Fall Out Boy Knows What You Did In the Dark
by Ally Abramson
It’s time to “Dance, Dance” because Fall Out Boy (FOB) is back on tour accompanied by Paramore. The “Monumentour” will run for two and a half months this summer all over the United States. This will be the first co-headlining tour for Fall Out Boy and Paramore, who have very similar music styles and fan bases.
FOB has been around for over a decade, starting up in Chicago in 2001. The band began performing at Warped tour (a multiple-band tour that occurs yearly) and has blown up since then. The band consists of Pete Wentz (bassist), Joe Trohman (guitar), Patrick Stump (vocals and guitar) and Andy Hurley (drums), who joined the band in 2003.
Fall Out Boy came back to the music scene last year with their album “Save Rock and Roll” after a three year long hiatus. Their new music differs slightly from their more popular songs, including (but not limited to…) “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs (Thanks For The Memories),” but is cool in a new way. It’s not the Fall Out Boy many may remember, but the fast tunes and rock sound will attract both old and new fans. Songs from the new album include radio hit, “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up).” This upcoming tour is the last go around for the latest album.
Over the past decade, FOB has grown as a band and generated a huge following. Recently, we had the privilege of participating in a conference call with Pete Wentz. Wentz talked about how the band has changed over time, how they might create new ideas in the future, and much more.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
I heard some rumors that Fall Out Boy are working on some new music. What can you share with us about that?
Yeah. We haven’t officially started working on any new music. But the thing that we’ve been talking about, the idea that since we went away and we came back that music moves so quickly now with the internet and what not. I feel like we’re able to do tons of different things as long as we remain authentic to our sound. As long as you remain authentic to you and who you are as an artist, then you can make lots of decisions as an artist, like an EP or whatever you choose. We were coming up with all kinds of crazy ideas. I feel like it’s not necessarily a song or an EP, but maybe it’s like… doing the Youngblood Chronicles, that was a lot of fun for us to film. If anything I think that we’re far more open now to doing something that’s outside of what people would consider our genre or who we are. Music that we’ve done recently to me sounds different from anything we’ve ever worked on.
You mentioned the new music you guys have been working on. How much is around right now?
We haven’t gone into a studio. The way we work is Patrick and I work separately. Then Joe works separately. Then we’ll show each other stuff. We’re at the point where we’ve shown each other stuff that we’ve been working on, but we aren’t at the point yet where we’ve started putting complete Fall Out Boy songs together. More than anything we’re trying to figure out what the vibe of the next thing is. It’s a strange place for us to be as a band, because I’m not really sure who our contemporaries are. I think we came from a very specific scene of music and now that doesn’t seem to exist. As everything evolves, it’s a different thing now. We’re trying to figure out what our place in it and in rock and pop music is. We’ve been trying to figure out what the next step is for us. Now more than anything it’s about creating something that will exist within Fall Out Boy’s legacy, less than thinking about things that would be more immediate.
You mentioned the Youngblood Chronicles. What’s going to be the future of that? Is it going to come out on DVD/Blu-ray or what are you thinking you’re going to be doing with it?
We’re going to be releasing it on DVD. We put it out live uninterrupted on a couple of channels. We put it out on Palladia and a few channels outside of the US. It was a passion project. Something that was interesting and fun for us to do. Something that existed outside of what we normally do as a band. So we really want people to be able to consume it in a way that we had imagined. I think doing capsule collections of art or music in general is the future of Fall Out Boy right now. These little ideas, whether they be an EP, a film series, these ideas are what we are focused on right now. The idea that Fall Out Boy is as much a curation of ideas as it is about creating albums. Now the way people consume stuff on the internet, you’re able to do that. You can be like “Oh, I’ve got this idea….” I think Pharrell [Williams] curating this art show that goes along with his album is a great other stream that you can examine as an artist right now. That’s where we are focused – on these bigger ideas right now.
That probably keeps you fresher than slogging out an album, doesn’t it?
