October 16 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 26  

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Rejects prove they're American

By Lori Mastronardi
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
A VERITABLE COLLAGE OF REJECT-ISM. Clockwise from top left: Rejects, Rejects, Rejects and — you guessed it — more Rejects.

The All American Rejects battled their way into the spotlight last year, armed with dynamic pop rock beats, lyrics soaked in teenage angst and bittersweet boyish good looks.

Although definitely skilled in the realm of pop rock, these Rejects merely need to sit pretty in order to draw an ample crowd of admirers; however, their fans usually consist of hungry teenage girls.

Guitarist Mike Kennerty recognizes the band just can't seem to shake their poster-boy Tiger Beat image.

"There are definitely a lot of 13-year-old girls that love looking at us guys, so I'm sure that helps our records," Kennerty admits. "But it kind of sucks to think about that -I mean, it's a reality and it doesn't hurt, I guess." The All American Rejects have received coverage in outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Teen People and have mixed reactions regarding the latter.

"It's definitely not the route we would have chosen first hand, but I guess it's what you have to do, especially when you get on a major label -you have to go every route you can for exposure," Kennerty adds.

Seventeen Magazine delved into the very essence of celebrity talent. An online poll revealed that readers agreed the band was blessed with heavenly hair -but only after Heath Ledger and Ashton Kutsher.

"Maybe Ashton [has better hair], but I don't like the curly hair of Heath Ledger." After hesitating slightly, Mike continues, "I'm just joking, you know." If not a cluster of mesmerized mini-chicks, what kind of crowd would the band like to attract?

"Normal fans would be cool -not screaming girls who just want to look at you. People who care about the music more." So, after a slight detour through the band's roots, we're back to the music. Tyson Ritter (vocals/bass), Nick Wheeler (guitars/keyboard/programming), Mike Kennerty (guitar) and Chris Gaylor (drums) are The All American Rejects. Not surprisingly, these Rejects receive more pleasure from record labels than teen-targeted publications. Kennerty recounts a time when the band realized they would permeate areas outside of their hometown of Stillwater, Oklahoma.

"When we were on Doghouse Records, that was like huge for us," Kennerty recalls. "Because we were all fans of that label so we knew we'd have at least some sort of little fan base, because that label has a fan base. So at the time that was like giant; we were so stoked." The Rejects have been on tour for the last year and a half to promote their self-titled debut album. The follow-up record will stray from the current themes of twisted hearts and second chances.

"Tyson writes all the lyrics," Kennerty notes. "And lately the new songs are about different subjects. The first record was written when all that he pretty much had in his life was his relationship that lasted a year and a half, so every song spanned out of that. Now that we've been touring a lot he doesn't really have relationship stuff to write about." To follow the success of "Swing, Swing," the band expects to release a new single for "Time Stand Still," an equally addictive track.

"After that, I think in January we're going to take off and write and record in February or March, hopefully have the new records out by summer," Kennerty says. "It's been going awesome."

Kennerty also revels in his opportunity to seamlessly blend the usually conflicting areas of work and play. "Just being able to live off playing music is the best thing ever. That was my dream; to be able to do it is amazing. And I'm really proud of that." Do the Rejects ever worry about falling into the cluttered pile of one-hit wonders and short-lived fame?

"It's going to fade sometime; whether it's sooner or later we're prepared for that. We never expected this in the first place, so it's kind of easier to let go of, I think."

The All American Rejects are currently on tour. Sep. 30 marked the release of Live From Oklahoma: The Too Bad for Hell DVD. Recorded in Stillwater, the DVD features 10 tracks from their debut album, as well as videos for "Swing, Swing" and "The Last Song."



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