"We're all excited just to be able to be creative and do what we want now." - Tyson Ritter.
The All-American Rejects are back! In the space of 10 days they've transitioned from complete silence, all the way to dropping a brand new EP.
We caught up with frontman Tyson Ritter to talk through their brand new 'Send Her To Heaven' EP, what happened to the album we were promised in 2017, and what the future has in store.
Welcome back to the world of music!
Says Tyson: “Thank you! I’m excited to be back and be putting out tunes - it’s been a beat.”
Back in 2017 you dropped two tracks - ‘Sweat’ and ‘Close Your Eyes’ - with the promise of an album not far behind. What happened to that album?
“Yeah, so when we went into the ‘Kids In The Street’ record, we had never really taken a beat off as a band to just go our separate ways and get our lives together - so we did that, and in that time we did ‘Sweat’ and ‘Close Your Eyes’.
"We had this moment of just being on that monolithic label, Interscope, and Jimmy Iovine was the guy that was with us the entirety of the Interscope years that The Rejects had. He left, and then all of a sudden it got bought out by this really large umbrella [company] and things changed as the upper management changed. Especially for us, being a band on that label - we were sort of the pop-rock black sheep that always made sense there, I guess. Until ‘Kids In The Street’, where that whole shift changed into ‘Sweat’. And honestly, ‘Sweat’ just felt like an EP that we were putting out to see what it was even like releasing music on Interscope. That was just an interesting experience, and we finally went our separate ways after that - and that record that was to come was kind of put on the back-burner during the transition."
So now you’ve found a home with Epitaph.
"Yeah, we were talking about taping some tunes together and just seeing if we could find a home for them. Mike [Kennerty] our guitarist was like ‘hey, I’ve got Brett [Gurewitz] from Epitaph’s email, I’ll just connect us all’, because Mike did some stuff on 7” records for an Epitaph band or something like that - Mike produces records. Anyway, he connected us, and Brett was like, ‘Yeah man, send me some tunes and let me see what you guys are doing’, and we were like, ‘Wow - Epitaph could be a home for us’. That was inspiring.
"So this little offering [‘Send Her To Heaven’] has become sort of a good-will moment for us as a band, where we’re not really forcing it. We’re all excited to just release songs that kind of got shelved a couple of years ago at Interscope, because we were just in this transitional moment - but also just to be able to be creative and do what we want now."
So you have more creative freedom transitioning from the major label scene, to the indie label scene?
"Yeah - I think it’s more just that growing up with the band, sometimes you just grow apart from places that you started and find places that you end up being a lot freer. I guess back in the day it felt a little more free, but now there’s this ultimate moment for us where we can just create as a band and just come together for the music."
You announced this new EP two years to the day since you released the ‘Sweat’ EP - is there any significance in that?
“Two years to the day? You’re kidding me - really?”
“To the day?!"
Yeah, July eighth?
“Maybe there’s just- wow - how about that, huh? There are no accidents, right? It’s a festering of Rejects music every two years - there has to be a purge.”
You’ve been living in Australia for the past five months on an ‘unnamed’ and ‘secret’ project - are you able to talk about that yet?
"Oh yeah! Unfortunately for the Rock Sound readers it’s not music - I’m on a television show called Preacher on AMC and I’ve been doing it for the past two years, and I was filming that TV show down there for the past five months. It was really fun. I’ve done it before - the last time I was out of the country for a movie or a TV show was actually in England, but this was five times that length. So it was entirely surreal."
And while you were working on Preacher, the other members of the band had their own projects too...
"Yeah! You know, while this band has evolved everyone has kind of got their hands in other things, we still having this common ground which we can all stand on - which is funny because nowadays, I only see these guys on a stage. So playing shows has become something even more special to me. Because I actually get to see my brothers!"
Which you’re doing at the end of this week for the final ever Warped Tour!
"Is it though? Is it gonna be the last? I feel like Warped Tour is kind of like kids, you know? You end up having more than you were going to. I guarantee it - we’re gonna be at every damn one of those farewell Warped Tours. I’m happy to be at this one! But I’m happy to do the next one. It’s gonna be a blast."
You really think it’s not the end?
