Fall Out Boy Fall In On 'MANIA,' Kids Music & 'Star Wars'
Fall Out Boy have covered a lot of ground since their 2005 GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist. These darlings of modern pop/rock have blown up stages, charts and radio airwaves with hits like "Uma Thurman," "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" and "Centuries," survived a three-year hiatus and triumphantly returned stronger than ever.
Now in their 17th year as a band, Fall Out Boy are preparing for their world tour in support of their seventh studio album, MANIA, due out Jan. 19, 2018. Three of the four members are fathers, and being on the road is as much about maintaining connection with family as it is about connecting with audiences. With three singles from the new album already released — and a brand new philanthropic project, #FOBChampion, underway — Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman, and Andy Hurley, have plenty on their collective plate.
Fall Out Boy paid a visit to the Recording Academy headquarters in Santa Monica to perform an acoustic set and for a sit-down to discuss everything from their new album and tour to the music their kids can't resist, baseball and their favorite Star Wars character.
The MANIA tour begins in less than a month. What are the things that help you keep your sanity on the road?
Wentz: It's probably different for everybody. I know for sure like [the] phone and anything that can FaceTime home is good.
Stump: I don't know that I am particularly sane on the road, so I think this tour I'm making somewhat of an effort to maintain that. So I have a little day planner and I'm going to try to stick to that. That's like a big thing.
The new album arrives in January, but fans have already heard three of the songs. A recent Twitter poll showed "The Last Of The Real Ones" as the overall fan favorite. Which one is your favorite so far, and why?
Trohman: I'm gonna agree with the fans on this one. Fan favorite.
Stump: I feel like, in a lot of ways, our songs don't really become what they are until you play them live, and that was an amazing one. The first time we played it live it was like, "Oh, yeah, this one is special," because there's just something really natural about the way we play it. It's just fun and exciting for us.
What influence did producer Jesse Shatkin (Katy Perry, Sia) have on the sound of this album?
Wentz: Jesse's awesome. I think that it's a fine line finding somebody who understands pop music and pop radio but at the same time is super creative. Whatever direction you're headed in, he's like, "Let's steer that way." Especially being in a band, because there's obviously four distinct personalities and different instruments and he's really good at navigating that. You can definitely hear it in "Champion" for sure.
The VMA-nominated video for "Young And Menace" juxtaposes these odd monsters with a very real struggle of a broken family. Can you tell us where this concept came from?
Wentz: The first inception of it is like that moment in Elf where he's like, "Wait, I'm like not an elf," you know? What is the darker version of what that is? But I think that it's feeling like an outsider where you're supposed to feel at home, and you can apply it to our culture or the world or yourself.
That video was really important and then we just had these monster suits so now we're just kind of like, "Let's skateboard with these things" (laughs). These ideas have been less thoughtful.
The philanthropic work you're doing with #FOBChampion: How do you hope the campaign will spread a little light during dark times?
Wentz: We've always tried in different ways, but I think that we live in a culture where it's really easy to complain. And it's really easy to say thoughts and prayers about everything that happens, which I think is important, and I think it's important to motivate people, but it's also important to execute, you know? That's what we're trying to do with our fund, and especially [by] going locally and to individual markets on the tour where there's kids trying to do good and seeing their empathy. I think that's important to encourage.
— Fall Out Boy (@falloutboy) September 17, 2017
You guys led "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the 7th-inning stretch at a Cubs game in September. Who's the best baseball player in the band? And the worst?
Wentz: I might be the biggest nut. I wouldn't say that I'm a total nut, but I grew up playing and stuff.
Stump: And I would be the worst at baseball. I think I would be an easy answer.
Hurley: Joe's surprisingly got a really accurate arm.
Trohman: Yes, I have good hand-eye coordination. I'm also good at any time I have an itch on my body — I know exactly how to scratch it immediately without missing and hitting a different part of my body (laughs).
Now that's a secret talent — impressive.
Trohman: Now it's publicly known.
What's the last great "new" song you heard by any artist?
Stump: I feel like this is one of the hardest questions to answer because when you're working on a record, I feel like you can't listen to anything else. There's so many mixes and things that you're going over, exchanging notes, "Oh, we're going to change this and change this … the new Fall Out Boy record (laughs)." I've listened to it a lot.
Trohman: That and we're probably all listening to like a different child's movie soundtrack on repeat.
Stump: Yes, that too.
Trohman: I think that's part of the problem because like three-quarters of us have little kids. So it's a demand always. It's a fight.
Stump: The soundtrack to "Super Why!" is great.
Trohman: I love the Moana soundtrack but that didn't come out recently, but it's great, and I listen to it at least 17 times an hour.
You've talked about how "genre is dead" and how rock and roll has become constricting. What is the most rock and roll thing left in our culture?
Wentz: I don't know if I'm the right person to answer the question, but I think that true rock and roll is this changing, evolving thing. So when I listen to Kanye West and see this guy's got a floating stage, I'm like, "That is pretty rock and roll."
Stump: I feel the stuff Kanye does on stage is very Axl Rose. … Everywhere we go people are always asking us about rock and roll as if it's this ancient thing that's not around anymore. We're like, "Nah, it's pretty alive. It just looks and sounds different and acts different, but it's very much the same stuff."
Wentz: I'm starting to think that they might consider us the rock and roll oracle. They come to us, and they're like, "what is rock and roll?" (laughs)
Lastly, toss-up question here: Who is your favorite Star Wars character of all time?
Stump: Oh wow … that's a really tough one. I'm just going to say Yoda. I really loved Yoda before I saw him fight. I mean, it was still cool. I don't hate the prequels as much as you're supposed to, but Yoda in [The] Empire [Strikes Back] is one of the best things ever.