With Slam Dunk 2014 looming on the horizon to blast Leeds’s socks off, we managed to catch up with Nick Wheeler from headliners The All-American Rejects to see what the band has been up to, and grab their thoughts on playing one of the best festivals around.
All of this while we were waiting for Nick’s pot of coffee to brew.
First things first, though, I wanted to find out what Oklahoma punk-pop band The All-American Rejects had been up to for the last few months.
“We’ve kind of just been enjoying ourselves, you know, for the last few months,” the lead guitarist.
“We’ve been playing shows here and there to keep our chops up, Ty [Ritter] went and got married, so he’s doing that whole thing now.
“It’s kind of like been 12 whole years of working solid and we’ve never really taken time to be adults for a minute.
“Like I said, we have been playing shows here and there, and then the opportunity to play Slam Dunk came up and we thought it sounded like too much fun to miss out on.”
I wanted to ask about the run-up to Slam Dunk as the last album from The All American Rejects, Kids In The Street, was released in 2012. Plus the fact that I seem to be experiencing an issue with not having the time to listen to bands latest albums.
“That’s exactly what I’m experiencing right now. Two years have gone by so fast getting consumed by everyday life and letting things pass by,” says Nick.
“We do have plans for a new album. In addition to having personal lives, Ty has also been doing some acting so he kind of trying to spread his wings right now in every way he can, he’s a multi-talented guy.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but I’m only good at one thing – this music thing – but we are definitely going to start working on a new album very soon, possibly when we get back from the UK.
“We wrote a little bit last year, but it’s one of those things, every time we make a record we kind of have to step away from it, you know, screw our heads back on straight and figure out where we are.
“We never want to repeat ourselves, or continue the same pattern.
“Sometimes, when you get off the road from touring a record for a year, creatively you are still in that same place, even though it’s only been a year, you have still been living and breathing that album, and with every case of that, we have had to step away, and kind of learn how to do it all again.
“We kind of want to start from scratch each and every time so the next record just doesn’t sound like the last one.
Nick reveals he’s currently concentrating on the technical side of the group’s set-up.
“Presently I’m working on a new guitar rig at the moment so the band stuff never stops, more like stopping to smell the roses and such.
“The biggest thing I’ve learnt from just stepping away is what I do, and this band, all of that is instilled in me, and I think over the last decade, we have learnt to trust ourselves, and trust each other, I think.
“So we have progressed in a way as a band so that we can just switch things up, and I don’t have to be as much of a control freak any more. Really, just learning to trust ourselves and to be more spontaneous with each record we make and let ourselves go just that little bit further.
“I think we’re at that place as musicians that people know we can go into a studio, have nothing written and come out with the best product we can at the end of the day.”
Nick agrees that it really didn’t feel like it was 12 years since the band’s breakthrough single Swing Swing and readily admits the 2000s had just flown by far too fast.
Bringing the conversation back round, I asked about their relationship with the Slam Dunk festival, and found that this is the first time The All-American Rejects are playing it.
“We’ve played loads of festivals in the UK, Reading and Leeds, I think V Fest, so we’re no strangers to festivals over there but we’ve never done a ‘travelling festival’ before now.
“The fact that it’s indoors means there are indoor showers, and I can live with that.”
Now in its ninth year, Slam Dunk is Britain’s foremost punk rock festival. It takes place over the spring bank holiday at three venues – Leeds University, The Forum in Hertforshire and Wolverhampton Civic.
This year’s bill includes Less Than Jake, Mallory Knox, We Are The In Crowd, Motion City Soundtrack and Kids in Glass Houses. Tickets cost £35 in advance from http://www.slamdunkmusic.com/
Slam Dunk North takes place on Saturday with a cracking line-up, featuring Leeds’s very own Marmozets.
They’ve recently signed to Road Runner Records, planning for their album due out in the autumn.
When asked about playing Slam Dunk, singer Becca Macintyre said, “We played it the year before last, and that was a blast.
“It’s the kind of festival where all the bands let their hair down.”