they originally came up with the sound they have, Tyson begins, "The
first beat we did was for the song 'Don't Leave Me'. It starts out with
this techno beat at the beginning. When we did the demo for it, it was
just Nick playing on a drum set, and it wasn't fake drums, but then
we incorporated the synth drums into the beginning of 'Don't Leave Me'
and then after that we kind of got addicted to it. We said 'that's cool'
so we added these little breaks in 'My Paper Heart' and 'Happy Endings'.
It was our thing. We moved on from the beats. We pretty much got addicted
to the Korg Triton - it's this keyboard that does everything and has
all these great, great synth sounds - and just kinda threw them in where
we thought they were necessary in our music."
It must have been quite hard converting the sound of the album to the
live setting though, especially when people took the place of programming.
"Oh yeah, it was definitely a different thing but so far it's worked
out. The album was recorded by Nick and myself. Two guys recording an
album, I think that's definitely the reason for the poppiness of the
record and the tightness of it, 'cause Nick and I were the only two
dudes recording it."
Tyson and Nick have since recruited Mike Kennerty on guitar and Chris
Gaylor on drums. Tyson talks about their first show as a four-piece.
"Our guitarist Mikey came with Nick, myself and the drummer. This
was before we got Chris, our new drummer. Mike our guitarist
gave him all the written-out guitar parts and he hadn't even practiced
with us once. He rode out with us for five days to see how we toured
and stuff and we just threw him up onstage and he totally slam dunked
it. It was amazing.
"But it's definitely more rock live, which I think is definitely
cool 'cause kids come expecting to hear maybe a more poppier sound but
we try to rock their faces off. We do our best!"
Are Mike and Chris official members now or are they still just touring
"Oh they're definitely official members but as far as writing it'll
always be Nick and I in the studio. Just 'cause it's our style."
Tyson and Nick
both started playing bands in junior high, although Tyson was brought
up on rock music long before. The culprit who introduced him to music
- his dad.
Tyson says, "We used to drive up and down country roads and listen
to 80s rock and I dunno, I got addicted to it. He'd let me stay up late
at night if I could sing some AC/DC on the coffee table with my friend.
Despite liking bands such as AC/DC (he says if he could meet anyone
in the world he'd most like to meet Angus Young, he thinks he's amazing
and 'the frontman of that band') and INXS, Tyson's first show was Bad
Religion. "That singer is amazing in that band. I appreciate good
live bands definitely. I love that show."
Despite discovering punk, Tyson still likes some of the bands that were
around in the 80s.
"They're just now starting to tour again. At least now I'm old
enough to go I guess. I don't remember seeing anything. The Stiff Upper
Lip tour didn't come through the lower mid-west either. I really wanted
to see that tour. So far I haven't gotten to see too many of my favourite
bands because they're probably dead or dying or something. Oh, wait
wait wait, I got to see Def Leppard. They came to the city. That was
a dream. A two hour concert, jesus."
Did it inspire you?
"Oh they inspired me when they threw down 'Hysteria' and 'Pyromania'.
Those were fabulous."
Tyson's partner-in-crime, Nick, is also a well-known fan of 80s rock.
Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Poison are just three of the bands he has
been influenced by. Phil Collen and Richie Sambora were his guitar heroes.
"Nick's a huge hair band fan," Tyson confirms. "I like
the good ol' rock n' roll bands. But we come across for Thin Lizzy.
I love Thin Lizzy and so does he.
I tell Tyson I just saw Bon Jovi in Europe.
"Nick would die if he got to see Bon Jovi."
Hasn't he seen them then?
"No, he's not got to see them. The first band Nick saw was Alabama.
His parents made him go to an Alabama concert when he was eight. But
no Bon Jovi yet."
Oh, he's missing out!
"I know. That's what sucks when you live in Oklahoma. The good
tours never come through here. I think everyone's just afraid of us!
We're too rowdy."
were supporters of their son's ambition to be in a band. His dad bought
him a bass when he asked for one for Christmas one year.
"I said 'dad, I want a bass for Christmas'. It was a week before
Christmas and he got me one. That's all I got but still, it was enough."
So with bass in possession, it was time to knuckle down and get to work
on some songs.
"You have I guess your whole life to write your first album,"
says Tyson. "There will be times when Nick and I write a song a
month. The way we write is just layering tracks. Drums will go down
first then the bass will go down. Nick will sometimes have 50 guitar
parts on one song. We just layer on top. We never knew what the song
would sound like until it was completely done. It's kinda like adding
on top of something until it's done. We weren't quite sure until we
were at least on vocals as to how it was going to sound."
Lyrically, The All-American Rejects' album follows one particular relationship.
Tyson wrote about the break-up of his relationship with his ex-girlfriend.
Does she know that the songs are about her?
