Soon after the All-American Rejects drafted Marcos Siega to direct their video for "Dirty Little Secret," the first single from the Stillwater, Oklahoma, group's Move Along, Siega sat down and innocently Googled the word "secret."
Siega, the man behind System of a Down's "Toxicity," Papa Roach's "Last Resort" and the Rejects' own breakthrough hit, "Swing, Swing," was looking for inspiration, and he found it — hundreds of postmarked pieces of it — on a Web site called PostSecret.com.
"There are all of these postcards which these people decorated themselves, with their secrets, because they don't want to tell their parents or their friends but feel comfortable telling some anonymous man [in Maryland] for some reason," explained frontman Tyson Ritter, who was thrilled with the finished product.
The clip features performance footage of the Rejects interspersed with images of people holding up postcards with messages as innocuous as "I pee in the sink" and as wounded as "Three years ago, I tried to kill myself. Now I'm 18 and people say I'm happy. But I still want to die."
Naturally, the Rejects compensated the site's owner for the use of the postcards. That money was then donated to the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, a Virginia not-for-profit organization that funds a suicide hotline for teens; some of the postcards from the video are also being auctioned on eBay, with proceeds earmarked for the same charitable cause, Ritter said.
The video marks the Rejects' return to rock's finicky forefront, following two long years out of the spotlight. The band has logged a considerable amount of time on the road since the release of its self-titled 2002 debut, which has sold more than 1 million copies in the U.S.
But the past eight months have been devoted to Move Along, which, thematically speaking, is a much different beast, according to Ritter. While the first disc zeroed in on bitter heartbreak and misery, with all but one of its 11 cuts directed at the frontman's ex, Move Along reveals a more mature side to Ritter, who has moved on and left his pain behind.
"I'm happy now," he said. "I'm in a good relationship. So it's not like that was a thing that was driving my lyrics into 'heartbreak, heartbreak' this time, because I wasn't having that. It's more about two years, riding a rocket ship — you fall off, you go write another record, and it's just about the change, kind of. The change and what happens. There are a couple of songs on there about heartbreak, but it's not a theme that runs through this record."
With Move Along, the Rejects felt a fresh approach to writing and recording was imperative. Ritter and guitarist Nick Wheeler had written the first album together, but they wanted guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor to be more involved this time. They also wanted to find a producer who could augment the Rejects' sound.
"The songs were the result of self-evolution, but the sound [on the record] is Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Motörhead)," said Ritter. "Howard produces big records that just sound huge — they jump out. We wanted our record to slam, and it grand slams — like Denny's."
The Rejects, who've got five more stops to go on this summer's Warped Tour before heading overseas for a European trek, have a hectic rest of the year ahead. In October they'll open for Simple Plan in Australia; a fall U.S. headlining tour is in the works; and in December they're off to Japan.
Ritter doesn't much care about adding stamps to his passport, though. He's thinking more about the Rejects' next video, for the album's title track. " 'Move Along,' it's going to be a big video," he said. "It's going to cost a sh-- ton of money, because I want to make '1984,' the book, but a Cliffs Notes version of it in video form."
On Wednesday night, the All-American Rejects will play a special midnight gig at Disneyland for 200 lucky fans; the band and the kids who love them will also ride the newly reopened Space Mountain, which was closed more than two years ago for a massive remodeling ("They're going to let us ride with drinks!" Ritter enthused).
Similarly, when it comes to Move Along, Ritter just wants to enjoy the ride. He's not too concerned with how it'll do when it hits stores July 12.
"I'm friggin' proud of it," he said, "and if it all stopped tomorrow, as long as I had something on a compact disc to play for my grandkids, I could stop. If some guy in a white suit came in and said, 'It's over,' I'd leave."