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The All-American Rejects’ punk-pop music might be therapeutic to some fans, but none of the band members are trained shrinks – even to fans that dish their problems to them.
When the band decided to check their mail, which had been piling up for months, they noticed five candid letters from the same kid. “We actually closed down our P.O. Box,” guitarist Mike Kennerty, 24, tells BTL from the Conan O’Brien Show set in N.Y.
The band’s laughter rings through the telephone as Kennerty asks the other band members for the kid’s name.
“Bo!” the band members call out, laughing.
“They all talked about his life, like his breakup with his girlfriend,” Kennerty says. “It was really kind of weird ’cause we got to watch the progression of a few months of time over in like five minutes ’cause we happened to open all the letters in a row.”
But, still, the band feels grateful for their “fanatical” fans. “If they want to hang out by the bus [after a show], we’re more than happy to give them autographs, pictures or whatever they want,” he says.
Jams aside, it’s easy to see, with Tyson’s high cheekbones and Kennerty’s dainty smile, how these young men lure boy crazy chicks – and dudes. “We get a mixed bag,” Kennerty says.
Clearly, their video for their single “Dirty Little Secret” is a testament to their diverse fan base.
In “Secret,” where confessions are hand-written on post cards and held up to the screen, one read: “I had gay sex at church camp (three times).”
“That’s what someone wrote in that they were ashamed of. I don’t think you should be ashamed of that. So that was our little piece of ‘Brokeback Mountain,'” Tyson Ritter, the band’s bassist and singer, told Rolling Stone in March.
The video’s theme took shape in a matter of days. “It was a very last minute thing,” Kennerty says. “We were freaking out. We needed a concept. We had to shoot in less than a week.” Director Marcos Siega took cues from the PostSecret project (http://www.postsecret.com) and suggested checking out the site to Ritter.
“It worked so perfectly,” Kennerty says. “We kind of lucked out and made a really cool video, we were stoked on it.”
Kennerty calls the gay sex camp rendezvous postcard his favorite. Kennerty says a fan informed them through the band’s message board on their Web site that MTV executives in England blurred the postcard. “I thought that was really strange that in England they were doing that,” he says. “I’d think they would be more understanding than the U.S. It’s strange.”
In the U.S., “Dirty Little Secret” played in heavy rotation on MTV, VH1 and Fuse and reached one million digital downloads. Their first mega-hit “Swing, Swing,” released on Ohio independent label Doghouse Records in 2002, landed the Stillwater, Okla. quartet on DreamWorks Records the following year.
“When I was like 13, and first starting to play, I never thought it would actually happen,” Kennerty says.
Now, The All-American Rejects rock out to thousands of fans at each gig. During their tour with Fall Out Boy earlier this year, they played to crowds of over 15,000. “I never dreamed of that,” Kennerty says. “I remember when I used to play shows and 200 people showed up and it blew my mind.”
But the Rejects share more than just the stage. They all have the same tattoo – their first – on their right pecs to honor the success of their chart-topping debut album. “It blew our minds,” Kennerty says. “We were like, ‘We’re gonna get the band logo tattooed.’ That’s when we knew we’d be doing this for at least a few months. We’re like f–k it.'”