The All-American Rejects' Mike Kennerty discusses the growth in the band's sound.
Q. Members of your band have said "Kids in the Street" was a real growing experience for you musically. Tell us about that.
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If you goIf you go
What: The All-American Rejects and Neon Trees perform at Bendicitine University's BenFest
When: Gates open at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25; concert begins at 7 p.m.
Where: Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, 5700 College Road, Lisle
Cost: $30; $15 for Benedictine students
A. With each record -- and I don't know if we consciously do it, necessarily -- but we try to make it more independent of the previous. We take a lot of time between albums. When we tour, we tour. So when we come back we are different people at that point, we are at a different mindset. And then we get to the studio and we just push ourselves even further and try things we've never tried before.
We try to allow the songs to take us wherever they go instead of trying to pigeonhole ourselves as a band. This is our most diverse album and, strangely, it's also our most cohesive as a band.
Q. How are your fans responding so far?
A. So far it's been really great. With our past records, we often have a split reaction. There's always someone saying, "Oh, they were better on the last one." With this it's kind of the opposite.
We started touring for this album in January, before it even came out, and we played a lot of songs live that people had never heard. When you do that, a lot of times people stop and get a little stone faced as they listen, but this time they were jumping around and dancing and just enjoying themselves.
Q. So you didn't feel with your self-titled debut "Move Along" and "When the World Comes Down" under your belt you could have just rested on the laurels of their success?
A. We've always kind of hated when bands do that. We've watched peers try to capitalize on their success, put out a record really fast and not try to push themselves musically. But we think a good song will keep you around. So far, knock on wood, it's worked.
Q. This album explores some dark experiences and watershed moments in the life of lead singer and bassist Tyson Ritter. After Tyson got out of his slump, he and guitarist Nick Wheeler went to the mountains to write about all that had happened. How did you feel when they returned and presented this new, emotional material to you and drummer Chris Gaylor?
A. I was really excited. They do some rough demos when they put those songs together, so you've got to use your imagination as to what the song will really sound like. But I could just tell, even in their rough forms, they were exactly what we needed. So I was really excited to get working on them.
Q. You've played clubs on your "Gives You Hell" tour, stadiums, outdoor venues like the Vans Warped Tour, syndicated TV shows, even special events like the 2010 Winter Olympics. This week's event in Lisle is an outdoor college show. Is there a type of venue that you prefer?
A. There's always some point where we say this kind of venue or crowd is best. We just came from a tour in Europe opening for Blink 182. And that's intimidating, because a crowd for Blink is there for Blink and we're just there before you can get to them. But people were really welcoming and really into us.
Right now, though, we are doing colleges, fairs and casinos, not your typical venues, and they can be really awkward. But this tour, it's been amazing, and the crowds have been going crazy. Although this may change soon, right now it's like, "Oh wow, I really do like playing county fairs, surprisingly." Ultimately, we are just very lucky to do what we do, so it's hard to complain.