If any of the above, shut your mouth and open your ears, because with their new album Move Along, singer and bassist Tyson Ritter, guitarists Nick Wheeler and Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor are out to do exactly as track number four on the album states: Change your mind.
And just to set one record straight, "I fucking hate emo!" exclaims Ritter.
With that out of the way, there are a lot of people who would fancy themselves authorities on who the Rejects are through observations from afar, but as the cliché goes, you think you know, but you’ve got no idea.
"We’re from Oklahoma, we eat humble pie," Ritter jokes, but fairly so. Underneath the Southwestern charm and the ’80s rock star stage bravado lies a group of four regular guys who haven’t forgotten where they came from and don’t take what they have now for granted.
"We wrote the first record in a small town where nobody cared about us and we wrote the second record in a small town where nobody really cared about us either," says Wheeler with a laugh.
Maybe that’s why, even with the polished sound and orchestral feel of Move Along, the Rejects were able to successfully maintain the youthful likeability of their self-titled debut, released in October of 2002. But before you write them off as kid stuff, you ought to know they did their share of maturing on this album as well.
"We’re just older," says Ritter, amidst jokes from other band members regarding bodily hair growth. "With our age comes more seriousness about what we do. When we started writing this record, we were like, ‘Hey, this is what we do for a living now,’ as opposed to last time when we hoped we would be able to do this for a living. With that approach, we tried to make a record that we could all stand behind."
That said, Ritter colorfully, albeit aptly, describes their new album as follows: "We’re coming balls first, down a slide of rockitude into the pool of melody at the bottom."
Metaphors aside, Move Along is about as honest and straightforward as it gets for the Rejects, even despite how undeniably catchy and infectious the album’s songs are.
"We don’t write music for other people, that’s for damn sure. We write it for ourselves first and foremost," says Ritter. "If other people like it, that’s awesome, but as long as we’re proud at the end of the day, that’s all we care about."
To be fair, the Rejects do tread on familiar ground with certain songs, as Ritter explains, "There’s a couple songs about love, about love lost." But to be fairer, they don’t shy away from making a greater, all-encompassing statement lyrically. Ritter continues: "Then there’s songs like ‘Move Along,’ which is about overcoming. Tomorrow’s another day, you know?"
While this album marks personal maturation mentally and emotionally for the band, it also sees their growth as musicians who are willing to push their own envelope. Says Wheeler: "When you’re starting out as a kid, especially when you used to think you were a punk band, you always try to write fast rockers, but you grow musically and start experimenting with more things. I think this album’s definitely more well-balanced."
And as anyone who saw the band perform during their stint on this year’s Warped Tour can attest to, the Rejects’ live set lives up to their mantra of going to the next level. As Ritter states it best, their live show is "just a rock show – you leave smiling … as opposed to your emo bands, where you leave crying. You feel it. Your butt hurts the next day."
So if there’s one thing to remember about the Rejects, they do hurt, but in that oh-so-good way.
Move Along is currently available. For more information, visit www.allamericanrejects.com.