The All-American Rejects perform at Soul Belly BBQ on October 22, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The band performed in a free show after the first day of the 2022 When We Were Young music festival was canceled due to a high wind warning.
Tyson Ritter sees your tweets. You know which one. The tweet that you let the world know: “I just bought The All-American Rejects tickets lol.”
“I sort of troll The Rejects name,” Ritter shares during a recent phone call. “It’s literally the most recurrent tweet.”
But Ritter appears to have a sense of pride about it, describing The All-American Rejects’ music as “evergreen.”
He says, “I remember when we were young, it would be a lot of bashful boyfriends that were in those audiences— that their girlfriends loved our band and they were kind of shy to admit it, but they did too. And now they're old enough to actually not give a s***. And it's crazy seeing the love for this band being out and proud.”
Case in point, The All-American Rejects are embarking on the biggest tour of their career this summer. Kicking off on Aug. 11 and making its way around the U.S. through October, the Wet Hot All-American Summer Tour will hit 27 cities with stops at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium and the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles and support from fellow Scene alumni New Found Glory, Motion City Soundtrack, The Starting Line and The Get Up Kids.
The All-American Rejects first made a splash with their self-titled 2002 debut, particularly the single “Swing, Swing.” Sophomore follow-up Move Along landed the band in Billboard Hot 100-level success with the likes of “Dirty Little Secret,” “Move Along” and “It Ends Tonight,” as did When the World Comes Down single, “Gives You Hell.” From Top 40 radio to Warped Tour to teen movies, the Rejects soundtracked the lives of kids and teens throughout the aughts.
Planning began around January for the Wet Hot All-American Summer Tour, the band’s first in nearly a decade. The eight months have given Ritter and team plenty of time to concoct the perfect setlist from their four total records. To start, they placed the hits throughout the lineup and worked from there.
“I was 17 when I started on a major label and we put out our last full-length record when I was 28,” Ritter says. “To grow up in front of a record button and to have to lay that out in front of you in my late 30s now, it's like if you took all your yearbooks and bridged them together into a volume. You just want to make sure that you get every sort of benchmark moment of your evolution as an artist in your career. It's honestly harder than I thought it would be.”
One song Ritter is particularly excited to play is “Too Far Gone” from their first album, which he says he wrote when he was obsessed with the musical Rent. He also notes they plan to play 2006’s“Dance Inside” live for the first time ever. “Vocally, it was a studio song for me. I couldn't sing it every night. It was high C-sharp, which even as a young man is asking a lot unless you're Steve Perry.”
There’s no doubt he’ll be ready for the high notes though. To prepare, Ritter says he’s been doing “the Destiny's Child pre-game where you're just running on a treadmill and singing.”
As Ritter speaks, he occasionally pauses to think out his answer, using the moment to also chow down on an omelet. He’s at a “beautiful diner” in Birmingham, Ala. where they are doing tour rehearsals before heading to the first tour stop in Tampa, Fla. Such thoughtfulness is perhaps part of the secret to Ritter’s longevity as not just a musician, but an artist. In addition to the Rejects, he has fostered a fruitful acting career in both film and television. His credits include The House Bunny, Miss You Already, Cowboy Bebop, Preacher, Parenthood and, most recently, Prisoner’s Daughter alongside Brian Cox and Kate Beckinsale.
But for Ritter, there’s nothing like feeling the electricity of the crowd.
“It's the only power that is left. We conditioned ourselves to depending on this power,” he says of being on stage. “We were just in that marathon for so long from 2000 to 2011. And when you condition your body to that beautiful euphoria that is the connection with an audience of any kind, it is like a lifeblood for you.”
Earlier this year, Ritter tweeted that the All-American Rejects will never break up, and for good reason. Some may remember the band’s music “oscillating around your Hollister, oscillating around your Applebee's, in the lockers of your high schools and spilling out into your keg parties in college,” as Ritter puts it, but they have also found a younger audience. He’s seen Gen-Z crowds who know the word to every song they play, such as at the influencer’s birthday party the Rejects played at.
The real epiphany happened at last year’s When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas, which had such a stacked lineup of beloved emo and pop punk bands that people wondered if it was too good to be true and that it would end in Fyre Festival- like catastrophe. It didn’t. And aside from the first day being canceled due to intense winds, it was a success and will return for round two in October.
“We were playing at the same time as Death Cab for Cutie, and they’re so cool,” Ritter recalls. “I was expecting maybe we'd have a couple-thousand people in front of us, but it was like the crowd. We had the crowd that night. And I couldn't believe it… It was that moment, I think, that birthed our interest to try to do this again, not only for our fans that we've created along the way, but the fans that we still continue to create.”
He later concludes, “I think it's the era we live in, man. I think it's the fact that music is now infinite, whereas it used to be pigeonholed to a time. When we think of the ‘80s we think of Wham! and we think of hair bands and s***, and that feels really distant. But music that arrived just in the sunrise of social media and the sunrise at this great connectivity has this regard that is a timeless nostalgia.”
Tickets are now available for the Wet Hot All-American Summer Tour.
Photography by: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images