Knitting Factory Presents
All American Rejects
919 W. Sprague Ave.
Spokane, WA, 99201
Doors 7:00PM / Show 8:00PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
All American Rejects
It was December 2009 and The All-American Rejects were in celebration mode. The band — which lead singer, bassist, and lyricist Tyson Ritter and his long-time friend guitarist Nick Wheeler formed as teenagers in Stillwater, Oklahoma, before being joined by guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor in 2002 — had just wrapped up touring behind their third album, 2008's When The World Comes Down. The Rejects played to ecstatic audiences across the globe, thanks to scoring their first international hit, "Gives You Hell," which also spent four weeks at No. 1 at Top 40 radio, became the No. 1 most-played song of 2009 at the format, and went on to sell four million copies in the U.S. alone. After finishing a tour that capped 10 years in the music industry — during which time the Rejects also released a self-titled platinum debut in 2003 and the doubleplatinum Move Along in 2005, as well as a string of well-received singles — Ritter should have been on top of the world. Instead, he found himself feeling utterly lost. "I decided that I needed a major life change, so I did a massive spring cleaning and rid myself of everything that was normal and domesticated," says Ritter, who, when the tour wrapped, ended a long-term relationship and moved to Los Angeles, "which I swore I'd never do unless it was to date Winona Ryder and lose my craft," he jokes. "I've been in a band since I was 17. I was in a relationship since I was 17. So here I was, at 25, still feeling 17 in every way, because I'd just come off the road after being on it my entire adult life." In the nine months that followed, Ritter fell down the rabbit hole of excess. "I basically crawled into a bottle of Jameson's and didn't come out," he says frankly. "The worst it got was me lying on the floor talking to myself and knowing it was morning but not caring, and not even really remembering how I got there. The whole time in L.A. was about constant distraction so I didn't have to deal with the fact that I had to function outside of the band. I had to grow up, and it turns out I had a lot to say about that realization once Nick pulled me out. He basically said, 'Ty, let's get our shit together and
go up to the mountains and see if we've got anything to say.'"
The result is the album of the Rejects' lives: Kids In The Street — a musically brash, lyrically candid portrait of the past two years that finds Ritter exploring themes of regret, nostalgia, and excess, wrapped in the Rejects' trademark earworm melodies, bright
harmonies, and potent rhythmic energy. "The record tackles everything I've never been brave enough to talk about," he says. "Even if I may not always seem very likeable, it was important that I be truthful and really open up about what I've been through." Ritter and Wheeler wrote the songs in various remote locales, including a cabin at the base of California's Sequoia National Park, as well as in Maine and Colorado, before presenting the songs to Kennerty and Gaylor, whom Ritter calls "the judge, jury and executioner on these things. I practically wore a hole through the seat squirming and watching them trying to gauge their reaction."
Kids In The Street opens with "Someday's Gone," a lacerating takedown of a person Ritter says tried to destroy him emotionally, followed by first single "Beekeeper's Daughter," which finds Ritter assuming the feckless character of a guy who believes he can get away with all manner of bad behavior and still get the girl. "This guy never backs down from that opinion," Ritter says. "At the end of it, he's even stronger and more snide, but in the end he's the loser, even if he doesn't know it. He's an asshole, but at that point in my life, I was kind of an asshole. As we were making Kids in the Street, I went from that to being a completely humbled guy who's looking at his reflection saying, 'Wow, what have I done?' Hence the inclusion of several apologetic songs, like the searing "Bleed Into Your Mind," the hushed closing ballad "I For You," and the epic "Heartbeat Slowing Down," a bittersweet goodbye that Ritter calls the pulse of the album. Then there's the title track, the majestic "Kids In The Street," which Ritter says is a nostalgic reflection on how far the Rejects have come. "It's about realizing you can always hold onto moments where you still feel alive. That's the theme of the album: Hitting bottom and realizing you can't stand up until you find the floor."
