CHAPMAN BAEHLER / INTERSCOPE
Don't hate us because we're popular: the Rejects are, from left, Chris Gaylor, Tyson Ritter, Nick Wheeler and Mike Kennedy.
No rejection for these All-American rockers
Their catchy rhythms appeal to a broad audience
FORGET about any sort of sophomore slump for the All-American Rejects. Three years after their self-titled independent debut was picked up and re-issued by DreamWorks Records, the boys from Stillwater, Okla., came back hard last summer with "Move Along."
» Place: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.
» Time: 7 p.m. Friday
» Tickets: SOLD OUT
» Call: 589-1999
Filled with catchy hooks, a la "Swing Swing," the single that put them on the mainstream map in 2002, the new album has caught the attention of pop fans. Its lead single, "Dirty Little Secret," is currently ranked No. 11 on Billboard's Hot 100, and is also ranked in the top 10 on the Pop 100 and Hot Digital Tracks charts.
But Billboard's ranking isn't that important to guitarist Nick Wheeler. What really matters is where the single shows up on Apple's iTunes Music Store.
"That's really cool, to be able to keep up with something like that every day," said Wheeler by phone last week while sitting in a Japanese hotel room. "We just heard that our song is No. 1 ... so we're pretty stoked on that."
WHILE "Dirty Little Secret" has since been knocked out of the top spot on iTunes by Beyoncé and Slim Thug, Wheeler and fellow Rejects Tyson Ritter, Mike Kennedy and Chris Gaylor continue to ride the wave of its success six months after the album was released.
"That wasn't even our first choice for the first single," Wheeler admitted. "In hindsight, it was probably the best choice, but the next single, 'Move Along,' will challenge listeners more ... it's our collective favorite song."
Unlike their first album, which was hastily re-recorded from homegrown demo tapes compiled by childhood friends Wheeler and Ritter, "Move Along" got the full studio treatment courtesy of major label Interscope. The band started recording in January 2005, and by March they were touring the mainland in a van to promote the new album.
"After that we went overseas a little bit, we did the Warped tour and then ... we did like two months where we were flying all over the place doing TV and radio," Wheeler said. "And then after that (it was a) headlining tour, and here we are starting a new year. We're already booked through the summer."
Besides three club dates in Japan this week, the All-American Rejects also performed for U.S. troops at a naval base last weekend. It was the first gig of its type for the band, and Wheeler said they were humbled by the invitation.
"It's not even the least we could do," he said. "I'm honored to do something like this ... these people we're going to be playing for are our age, or even younger. If I was there, I'd want some entertainment, too!"
BUT WHAT the guys are really looking forward to is starting off 2006 with a show here in Hawaii.
"I know Hawaii is the one thing we've all really been psyched for since we first heard about it six months ago," said Wheeler. "We've been to the U.K. and Europe a lot, and we've realized they don't believe in air conditioning. We've come over to Japan a few times, and we got to go to Australia last year.
"But this is the one thing every band goes through, and we haven't gotten to do yet. So we're definitely excited."
Wait, wait, wait. They've been to Australia once already, and have played in Japan twice? Why is this the first time Hawaii fans get to see the group?
"We were so bummed that we didn't get to go over there last year," he said. "I heard you all were playing 'Swing Swing' like 50 times a week!"
WHEELER ALSO expects a variety of fans to show up at Friday's sold-out show, which has been typical for the band lately, given the success of "Dirty Little Secret" on mainstream radio.
"In my opinion, to be widely accepted you've got to be pleasing not only to the 12-year-old's ear, but to the college kid's ear (and) the parent's ear," he said. "There's something universal about a hook, whether it be a guitar riff or a melody ... hopefully people can relate to us, you know?"
With influences like Poison, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, it's obvious Wheeler has no problem serving up pop candy to the masses. And how can you blame a guy who, just three years ago, was a self-described "weekend warrior" who survived off playing at bars around Oklahoma?
"We always dreamed of doing this for a living, but we didn't know the logistics of it panning out," said Wheeler. "Now there's so much traveling and work to do, it's definitely becoming a job. Don't get me wrong, it's the best job ever, but this time around it's a lot of 14-hour flights and a lot of interviews.
"But it's a good problem to have, that people want to talk to us. It's becoming a career, and that's a lot different than it used to be."