With a song playing on mix96, a recent performance at the American Music Awards and the Celtics’ half-time show, The All-American Rejects have a lot to be smiling about. To top it off, their sophomore record Move Along is a hit everywhere. The Concordian spoke with the band’s guitarist Nick Wheeler when the band stopped in Montreal not too long ago.
The Concordian: You guys recently played at the American Music Awards. How was that experience?
Wheeler: That was weird: it’s a different world. Although pop radio is playing us, I think that being a rock band, we kind of live in a different world. We are out there playing clubs with different bands. Speaking for myself, I’m not really a scenester. I don’t really like staying on Sunset. I don’t really like going to all the parties. But the American Music Awards, because we got to play was really cool to be a part of; a scene we are totally not used to.
The Concordian: Playing the awards show, also playing on Jay Leno and receiving air and video play, do you see this as a good thing? Do you think it’s weird now how punk-rock is getting air play?
Wheeler: I don’t know. I find there are more bands getting noticed by pop radio which I think is a really good thing. There’s ups and downs. We kind of went through a down for a while. There are scene changes: bands and rock music is big for a while and then you had your swing phase, hip-hop or the boy-band phase. I’d like to think it’s a cycle and that it’s rock’s turn again. Wishful thinking maybe but the name of our band is starting to ring truer and truer every day with this business. I’d like to think that it’s our turn, the proverbial our turn speaking in terms of bands. You are seeing a lot more rock bands on shows like TRL. I think it’s a good thing.
The Concordian: What do you think paved the way for that? Do you think that sites like Myspace and Purevolume have helped?
Wheeler: I think so. Myspace has helped immensely. I get on there once a week or so, checking my account. There’s like half a dozen fans that have found me on there, it’s not a big deal. It’s fun to connect with the kids that really try hard to find you. Mike’s really big on Myspace. We have a Myspace account for our band and a Purevolume account for our band and I think that helped just a ton. Before the record even came out, like three or four months before we put out “Move Along” on Myspace and it got a great response and it was getting thousands of plays a day. As soon as the record was done we got right in a van and toured for two months. There were some kids that remembered us and came back but I definitely think that Myspace and Purevolume definitely played a big part in that. We played small clubs but we filled them up.
The Concordian: You guys seem to be very technology friendly; using it to remain close to your fans by organizing things like text chats, phone calls etc. Is that something you guys like to do?
Wheeler: I think it’s one of those things like the internet Even though on one hand it could be saving rock ‘n’ roll, on the other hand it could be killing it at the same time. The idea of it or the mystique of it, because kids can find you on Myspace or they can read anything about you. Kids know my dog’s name, my parents’ address; it’s weird and it’s all because of the internet and message boards. I think it’s a really useful tool, especially today, when you look at everything else on the radio or TRL, those groups probably don’t have Myspace accounts. I think that the internet, text chats and whatnot, anything technological that’s a very useful tool for bands and to get their songs out there and to remind people that there are still bands out there doing it themselves.
The Concordian: In your Q&A on your website, someone asked if you guys were going to release a vinyl of your record. Will that be happening?
Wheeler: Yes. Doghouse Records is still doing our vinyls. When we went to a major, we let them keep our vinyl rights. We’ve been going back and forth with them about artwork and just getting it together. We’re just trying to get alternate covers. There’s not a date for it to come out but it will be coming out.
The Concordian: How have you guys changed or matured since your first record?
Wheeler: I think that musically we are finding ourselves and our place. Personally, I think we are all realizing our individuality as people. We are four completely different people. If we were four of the same dudes we’d probably hate each other. You’ve got those bands that never hang out with each other. A couple of our techs are pretty new and my guitar tech told me, “You guys are weird, you guys go to dinner together. You guys buy each other Christmas presents. I’ve never known a band to do that.” [laughs]. I think that growing individually and musically has really helped that out. Individually we are all growing up and realizing that this was our life, we all lived in the same s**t hole duplex for a time, we were begging the label to keep us out and now we have to do the exact opposite, now we have to beg for a week off. It’s a good problem to have. It’s a bummer we can’t really go out to the merch table and sign for kids anymore; that’s what we did on the van tour. Now we can’t really do that anymore because there are so many kids. We are kind of in freeze mode or on pause; we have been for like five years now just because this life moves fast.
The Concordian: Unlike most pop-punk bands, you guys write mostly positive songs to try and make your fans feel good and happy. What makes you guys happy?
Wheeler: Everything I do all day long revolves around going up there on stage. After a while it does become a routine, so after a while people’s reaction is what starts getting me off. I was just saying at Musiqueplus that sometimes I’ll just find myself going to the front of the stage and just watching people. I wasn’t able to do that before. I used to be terrified of making eye contact; it would freak me out. Now I just look at people and look at kids, it’s a blast. I think what did it was coming back after taking almost a year and a half off. It’s really exciting and it’s an honor to have those kids come back or even have new fans. We didn’t catch you last time but we must have done something right this time to make you come and check us out. Coming off of the holidays, getting back to playing shows, it’s always really fun. In the past it was more like, “Oh s**t, I hope I remember how to play these songs.” But now we’ve been doing long enough that we can comfortably come back, almost, we’re not quite there. When you haven’t done it for a couple of weeks, you grow to miss it!
Check Melissa’s All-American Rejects photo spread in the entertainment section.