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All-American Rejects make the cut at Juanita’s

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published December 13, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.

The All-American Rejects

— With a name like The All-American Rejects, the band has surely faced hard times, as in, well, rejections, right? Not so much, according to the group’s rhythm guitarist, Mike Kennerty

“We think the name has kept us from being pigeonholed,” he says. “The name began when a couple of the guys were in high school ... and it seemed like all other names were taken. And it’s sort of taken on the meaning of us being outsiders.”

Kennerty was referring to lead singer/bassist Tyson Ritter and lead guitarist Nick Wheeler, who started the band in Stillwater, Okla., two years after they had met in high school in 1997. Kennerty, of Edmond, Okla., joined before the release of the band’s self-titled debut CD (which contained the group’s first hits, “Swing, Swing” and “The Last Song”) in 2003. When problems arose with the original drummer, Kennerty brought in an old band mate, Chris Gaylor, from their days in a punk band, These Enzymes. Kennerty and Wheeler provide backing vocals.

Kennerty, 32, was born in Houston but grew up in Edmond. Ritter, 28, now lives in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and Wheeler, 30, lives in Destin, Fla. Ritter also acts, having appeared in the TV shows House M.D. and Smallville and the movie, The House Bunny.

In 2005, the band released its second disc, Move Along (with the hits “It Ends Tonight,” “Dirty Little Secret” and the title cut), and followed that in 2008 with When the World Comes Down (with “Gives You Hell” and “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” which was first heard on a January episode of TV series 90210).

All-American Rejects songs were used in the films Meet the Robinsons and Alice in Wonderland. One of the band’s favorite honors was their induction into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, where they can be found along with such other prominent Oklahomans as Woody Guthrie, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard and contemporary rock band Hinder.

“That was a real honor, since we’re proud to be from Oklahoma,” Kennerty says. “Especially since there are not a lot of rockers in there, and there are a lot of bands from Oklahoma who are out there, touring.”

In March, the band released its fourth CD, Kids in the Street; all total, they have sold more than 10 million albums. All four of the All-American Rejects have different influences, Kennerty says, but they all enjoy the music of Queen and Neil Diamond.

The group is wrapping up its Shaking Off the Rust tour, having spent most of the year on the road with the band Boys Like Girls in the United States, and with Blink-182 in the United Kingdom.

Kennerty recalls that the band’s first Arkansas show was at the former Juanita’s location, unaware that it has moved to the River Market District.

“We also did a couple of things for Wal-Mart,” he says. “We’ve been celebrating 10 years of touring, especially since I don’t know if we ever thought it would last. We’re the same band, but we’ve made a real progression over the course of our four records.

“We’re just about making catchy tunes people can sing along to.”

The All-American

Rejects

Opener: The Supporting Cast

Doors open at 8 p.m. today, music starts at 9, Juanita’s, 614 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Tickets: $25

(501) 372-1228 or juanitas. com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 12/13/2012

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