I think so. I mean there’s the danger of sometimes coming up with these Shark Tank sort of ideas where you’re presenting such a pipe dream. I mean there’s never – well, I won’t say never – but in the next year there isn’t going to be like a Fall Out Boy theme park. But those are the kind of ideas that you come up with… like half-past-midnight ideas. It’s interesting that you brought that up. We as a band know that we still have those avid Fall Out Boy fans, die hard fans who are album focused still. So it’s our job to deliver these bodies of work. But I think that the great thing is that you have all of this extra creative energy and this is an outlet for it. In the way that you can do almost everything on a laptop now, it’s great because you can put legs on an idea and follow it through to the end. Before you had to get a budget and a film crew. It’s much easier to see ideas through without spending tons of money.
This is an interesting tour because you’re and Paramore kind of came out of the same family. How is it that you guys have never toured together before?
I don’t know. There’s some certain DNA shared in our music. I think it was mostly due to timing. We just came up at different points. The rollercoaster ride was always at different points for us at the same time. The cool thing about it now is that we are similar, but we’re different enough that our fans have been asking for it for a long time. To finally get it together is a big deal for both of us and our fan bases.
Is there a competition factor there, maybe you guys are pushed by them or they’re pushed by you?
I think so. I mean at the end of the day it’s probably similar to – well anytime you say anything it’d be like “woah that’s crazy, I don’t mean it” – but we grew up in the 90’s with the [Chicago] Bulls [basketball team]. I won’t say it’s like [Scottie] Pippen and [Michael] Jordan, but it’s like Pippen and maybe BJ Armstrong or like Pippen and [Bill] Cartwright. You’re on the same team at the end of the day and you’re trying to win for the team. Paramore is an awesome band that has this completely different vibe from us. That raises the bar for our band to want to perform better every single night. You can lay back and find your groove as a band and treat it like a day job. Having things that put a wrench in that and force you to pick it up a bit are great for your band and your fans, in a really positive way.
You both played for Warped Tour pretty early in your careers. We’re ten years past that now. Are there memories that you’ve shared or lessons that you’ve learned there that you’ve found helpful during the rest of your career?
Definitely. I’ve found especially that you have to maintain some state of hygiene on your tour. We came back from Warped and I was a changed man. I knew that you could exist on just baby wipes and water basically. (laughs) We met really cool people on the tour. With a tour like that with so many bands, you learn a ton of lessons on how you want to act versus how you don’t want to act. How you want to treat people and how you don’t. We did Warped a little before From Under The Cork Tree. That came out while we were on Warped, so it was a strange summer. My Chemical Romance was starting to appear on TRL (MTV’s Total Request Live), too. It was like the planets aligned. The punk bands versus boy bands on TRL. I’ll always remember that.
You guys are bringing along New Politics on this tour which is a big break for a young rock band. What was it about them that made you guys think, “Oh, we’ve got to have them along with us?”
When I saw New Politics, it was something raw and different than I [had seen] before. There was this kinetic energy on the stage. Being able to create a song like “Harlem” now – a rock band with a song that can go on many formats – is no small task. I always feel like it’s really important to help artists that are emerging and taking them under your wing. There’s no real tutorial that we can bring because New Politics can fly on their own, but the least we can do is give them some kind of platform, whether it’s in amphitheaters or whatever it is. To me the energy and the scene that we come from isn’t exactly what it was, but this band seems like in an alternate reality they could have existed in that.
There hasn’t been a lot of talk yet about what’s actually going to happen on the tour, so let’s talk about that. Do you think it will be different from the arena tour in the fall?
I do. That this tour will be different for our band because it’s our first legitimate co-headline in a long time – if ever – so you’re both limited by that. The bar is raised by that, so you’re limited in that you share the stage equally, both time wise and what we put on the stage. Also, the bar is raised because you have an act out there who could close the show on their own. That’s an act that you respect. Beyond that, being able to get into amphitheaters was a great opportunity for us. We didn’t even have the hope of that when we started this album process. Doing that, we had a lot of material. The Monumentour in itself is very detailed. We created this imagery and this idea for the Save Rock & Roll tours and kind of did them all over. There were these black ski masks and really specific imagery based on the Youngblood Chronicles. Now we’re moving onto a new medium, one without the ski masks with completely different stuff on the screens. We have a couple tricks up our sleeves. We went back and looked at old rock tours, like Metallica, the Guns ’N’ Roses stadium tour, Iron Maiden tour. We looked at different things and what we thought would be iconic from them – things from Eddie on stage with Iron Maiden (a stage prop giant skeleton character) to the snake pit that Metallica used to bring on stage with them. We were trying to do our own take on that, also knowing that this is going to be our last representation of this album cycle in the US so it’s a big deal for us. We’re able to do all of the bells and whistles being in amphitheaters this tour. Expect the biggest Fall Out Boy show of the album cycle, definitely.
Will Paramore be part of your set or will you be part of their set for a limited time? How does that work?
I don’t really know. We haven’t talked about it that much. We got to hang over the Super Bowl weekend in New York. Hayley [Williams, Paramore’s lead singer] came out and sang “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” with us. I think a co-headline is cool to conceptualize it in that way. It would be really cool for fans, but we haven’t talked about it yet. It would be cool to do something, whether it’s in a few of the cities or a limited time on stage. But the logistics of getting our bands on tour together just for two and a half months was insane. We’ve been trying to do that for a year or so. Just getting that done was a big win for us.
How does the experience of coming to a smaller place differ from more traditional, big cities and as an artist individually how do you try to stay amped along tour?
I live in Los Angeles most of the time and in Chicago for the rest of the time so for me, I like going to smaller places. My parents have a lake house and I spend a lot of time there. I like it because I don’t feel like there are people sitting around with cameras. It’s a less stressful environment where you don’t have to be on. You can just be whoever there. I appreciate the anonymity. I think it allows you to get your bearings and reset yourself. Whether it’s the case or not, where we grew up in Chicago felt off the beaten path. You could get into the city and all that, but like bands weren’t coming to the suburbs that we lived in. We’d have to make an adventure to make it happen. So I appreciate going to places that are off the beaten path, because you know that there are fans there who maybe haven’t gotten out to see a show of yours or who have had to travel far out to see you. To come close by is just awesome.
What’s it like to be at shows where fans are holding cell phones and all that during a long period of time during the show; is that a frustration for you?
For us it offers the chance for a teachable moment. When we’re doing meet and greets and stuff, we try to create moments where people can interact with us and they don’t have to feel the need that it’s a status update. At the same time we’ve never been the kind of geriatric band who’s screaming at kids to get off our lawn. There’s kind of a fine line between the two. I see more cell phones. Not just at shows, just because of the culture in general. I see it at weddings and that kind of stuff. People are trying to upload and capture every single moment. There’s this great YouTube doc called “Look Up.” It’s to make sure that you are looking up and interacting with people as well as doing that stuff. We try to be playful with it and know that it’s going to exist, but we try to create the most interactive format possible. That means we’ll probably go into the crowd or have the crowd come up on stage. Moments where you’re not really going to be able to do that kind of thing. You’re going to have to participate.
You mentioned that you guys are trying to create some new sound. How would you say your bands music has progressed from when you started out?
When you start, you listen to whatever bands you’re into. You tend to create things that are homages to them, before you create a sound that you would consider your own. I think that when our band started out, it was really easy to label it and stick it into a category. We’ve always been interested in reaching a little bit beyond what people were expecting. Sometimes that really helped us. At other times it was a little off. Like when we were making this album, I think we reached beyond what people expected or were comfortable with from us at the time with Folie à Deux. Some of it maybe fell short. I don’t know. Some people I’ll see and they’ll be like “Oh, that’s the album I really liked.” I’m thinking: oh, that’s weird. I don’t really see it kind of in that light. At the same time, that paves the way for us to be able to do Save Rock and Roll and move beyond what people would have normally expected. They were like “Oh yeah, the last one, they really pushed the boundaries,” so people were ready for it a little. I don’t know. Like I said we played a radio show two nights ago. You’re playing your singles and back to back. A lot of them made sense, but if you go from A to Z rather than making the jump slowly they’re really different. It was something that made us proud. There were a couple of times where we could have sat back and made a safe choice and we decided to make a different choice instead.
Look for tour dates near you at falloutboy.com.
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