It’s November, but somewhere in Massachusetts, Mike Kennerty is soaking up some unseasonably summery rays. Just as the warm weather has outlasted its usual tenure this year, even in the northeast, Kennerty and the rest of The All-American Rejects ” Chris Gaylor, Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler ” are enjoying their own figurative Indian summer.
Seven years ago, their self-titled debut album was certified platinum and garnered an impressive international fan base. Four years later, its follow-up, “Move Along,” outperformed nearly all expectations. Today, the Rejects are as popular as ever, surprising even the Okie musicians themselves.
“We never guessed that we’d still be here so many years later. It has blown our minds that we’ve been able to stay consistent, doing this successfully,” Kennerty said.
It’s not entirely difficult to pinpoint, at least to a degree, what has kept AAR in the spotlight for so long, despite the volatile ups and downs of popular music. A single visit to the band’s Web site affords more up-to-date information on the group ” and the individual members’ daily happenings ” than even the most voracious fan could possibly want.
If one wants to know the whereabouts and happenings of any Reject ” save for drummer Gaylor, who keeps a relatively low profile ” mere seconds on the Internet will yield iPhone self-portraits, descriptions of last night’s debauchery and snapshots of funny signs spotted on tour. For an act whose early days involved handing out fliers at hole-in-the-wall venues, the transition to networking mavens has been measurable.
“It’s daunting, because (fans) want responses in all of those mediums,” Kennerty said. “It’s a very different time, even than when we first got popular. The only interaction then was at shows, and now, there are hundreds of ways. It totally tears down the mystique of being a big band. It’s a double-edged sword. I grew up worshiping bands whose mystique made them cool. There’s a part of me that’s a little bummed that’s gone.”
However, he recognizes the benefits of having a fan base willing to cling to all of their e-words.
Somewhat unabashedly, AAR is backed by corporate dollars. It’s less auxiliary, perhaps, than it is an unfortunate necessity of surviving the major-label game. This was duly illustrated with the release of the music video “I Wanna,” the third single from 2008’s “When the World Comes Down,” which found the band at a raucous party where everyone happens to carry, very prominently, a particular brand of cell phone.
“The video for ‘I Wanna’ was an idea the director, Paul Hunter, had. It was a really cool idea and very ambitious for everyone involved. It didn’t turn out exactly the way we intended, but the whole idea of using phones and stuff was there before any sponsors came in,” Kennerty said. “In this day and age, videos continue to cost more, and records continue to sell less. The idea obviously warranted trying to find some kind of sponsorship, and it turned out that doing that kind of took away the effect. It also saved us a shit-ton of money, so we had to ask ourselves what the trade-off was.”
The Rejects have long been in a strange conundrum, regarded as both a legitimate rock band while maintaining a teen-heartthrob marketing tactic. Their obvious musical and pop-writing chops, coupled with numerous gratuitous close-ups of Ritter’s face, have proven a successful formula thus far.
AAR is currently co-headlining a tour with Taking Back Sunday, and will play its annual Thanksgiving homecoming show Tuesday night in Bricktown. Following the winter tour, the Rejects will take a rare break from the road to plot their next move.
“We’re starting to mull over ideas,” Kennerty said. “We’re learning toward not doing another tour and starting writing instead, but we’ll see what happens. You never know.”
That might be true, but the AAR’s track record has been solid thus far, leaving little doubt of future successes.
“I would hope that things stay the same, though I’ve been shown that things can be much better or much worse,” Kennerty said. “All I hope is to continue. I like this job. I don’t want to quit.”
The All-American Rejects with Taking Back Sunday and Anberlin perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center, 425 E. California. “Becky Carman