Vocalist/bassist Tyson Ritter and guitarist Nick Wheeler both hail from Stillwater, OK, where the pair first embraced music as an appealing diversion from the ho-hum life of small-town America. Citing such influences as AC/DC, Def Leppard, and Bon Jovi, they formed the emo-pop group All-American Rejects in 2000, while both members were still in high school. Maintaining a full lineup proved to be difficult, however, so Ritter and Wheeler employed drum loops and pre-programmed rhythm tracks during their early performances, an arrangement they then reprised on their self-titled debut. Originally released on the Doghouse label in October 2002, the poppy record was later reissued to a national audience by DreamWorks. The band scored a hit with the effervescent single "Swing, Swing," which attracted attention from Interscope Records and ultimately landed the All-American Rejects on the label's prized roster.