After a 10-year hiatus, The All-American Rejects are back on the road — and singer Tyson Ritter is sharing his dirty little tour secrets exclusively with Us Weekly’s Backstage Pass.
The band — Ritter, lead guitarist Nick Wheeler, rhythm guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor — are headlining the Wet Hot All-American Summer Tour alongside New Found Glory, with support from Motion City Soundtrack, the Starting Line and the Get Up Kids on select dates. The bands will stop in Minneapolis on August 27 before taking a brief break and restarting the tour on Friday, September 22, in Denver.
The band first became stars after releasing their 2002 self-titled debut album, which went platinum. So they’re no strangers to touring — but Ritter, 39, says this tour has special meaning.
“This is the biggest headlining tour we’ve ever done in our career,” Ritter told Us. “That it’s happening 20 years–plus into our career [and] that we even get to do this is what I’m most excited about.”
Ritter doesn’t party before shows like he used to, which he says results in much better performances. “I used to drink like, a bottle of wine and smoke joints and that used to be like, ‘Cool, let’s go,’” he said. “[Now] I get to do this coherently and in a form that I think is [the] best that we’ve ever sounded. I feel like we’re actually up for that task now.”
His pre-show prep currently includes Kundalini yoga and other healthy rituals. “I do a warmup for an hour [and] I have a Harmless Harvest Coconut Water — Throat Coat tea is essential,” he revealed. “Twenty minutes of good, thoughtful stretching, and then I say a little prayer to the universe.”
Where he prepares is also important to him. And for that, he channels legendary musician Stevie Nicks.
“You get some good tapestry that looks like Stevie Nicks’ tea room [and] anything that’s like, paisley,” he shared. “Basically like the inside of a yurt that [she’s] been bedding down in for the last week. To me, if you walk into a place like that, it’s like, ‘Oh, cool, we can make this space ours.’”
Ritter has a soft spot in his heart for performing “There’s a Place” live, which he wrote for the 2015 movie Miss You Already, starring Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore. “This song spilled out of me,” he said of writing it in his London apartment with a ukulele. “It was late in our career that I wrote this, and it had its own life without any promotion. That was a really special moment to me.”
Post-show, the band still celebrates — but these days it’s in a much more refined way. “My guitarist gets a really lovely, big-bodied cabernet,” Ritter told Us. “Maybe somebody has a really lovely indica to take everybody down a bit, and there’s just enough energy to have a couple drinks, play some good dice and maybe lose a hundred bucks.”
Even after 20 years of performing, touring, and releasing hit songs, Ritter is still a fan who fondly remembers performing with some of his favorite musicians. “I got to be a giant butterfly in the Flaming Lips show, and that was a seminal sort of moment,” he shared. “We were both performing, and they were like, ‘Hey man, you want to be in the show?’ And I was like, ‘Uh, yeah. Pinch me.’ That was really incredible.”
The band paid tribute to Def Leppard at the 2002 VH1 Rock Honors, performing the English rock band’s hit song “Photograph.” “It was all these bands, and they all got to pick who would honor them,” Ritter told Us. “Def Leppard picked us, and that was sort of crazy.”
Another “pinch me moment”? Bon Jovi hand-picking The All-American Rejects to open for his 2008 shows at Madison Square Garden. “That led to me getting to do a duet with him,” Ritter said, describing the experience as “surreal.”
Now that the band is on their first tour in a decade, Ritter can’t help but appreciate how far they’ve come. “We got on the road when we were kids, and it was just piss and vinegar and impulse and the wind at our back,” he shared. “Getting to do it this time with a real conscious effort to perform, to do what we’ve kind of honed for the last 20-some years … we’re gonna ring like a bell out there.”
Tickets for the Wet Hot All-American Tour are available now.