Chris Gaylor of The All-American Rejects
Forget about the countdown to Christmas or New Years, for music fans December is all about the countdown to the new album from The All-American Rejects. For months fans have had December 16th marked on their calendars as the glorious release date of “When the World Comes Down”, the much anticipated third album from AAR.
For the band (Tyson Ritter on vocals, Nick Wheeler on Guitar, Chris Gaylor on drums and Mike Kennerty on guitar) this has the makings of being their best album to date, but they won’t make that claim until their fans love it as much as they do. The band took all the time they needed to write the album and just as long to record it, making it a solid album from start to finish. They weren’t going to release it until it was a complete album and to AAR that means great songs from start to finish, not one great single and a bunch of filler.
While the first infectious single “Gives You Hell” is already charming the pants off of the music world with its deliciously funny video, the rest of the album offers up hints of the AAR of old as well as some evolution including “Another Heart Calls” – a duet with The Pierces, “Mona Lisa” recorded live in the studio, and the thought provoking “Believe”.
Currently playing some smaller club dates to warm up for the album’s release drummer Chris Gaylor took some time to talk to TWRY about the new album and all things AAR.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | December 2008
I’ve read that in writing this album the band felt like you had to go back to that mindset of the band before selling a zillion records, do you think that way of approaching it was effective for you?
Chris: We’re not a band that likes to write just singles. Sometimes you buy a record and like tracks 2, 4, 8 and 9 and think it’s a great record but we don’t think like that. That’s four good songs – a great record is tracks 1 through 12 and all of them being awesome. We would listen back to everything we had and we just didn’t feel that it was ready, it wasn’t a great record yet. We wanted every song to be a stand out track and for the whole album to be cohesive. We would record a bit, take some time to write, there was a trip to a cabin in the Georgia Mountains where they filmed Deliverance in there too, a bus trip to Yellowstone, and then we all got together in the end and went into the studio. It left a lot more room for organic creativity.
The process for writing the new album has been described by Nick as more human, organic, real. Do you agree with this and can you expand on what you mean by that?
Chris: Yes I definitely agree with that. There was more room for growth, you’d be in the studio and you’d think of something you probably never would have thought of if you weren’t there. I think it really helped with the recording process a lot.
Since you already touched on this a bit do you think you’ve made a great album from start to finish?
Chris: I think so, I was talking to Tyson the other day and I said “you know, the last two records were good but I wasn’t proud of them like I am with this one.” I’m actually very proud of this record. That’s from a very personal standpoint, I’m just very proud of this one. That’s not to take anything away from the past two records or to dog on the band it’s just how I feel.
Some of us have heard Mona Lisa live before while you were out with Bon Jovi, has the recorded version changed a lot from that version?
Chris: It’s a little bit different. There’s a couple changes and additions. We recorded it live in the studio so obviously the sound quality is better. There’s some differences though. I don’t want to give away too much though.
There’s a song on the new album called Another Heart Calls that features some guest vocals, can you tell us about that?
Chris: The Pierce Sisters came in and did it for us. It was originally a duet and the high pitched parts were suppose to be the girl vocals and so we were looking for someone to sing it and The Pierce Sisters were brought up and we thought they were awesome. They came into the studio and tore it up, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album now. They were really nice, they had great attitudes and were fun to have in the studio.
Originally there was talk of the album being named after one of the singles…but you ended up going with a lyric from Mona Lisa, can you tell us the significance and why you thought it was the a great album title?
Chris: I can tell you my reasoning for preferring the name we chose. Basically for our last album we were all trying to think of a title and the cover art and we all said that we didn’t want the name of the album to be the name of a song and we didn’t want the cover to be pictures of the band and what happened was the cover art ended up being pictures of the band and the album was called Move Along. Sonufabitch – Everything we didn’t want to happen, happened. We thought that When the World Comes down was a good title because it makes sense with the way the world is right now. The line in the song basically says that no matter how shitty things are you have people next to you that care and it’s not so bad.
I’m glad you didn’t go the way of a song title, I’m not a fan of that.
Chris: Yes, that always bothers me really bad as well. It’s like a cop out.
I guess it’s not always up to the band so we’ll keep that in mind.
Chris: Exactly, it wasn’t up to us last time.
How was Gives You Hell chosen as the first single?
Chris: Everyone was leaning that direction, we just kind of knew that we wanted it to be the first single. It was like the cartoon of the dog smelling the food..
The video for Gives You Hell is pretty funny and it always seems like the band is having a blast when you make videos. What’s your take, do you enjoy it?
Chris: Every time we do a video I always dread it but then we get there and I end up having a really great time. It’s usually a lot of fun. There is some down time that gets a bit boring while we’re waiting but for the most part it’s pretty fun. I’m sure it depends on who you’re working with too.
Something interesting that your bio states is that success actually brought the band closer together. Success can often break the ties that bind, what do you think it was about the chemistry of the band that had the opposite effect?
Chris: I don’t know..I shouldn’t answer that one because I pretty much hate everyone. Nah, just joking. Let’s ask the guys.
Nick: Because we can all afford the same high caliber hookers.
Chris: Yeah…I’ll go with Nick’s answer on that one. Nah, I don’t know, we just spend so much time together and we’ve experienced some success together so that’s really a bonding experience.
Tyson: I love you Man!
Chris: I love you too Tyson!
With the evolution of the band and the time in between releases, are you ever worried that your fans aren’t going to evolve with you?
I think we’ve worried about that every single time but we just do our best to write the best songs that we can write and hopefully the fans will like it.
On October 8, AAR was inducted into the Oklahoma Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that had to be a pretty cool experience for the band?
It was good, we were up there next to Color Me Badd, Woody Guthrie and Leon Russell, and I didn’t know this but apparently George Harrison and Eric Clapton would stay in Oklahoma with Leon Russell and record songs. So I thought that was pretty awesome, there’s a little nugget of music history for ya! It was a good time, we met the Mayor of Muskogee who was 20 years old, the second youngest mayor in history. He’s still in college.
The All-American Rejects – Photo by: Mary
The band is playing on The Today Show on November 25th… are playing shows like that a little stressful?
It’s stressful because we’re doing it at 5 or 6 in the morning, but that’s about it. How do you walk around at that time of morning? We’ve done it before and it’s not too stressful, we just have a good time. There’s always little butterflies at the beginning and they disappear about thirty seconds in.
Leading up to the release date the band is doing some tour dates in some more intimate settings which is pretty exciting for fans who haven’t seen you in awhile. Having shared the stage with Bon Jovi how does it feel to get back to the smaller venues? And can you give us some idea of the sets you’ll be playing?
We’ll be playing new and old material. Playing smaller stages is fun, you get to look at people’s faces and we’re all pretty excited about that. There’s a vibe that some of the smaller places have that is just unbeatable. The fan and band interaction isn’t always something you can reproduce on a larger stage.