"No, it can’t be - and it’s partially this allegiance, and partially that it’s just this absolute phenomenon. See, even after it’s dead you can say ‘Warped Tour’ and people will understand what you mean. Especially to people in bands. You can describe things as being ‘Warped Tour’ and people will sort of take a deep breath and be like, ‘Oh I totally get it’. Like, ‘Oh man, we did this festival the other day and it was totally fucking Warped Tour’, and all the bands will be like, ‘Oh shit dude, I’m sorry’. Because it’s such a throw and go - it’s great. It’s the giant jalopy that’s been running for 20 plus years, and everyone loves riding in it."
On this ‘Send Her To Heaven EP’ - it’s moving really quickly. You’ve teased, announced and dropped it all in the space of 10 days.
"Yeah but that’s how it works nowadays right?! Like, people just whisper at midnight, ‘Hey I just made myself a birthday cake. PS I’m dropping a record’ - like that’s how quick this shit goes. And honestly, we’ve had these songs in our pocket for two - almost three years. And so we’re ready man, we’re ready to put these out. Especially with playing Warped Tour - we want them out for that. Even though it’ll be releasing the same week, so I guess we’ll have to see how quick people can learn and memorise these new songs. But yeah, we’re excited - the world moves quickly, so why not just jump on its tail!"
With the last release, you noted that the accompanying video and visuals were really important to the narrative you’d constructed - is that carrying over into this new era?
"Definitely. I think the visualisers just carry over with the whole cinematic approach to all this shit. Because honestly, it used to be done so differently.
"The last thing we did on Interscope was the first time where we had this really thoughtful approach, because it started feeling more natural to me. I don’t know - maybe that’s because I started acting and doing stuff with film a lot more? I just think that the delivery of the audio with the visual at the same time has the potential to make this profound impact. It’s just giving the music the best chance, because it gives me a chill down my spine, or is something that makes me think, ‘Oh wow, this is powerful’.
"We put ‘Send Her To Heaven’ together as thoughtfully, with this new story. This EP sort of tells this story of excess and regret, and abandonment, and withdrawal - it’s this glimpse of these three moments that I had existing in LA for a couple of years while I was going through the ‘Sweat’ EP."
The three songs on the ‘Send Her To Heaven’ EP are all super different from one another...
"We’re touching different waters there - we did it with three completely different producers. These are like three first dates. There’s a life in each of these songs, and they each have their own little character. You can hear that in a song like ‘Demons’ where we, as a band, had never really sat behind a console with a guy like Justin Raisen, who’s just like an ultra really poppy producer. We’re just sort of throwing it all together like a patchwork quilt. It’s been an adventure just cutting this EP."
It feels like even more of a sonic departure from where the band started 15 years ago - has that been a natural progression, or is this just the music you’ve always wanted to make?
"I think if you follow this from ‘Move Along’ to ‘Kids In The Street' you can hear us constantly trying to develop - especially going from record to record - and especially with a record like ‘Kids In The Street’. It’s just us kind of constantly testing waters of songs, and the sonics for the songs. I think it comes from the fact that Nick [Wheeler, lead guitar] and I have always just been songwriters. And I think when you’re a songwriter, you’re just constantly approaching songs with an attitude of, ‘Okay, well what serves the song first? What serves the song best? What will make this song the best that it can be?’. Even in finding the sound that can define the charm of a song - like with ‘Gives You Hell’ it kinda has this tongue in cheek little bop at the start of the song with this little chime-y, almost irritating organ (laughs). That fit that song, you know - that was the perfect example of how we fit the song to the sentiment and the sound.
"With ‘DGAF’, it sort of has this angst about it that I wanted to capture. As for the lyrical irony as a thing that I was going for, it creates this really bizarre moment for us as a band which we’ve always been kind of nervous about. And I love that - I love being nervous about music, because at least it’s evoking something."
‘Gen Why [DGAF]’ is definitely the standout on the EP - it feels very tongue in cheek, but also like a statement on youth culture. What’s the story behind it?
"It’s not a generalisation - to me, that song spilled out in a lyrical flow that’s not really conscious… sometimes you’ll be writing and playing at the same time, and the words just syllabically start making a sentence. And that sentence can connect itself to other bizarre moments, and I think that’s how this song came out.
