The All-American Rejects Refuse to Force Music: Tyson Ritter on the Band's 'Sweat'

by Flaunt Intern

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The All-American Rejects have a long-running career of 15 years with four studio albums. In 2008, “Gives You Hell” was everywhere. More recently, the band released two tracks off of their upcoming EP, “Sweat” and “Close Your Eyes.” They have also created a visual portrayal of the tracks to accompany them. This clip is not quite a music video, but rather a short film that features their tracks, and tells the story of characters, Betsy and Robert. 

We met with lead singer Tyson Ritter on a sunny afternoon for drinks at one of his favorite spots in Los Angeles.

“I don't like lip-syncing anymore," he says of the short and what inspired it. "I’m tired of watching people do something that’s been done for 35 years. You're not playing it, you're not singing it, so why don’t you make more of an effort to do something inventive narratively?” 

Ritter sat down with Dilly Gent (creative director for Radiohead). At first, he had imagined she wouldn’t want to work with them. However, “she heard the entire EP and she believed in where we were going musically and that brought me to Jamie Thraves who was a friend of hers that did the 'Just' video for Radiohead, which is one of my favorite videos that they [have] ever done. [Thraves,] kind of thought of the first thing that came to his mind when he heard the music and that was the birth of Betsy and Robert. And that was merely like the all spark moment, we spent the next month sort of corresponding and curating the story not only Robert, but Betsy the fantasy.”

On their own, the tracks are fun but combined with the story of Betsy and Robert, the songs carry more weight to them. I mention this to Ritter and he reflects saying, “I think with 'Dirty Little Secret,' back in the day we had a similar moment where we had this website that was really actually like this dark confessional website, and we paired it with that song and it becomes something a little bit more—I don't know—palatable in a different way.”

The Rejects took a bit of a hiatus that before this project. Typically, when artists take more time creating music, the end result is worth the wait. 

“I mean I’ve been writing with the same guy in my band for 15 years,” Ritter says. “We got off the road and I didn't feel inspired. When you've been dipping and drawing from the same well for 15 years it’s that moment you can walk away from it to find another spring.” 

However, it is not easy to walk away from an industry that is always bustling--especially with social media, which often the audience talking about the person before the music and makes artists feel cold when their peers remain active and present via apps.  Perhaps that leads to artists putting out music too soon because a Be present or be forgotten fear takes over.

“Chasing the dragon," Ritter calls it. "I think that people that chase it—people that don't grow sort of unless it’s in front of their Instagram account, I find that it cheapens the experience as a listener if you know that it’s not inspired. There’s the artist and there’s the fan and the one place they meet is the music. Now it’s bypassing the music. They talk about the person before the music—the last thing mentioned is the music. People look before they listen nowadays. I find that I can hear it now, especially in some of our contemporaries. It’s not on me to criticize, because I’m sure that the same criticism falls back on me. But I think there’s a difference between when you can hear somebody trying.” 

The full EP is expected to arrive prior to the end of 2017. “Sweat” and “Close Your Eyes” are out now, along with the music video.

Written by Evelyn Mateos
Images by Paige Wilson