Nick Wheeler was almost down to his skivvies at lunchtime recently.
From his parents' house on the last day of a break between tours,The All-American Rejects guitarist said in a telephone interview he was sporting only a pair of “poison green track shorts” as the rest of his clothes went through the spin cycle for possibly the last time in four months.
Wheeler and his fellow Rejects and high school buddies,frontman Tyson Ritter,guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor,won't come home to Stillwater,Okla.,until Christmastime.
The Midwesterners will cross the continent as headliners of the Nokia Unwired Tour,Oct. 2 to 28,and take their saccharine power pop to Europe and Japan later in the fall.
Wheeler said he had to take advantage of his parents' laundry facilities while he had the chance,although he wasn't about to ask his mother for help.
“She always forgets to put the dryer sheet in,” Wheeler said.
He also said he had concerns about how she'd treat his collection of vintage band T-shirts,one of the few things besides music the 21-year-old is serious about.
Having been in bands since he was a teenager,Wheeler has developed a theory on the notorious immaturity of rockers like himself: band guys don't mature past the point when they started playing.
“I started playing in bands when I was like 14,so as far as I'm concerned I'm 14 for life,” he said.
Wheeler spent most of his one semester of college at a coffee shop near the Oklahoma State University campus,about 2 miles from the house he grew up in.
Wheeler said he might have majored in music,but then he would have been forced to join the marching band. Instead,he avoided the early morning practices by going undeclared,choosing classes that interested him,such as music theory and ear training.
He flunked out,anyway,but Wheeler maintains that he learned more from reading the textbooks than he would have from class.
As evidence,he pointed out that his music business professor played,of all things,the oboe.
Wheeler said he didn't think a guy like that would have much to say about negotiating deals with major Hollywood labels.
The Rejects got picked up by the mighty Dreamworks Records after mere months on the independent Doghouse Records.
The bigger dog,Dreamworks,turned the band into a top-40 radio and MTV sensation almost overnight.
Wheeler said the group’s popularity still amazes him.
Since the Rejects' self-titled debut album went gold in April,the band has been featured on the cover of Alternative Press,modeled for Rolling Stone and been profiled in Guitar World.
Wheeler,who claims to have never subscribed to Rolling Stone,said he was most impressed by the nod from Guitar World.
“I do have about 80,000 back issues of that magazine,” he said.
The 1980s “hair bands,” the ones with extreme hair style,in his older sister's record collection inspired Wheeler to pick up his first guitar.
“I'm definitely the kid who grew up on Poison and Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. That's honestly the best stuff in the world,” he said.
Ironically,the bouncy riffs of the Rejects sound nothing like Wheeler's heroes.
A product of its own era,the band has earned comparisons to Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World.
The Rejects willingly admit their place in the spectrum of pop music.
Wheeler said he believes his band might have been considered pop punk or college rock if it had risen five or 10 years ago.
“We're cross-tied with those bands because that's what's popular,” he said.