Does she know that the songs are about her?
"Yeah, she does, and what sucks is that I live in a small town
so the whole town does too now! Yeah, so I'm an asshole I guess. I didn't
mean for it to happen like that."
When asked what he thinks of everyone knowing about his personal life,
he replies, "At the time I guess I didn't think that much about
it. At first I was like "ah, whatever", 'cause some people
used it as a sword at me, to throw at me. "Haha, Tyson wears his
heart on his sleeve" and stuff like that. But it definitely didn't
discourage me. A lot of kids came up to me after a show saying how much
some of the lyrics have helped them through a relationship. Knowing
that is definitely worth it and I definitely don't mind."
The first single
from the album was 'Swing Swing', a delightfully catchy tune that reached
no. 23 in the Billboard charts and no. 7 on alternative radio.
"That was exciting. Fun times," says Tyson about the success.
What do you think it was that grabbed the public's attention?
"I don't know
Probably four boys coming out of Oklahoma.
I know that in America, KROC LA started playing it. "The Midwest
are still writing songs!". Nothing's really come out of Oklahoma
in a while. I guess if you wanna count Hanson but Jesus! The video helped
too. It happened kinda quick.
More recently the band have released 'The Last Song' as a single. Tyson
calls 'The Last Song' his baby. It's his favourite song. "It was
the last song we wrote. Tim O'Heir and I, we were actually stuck on
that song towards the end. We didn't know how long to finish it. We
really wanted to make it sonically huge. It didn't explode as much as
we wanted to towards the end. I sat down there. Nick hates when guitar
parts aren't pre-written
Nick's the anal of the two of us. Nick
makes sure everything gets done. I'm the eccentric guy that will think
of something catchy right off the fly. I really like just sitting down,
pressure cooking, so I started riffing out all these guitar parts and
the violins. It's definitely my favourite. And it's the only one that's
pretty much not about that girl. That's probably another reason why
I like it so much!"
The album is out
now on Dreamworks, but originally it was released on the independent
Doghouse, just two months earlier. Tyson says he was a bit wary at first
of the major label, but they soon won him over.
"I was reluctant at first. I was like 'yeah, let's do this' and
then 'wait, let's not', 'cause I heard all the horror stories. And then
I met the people at Dreamworks and honestly they stand out as people.
'Cause we went and saw every label. We flew 30,000 miles last Summer
just to go and see all these labels. None of them really stood out as
real people except the people at Dreamworks. So we said 'ok, if we're
gonna do this, we might as well just give it a shot'. You only live
once, right? I knew it was a big gamble. I definitely know how big the
gamble is going from indie to major because indie is so pro-artist.
Doghouse Records sets up everything, you have total direct creative
control of your record whereas Dreamworks or any major label, you're
taking a risk. You're definitely being told what to do a lot more."
Well, even if the guys are being told what to do, it seems that they're
having a great time doing it.
"The tours have been amazing. I've had so much fun on these last
tours, especially the tour with Home Grown, Riddlin' Kids and Flashlight
Brown. It's probably been the best tour we've been on. And honestly,
going to play Europe was insane. We did five dates with Millencolin.
Those guys are so rad and they sound so good live, I just had a blast
playing with them.
Also, just prior this interview, the band shot a live DVD in Tulsa,
"That was insane," Tyson reminisces. "It was awesome,
so rad, I can't believe we had crane cams and stuff."
Do your family go to your local shows?
"My dad and my mom both come out and watch us and they can't believe
it. Every time they come to the Oklahoma show it's doubled in size.
It's been crazy."
Asked whether they are seen as local celebrities in their hometown,
he says, "We're definitely homestate boys. Our state loves us because
we've always loved them. I guess a little bit. We can still go out so
I don't really notice anything."
How have your family and friends coped with your success?
"Friends outside of the band? I don't really have any friends outside
of the band, just pretty much everyone who's riding round with us is
coming up with us so we're all having a good time."
Since its release,
the album has done amazingly. The band decided to celebrate by getting
AAR tattoos. "We got the tattoos at the end of February when we
found out our record went to number 25 on Billboard. We were like "we
sold 40,000 records first week! Oh my God!" and we had to freak
out, go out and get tattoos right when we could."
What if the band splits up?
"If the band splits up
I don't think the band will split
up. I know Nick and I won't ever. Regardless, I'll still be writing
music. See if I can get a deal with Doghouse Records if the shit hits
More recently the album has gone on to hit gold - a fantastic achievement
for these early 20 year olds from Oklahoma.
So, what next? What are Tyson's wishes, hopes and ambitions for the
"I just wanna be happy and be in this band
Long term, I dunno.
I wanna be able to do this for the rest of my life."
Well, I think he has the talent to. Let's see...
Visit www.allamericanrejects.com for more info.