"Swing, Swing," the breakthrough single for Stillwater, Oklahoma's All-American Rejects, was nearly an afterthought that didn't make their self-titled debut album. The band's principals, singer/bassist Tyson Ritter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Wheeler, had been holed up in Ritter's grandparents' cabin working on the LP when the song simply sprung forth as effortlessly as a morning yawn.
"I woke up one morning, I guess it was around one, jumped out with my acoustic guitar and started playing the chorus for 'Swing, Swing,' " Ritter said. "And Nick came out and was like, 'What's that?' and I told him it was a new song I was writing. We finished it off that weekend."
The tune, a pining for Ritter's lost love, was among the last ones recorded for The All-American Rejects, and it's mostly responsible for the album's nearly 217,000 copies sold. There's nothing like a hit song to mend a broken heart (see "All-American Rejects: Red, White And So, So Blue").
"It was over and done with a year ago," Ritter said of the misery-inducing relationship that also inspired many other tear-jerking pop songs, such as "My Paper Heart" and "Don't Leave Me." "But I got a great record out of it ... as far as lyrics. I didn't have to think too hard."
Thanks to the song's infectiousness, folks don't have to look too hard to find it. "Swing, Swing" is #8 on the Radio & Records alternative chart, and has been wavering in the top 10 for a few weeks. A young band like the Rejects with a hit song on the radio begs the interview 101 question, "Where were you when you first heard it on the airwaves," and for Ritter, his radio debut couldn't have happened at a better time.
"I'm riding in this car, it's like 2 a.m., and I'm going back to this chick's house," he recalled. "It was after some party or whatever, and the song comes on right when we're in her driveway! And I'm like, 'Yeah! I'm totally going inside now.' "
Being in possession of such a powerful aphrodisiac is just one of the new changes swirling around Ritter's life. He can certainly handle that, and these rural rockers are just now beginning to feel comfortable among the models and glitz of Los Angeles. One change, however, continues to shock and somewhat frighten this kid who was raised in a house where MTV was outlawed because it was "a bad influence."
"My mom was telling me about 50 Cent!" Ritter said. "It's crazy."
Though Mrs. Ritter had once thought ill of the music network, once her son's video began airing on "TRL," she became a regular viewer. So when Ritter was explaining that his band would be playing a Spring Break show with 50 Cent in Miami, he was quite taken aback by his mom's familiarity with the bullet-pocked MC.
"She also said that Missy Elliott was sick!" he added. "When we get back home, she'll probably be wearing these big, baggy tracksuits."
Bolstered by guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor, the All-American Rejects will embark on their first headlining tour March 30 in Toronto, after completing a brief jaunt of Spring Break destinations 10 days prior. They'll also hook up with the Vans Warped Tour for a few weeks in July.
All-American Rejects tour dates, according to DreamWorks Records:
- 3/30 - Toronto, ON @ Opera House
- 4/1 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
- 4/2 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
- 4/4 - Old Bridge, NJ @ Birch Hill Nite Club
- 4/5 - Boston, MA @ Axis
- 4/6 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 4/7 - Norfolk, VA @ Norva Theatre
- 4/9 - Atlanta, GA @ Cotton Club
- 4/12 - Jacksonville, FL @ The Marquee Theatre
- 4/14 - Tampa, FL @ Masquerade
- 4/15 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
- 4/17 - Orlando, FL @ The Social
- 4/18 - Tallahassee, FL @ Floyd's Music Store
- 4/19 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues