TYSON Ritter is a pretty laidback kinda guy. During a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles, the All-American Rejects’ lead vocalist was quite chilled out and very polite when answering questions.

Though he sounded a little tired, Ritter was alert and caught on to the questions easily.

“We just finished our rehearsal for the Kids In The Street (the band’s latest album) tour and we’re excited about going out again. We miss the people and the feeling of performing in front of a crowd,” said Ritter, who is also the band’s bassist.

The All-American Rejects is made up of Ritter, lead guitarist Nick Wheeler, rhythm guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor. Ritter and Wheeler founded the band in 1999. There were a few shuffles in the line-up after that, but the band’s current ensemble has been together since 2001.

That itself is considered a feat on the Rejects’ part as most bands don’t even stay long enough to produce a sophomore album let alone reach the decade milestone together.

“I think that we’ve been together for this long because we take our time when it comes to everything about the band and music. People who live in a bus or a plane are like in time capsules. They don’t stop to get out and see the world.

“A lot of the bands rush into the studio and compromise their music. They don’t let themselves to settle and relax before working on the next stuff,” said Ritter.

That need to take a break explains the gap between the release of their current album and their previous one which came out in 2008.

The band had been working for about three years on Kids In The Street and wrote 25 songs. However, only 12 were selected to be featured on this album.

“This is a record about losing myself in a sin city like LA and finding myself in a place like New York. It’s basically about a man who finds himself by losing himself.”

When the song selections were made for the album, Ritter made sure that every band member’s opinion was taken into consideration. As musicians with objective opinions, Ritter knew that the rest of the band would have to agree to the song before it made the cut.

“We picked our songs for the album and in the end, we all sound as one. It has been 10 years since the All-American Rejects movement started and our voice and our beats are more confident than ever. If it all stops tomorrow, I would die with a smile on my face,” said Ritter.

In fact, in a previous interview with MTV, Ritter had claimed that this album was made with the thought of the world ending in 2012 playing in his mind constantly.

“It’s going to be the year of the Rejects. (Our album release) is going to coincide with the Mayan end of the world thing, so the last song you’ll die to will be one of ours.”

Ritter also said that if the world did indeed end this year, he wants to go around the world and play to anyone who wants to listen to their music before it does.
“We take touring seriously. Every night will be like our first date and it’s the best first date together.”


Making Kids In The Street had been a whole new experience for Ritter who used the process as therapy sessions and said that he felt like a different person right after.

“Writing a song is something you don’t do twice if you do it right. This album is very introspective and it’s been like my therapy.

“And while working on it, I felt like (Portuguese explorer Ferdinand) Magellan discovering unchartered territories. I was jumping around in the world of music and found a place where I could just be, you know, free.”
Keeping with the tradition of having guest artists on their albums, the Rejects also collaborated with British singer-songwriter Mika for the song Heartbeat Slowing Down.

“Mika just came in and it sounded incredible,” said Ritter, who was obviously a fan of the whimsical pop singer.

Apart from music, the band is also known for its many charitable efforts, namely Ritter’s involvement in rebuilding disaster-stricken Haiti. He came up with the idea to launch the Don’t Hate On Haiti campaign after watching footage of the earthquake on CNN.

“I was shocked when it happened and felt like I needed to use my voice for a good purpose. I think it’s an obligation to humanity to provide attention for affected areas like Haiti. It’s going to take 30 years for that country to get back to its normal condition,” he said.

The campaign has raised over US$30,000 (RM90,000) so far and Ritter plans to reach the quarter million mark by the end of this year.

“I think that as a successful artist, ignoring a culture or distress is almost like showing hatred. I think that fate has taken me to a place where I can do something about this. All I have to do is stand up and give attention to the cause.”

All-American Rejects’ Kids In The Street is distributed by Universal Music Malaysia.

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