All-American Rejects' Tyson Ritter Peddles T-Shirts in New Band

Tyson Ritter and friendPhoto: Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images

As reported in this week’s New York, Tyson Ritter, front man of TRL regulars All-American Rejects, is debuting his new side project Gnomans, which he calls “the world’s first clothing-line-fueled pop band,” on May 16 during a concert and fashion show at Marquee. He and fellow Gnoman Brian Robinson, a “crazy artist dude” Ritter grew up with, are launching the accompanying T-shirt line called T Bourne Ritkins, which is an amalgam of their two names. For the circuitous story of how the Gnomans and T Bourne Ritkins came to be — plus the story of how Ritter's grandma learned about his New York partying — read on.

What kind of band is the Gnomans?
Just a new-wave trashy pop band. The samples are off any sort of computer program we could find. It sounds really rough, like Peaches and Prince had sex. That’s how much sexual energy the Gnomans produce. It’s a vat.

Does the name have anything to do with gnomes?
We always dreamed we’d do an album cover where we’re sitting in front of a lawn wearing pointy hats and beards and there’s some like forties guy pushing a lawnmower across the lawn. So, yeah, there’s some relation to gnomes. But mostly it’s the Gnomans because I’m in a recording contract and there’s no other way I can put out this music. We’re just demo-ing songs and putting them up on the Internet.

Which came first, the T-shirt line or the pop band?
We design T-shirts and then we play music. We’re peddlers of T-shirts via pop.

The clothing line, T Bourne Ritkins, sounds like the name of some guy you made up.
We’ve kind of made him into this dude who comes at you at night in your dreams. We’ve been doing this all via MySpace, just fueling these kids on this candy pop and these T-shirts, and they really do believe that T Bourne Ritkins is this third party monster person that nobody ever sees and the Gnomans are his jewels. It's a big mess.

Your partner and buddy Brian Robinson, what exactly does he do?
B-Rob! When I was 17, before the band took off, I slept on his couch and we’d always just jam and go downstairs and spray-paint T-shirts and stuff. He’s the fuel for the designs. And in the band he’s the candy. He just looks good and sings his fucking songs. I’m the control; he’s the chaos. Know what I mean?

Sort of. What’s your design process like?
Brian will reach into some fairy-tale book from the twenties and be like, “Check this out. This is cool.” And then we’ll do a flip on it and spray-paint stencils until we find something right. We have a sword that has this crazy-ass inlaid design. And then there’s a leaf shirt where the leaves are falling all over you. I don’t want to say, “These are the threads of the earth.” I’m just trying to say this is shit I like.

Your party on May 16 will be at Marquee. Go out much in New York?
When we drink, we get out of hand and we need to be handled. We’ve learned to shy away from anything that could actually get us arrested. New York’s hard. You have a high chance of making an ass of yourself. B-Rob and I were in town for Fashion Week and we went to Bungalow 8 and they wouldn’t let us in because right when they opened the almighty prestigious velvet rope, my buddy was like, “It’s about damn time!” And right when he said that, they were like, “I’m sorry. You’re not coming in.” Then the next day my grandma texted me and said, “I saw on the Internet that you got denied at some bar.” So I think we’ve shied away ever since I had a conversation with a doorman and my grandma could read it the next day.

What will the fashion portion of the Marquee show be like?
I don’t want it to be this fucking high-end fucking fashionista thing where everybody’s gonna come in with an opinion already. I mean, I hope to God we’re giving fucking something away, or at least I get free drinks. It’s my fucking party. I should at least be able to drown myself in free alcohol if nobody comes. Uh, then there’s a CBGB’s merch show and a burlesque show and the Gnomans come on. All these Asian girls are going to march out; then there’s this one girl with blonde hair which is what the song “Lonely Hearts” is about, the girl with the sunshine hair. She’s the one you’re looking for.

So your show is you looking at a bunch of Asian chicks and rejecting them all for a blonde?
Wow! These are the undertones that I need to be paying attention to. Fuck! What the hell? Are you serious about that?

How many songs will you play?
One. That’s all you get. The whole fashion show is going to be like a music video, the girls are going to be walking to the song and right when the song is gone, it’s over.

Think you can pull it all off in two and a half minutes?
Whether or not it’s gonna be, you know, Immaculate Conception, we’ll see. Depends on how much Champagne we have. —Jada Yuan