The All-American Rejects have a "Dirty Little Secret" and it is how to make top-40 hits while still keeping true to their sound. This rock band has sold more than 10 million albums with such memorable songs as "Swing, Swing," "Move Along," and "Gives You Hell." The members formed the group in Oklahoma with Tyson Ritter; lead guitarist and backing vocalist Nick Wheeler; rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Mike Kennerty; and drummer and percussionist Chris Gaylor making up the current line-up.
Windy City Times talked with Kennerty before the Rejects swung into town.
Windy City Times: Hi, Mike. Guess where I was last week? Oklahoma!
Mike Kennerty: Small world!
WCT: The band is all from Oklahoma?
Mike Kennerty: Yes, everybody.
WCT: How did the Rejects get together?
Mike Kennerty: Nick and Tyson started the band in Stillwater, Okla., when they were in high school. They played for a couple of years and things developed. They met Chris and I who are from the Oklahoma City area. We joined on and it has been a decade now.
WCT: The group has had a lot of radio hits.
Mike Kennerty: We have been very lucky.
WCT: Who does the writing on the songs?
Mike Kennerty: All the songs start with Tyson's melodies. Him and Nick will create a skeleton to the song. We will all get together and flesh it out then hit record.
WCT: Do you record in Oklahoma?
Mike Kennerty: We ended up recording in L.A. for the past few records. It is usually the producer who decides where he wants to go. We are easy. We will work anywhere.
WCT: The new CD Kids in the Street came out March 26. It has taken a while to get released, correct?
Mike Kennerty: We always tend to take a while when we write stuff. We don't feel the pressure to capitalize on current success thereby shooting out a mediocre record. We like to take our time and do it right. It will hinder us at time because we have to start over like a new band at the time because people have forgotten. We have the songs there to help us get over that hurdle. This is probably our best record so I am really excited for people to hear it. We are very excited to get back on the road. It has been way to long to do that.
WCT: Who is the bear-looking person on the cover for the single "Somebody's Gone?"
Mike Kennerty: That is our drum tech. His name is Gravy. We had a blast making that. We all got together and made all of these masks and had everyone wear them. We took a bunch of pictures so we are all in there.
WCT: Are there any gay members in the band? This is for a LGBT publication.
Mike Kennerty: No, there is not but that would help, though.
WCT: Well, there are lots of gay fans, myself included. I noticed the band tours with a lot of equipment.
Mike Kennerty: We have a lot of gear, more than the average band. It definitely makes touring more expensive than the average band. The past couple of records have had more instrumentation than just standard bass, guitar, and drums. It takes a lot to pull it off live. It is a fun challenge.
WCT: Where did the name "Rejects" come from?
Mike Kennerty: It originally started as "What should we name the band?" It was a random name that sounded cool. I feel like we have grown into it over the years. We have maintained success but we have never been the band that has been fully embraced. Every time we are out doing our thing there is a band in a similar genre that gets super-huge; then we are on the backburner as second-mentioned. But we have stood the test of time as far as longevity so I am not going to complain. The tortoise wins in that case.
WCT: "Dirty Little Secret" covers a lot of bases, and contestants at our singing contest Windy City Idol have sung that with a whole new meaning. It is a great song.
Mike Kennerty: Well, thank you.
WCT: "Beekeeper's Daughter" is the first video off the new album. It looked like a really fun one to make.
Mike Kennerty: It was and a crazy production. I don't think we have made a production that big for any video. We shot it all in one long, hectic day. We had so many extras, dancers, and even had Wayne Newton there. I don't know how we pulled it off but I am really happy with it.
WCT: I didn't even catch Wayne Newton, there was so much going on.
Mike Kennerty: He is the parade master at the end.
WCT: Are you doing more with your side project band, These Enzymes?
Mike Kennerty: No; that was something some friends and I did a few years ago. It was a one-off thing.
WCT: So it was just something to do on downtime.
Mike Kennerty: Yes, exactly, because I have no other hobbies but music. Whether I am on the road or in the studio I always have to find something else to do with music!
The All-American Rejects rock out Monday, April 9, at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., at 7 p.m. Tickets are $26 and can be purchased at www.metrochicago.com or 773-549-4140.