There was a time when you couldn’t turn on the radio or TV without hearing the All-American Rejects song “Gives You Hell.”

The band’s biggest song yet took them on an incredible journey — touring the globe and taking in all the success of a No. 1, chart-topping hit. But when it was all over, lead singer Tyson Ritter didn’t really know where to go.

Ritter has said he was in a dark place, partying with the wrong crowd and feeling a bit lost. In an effort to find himself — and find inspiration for a new album at the same time — he and fellow band mate Nick Wheeler went into seclusion and wrote what eventually became the band’s latest album, Kids in the Street. The result was a collection of songs with deeper and more meaningful lyrics than ever before.

Currently on tour, CBS Minnesota chatted with guitarist Mike Kennerty about the new album, how the band has evolved and getting the Glee treatment. Kennerty admitted he was impressed when he first heard what Ritter came up with.

“I felt like Tyson, in particular, really dug deep with these songs, lyrically, and really presented himself in a way he hasn’t before, really stretched himself to write the best lyrics he has,” he said. “And on top of that, vocally, he’s never stretched his range as much as he has on Kids in the Street. It makes me very proud to be in a band with that guy.”

He went on to explain that Tyson’s darkest days became the catalyst for the album, likening it to a “soul-searching record.”

“Every time we write a record, we always tour it until we’re exhausted and then we go home and it’s like a separate entity from the touring,” he said. “It puts us in a different mindset, we’re different people, we’re older.”

Kennerty joined the band a decade ago and said he’s noticed a major shift in their fan base.

“Touring this past year for Kids in the Street and seeing the age group of our fan base has really grown – all from young kids up to people who are in their 40s and up,” he said. “It’s an amazing spread. It makes us really proud and makes us feel like we’re doing something right.”

Their growing fan base could also be from an impressive performance of their hit single “Gives You Hell” on Glee.

“They just asked us. And we were like, ‘Sure.’ That was when Glee was just getting going but then by the time it actually aired, it had become a phenomenon,” Kennerty recalled. “So it was like, ‘Sh**, that was a good thing to say yes to.’”

So were the guys happy with how the song turned out?

“Yeah, it turned out great. It’s always fun to hear how other people interpret songs,” he said. “There was some kid on The Voice the other week that sang ‘Gives You Hell.’ It’s neat to see, though.”

– Sara Boyd, CBS Minnesota


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