As you may already know, THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS played a string of shows opening for Bon Jovi this past summer. AP caught up with AAR guitarists NICK WHEELER and MIKE KENNERTY at Madison Square Garden, the day before their second show alongside New Jersey’s finest, to find out more about this curious pairing.

What have Bon Jovi’s crowds been like so far?

Wheeler: When you go to these shows, you see people who were in that same seat 25 years ago, but then you see new fans of theirs, too. Hopefully some of those people know who the hell we are, and hopefully a lot of them don’t and they take something cool away from our show. Opening giant arena shows where the headliner plays for like two-and-a-half hours is always kind of tough because half the audience is filing into their seats while your playing. Last night, things got off to a slow start, but then by the end the place was full and everyone was on their feet for “Move Along.” If anything they were like “Ahhh, that’s who does this song!”

Kennerty: These kinds of shows are fun, because you feel like you have to win; you definitely feel like you have to prove something. These people came for one thing, and we’re not it. So if after watching two-and-a-half hours of Bon Jovi they can still say, “That opening band was cool,” then that’s good. That’s the point of these shows.

Have you guys interacted with any of the guys in Bon Jovi? Have they been cool to you?

Wheeler: They definitely clear the hallway and we have to go hide in our dressing room when they take the stage, but it’s not them doing that-they have over 100 crew people working for them and we’re just definitely in the way sometimes. But the guys, as people, are definitely really nice. Yesterday is a great example: We were all standing around our gear back in the loading dock and all their black vans pull up, they all get out of their separate vans with their families and every single one of them rolls by and says, “Hey,” and introduces their family to us.

Would you guys aspire to be that big someday? What is the ultimate goal you’re working toward?

Kennerty: I would say definitely longevity, whether it be on that level or almost any level would be amazing; just to be able to actually keep doing what we do and not in a like pathetic 300-cap [room] sort of way. [Laughs.]

Wheeler: And not in the kind of way like the Gin Blossoms and Soul Asylum are doing a tour. [Laughs.] Not that way, either. —Jonah Bayer