“We’re just better at it these days”—Patrick Stump talks ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’
Pete Wentz isn't the only member of Fall Out Boy who's a new dad: Vocalist Patrick Stump and his wife also recently welcomed a baby boy, Declan. This impending momentous occasion did have an interesting impact on the making of American Beauty/American Psycho. "Jake Sinclair was really aiming to have me done recording by the time I had to go off and disappear into parenthood," Stump notes via email. "Because of that, there was a kind of speed and fluidity to the way we worked. There was a reason for a deadline...it wasn't 'Finish the record by this date so we can push it out in time for the Christmas rush!' It was, 'Get out your best ideas while you can.'"
Read on as Stump adds some more color commentary to Wentz's descriptions of the new record—revealing the musical process, what American Beauty/American Psycho is shaping up to sound like, and what impressed him most about his bandmates during the process of making the record.
You've released a couple of singles, "Immortals" and "Centuries," which are just huge-sounding anthems. I heard the latter at a Cavs game a few weeks ago here in Cleveland. Are these songs indicative of the new album's direction?
PATRICK STUMP: It's always hard to describe an album until it's totally done. I definitely see the sports-sing-along vibe to both those songs, though. Ironic, since I'm so bad at sports. Overall, I'd say those two songs are a decent snapshot of the record. [It's] hard to predict, though. I wouldn't say all the songs sound the same, but they all sound like they're from this album.
With Save Rock And Roll, you guys returned almost seamlessly: People were so thrilled to have you back. Has that made you more comfortable to be able to experiment with new music? If so, why? If not, why not?
The funny thing is, while I think we totally would be more free to experiment, we didn't. One of my minor regrets over Save Rock And Roll was that it kind of wandered between styles. That kind of drove us to strive for something a little more together. Some albums are great for their capacity to bounce around. But then you have albums like David Bowie's Low or Elvis Costello's This Year's Model, where you pick any track and it sounds like it's from the same album. So back to what I was saying earlier, [the new album] has that "all songs of the same moment" quality.
People know you've been working on new music and an album, but the proceedings have also been as low-key as it was pre-Save Rock And Roll, it seems. Was that by design?
Yeah, I think so. We used to announce we were working on a record, and we'd have photo shoots at the studio and film behind-the-scenes stuff. It got a bit tedious, though, because you could end up with a not-great record. Who wants to see the behind the scenes of that? So we like to cut away a lot of the distraction and take our time. The irony is that we take way less time to make a record these days!
Have there been any major differences between how this album has come together, versus how your albums came together in the past?
I wouldn't say major, just that the process is still very gradually evolving. I'm a better engineer these days, so a lot of my demo vocals or guitar stuff actually made it to the album. Same with Joe [Trohman]'s stuff—plenty was recorded at his place. So more of what we do when we all get into the studio is discuss. We go, "Well, should it really do this? Or should it maybe go to a completely other section?" Pete used to have tons of rewrites on our earlier records, but he seems much more content with his lyrics this go round. As if he'd ever do anything we didn't like!
Musically, what sorts of artists/bands have been influencing your songwriting this time around in particular?
The weirdest thing is, I think more than any record we've done, this one has relied least on outside inspiration. It's really more about being inspired by us, I suppose.
I spoke with Pete and he mentioned that he was going a bit more introspective in his lyrics, as well as focusing on some issues—such as Ferguson, Missouri—that have really affected him. Lyrically, what's been inspiring your songwriting?
I wrote very few lyrics on this record, unlike Save Rock And Roll, where I'd say I did maybe somewhere near 25 percent. This one, Pete was really onto something and it would've been stupid to get in the way of that. The couple words I did write here and there were more almost in an editing capacity.
You recently became a first-time dad: Congrats! Has that influenced your songwriting at all?
Thanks! [Producer] Jake Sinclair was really aiming to have me done recording by the time I had to go off and disappear into parenthood. Because of that, there was a kind of speed and fluidity to the way we worked. There was a reason for a deadline...it wasn't "Finish the record by this date so we can push it out in time for the Christmas rush!" It was, "Get out your best ideas while you can." I think you can hear it on the record; it has these great improvisational moments from all of us that I think tend to get ironed out on a more overthought album.
What's impressed you most about your bandmates this time around during the album-making process?
Andy [Hurley] is a dream to record. Easiest musician to work with. You press “play,” he maybe does a couple takes, it sounds incredible, then we get coffee. Pete is always great to work with, but I really loved his lyrics this time out. He just nailed a feeling and it was very easy to write songs around them. Joe [Trohman] played most of the guitar this time out. On the older records, I performed many of the solo sections because they were more my style. This time you get to hear some of Joe's more blues-rock stuff.
The pace of press and touring post-Save Rock And Roll was pretty incredible. What did you do differently this time around to prevent the burnout and fatigue that plagued you prior to the hiatus?
I think somewhere I'm terrified of that burnout, but the reality is we're different people than we were on [2008's] Folie [à Deux] We seem to have a better handle on how and when to say "No." Honestly, as worried as I can get about it sometimes, I know we won't burn ourselves out. We're just better at it these days. alt