This self-actualizing theme lies in the shadows of a more positive commentary on the namesake of the band's latest album, Kids In the Street. This message aims to encourage and honor the adventure and artistic expression of the next generation of American rejects.
We caught up with guitarist and co-founding member Nick Wheeler in the days leading up to the new album's release on 3/26.
So, what do you have going on today?
Nick Wheeler: I'm actually driving out to the desert right now. We're doing this thing called Music Choice, which is a digital cable show that films bands in unconventional places. So, today we are going to play a set in front of that big dinosaur from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.
Sweet. What songs are you guys going to play?
NW: We're doing "Beekeeper's Daughter." "Kids In the Street," which is going to be the second single. And we're also doing "Gives You Hell," because we can't seem to get away from that song.
You guys have had a couple of songs like that. You can't really escape it, and it seems to be everywhere you go. Does that get annoying? Or, are you like, "Oh, cool. My friends and I just made like 1.5 cents"?
NW: [Laughs] You know, obviously we're proud of the song. We wrote it and recorded it, and we put it on the last record. But it's one of those things where the song was bigger than the record. So, it's a little bittersweet in that aspect. You're still going to hear that song when we play live, but I think we are all more proud of this new record than anything we have ever made.
You guys are playing a casino here in Detroit. Do you play casinos often?
NW: Normally, when we come to Detroit, we either play St. Andrew's, or the State Theatre. I only know about that one casino that's right by St. Andrew's. Is that the one we're playing?
That's Greektown. You guys are playing MotorCity.
NW: OK. That's a way cooler name, too.
It kind of looks like Biff's hotel from Back to the Future 2.
NW: That's awesome! You know, we actually got to shoot part of our video for "Bee Keeper's Daughter" on the set with the actual clock tower from Back to the Future.
Can you recognize it?
NW: Yeah. It's like, a whole dance sequence on the steps leading up to it. We totally nerded out that day.
There's also a scene in that video where there's a Mini Cooper filled with a bunch of old dudes with really black eyes. What's that all about?
NW: Well, originally, the video was going to be super dark, but we ran into problems when it got too dark. We had this breath of fresh air when someone suggested we do a Ferris Bueller's Day Off-style parade sequence. We all perked up at that idea, but then it went a little too far to the opposite end. It was too bright, and cheerful. So, we kind of met in the middle with some creepy imagery to point out the song's darker undertones.
Is that why you decided to get Wayne Newton in the video as well?
NW: Yeah, it was funny. We had this long email chain where we were spitballing video ideas, and Tyson added: "Oh yeah, and we should get Wayne Newton in there too." A few weeks later, we got this text from our manager like, "Hey, would you guys be cool with sharing a dressing room with Wayne Newton?" And we were like, "No way!" So anyway, we met him and his family, and they were all super cool, and he agreed to do it.
Back when you guys started out, you got pretty famous pretty quick. Do you ever feel like the name All-American Rejects was a little pre-mature?
NW: [Laughs] We definitely got really lucky one day. It was pretty awesome. We were still just teenagers. We grew up in a small town and there wasn't a whole lot to do. I mean, I couldn't play football or anything; I was built like a little girl. So we played in a band, and that was really all we knew. Technically, we had been doing it for like 10 years before we got signed, so we paid our dues. But when "Swing, Swing" blew up, it was definitely a whirlwind. Once we got off that ride and started grinding out a new record, everything was different.
How is everything different now?
NW: In the beginning, we had the band, and that's all we really had to worry about. I still try to keep it that way as much as I can, but it's difficult. This last record took us around the world a few times and that can be hard to deal with. It actually sent Tyson into sort of a downward spiral once we got home to L.A. Finally we made the decision to just get away and escape up north to lock ourselves away, and make the record that we wanted to make. So that's what we did. | RDW
The All-American Rejects • 4/11, 7:30 p.m. • MotorCity Casino Hotel Sound Board • 22901 Grand River Ave., Detroit • motorcitycasino.com • $32.50-$45