences that are different this time around.
NICK: There a lot of tempos that are different too. If you go back to our first record there’s a lot of songs that we’ve slowed down. Not by much but just casually. When you’re young you just want to play fast. I think some bands don’t grow out of that. I think in order to groove to music you have to change it up.
CONFRONT: It appeals to a wider audience when you do that too. You have the people who love to come and dance and those who are happier to stand off and just enjoy the music.
TYSON: It’s interesting when you’re bouncing back and forth from it at the live show.
CONFRONT: What’s your favorite part about coming to Montreal?
TYSON: I love the people. I hate to say it but in particular I love the girls. They look so different and interesting to me. I feel like they’re beautiful in a totally different way. I love the two languages. I love the primary French language; I hate English. *Turns to Nick* I hate your American accent and I hate your American face!
NICK: *laughs* I love that it’s Café Starbucks here. It makes it local.
CONFRONT: That’s a good answer! I never would have thought of that.
TYSON: It’s like “Let’s go down to the café”
CONFRONT: Is there still one place that you’d love to visit and play a show?
TYSON: I’d love to go up to Northern Canada for once.
NICK: Do people live up there?
CONFRONT: From what I’ve heard!
NICK: They say there are more people in California then in the entire country of Canada!
NICK: I’m just curious if there are any parts that aren’t habitable.
CONFRONT: Well you can try it out. If you get there and there’s no one there then you’ll know for next time!
NICK: *laughs* Can you see the Northern Lights in Canada?
CONFRONT: I’m not sure actually.
NICK: Can we see them tonight? When’s the next Haley’s Comet?
CONFRONT: Not tonight.
TYSON: Barbara’s Comet is next.
NICK: What’s that?
TYSON: Barbara. Haley got her turn.
CONFRONT: Thank you guys! Have a great show tonight.
TYSON&NICK: Thank you!
To check out the band’s music or to see what they’ve been up to, check out these links:
Video of Jenia interviewing Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler: