Features All American Rejects: ‘We’ve Been Waiting A Long Time To Make This Record’
Over a decade into their careers, it would appear there’s no sign of slowing down for All American Rejects.
As years go, 2012 has proven to be pretty great so far for All American Rejects. Not only have they released their fourth studio record, 'Kids In The Street', but they're also spending the peak of summertime on tour in support of pop punk icons Blink 182. Over a decade into their careers, it would appear there's no sign of slowing things down, and rightly so. Prior to their Manchester stop, Nick Wheeler takes some time to chat with Heather McDaid.
'[The Blink tour] has been amazing,' begins Nick. 'We've been over here about a week and a half already and there's only been about four or five shows, so we're still kind of getting underway. So far it's been a blast. Everyone's been real sweet to us too.'
'The sets are a lot shorter,' he laughs. 'It's a lot of build-up to play for forty minutes, at the end of the day. Honestly, we've been doing this for long enough and we have enough records out that we're able to pack the set full of hits. Every song gets a great reaction. We do put a couple of new ones in there as well and those have been getting a cool reaction too. It's only been out a couple of months and I feel that people are still discovering this new record, so they don't necessarily know the songs as much but they definitely respond to them. We've just put 'Kids In The Street' out here, which is a different single than we have in the US. So, we're playing that every night and I still think it's a little early - the record's still pretty new.
'A lot of these Blink crowds, I mean a lot of them probably listen to the radio and a lot of them probably don't even know who we are. I think they know the songs like 'Dirty Little Secret' and 'Gives You Hell' but I think just overall they're still trying to figure us out as a band. I mean, some of these cities we've never even played before and we've never played to crowds this big in England, or Europe at all for that matter. I think they're still getting to know us, but the way they move and the way they react to these new songs is very cool; it's something we haven't seen before with our music.'
While many of those the band are playing to on the Blink run may not be familiar with their latest album 'Kids In The Street', it seems that the critics have - for the most part - given positive feedback. 'When we make a record, we won't put it out until we feel that it's the best thing we've ever made,' notes Nick. 'It's nice to see someone feel the same. We always want to make sure that the next thing we create is better than the last. This one in particular is special; we put a lot into this and we put a lot into it as adults, as people who have been doing this for over a decade - we've been waiting a long time to make this record. We're definitely the most proud of 'Kids In The Street'.'
'You know, it's funny,' he adds, turning to how they've grown as musicians over the years. 'Technically, as musicians, I don't know how much we've grown because all the playing we do is of our own songs over and over! I feel like over the last ten years, I'm just as good a guitar player as I was ten years ago - I'm just not worse!
'I think the main growth we've had musically is as songwriters and how we approach going into the studio to record records. I think we're definitely more open to spontaneity and just pushing ourselves and challenging ourselves to do things differently. I think when you're young and you're writing, you're in this box of all you know and you write about that, you sing about that. Now, having experienced a lot, you grow. If we wanted to, we could probably make another 'Move Along' or 'When The World Comes Down', of course it wouldn't be the same - it would just be watered down versions of that.
'I think the goal to grow as songwriters and musicians is to challenge yourself and each other to do something different; even if a melody or chord progression or guitar tone sounds familiar, we make ourselves do it a different way. We just won't let ourselves become bored and we continue to challenge ourselves, I feel that's where we've grown the most.'
The musical climate has changed greatly since their eponymous debut back in 2003, so much so the band has had to adapt with each evolution. 'You know, when we put out our first record, the internet was still kind of new. When we became a band, I didn't even have a computer,' laughs Nick. 'After the first record came out, you had your Myspace; after the second record came out that was when Youtube and Facebook came along. It's just adapting to this way of getting our music out there and getting new fans as well as keeping our fans entertained and interested, because people's attention spans are just so short that if you don't do something one day, they'll just move onto the next.
'We've been lucky; we've had a lot of loyal fans who have stuck with us over the last decade. It's not a case of starting a band, playing shows and handing out demo tapes anymore, there's so many other avenues to gaining fans and just adapting to that has been a challenge. It has been fun though. I think we're one of the last bands still doing this that can say we were around before all these things: Youtube, Myspace, Facebook, all of that. That's pretty cool to say, I think.'
'Music is cyclical,' he adds. 'Right now, it's not cool to be in a rock band. It's tough. Boybands are cool again, which is weird, but it's the same thing we saw around 15 years ago. I think that it all comes back around, it's just a matter of keeping up with the times just enough but not totally buying into what's popular and alienating all of your fans. Bands have been doing it for decades. The Rolling Stones put out the... Shit, what was that song? I can't even remember. I'm not even drawing a comparison, I'm just saying that bands have been around for decades, and they've kept up with the times but they don't totally change who they are as a band or as musicians. They adapt but they still last, there's a fine line. If a band's able to do that then I think they'll be alright and they'll survive. I'm not saying that we'll resort to boyband pop music!'
Is this idea key to what keeps All American Rejects successful? 'I think so, but the thing with us is that we've never even tried to do what's popular at the time,' he concedes. 'We shut ourselves out from what's happening in music, I don't think I've listened to much music in the last ten years - modern music, that is. I think the key is just being ourselves, that's really gotten us where we are. We're fortunate that what we're good at and what we do has been popular for a while, but now that's not the case and it's kind of slipped... but we don't like dance music! So, it's going to be interesting and I look forward to the ride!'
So, where does the All American Rejects ride go from here? 'Well, 'Kids In The Street' has only been out a couple of months, so we're going to take these songs out on the road for as long as we can and play the hell out of them because, honestly, we're proud as shit of them. Definitely, 2012 is tour, tour, tour!'
'Oh, man. We just love coming over here and we love still being able to come over here. I'm very grateful to fans in the UK who have stuck by us and kept coming out to shows. We've never played shows this big - ever - in the UK, and we're with Blink. I'm excited to be gaining new fans, to see where it goes and for us to come back over here!'
All American Rejects' new album 'Kids In The Street' is out now via Interscope.