Ritter sees the album as a baptismal journey, about finding himself sick with superficiality and clearing out the dust that had accumulated within him. The record’s first single, “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” is a reflection upon toxic relationships he experienced as a “lost kid” in Los Angeles. “I started to get insensitive to the opposite sex. I’d met a couple terrible people who I felt disposable to, and I felt I should return the favor.”
In the title track, “Kids on the Street,” he reaches for some atonement, or at least relief, by reflecting on the more delicate stages of his life.
“It’s about being a young adult. You’re burning that small candle of naivety, but once it burns out its gone forever,” he recalls. “And then we light that big fat bastard called cynicism and it burns for the rest of your life. It took me remembering that naïve kid to realize that I liked who I was then.”
The real apology comes in the song “I For You” which is their first track ever to be kept in demo form on the record. The band says the demo was so vulnerable, beautiful, and pure that it couldn’t be redone with any more sincerity for the album.
Overall, Kids in the Street charts the peaks and valleys of Ritter’s path to self-respect. “I feel like the three years that the record takes place through was ten lifetimes of experience,” he said.
Those ten years of experience included tough realizations, but also joy. Nick recalls, “Every step of the way on this record there’s been this vibrancy, whether it’s been in the studio, the video shoot for ‘Beekeeper’s Daughter,’ or the music itself. And it shows onstage, too. We’re having more fun onstage than we have in a long time.”
The All-American Rejects recently wrapped a few U.S. tour dates, performed live on Jimmy Fallon, and premiered their single, “Beekeeper’s Daughter” on the teen drama 90210 in January. Now, after just a few performances, they believe fans are latching onto the new tracks and not letting go.
At their sold-out show February 6 at Nashville’s Exit/In, fans all around screamed for “Beekeeper’s Daughter” and “Kids in the Street.” “I’ve seen not only the power of radio and iTunes but also the power of kids that love this band, hungry for a new song. They’ve found it and are totally eating it,” says Ritter.
“Nobody even knows ‘Kids in the Street’ yet,” Wheeler adds, “but you see people trying so hard to sing along to it.”
They also recently covered Taylor Swift’s “Mean” at the 2011 CMT Artists of the Year Awards. They now call the performance incredibly daunting: they were outside of their scene, covering a song by America’s sweetheart, and in front of some legendary songwriters, including Swift herself.
“I figured Toby Keith would throw a boot,” Tyson laughs. But the band got a standing ovation and Swift thanked them for the performance.
Now, as the All-American Rejects are readying their April/May tour, they’re eager to play their entire record live as much as possible. With this record and tour comes a new opportunity for the Rejects to be on top. But this time, they’re wiser, they’re deliberate, and they’re taking nothing for granted.