In March, the official statement (and leaks) of Fall Out Boy’s reconvening almost broke the internet as we know it. Now the pop-rockers’ machine is in full-tilt, with the release of their new album Save Rock And Roll and an extensive touring regimen. Ryan J. Downey spoke with Patrick Stump about some of the events in the backstory that led to the reconvening of one of the scene’s greatest success stories.
What were some of your favorite mistruths circulating out there about the reunion?
It was funny timing. The 10-year anniversary [of Take This To Your Grave] had something to do with it. That one was hilarious to me, because it was almost right, but [bloggers] had no idea what they were talking about.
Let’s talk about that blog of yours. That post was incredible.
Look, I can be colorful with some of my words sometimes. Sometimes I can very accidentally obscure the point I'm trying to make. It's a problem I have: I'm very good at talking over my point. The thing is, at no point in what I was [writing] was I saying I regretted putting out my record or was disappointed in the way my record was selling or disappointed in the experience of making the record. What I was disappointed in was seeing people so hateful about anything; I don't even care that it was me. I don't generally surround myself with YouTube commenters. It's just not how I live my life. It was the first time they came to me. I really saw it and said, “Wow, is this how a lot of the world is? Is this how the internet is? Is this how people talk to and think about each other? That's fucked up.” First it hurt me, but then it really depressed me in a weird kind of way. Like, “Wow, this is entertainment to us.”
It has to do with the blog I wrote the other day about the culture of hate. It's disappointing that that's entertaining to people. I think that's been a really major influence on my life now. I really make a point not to get so hateful with my words. It's such a waste of time to be like, “Oh, the first Grizzly Bear record is way better.” What the fuck? How is that relevant to fucking anybody? It doesn't advance life in any way.
I’ve interviewed bands trying to evolve stylistically who crack wise about their favorite bands who have tried the same thing.
It's interesting bringing it up too, seeing it in other bands but not seeing in yourself. I thought about Saves The Day—huge influence. No question, I would not be in Fall Out Boy without Through Being Cool. It's very cool and popular within Saves The Day fandom, Through Being Cool or Stay What You Are or maybe if you're really cool you talk about Can't Slow Down. But any time someone brings up In Reverie or any of the new stuff? [imitates snotty fan.] “Bah, just go back to whatever my favorite record was!”
An interesting thing happened to me with Lifetime, another one of my favorite bands. So my dream came true: They got back together, and they made a record that was exactly as good as my favorite records of theirs. That record was freaking good. But… it didn't feel the same way to me. I went, “Huh, that is interesting.” They did everything right. They did everything that everyone in every blog talks about, that every kid, every message board has ever complained about: Why don't they just do the old stuff or write something good like that? I realized that it was me. You get older and you're not going to relate to things the same way; it's just not how things happen. I'm not going to be 16 again and hear Jersey's Best Dancers for the first time again. That's not going to happen to me. That was a big thing for me: It informed Save Rock And Roll and everything I've been doing since then. Because it reminded me that when Ari [Katz, Lifetime vocalist] was off doing his really crazy, very different stuff, that was really punk rock. When Lifetime came back and did their new record, that was punk rock, too. But they were lateral moves.
That was a huge moment for me in the way that I philosophically approach music now. It's an insult for me to go out there and ignore new ideas that I have. It's an insult to the audience. I don't think Lifetime did that; I think they found excitement in doing something that sounded like their old thing. The point is that as a listener you have to accept that there's a new listener. Every new record that comes out maybe isn't for you.
It’s way better to surprise yourself and to surprise your audience. If you guys make an art record, hipsters will reject it. If you repeat yourselves, people inevitably dismiss that, too.
And that's the reality: You have to find some other lane. For us, it was first, accepting once and for all that we're a pop-rock band. When you take away the context of what pop-punk means, that thing changes and grows and whatever the hell else we were called. When people wanted to call us an emo band, there were all these purists who were furious that we were getting called that. We were just as bewildered as they were. When we were a pop-punk band, same story. When you take those things away, what is Fall Out Boy in 2013? We're not this Pitchfork band; we don't even want to be that. We're not this big [rock band]. It's because I love the Foo Fighters that I don't want to be the Foo Fighters. You have to be yourself. What's honest to us is something that's going to change and grow every time we put out a record.
I’d imagine the time apart has strengthened your relationship with Pete. Is going out and doing FOB less tense now? What’s changed to avoid some of the problems that arose before?
If I hadn't stood at the back of the Roxy and watched the Damned Things play and hadn't been so impressed, I don't think I would be able to trust Joe nearly as much as I do now. If I didn't see what Pete could do with Black Cards… Yeah, okay, maybe the record didn't come out, but I heard a lot of demos. There were some really impressive moments there that really surprised me in terms of what the public perception is of Pete Wentz, or whatever. If that hadn't happened I don't think I could trust him as much as I do. I would hope—there's no way to know—that they were kind of impressed with Soul Punk.
Andy mentioned he liked having the next years of his life planned again and that was hard for him when things were off. What is the plan generally speaking for the rest of the year?
One of the things that was very interesting going into this record is that we didn't really have much of a plan going into this. We were just going to wait for the music to speak for itself and be in a place where we had to release it. We waited for that. Which is one of the reasons it was so secret. I'm sure management probably had some shit on the board, some plan, somewhere. But the four of us were kind of the mind of “If it's not right, we're not showing up. We are waiting until the music is the thing that drives us.” Going into this, we had some ideas, but I think that's the plan. It worked so well for us this time out. We did used to have such a rigid schedule; this is so much more fluid where we know that we like playing together.
Every phone call we get from one another is a crazy surprise. “Hey, what if we did this?” Everyone says, “Shit! That’s awesome!” We never had that freedom before because we were so regimented. I don't know what the immediate plan is; I do know I'm very excited about things coming up.
Your blog post mentioned maybe acting, writing. What happens to those endeavors now?
Everything is on hold. Fall Out Boy is my baby. I love acting, writing. It's obnoxious when amateur writers talk ad nauseaum about that thing they're working on so I won't do it. I'm happy when I get to do those things, but I am happiest when I'm in Fall Out Boy and we're enjoying it. That's the deciding factor. That kind of stuff you can't tear me away from for acting. alt
Check out more exclusive material with Fall Out Boy in AP 299, on sale as your eyes meet this text and stay tuned this week and next week for more Fall Out Boy content that didn't make the mag.