"I was driving through Griffith Park and I saw someone smoking in a Land Rover and they looked like they were 11, and the windows were up and I was like, ‘Wow, what’s your life?’. So I made a story up about her. And it was just kind of... about her. For me it’s evocative. I feel like it’s one of those moments where maybe it doesn’t make sense, but it still kind of makes sense. I don’t know - maybe it’s triggering? I really don’t know. To me it’s just a mess of a song with a tongue just bursting through a cheek as its calling card."
"It’s funny because Interscope was afraid to release that song. That was back in 2015. So this song has been sitting, burning this candy-coated hole in our pocket for years. I just think it’s kind of funny that they were afraid of it. Which is insane because it’s not hurting anybody!"
The people who are offended are going to be offended because they’ve had to look in the mirror and realise, ‘Oh that’s about me’?
"Yeah! It’ll be those kids that are literally rolling joints, in the cars, with the windows up with the song on saying, ‘What the fuck is this?’" (laughs).
So what does the future have in store for The All-American Rejects? Can we expect a full-length album?
"Absolutely! Absolutely - and I think it’s gonna be weird. I think it’s going to be something as bizarre as the difference between this EP and the ‘Sweat’ EP.
"If we're talking departure from where you know us from, which is 15 years ago - ‘Sweat’ and ‘Close Your Eyes’ was that and more. And so I think this next record… We have a batch of songs sitting, trying to wait and see what this new life in the band is like on Epitaph. First I think we just want to make sure that we go out there and support an EP successfully on our end, as far as our availability goes. We’ll always be doing stuff. I mean, you know what happens every two years (laughs). Apparently you can always expect two or three songs out of us at least. But as far as a record goes, there will have to be a moment where we all really devote a hard beat to get that done."
So The All-American Rejects are properly back?
"For 2019, yes! This is as back as we can get."
Next year marks the 15th anniversary of the release of ‘Move Along’ - do you have any plans to honour that? A tour where you play it in full?
"I mean - we’ll leave that up to those other guys. I think we celebrate the fact that we’re still here and getting to do this every year - and of course with a 15th anniversary next year we’ll probably favour a lot of the ‘Move Along’ tracks when we play, but it’ll still be a rock 'n' roll Rejects show just like its always been. See, I don’t put up the fricking plaques and records on the wall or anything like that. So I think when you start to play into the nostalgia of your legacy, you’re kind of just... I don’t know, it’s just not for me.
"But then I love those shows though! See, I’d love to go and see Jimmy Eat World play ‘Clarity’ from end to end. You know - like, if The Cure did that? Yeah I’d be there. I imagine as a fan that that’s gotta be a special thing. Wait, you know what? Maybe we SHOULD. Maybe we should, but we’ll do it as a one-off in LA or some shit. But I don’t think we could do a full tour of it. That would feel weird. It would be like, ‘Hey remember when we did this way back when we were 17? Just playing our first record? Except we’re like 35, and we’re doing it again?’ Like that’s just like staring into a pool of age."
So that’s a maybe then...
"Yes! Maybe... I totally get that I’ve totally obsessed over it. But then, now that I’m actually thinking out loud about it…"
One last question - two years ago there was a Twitter campaign to get you all to play a fan’s wedding. Did that ever happen?
"Oh no! Aaaah oh no. Okay, so we have this social media team that we had just transitioned to, and they had just started taking over our socials. It became a thing because they replied, ‘Yeah sure, just get 50,000 retweets’. And then they got to 50,000 retweets! But the thing is we couldn’t book another show in Oklahoma, because it was going to cost us a fucking fortune to play. Just going to do the show, getting everyone together and getting our crew together, it was going to be ridiculous. So we got them this double-neck guitar that we all signed, and it was so cool and ridiculous - and they were still pretty bummed about it. But we just couldn’t make it work! So I just felt so bad that whoever was driving the boat on the socials that week, they baited this whole thing, and it ended up blowing up in our face. That’s the power of the internet! Beware the power of the internet!"
The All-American Rejects' new EP 'Send Her To Heaven' is available on all streaming services now. Check it out below: