Fall Out Boy

author TL date 25/04/13

Being a rather massive Fall Out Boy fan through about eight years obviously means that any opportunity to talk directly to one of the bandmembers is a pretty big deal, even if it is via a phone call from half the world away. What makes it an even bigger deal however, is when the band has just released their reunion album after three years of hiatus and are currently being covered and interviewed well on their way to ad nauseum in every medium even remotely similar to this one (as they indeed should be). What does one ask them that everybody else isn't already asking? What can't you already get an answer to by reading other interviews from people that are in front of me in the line for 'audiences'? I mean without resorting to lame stuff like "What's everybody's favourite junk food?". That's the one question I tried to answer with the handful of questions I got to discuss during twenty all too brief minutes with singer/guitarist Patrick Stump, and if you're interested in the answers to any of them, you can either listen to the player right here or read on below:

RF.net: Obviously you guys just put the new album "Save Rock And Roll" out about a week ago, so to get things started I just want to know what you're doing right now?
Stump: Well, it's funny because on our schedule it says we have these days off, but obviously there are lots of interviews like this to be done and things like that. So it'll be maybe a week and then we'll get back out and do more performances for TV and such, and then afterwards we're just preparing for the tour in May.

RF.net: With the band reuniting I'm sure you get to answer lots of people speculating about what that means to you, but I'd like to ask how things are the same as before and how they're different, they way you see them from your perspective?
Stump: I think it's tough to say, because it is almost for people outside of the band to say.. Because I feel like you never really so much of a sense of yourself.. You try to, but I don't think anybody ever really knows who they are.. I hope that we know at least some of the time but I just have my doubts, haha..

I think the biggest change for me is the communication. We communicate so much better than we used to and that means everything. Everything from "hey I got an idea for this video thing" and "hey, your idea gave me an idea" and we actually converse instead of maybe avoiding each other - all the way up to when you're on stage and you're a musician just communicating musically without having to explain any of it. Everybody just knows where you're going. I think we've come to that place as a band and that's new and that's awesome.

RF.net: You chose to start your reunion by going on a tour of smaller venues in Europe even prior to releasing the album. Can you talk about the reasoning behind your decision to go and tour these small venues first?
Stump: I think that us having been away for three years and having been a band for eleven years prior to that, it's entirely possible for people to have stopped caring. So there's just no guarantees that we can come back and just play arenas, even though we actually were this band that got really big and got to play arenas.

When you start out though you're obviously playing in basements and tiny clubs and I think that really taught us how to do both. So I think that coming back it was really important for us to do it the right way and to start up again a bit like a small band.. I mean we look at art and at shows and everything as a challenge, and I do want to play arenas again and do bigger productions and do that too.. But it's almost like the difference between being a TV/film actor and being a stage actor where there's more of the sense that you have to prove it on stage. That's kind of how we felt; like we wanted to go in there and prove it and really earn those audiences.

RF.net: We've heard you talk about how you wanted the fans to be able to hear new music as soon as the reunion was announced - Did that have anything to do with worries about the hype maybe getting bigger than the record or something like that?
Stump: Yeah that is a component of it for sure. It's tough because first off, again we've been a band for such a long time that there's no guarantee that there would be any hype, but if there is hype then there's no guarantee that we're going to live up to it. And we really wanted to do this because of the album and the music. We didn't want Fall Out Boy 'the spectacle' to come back, we wanted Fall Out Boy 'the artists' to come back, and we wanted the people that had stayed interested in our music to come back and I think the way to do that is to put the art ahead of the spectacle.

I don't mean to criticise these people - but we live in an era when a lot of people are celebrities just for being celebrities and we have no interest in that. We have never wanted that, we are here to be musicians and to make music. Because of that I think you have to put the music first. I've gotten to do other stuff like write for magazines and stuff, but I'm the singer of Fall Out Boy, that's where my heart is, it's what I really do. We wanted to make sure that everybody knows that and that the four of us are here for that, and for that I think we wanted to hold the music up above anything else.

RF.net: Okay so personally I've been a fan since "Take This To Your Grave" and I've liked everything you've done since then - And I feel like up until now there's always been a self-awareness or a distance to the things that you've sung about, while on "Save Rock And Roll" I get the impression that you're ready to question yourself a little bit less and rather take a stand or make a statement on what the band or the record is about - Does that sound right at all or how would you respond to something like that?
Stump: I think there's a lot of that in there! Part of it is... I mean we spent such a long time on trying to figure ourselves out and when you talk about those earlier records there are a lot of songs that are about questioning "who am I?". I think now we really have a better understanding of who we are, and I think the question for us now is "what's right and what's wrong" and that kind of stuff. We're looking more outwards and I think that happens as you get older.

I think it's funny because somebody was talking to me the other day about how "Take This To Your Grave" is a very angry record and it's very angry at specific people, while this new record is very hopeful and optimistic... And I'll be honest with you, I don't think it's any more hopeful or optimistic than "Take This To Your Grave". I think this record is what happens when your parents get divorced... I remember when my parents got divorced and my mom and dad would be angry at each other but they had to smile and be strong for the kids and show this 'game face'. That's the kind of adults that I think we've grown into. I think we're just as angry as we used to be but now you have to say it more tactfully.

When you're seventeen you say to somebody "I hope you choke or drive off a bridge" and what nobody tells you when you're seventees is that you're likely to keep seeing those same people forever. Those people that you want the least to do with, they could be in your life forever, so I think the record is a bit about that and you don't always get to really react.

I just watched the movie "42" which is about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player - And there's a line in it about how - because so many prejudiced people were waiting for him to fail, if somebody punched him first and he punched back then people would only be talking about him and not the other guy. I think that extends into all aspects of adulthood really. People remember it when you screw up, they don't care why you did it and I feel like a lot of this record is.. Like I said we're just as angry and confused but we just feel like we need to sort of channel it somewhere.

RF.net: I think it makes sense as well because the earlier records really did connect with a younger audience and maybe there's something in there that makes the new album more accessible to other audiences, because you take the positive route or the more constructive route and you try to, like you said, phrase things more tactfully..

Stump: Yeah and one of the things is too that I was seventeen when we made "Take This To Your Grave" so I'm happy that it connected with people that were that age as well. That makes sense. Musical is universal though - like when I was a kid I connected with music made by people that were in their 60's, but I think it would be really lame of us to write songs now pretending to be seventeen again. It's got to be honest you know?

RF.net: I'm guessing you get a million questions about the album title - which I think only serves you right for naming it as such - but: What I took away from it is that listening to the album there's this whole sense of high tech pop-production but yet it has the energy and urgency of a rock record, and what struck me is that it almost saves pop more than it saves rock'n'roll.. Because it puts some of rock's immediacy and sensitivity into music that often has a really playful and experimental sound but isn't necessarily always about anything that has depth. So I guess the question is whether you see the album as a pop or a rock record and what you're trying to say about the genres here:
Stump: Well, I think where it starts is that I look at pop music like an umbrella. People talk about pop as if it's a genre but it's not. Pop music is just the culmination of all popular music so in that sense it's always funny when people complain like "damn, you're making pop music!" because I'm like.. If you're making anything with drums, bass and guitar then you're making pop music. You can be in a black metal band and in a basic sense it's still pop music whether or not you know it.

So in that regard I do think that there is an energy to pop music but there can be a fear of experimentation or almost like a fear of intellectualism in it right now. And that's definitely something we've thought about and gone "well that's a shame!" because when we were kids, what was on the radio was David Bowie, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel.. And those were pop records but they were really ambitious and smart as opposed to just being dumb songs about...

RF.net: Dancing or drinking champagne or whatever..

Stump: Yeah exactly, these songs really said something! And I think that pop music right now is missing a bit of this. In terms of the 'rock'n'roll' thing, I think you hit the nail on the head, because I don't think of it necessarily as an idea that needs to be saved, but if it isn't somehow present in pop music - if rock'n'roll isn't on the radio then... I mean rock'n'roll people can argue about whether we are or aren't, but that's what we came from. We are a rock band and we do play guitar on these songs. Regardless of what people have to say about that stuff it's really hard for a rock band to get on the radio, at least in the States. And if there's nobody doing it then I fear kids forget what rock'n'roll is. When we were kids and we heard "Dookie" on the radio - when we heard "Basketcase" for the first time - it was really inspiring because it sounded like music that you could make but really good! And it made you want to go out and pick up a guitar and be in a band! I know that there were a lot of guys in the punk scene going "Green Day are sellouts!" but dude, them doing that inspired so many real punk-rockers.

That's the thing for us I think. If we're going to be a pop-band or if that's how people want to see us in arenas and stuff, then that's fine but I want to make sure that we carry with us the kind of quality and honesty that we had when we were in basement.

RF.net: The next question is more of business question because you released the new album for streaming via soundcloud and youtube prior to the real release, and that makes somebody like me really happy but on the other hand I fear for that approach.. Because I worry that I would get too accustomed to the streaming quality or that other people would get accustomed to it and give the album bad criticism because they think that's what it's going to sound like. Can you talk about your reasoning for releasing it as a stream:
Stump: Honestly I never thought about the quality differential. The thing for us is that music is consumed in a completely different way now. Now when you want to listen to a song you punch it into itunes and if it's not there you look it up on youtube and if it's not there you go look for a torrent. And I think what the music industry has shown that it doesn't understand is that it doesn't mean that people aren't buying records. Those people that do this are still buying records if they like them. It's just that you didn't use to be able to hear all the songs on a record, so you would buy it just to find out what the rest was. Now you know what you're getting into so you only get the ones that mean something to you.

I have this friend who's been in the industry for a long time who told me that "If this was 1992 you'd be selling 5-10 million records" and I'm like "Yeah, but of those millions only maybe half a million really ends up feeling like the record means anything to them". In that way, when we sell... I mean we have sold a lot of records, the numbers haven't even come in yet, but we've sold a lot of copies of the new album and every one of those means more to me than those five million would have. Because I know that those people heard the whole record and know that they really want it. So I think that was part of the reason that we put up the stream as well..

RF.net: I guess it's sort of a move of confidence as well then?

Stump: Yeah or cockyness or arrogance, haha! But we're music fans just like our own fans and we wanted to make sure that we treat everyone how we want to be treated and I personally love when bands do stuff like that. It's the same reason for us posting the first song and the video and the tour dates at the same time that we announced we were reuniting. Because if you do any of those out of order, I know that as a fan I would be going "awwh, when do I get to hear the song?!"

** At this point Patrick and I are warned that we've almost spent our time and that there's only time for one last question**

RF.net: I think the last thing that I really need to ask is what's going to happen with your various side-projects, like your own solo work, The Damned Things and Pete's book and so on? What is the status on those things?
Stump: Well we're all focused on Fall Out Boy right now. I'm sure we're all going to do different stuff in the future. That was kind of one of the things that we wanted to do - establishing the four of us as different individuals. I mean obviously I'm the singer and somebody's always going to think I'm important because singers always get too much credit.. But I was looking around at the band and.. I know a lot of bands and there really is just something special about each of the four of us.. Joe is a really unique player in a way that a lot of bands don't have and Andy is a really special player and obviously people have known about what Pete brings to the band for a long time.. But I thought it would be cool for us to go off and show what we can do as different people so I would love for us to be able to continue to do that, and I'm sure all of us will do all sorts of projects in the future.

RF.net: I think what people really want to hear is whether or not you've already shut down some of the other things, because some people were excited about your solo stuff and some people were excited about The Damned Things and I think people want me to ask the question and then you DON'T come out and flat out say this or that is over!

Stump: Hahaha! Well I tell you what: I said four years ago that we were just going on hiatus and people didn't believe me and thought we were breaking up. Now I think I've proved that you can trust me when I say that.. Our solo projects are just sort of on hold for now.. Now my money is where my mouth is because I was right and Fall Out Boy did indeed come back, so you have to trust me, hahaha!

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