Los Angeles Times

All-American Rejects swing into O.C.

The All-American Rejects will move along this summer as they embark on a 12-date, national headline tour that begins Wednesday at the Orange County Fair.

Since early June, the alternative rock group has been performing at European festivals and accompanying Blink-182 on its international tour.

"It was like two months overseas, so we're stoked to be back, especially to start it here, what now is my home," guitarist Nick Wheeler said in a phone interview.

According to Wheeler, the set list has grown significantly since the band last played the Pacific Amphitheater in 2005 — especially after three studio albums and the March 26 release of "Kids in the Street."

"We're one of those bands that still give the fans that have been listening to us for a while what they want to hear," Wheeler said. "We love playing the hits. We love playing the old stuff too. So it should be nice and well-rounded, a good Rejects catalog set."

The group is known for "Swing Swing," "Move Along," "Dirty Little Secret," "It Ends Tonight" and international hit "Gives You Hell," which spent four weeks at No. 1 on Top 40 radio and sold 4 million copies in the U.S, according to http://www.allamericanrejects.com.

Their self-titled debut, 2005's double-platinum "Move Along," and the gold-certified "When the World Comes Down," allude to the band's growing success and proliferating fan base.

"I think there's actually a generation between us: the fans that grew up listening to us and the kids that are going to shows now, or kids that are just starting to go to shows," Wheeler said.

With a new generation of fans in tow, lead singer, bassist and lyricist Tyson Ritter and longtime friend Wheeler began working on their latest album two years ago.

Ritter and Wheeler founded the band in 1999, when they were teenagers living in Stillwater, Okla., and continue to write the band's material.

During the songwriting process, Wheeler said Ritter is "the spark," while he's always been "the executor."

"We complete each other creatively," Wheeler added.

The new album spawned from Ritter's struggle to find himself after touring nonstop right out of high school.

"We [Ritter and Wheeler] both moved to L.A.," Wheeler said. "He'd just turned 25, so he was kind of going through his quarter-life crisis."

After resorting to liquor, Ritter decided that he needed a major life change. Wheeler suggested they pull themselves together and write it out.

"So I found us a cabin up in Northern California [and] rented a car," Wheeler said. "We threw a couple of guitars and a keyboard in there, and he and I went up to the Sequoia National Park and just rented a cabin. We came back with the first single, which was 'Beekeepers Daughter' and another song, 'I For You,' that made the record.

"That just started the ball rolling, and we went from there."

Ritter and Wheeler wrote songs in other remote locations, including ones in Maine and Colorado, before presenting the songs to guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor.

"We kind of imprison ourselves," Wheeler said. "We go to these places to get away and then we lock ourselves in a room and we don't let ourselves leave until we feel satisfied."

What they came up with was "Kids in the Street," which echoes their first album, but with a twist.

Wheeler added that the new music is "a little groovier" with different tempos and varied instrumentation, including horns and synthesizers.

"This record, 'Kids in the Street,' is kind of about figuring yourself out, finding yourself in your mid- to late-20s by reflecting on where you've been and figuring out what the hell you want to do with yourself," Wheeler said. "We always say you have to get lost to find yourself."

The new album was produced by Grammy-nominated producer Greg Wells, who has worked with Adele, Katy Perry and OneRepublic.

"[Wells] really urged us to be spontaneous, and I think that's something that we've lacked in the past," Wheeler said. "We'd been so calculated going into the studio. This was the first time that we allowed mistakes to be on an album because it was played like it was felt."

"Heart Beat Slowing Down," the band's collective favorite on the album, will be the next single, Wheeler said.

In the meantime, the Rejects plan on finishing up their album tour in the United States.

"We just keep pushing ourselves and pushing each other to explore different things, to be ourselves, and to go places that we haven't gone before," Wheeler said. "I'm thankful people are still listening."


Twitter: @TheDailyPilot

If You Go

What: All-American Rejects

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Pacific Amphitheatre, O.C. Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

Tickets: Start at $25 and include free fair admission

Information: http://www.ocfair.com

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