In the new issue of Music Week, we catch up with Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz as the band’s latest album, Mania – released via Virgin EMI - fights a chart battle with The Greatest Showman for the top spot in the charts. In the interview they outline their journey from emo underdogs to comeback champions and streaming kings.
In many ways, in 2018, Fall Out Boy are all but unrecognisable from their time as avatars of the early Noughties emo scene. They started off modestly on the back of their 2003 debut Take This To Your Grave (112,693 sales – OCC) before enjoying a major breakthrough. Their 2005 second album From Under The Cork Tree (459,653) spawned megahits like Sugar, We’re Goin Down and Dance, Dance, while 2007’s Infinity On High (496,721) went on to surpass that. In 2009, Fall Out Boy went on hiatus; in 2013 they returned only to become even bigger. They not only reinvented themselves in a nostalgia-free way with a highly-evolved take on rock injected with hip-hop, R&B, pop and EDM, they also reinvented their audience. Yet the band told Music Week that sonic evolution has always been part of their agenda.
“There was a big lesson for me when we did Sugar... and Dance, Dance [in 2005], and they were back-to-back singles,” Stump told Music Week. “At the time, Dance, Dance was a very weird song for us to put out. I remember playing it for the label and our friends and they were like, ‘Well, good luck with that man!’ [Laughs]. We did Sugar... and we got so lucky that that was the success. Had the next single been Sugar... Part Two, then we probably wouldn’t be here right now. The fact that we had a song that was very different kind of set the tone for the band.”
In the landscape of pop art Mania needs to be competitive sonically
Since reuniting, Fall Out Boy have also bucked the trend of your typical rock comeback, usually something held aloft by nostalgia. Where so many other rock bands have struggled to gain traction on streaming, Fall Out Boy are – at the time of writing – 188th on Spotify’s world ranking, drawing 10,194,383 monthly listeners. What’s more, their new material is seemingly more popular - compare 2015’s Centuries (328,506,487) to Sugar, We’re Goin Down’s (170,079, 731). If Fall Out Boy are seemingly mastering the art of triangulating themselves sonically between rock, pop and hip-hop, it’s because they – unlike a lot of rock bands – consciously decided they want to remain “competitive” in the modern charts.
“Look, I know we get written about like, ‘Where’s the rock!?’ all that stuff,” said Wentz. “Well, we live in a hip-hop world and we have to find a way to function within that world. I think Fall Out Boy does. There are plenty of bands that go, ‘Alright, well, that is walled off to us, so we just exist and our audience is what it is’. People [say to us], ‘Oh, you’re the band that I hear on the radio’ - it’s us and maybe a handful of other bands, literally a handful. In order for us to do that we have to sonically make sense.
"That doesn’t mean we make hip-hop songs, we’re not jumping the shark!” he continued. “If we did that then we’d just have Swedish guys write for us. What the record has to do is be competitive, I don’t mean like a game of basketball, but in the landscape of pop art it needs to be competitive sonically.”
You can watch the video for Fall Out Boy’s latest single Wilson (Expensive Mistakes) below