By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater’s own All-American Rejects are gearing up to release their newest album next month.
Members Tyson Ritter, Nick Wheeler, Mike Kennerty and Chris Gaylor will release “Kids in the Street” on March 27. It will be the group’s first album in three years, since the release of “When the World Comes Down.”
“We’ve been working on this pretty much since we got off the road for that whole ‘Gives You Hell’ ride we had, which has been over two years in the making now,” said Wheeler.
He said the tour was a big step for the Rejects, who won an MTV Video Music Award in 2006 for “Move Along.” All-American Rejects were inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2008. The group saw much of the world twice in 2009.
“And at that time, Ty and I had just moved to Los Angeles and he got a lot more caught up in the whole thing there than I did,” said Wheeler. “I had my dog. I had my apartment. I was cool. I could pretty much be anywhere, but he lived it up a little bit. He was a little younger when we started this so he had some oats to sow, which he did and the writing process kind of started with us getting out of that for a minute.”
Wheeler said the group prepared for their upcoming record by renting a cabin in Sequoia National Forest and writing songs for a couple weeks.
“When we write, it’s kind of like we have to come back down to earth and get our heads back on straight and figure out what we want to say and want to do musically,” said Wheeler. “We’re not like those bands that try to capitalize on the success they have and then just wear themselves out just making watered down versions of whatever made them popular. We really want to advance ourselves and do something that at least, we think, is important.”
The band’s first single from the album, “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” came from that session, he said.
“It’s kind of about this guy who thinks he’s invincible and isn’t the best guy to women and the way he treats them,” said Wheeler. “It’s a sugary, candy pop melody, but with kind of this dark, a**hole of a sentiment.”
Wheeler said that shows in the music video for the song, which was released recently. The video has vibrant, bright features, but contains elements with a darker tone, he said.
He said lead singer Ritter has put more into writing this record than anything they’ve done in the past. Musically, they’ve pushed themselves further, too, he said.
Two-time Grammy-nominated music producer Greg Wells is at the helm for the Rejects’ new record. Wells has worked with artists OneRepublic, Weezer, Aerosmith and others.
Wheeler said Wells has helped them get out of the box, be more spontaneous and embrace blemishes.
“There’s a guitar solo where there’s a mistake in it and I wanted to fix it, but Greg was like, ‘No dude, that’s perfect,’” said Wheeler.
He said it’s been fun to write and record the album.
“I think sometimes it’s just so stressful and we’re overthinking everything to the point of we’re sucking the life out of it and this definitely has the most life of anything we’ve ever done in the past,” said Wheeler.
He said this record was fun to write and record.
The group is on a “Shaking Off the Rust Tour,” playing smaller venues but longer shows. Wheeler said they play a lot of old stuff and new stuff.
The band is planning a spring tour in April and May, with a possible show around Oklahoma City in early April. The group will also be touring Europe with Blink-182 in June and July. The Rejects had previously performed with them in 2009.
“It’s always fun to get out there, play a 30-minute set, rock people’s faces off and then leave; leave them wanting more,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler said he doesn’t get to make it back to Stillwater as often as he’d like, but he still calls Stillwater home.
“When I do make it back, I try to stay pretty low key,” said Wheeler. “I usually hang out with my family, hang out at home. I don’t get out too much. I left town to start touring before I even turned 21, so I didn’t really experience The Strip or stuff like that before I was old enough to drink. What I’d do at The Strip was go into Mike’s, playing a show and then going home.”
But he said the group definitely takes pride in their Oklahoma roots. He said flying home to Will Rogers Airport and seeing their faces etched in glass with other famous Oklahomans is “a trip.”
“I’ve been saying lately, the memories I have the most of being in this band and touring are the ones from early on — 2002, 2003, when I first started touring,” said Wheeler.
He said this mentality has caused many of the new songs to be more reflective. At a tour stop in Columbia, Mo., Wheeler said he vividly remembered playing there in 2003. However, some of the things in the past six years, have been a blur to him. It’s not that it’s not as exciting. It’s that it’s just not as new, he said.
“I think when you experience something for the first time, that’s when you make that memory and songs like “Kids in the Street” and “Gonzo” are about those times that not only you remember and reflect on the most, but about those times that you kind of just didn’t give a s***,” said Wheeler. “And you could (mess up) and it didn’t matter. You were having fun. You were learning. You were making memories.”
He said memories played a part in the new record.
“People say you have a lifetime to write your first record, but we’ve definitely lived several lifetimes touring in the last 10 years, so we definitely will never run out of things to talk about, that’s for sure,” said Wheeler. “And things to write about.”
He said after working two years on “Kids in the Street” and knowing the songs well, the band is ready to get the album out.
“Like I said, it’s the one we’re most proud of, and we can’t wait for people to be a part of and show up and sing along and share with us,” said Wheeler.