All American Rejects last album, 2005's "Move Along," went double-platinum and spawned the hits "It Ends Tonight" and "Dirty Little Secret."
The iron was clearly hot, but the group was not in any hurry to strike again -- hence a three-year gap before "When the World Comes Down" came out in December.
"It wasn't really 'Let's take our time;' it was more, 'Let's get this right,' " explains singer-bassist Tyson Ritter, who co-founded the quartet in 2001 in Stillwater, Okla., and introduced it to the world with the Top 20 hit "Swing Swing." "We're a band that flies a little bit below the radar as far as people recognizing our [i]band[/i]; they know the songs better than the know [i]us[/i], I think.
"So being aware of that, we knew we had to have the songs again. The album wasn't done until it was really [i]done[/i], you know?"
And getting it finished was quite a process.
Ritter and guitarist Nick Wheeler started by repairing to a cabin in backwoods Raven County, Ga. -- "Where they filmed 'Deliverance,' " Ritter, 24, notes -- to start writing songs for "When the World Comes Down," which debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 chart. The duo was productive, coming up with what Ritter calls "the spine of our record" -- the songs "Mona Lisa," "Falling Apart" and "Damn Girl."
"It was a very good moment to reflect upon life after fives years (of) being in this business and sort of where we were and where the world was at," Ritter notes.
But it would be just the first of many sessions he and Wheeler held. The two continued to write -- in Vancouver, San Francisco and New Orleans -- and the Rejects even broke off recording sessions with producer Eric Valentine in order to compose more when they began to feel like "this record isn't completely written."
They were driven, Wheeler, 27, says, not necessarily by sales potential but by a desire to separate themselves from the "scene" the musicians felt they were lumped in with from the early part of the decade.
"When we first came out," the guitarist explains, "there was a Yellowcard and a Good Charlotte and we kinda got lumped into that category and were on the back burner of this little movement that was going on. Then we made a second record and all those bands went away and then your Fall Out Boys came out and, again, we just got put on the back burner and lumped in with that whole group.
"So now we're coming back with a third record and we're making sure it's the best thing we've done. And I think this time it's our turn to be on the front burner, and to stay there. That's our goal, at least."
Ritter, meanwhile, laughs as he notes that, "I imagine a lot of people are confused about us, 'cause they can't figure us out yet. We're a band that straddles the line. We've toured with Bon Jovi and we've toured with Fall Out Boy -- but we're not Fall Out Boy and we're not Bon Jovi. We're somewhere in the middle, and we don't belong to any one scene, I don't think."
And, he adds, that can be more of a blessing than a curse.
"People connect with our band because they like our music, and they don't just us on what we look like or whether we're giving you the Kool Aid this week," Ritter explains. "We've got My Chemical Romance fans. We've got Daughtry fans. We grab the entire spectrum. I think that's what makes us unique as a band."
Ritter and the Rejects plan to keep grabbing throughout the year. The group has already played in Europe, Australia and Japan, and he hopes its current North American run will be just "a taste" for something bigger later on this year.
"This is sort of our litmus test in the fall, to see where we're at," Ritter says. "And then hopefully we've got the biggest tour of the fall. That's my pip dream, at least.
"But we're just gonna whore out the world, man. We just work. We are the hardest working band in rock 'n' roll, I guarantee you. We're not gonna stop 'til one of us dies -- which we came close to last time, so who knows."
All American Rejects, Shiny Toy Guns, Ace Enders and Vedera perform at 7 p.m. Thursday (April 16) at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Tickets are $20 lawn and pavilion. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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