With its surreal, synth-driven sound, "Kids In The Street" is also an indicator of how the band has let itself grow musically. "I feel like we've come into a sound that is really original for us," Ritter says. "You can also hear it on 'Gonzo' and 'Fast & Slow.' We're putting in doses of instrumentation, like horns and various synths, that we've never injected into our music before, and I think it's taken our sound to a different place." The band credits working with Grammy-nominated producer Greg Wells (Adele, Katy Perry, OneRepublic) with helping them to evolve while still retaining what their fans love about them. "The whole record was this collaborative effort where Greg felt more like a fifth member than a producer," Ritter says. "He really spoke our language, which translated into the sound of the album. If you really want to know what Kids In The Street sounds like, it sounds like The All-American Rejects got their shit together and wrote a record that was going to keep them around." After releasing a viral video of "Someday's Gone," the band got its first sense of how the fans might react to the material. "I've creeped on a few message boards and the general consensus seems to be surprise that it doesn't sound like When The World Comes Down but more like our first album," Ritter says. "That alone makes me feel like if you were a Rejects fan and maybe have disconnected with us along our journey, Kids In The Street will be the album that reels you back in. And if you've stuck around, then thanks for growing up with us. Because that's what we've been doing for the last ten years — growing up. Audibly."
Eve 6 weren't even legal drinking age when they were presented with their first platinum record. Thus, life came hard and fast at the members of SoCal pop-punk trio, whose meteoric success in the late '90s and early millennium ingrained their anthemic radio hits into the fabric of the lives of a whole generation. Then, it all sort of ended…until now.
Reunited and re-energized, the band is returning with new album Speak In Code eight years after parting ways in 2004. As the fourth full-length release for Eve 6 and their debut on new label Fearless Records, the album heralds not just a return to form for the threesome, but a new chapter in a book that had ended all too abruptly.
"Overall I'm really proud of it, and I think we're doing right by our fans, who've waited a long time for us to make another record. I think we're giving them something they'll enjoy," says singer/bassist Max Collins. "Once we got in the studio there was a lot of energy. There aren't any filler moments; each song has its purpose. This is the strongest collection of songs we've ever had on one record."
Eve 6—which also includes drummer Tony Fagenson and guitarist Jon Siebels—formed in Southern California in 1995 while the trio were just teenagers, then inked a deal with RCA Records before they'd finished high school. The band issued the self-titled Eve 6 in 1998, attaining platinum success with hit singles "Inside Out" and "Leech," the former capturing the #1 spot on the Modern Rock charts and crossing over successfully to Top 40 radio. More widespread recognition came with gold-selling sophomore effort Horrorscope (2000), which spawned radio gems "Promise," "On The Roof Again" and the ubiquitous prom and MTV anthem "Here's To The Night".
It seemed like Eve 6 were everywhere—the band made appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night With Conan O'Brien, and TRL with Carson Daly, with their videos in constant rotation on MTV. The band then released the more experimental It's All In Your Head in 2003, featuring singles "Think Twice" and "At Least We're Dreaming," but parted ways with RCA thereafter. Their rapid rise to prominence at an early age had led to an inevitable mental and physical exhaustion, and in 2004 Eve 6 announced an indefinite hiatus. It was time to turn a new page.
"There were parts which were fucking incredible, and amazing and awesome, and there were aspects that were terrifying and freaky that you don't know how to handle. I feel like we did some growing up in public," says Collins. "I needed to stop drinking. In order to do that, the wheels had to come off. I don't think I could have done it if the band was still going."
After a year apart, Collins and Fagenson began writing and producing for other artists, including 2007's hit ballad "We Don't Have To Look Back Now" for rock band Puddle of Mudd, and collaborating on a new experimental side project, the Sugi Tap. "It was an inspiring time, going down different musical avenues together and trying things we wouldn't have in Eve 6," reflects Fagenson. "Ironically, when we did reform Eve 6 a couple years later, those experiments allowed us to progress the sound of the band more freely than if we had been in the band the whole time."
Collins and Fagenson eventually reignited Eve 6 in 2008, with guitarist Matt Bair temporarily replacing Siebels who was occupied with his project Monsters Are Waiting. The band spent the next two-plus years touring, writing and reconnecting with fans, then in 2011, armed with new material and management, signed with Fearless Records. A month within inking the deal Collins and Fagenson finally convinced Siebels to return to the fold.
"After going down some different paths it hit me that there was this thing out there that people wanted and wanted to hear," explains Siebels. "It just clicked and made sense to me. After such a long break I was so happy to be playing with these guys again." Continues Fagenson, "The way [Siebels] hits the strings and puts that muscle into the chords is very distinctive to our band, and that was a welcome piece of the sound that we had missed. Songs that had been kicking around for a couple years got new life with his playing put into them."
