Even the most heartbroken among us would benefit from distancing themselves from the pain every once in a while. For Tyson Ritter, a reprieve from his songwriting muse helped make "The Last Song" such a pleasure to pen.
"I got inspired to write something that wasn't about an all-girl topic," the All-American Rejects singer/bassist said. "Every other song [on the band's self-titled debut] is about one girl, so to put a song on the album that wasn't about her, that made it a little extra special."
The second single off The All-American Rejects is one of Ritter's favorite tracks, inspirational impetus notwithstanding, because it's also something of an autobiographical send-off that caps the album.
"It's about leaving your town and making something of yourself," Ritter said of the song he and guitarist Nick Wheeler wrote with the album's producer, Tim O'Heir (Sebadoh, Juliana Hatfield), at the 11th hour in the studio — thus the title.
The Rejects shot a video for "The Last Song" earlier this month in Pasadena, California, with director Charles Jensen (Quarashi). The clip transcends the song's theme of the band leaving home to encompass a much broader concept: the rest of the world leaving them.
It's a dream come true for every child who's ever imagined they were the last ones on Earth. Without anyone to stop them, the Rejects each acted out their wanton impulses: Wheeler ran rampant in a grocery store, guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor sat in a golf course sand trap, drinking beer and eating cereal, and Ritter got to live out a gearhead fantasy.
"I race a car around like hell, and do doughnuts in the parking lot," he said. "It's this badass car, like a '73 cherry-red convertible Ford Mustang. I couldn't believe it ... I got to tear ass in a hot rod. I worked with a stuntman, but my dad used to drag cars, so I know how to drive all right, so he just let me do what I want. It was crazy, man. I couldn't believe the DreamWorks reps let me do that, 'cause I was doing some crazy sh--. It was awesome."
The video is expected to surface in mid-May, while the single hit the radio airwaves last week, according to a DreamWorks Records spokesperson.
"The Last Song" begins with the sound of a radio in mid-tune, followed by a string arrangement that slips into a chugging guitar line with the help of an electronic segue. Ritter doesn't really know how or why he and Wheeler came up with the distinct structure that's unlike anything else on the album. He only said that "it just comes out of nowhere," and "when two songwriters get into the studio, you don't know what the hell is going to come out."
It's just one of the many surprises, like stuttering electronic beats, flourishes of majestic organs and a dance-inspired thump, that pepper the album. And the wonders won't cease on the second album, for which they've already written four or five tracks (see "All-American Rejects Set Headlining Tour, Score [Literally] With Single"). One song in particular is a bit of a surprise, especially coming from Ritter, who used to be in a ska band without a brass section.
"It's got this horn section in it, and I never thought I'd put a horn section in a song," Ritter said. "[When I was writing it], I just heard these big brassy Motown horns in the background. So maybe this song will take the Rejects in a new direction. ... But I don't want people to think, 'Oh no, they're going ska.' It's more like old-school Motown, melodic, crazy, rip-your-ears-out horns."