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The All-American Rejects are firmly acceptable

By Staff | Oct 27, 2009

Pardon the cliche, but the third time was the charm for The All-American Rejects.

Not that their first two albums were anything to scoff at.

The band’s debut, the self-titled, “The All-American Rejects,” originally released in 2002, went on to sell over one million records in the United States and was certified platinum by the RIAA.

The band’s second album, “Move Along,” released in 2005, brought even more mainstream success, with singles among the year’s tops. The album went on to move over two million copies in the United States.

Then came the time to record that third take. Perhaps plagued by success, the group went into the studio feeling a little stale before finally succumbing to a brand new approach to recording.

That result, 2008’s “When the World Comes Down,” brought the group its first No. 1 single and greatly exposed the band in Europe, where it’s currently touring. Guitarist Matt Kennerty took a few minutes while in Germany to talk to us about the new record in advance of their Nov. 4 Morgantown appearance with Taking Back Sunday and Anberlin.

Graffiti: Let’s start with what the band’s been up to recently.

Kennerty: Right now we are in Europe doing a tour. This is our third time this year and each time it’s been getting bigger.

Graffiti: Is this your first time in Europe or have you toured there before?

Kennerty: We’ve been coming here since 2003.

It’s been this slow grind. It’s usually really fun because we’re an underground band (here) and it’s been a flashback to our van days.

Now with this new album we’ve broken through (in Europe) and we’re playing these big shows, and it’s kind of nice.

Graffiti: Which countries are you touring?

Kennerty: Right now, Germany, Munich. It’s been a quick run through England, Scotland, Germany, France and Belgium. It’s kind of been a northwest (Europe) hit.

Graffiti: What are the crowds like there compared to back home in the states?

Kennerty: It’s funny because American crowds seem to be getting a little mellower. It’s cool coming over here, and I don’t know if it’s because we’re new to them, but they’ve just been going crazy. It’s fun and sweaty and a good time.

Graffiti: Tell us about the new album.

Kennerty: The latest album, it’s called, “When the World Comes Down.” It was an endeavor for us to make; it was a six-month process.

We kind of felt that we had plateaued (before this record). (But) we got our first No. 1 songs with the states (from it), and the rest of the world has broken open for us. It’s been our biggest record so far.

Graffiti: Why did it take six months? Is that a long time for the band?

Kennerty: Usually we can go in and knock it out in six weeks. We did everything on tape, and that’s a lengthy process, for starters. But we went in less prepared, and had to find the songs, too.

With every record we try to go in and do what we did on the previous record, and it didn’t work this time. We had to go in and play around and do a lot of stuff. We made the writing and the recording part of the same process instead of two separate ones.

Graffiti: By taking this approach, did making the album become more of a collaborative process?

Kennerty: All the songs would start with Tyson coming up with the melody and chord progression, and he and Nick will do the skeleton of a song and do an acoustic demo. Then the four of us will get together and make it an arrangement. We’ve always had that make it work. Before we’ve been able to do everything on our own before coming to the producer.

As a live band we’re guitar, bass and vocals and drums, but this record was calling for a lot more instrumentation wise. We found ourselves stifled just being in the room.

… We were able to just develop the songs in a way we’ve never done before; we were able to concentrate on the song and do what it needed.

Graffiti: Does that translate into a fresher approach live, because you’re doing things in the studio differently than you’ve done in the past?

Kennerty: Yea it’s fun because we’ve expanded our live show, with the keys and Ty dropping the bass and just doing vocals. It’s a variety visually, and it’s challenged us to find a way to do these songs live.

It’s a fun challenge, but I think it comes off well.

Graffiti: When do you head back to the states?

Kennerty: First of November, then we start our tour with Taking Back Sunday.

Graffiti: Have you toured with them before?

Kennerty: We haven’t, but we’ve met them and have mutual friends who vouch for them. Hopefully it will be good time.

Graffiti: When you tour with a band, do you often get the chance to hang out with them and catch their shows?

Kennerty: Pretty much every night. We’re the kind of guys that sit around and wait for the show to start.

Right now we’re out with American Steel and the Upwelling. It’s been a blast wanting to go out for the whole show and watch them play.

Contact Justin at jmcintosh@graffitiwv.com