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All-American Rejects Channel Queen on Next Disc

June 4, 2010 2:02 PM ET

All-American Rejects have spent the past few months getting ready to headline the Warped Tour, prepping a new album and embracing their deep love of classic arena and pop music from the '60s and '70s. "If there's one thing the band loves collectively, it's Neil Diamond and fucking Queen," says frontman Tyson Ritter. "I just turned 26 and I've realized that this is the time when all the greats like the Beatles and the Doors and Janis made their best records."

Inspired by some of rock & roll's icons, Ritter says the follow-up to 2008's When the World Comes Down, which featured the radio smash "Gives You Hell," will veer far beyond emo-pop. "As a band, we put something different out all the time," he says. "If we've taken baby steps before, this will be our rocket ship to Mars." He adds, "We're not writing scream-out, barky, pop-rock."

So far, the Rejects have sketched out 20 tracks and finely tuned three: "Bleed Into Your Mind," "Beekeeper's Daughter" and a ballad titled "After You." "We definitely have nice walls," says Ritter. "Now we're just looking for that solid foundation." Lyrical inspiration is coming from Ritter's recent realization that he's spent the majority of his young adulthood working the record-tour-record grind. "You wake up one day and you realize you're not a kid anymore," he says. "Living with record cycles, you get frozen in time. It was almost four months to the day that I woke up and was like, 'Well, "Gives You Hell" is over.' "

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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