Eve 6 then re-enlisted Don Gilmore (Linkin Park, Dashboard Confessional, Good Charlotte, Pearl Jam)—who produced the first two Eve 6 full-lengths—to helm the sessions for Speak In Code. With all the lead time, the album contains a mix of compositions that began as far back as the side project, as well as recent works written in the months leading up to the recording process. "We were really taking a 'best of everything' sort of approach, almost like a band's first album, in which there's a lot of material to choose from," Fagenson notes. "About half the songs were standouts from what Max and I had been working on and demoing over the years, and the other half were newer ideas that came with the inspiration of Jon's return and all that was happening to us at the time. We have a unique process, where each song is sort of its own animal. Don was crucial in helping us tighten everything up, and inspiring Max to dig really deep lyrically and get to some root emotion down there." Explains Collins, "Neil Finn [of Crowded House] once said, 'A great producer is someone whom you admire musically and otherwise, who you feel compelled to show up and show off for.' I feel like Don is that figure for me and the band."
In many ways, Speak In Code is a work with deep personal significance for Collins, who has weathered his share of personal adversity. The album is a testament to coming out okay on the other side, with friendships still intact, but it's within the journey that the story truly lies. Whether it's romantic relationships or dealings with his bandmates, communication—and its barriers—is a central theme underpinning the release.
"In some of the songs frustration is a theme. I was sort of looking at difficult personal relationships with a humorous spin in some places, and with more earnestness in others," explains Collins. "The title [Speak In Code] is a lyric from 'Curtain,' and there was something kind of evocative about it. In that song, I'm referring to being newly sober and just feeling like an open nerve, feeling freaked out, having people and life being sort of overwhelming. It's almost like people are speaking a language you don't understand."
Opening track "Curtain" is a pivotal moment for several reasons—not only does it provide a title concept, but it also speaks to the group's return from hiatus, drawing on the relations between the notoriously volatile Gallagher brothers from Britpop icons Oasis. "There was a lot that I could identify with there," Collins says. "Being in a band is like a marriage; it's like a family. You're in the trenches with these guys, and sometimes it's easy and awesome, and sometimes it's not so easy."
First single "Victoria" lyrically weaves a tale that draws the listener into a hook-laden, 80's-influenced anthem, putting a contemporary spin on the classic Eve 6 sound. "['Victoria'] indulges this paranoid what-if fantasy that kind of has a foot in the truth: My wife went on this girls' vacation to Mexico, and when I was looking through the photos, I saw my imagination start to go, and wrote that song," Collins recalls. "I'm convinced in my mind that something's going on that really isn't."
Far from being just some nefarious nostalgia cash-in, Speak In Code is a genuine example of triumphing over one's obstacles, both professionally and personally, seven years in the making. Eve 6 say the time rebuilding was essential to regaining their footing, which seems more solid in 2012 than ever. "In a lot of ways, the years leading up to this album release was a bit of a 'paying our dues' situation. We certainly had to earn the right to have this opportunity again," says Fagenson. "This time around I think we realized just how hard it is to really get a rock band going and just when you think you're near the finish line you realize there's another hundred miles to go. But all that work and time simply strengthened our belief in what we were doing, and it was a crucial aspect of our development. It really taught us about stick-with-it-ness and perseverance."
"The time we spent apart really made us appreciate what we have in each other. It's a chemistry you can't manufacture," adds Collins. "We literally grew up playing music together. The bond that we have as a result of so much shared experience infuses the sound of the band."
With Speak In Code slated for an April 24th release, the band is gearing up for their much-awaited reintroduction to fans. Now part of the Fearless Records family, it's a guarantee Eve 6's music will reach a wide, eager audience of potential devotees, and a full slate of touring behind the release is slated for 2012. Diehards who caught the band live in prior years will undoubtedly be thrilled to see the trio once again on stage, but it will be a somewhat older, definitely wiser group that greets them. According to Collins, it's all good.
"We're looking forward to playing new songs, and reconnecting to the fans with new material," says Collins. "I feel this profound gratitude to the other two guys in my band. We've been through a lot—we've had the mountaintop moments and the Death Valley moments—and we're still here today, we all get along, and we made this thing together. It's almost miraculous, to me. There's this convergence that goes on for something that's bigger than the sum of its parts, and that's such a joyful, cool fucking thing."