Like John Lennon before him, Tyson Ritter has weathered his lost weekend and lived to sing about it.
All-American Rejects fans who've wondered where their favorite little old power-pop band from Stillwater's been for the past three years can find some of the answers on “Kids in the Street,” their lone-awaited follow-up album to 2008's “When the World Comes Down,” which bore their first international hit single, “Gives You Hell” — the No. 1 most-played song on Top 40 radio throughout 2009.
Now, most guys who've been writing and singing songs since they were 17 with a goal of worldwide success in their sights would be fairly busting with joy at the end of such a glorious global run, but by the time that last tour ended in December '09, Ritter's bubble had simply busted. A long-term relationship — also going strong since he was 17 — went bust as well.
“I think it was just a sort of place of necessity for the man tryin' to find himself,” the singer-bassist said in a recent phone interview from a friend's house in Los Angeles.
“You gotta have a lost weekend, as Lennon said. And I think I had mine, and in doing so I think it really helped me find myself. It's a really perplexing thing to be locked in a time capsule from 17 to 25 and not sort of comin' out for fresh air.
“We really work hard as a band, you know? We work our a_ _ off on the road, we'll stay out for two years, and then we'll take four weeks off after that and then start writin' another record. And then two years later we'll be puttin' it out and tourin' it.
“So I think I just really needed to take my two months to myself. And then two months stretched out to nine and I sorta got in this wild little abyss of Los Angeles and, you know, found a bottle and found another one.”
During that nine-month “weekend,” Ritter would spend a lot of time lying on the floor talking to himself, not knowing what time of day it was and not caring. He simply didn't know how to function as a human being outside of the Rejects, and he didn't want to deal with that problem.
But finally, Nick Wheeler, his best friend and bandmate since Stillwater high school days, stepped in and took a hand.
“You know, Nick definitely has always been the levelheaded cat of the two of us,” Ritter said. “I'm sort of the fire, he's the water. And he said, ‘Ty, you know, it's time to start writin' this record.' And I sort of found my bit of savior and solace in New York City. And that was sort of the overview journey of, I guess, the locations of where this record was sort of found.”
The result is the most musically ambitious and lyrically candid collection of songs the Rejects have created to date, delving into themes of regret, nostalgia and excess as the band's trademark habit-forming melodies, shiny harmonies and unstoppable rhythmic energy provide the framework, occasionally embellished with uncharacteristic brass and orchestral flourishes and background “gang vocals.”
Songs such as album-opener “Someday's Gone” finds Ritter lashing out at a person who tried to destroy him emotionally, while the first single release, “Beekeeper's Daughter,” tells all about a guy who thinks he can get away with behaving badly and still get the girl in the end.