It all started with an unexpected press release early Monday, while many were still dealing with the lingering effects of a Super Bowl XLVII. Fall Out Boy, your favorite pop-punk-rock outfit of the mid-aughts who’ve never cared for brevity in song titles, have a new album, single, video, AND tour on the horizon, and are celebrating their return with a string of intimate shows in front of fans who never left 2003. While the band isn’t necessarily trying to relive the past, they believe they’re currently stronger, tighter, and making better music, nearly 10 years later.
Tuner caught up with Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman, and Andy Hurley during their visit to VH1, to talk about FOB’s return to the studio after previous attempts at a new sound and several side projects, as well as what it’s like to dine with everyone’s favorite featured credit.
It’s been four years since your last album (Folie à Deux). Why go back to the studio now?
Pete Wentz: I think that the music dictated the return. We definitely wanted to make new music and we wanted to make new songs that people would be able to embrace, and hopefully relate to. We tried a couple times in the past year and it wasn’t necessarily gelling, and then we tried again and it seemed like we were making something that was a little more compelling.
Patrick Stump: 2003 will never come back, so we wanted to try and figure out, like, the thing that would be exciting now. I kind of feel when you own the glory days too much, it’s disrespectful to them, you know?
Was there something specific then that you were trying to accomplish with this sound?
Andy Hurley: To make it awesome.
Joe Trohman: To keep the important essence of the music. Pete’s lyrics and Patrick’s voice, I think, are, like, such a signature imprint, but [we also wanted to] figure out how to change some of the sonics and also figure out a way to utilize some more space in the songs, and various kinds of dynamics.
PS: And update it. We had this fire coming back. In the room together it kind of felt like the fire we had collectively when we were making our first record. So we wanted to figure out if we were a new band–if this were our first record, it’s 2013, and it’s the four of us–what would that sound like? We took all of those things and put it through a salad shooter and this is what you get!
How much of those “ingredients” were influenced by each of the side projects you did during the hiatus?
JT: I think we did bring in the experiences. I think the influence of having done that and having grown and becoming more confident in all of our individual crafts is there. But you know, we’re not gonna bring in classic rock or heavy metal songs.
PS: For that matter, I’m not gonna bring in funk. I think one of the greatest things about doing all of the solo projects was that we got a lot of those [experiences]. We all meet in the middle somewhere, but we have very different tastes. It was cool to get those extremes out in solo stuff so that we could meet back in the middle; I think it made us stronger. We’re all playing on the same team, we’re all fighting for the same cause.
What about personal experiences?
PW: I had a kid, and for me that was a night and day change. I feel like I have a new perception of the world and other people’s feelings, and hopefully I’m slightly less selfish. It is one of those things that influences all the things that you do.
PS: I think all of the experiences that we had in our personal lives seemed to influence us in a way that we became much more collaborative with each other. It’s this machine that just kind of moves now. It’s definitely the kind of record we wouldn’t be able to have made five years ago.
JT: If somebody likes it and the other person doesn’t, we’ll just voice our opinions. And maybe if I’m the only one in the room that likes something, I’m okay with that.
PS: We communicate a lot more than we used to.
JT: I think that was somewhat of an issue before.
PS: And as any married man will tell you, that’s an important thing [laughs].
Were you nervous at all about coming back? Patrick, you’ve been very open about your solo album and some of the more difficult elements of that time.
PS: The solo experience helped a ton in terms of bracing myself for all of this. It was awesome, the thing that I wasn’t prepared for was heckling from our fans. The fact that a lot of people really wanted more Fall Out Boy—which is a testament to their passion—and when what I was doing wasn’t that, they were angry? I didn’t expect that. It made me not so scared to just dive in and take whatever chances we were going to take; in a way it made me fearless. I think Pete brought a lot of fearlessness to it, too. I think he pushed a lot of us to really just enjoy.
PW: I’m a big fan, I think we’re big fans.
Was getting 2 Chainz to star the only option you considered for the video?
PW: We kind of knocked around the idea with our manager, Bob, and then I went and had dinner with him, so that was cool. He’s hungry. The amount of effort and drive that he has reminded me of what we had on Take This To the Grave and From Under The Cork Tree and it’s what we need to have now. It’s 2013, the world doesn’t owe us anything. If anything, we have stuff to prove and we have to go out there and be the best versions of ourselves. The 2 Chainz video made sense to me because it was like “Save Rock and Roll”? This is not rock and roll, which means it’s the most rock and roll thing you can do now. We put out the video and I think people were like, “What? The new Fall Out Boy video is just 2 Chainz lighting stuff on fire?” To me that was us making an important statement.
He’s also someone that’s had two acts to his career.
FOB: Yes, yes.
PW: He and I talked about it. I think that there’s definitely like a “dot, dot, dot”–an ACTUAL “dot, dot, dot”–on the Fall Out Boy-2 Chainz interaction. There is more to come.
Can you rap any of his songs?
PS: No! No.
PW: Yeah, I mean [pauses] “all I want for my birthday…” [raps lyrics to “Birthday Song”]
Do you have to brush up any songs before your upcoming tour?
PS: All of them!
JT: We don’t have to be that hard on ourselves. We’ve re-learned our old stuff and have plenty to go off of right now. I think it’s probably more about playing new stuff–that’s going to be really fun to play, but it’s definitely not the time to play those now.
PS: We’re relaxed and enjoying hanging out with each other, and that translates and has a big effect on every element of the performance. When you just go through the motions, everybody feels it. The biggest way to prepare for this tour is to just hang out.
JT: I think when you overthink stuff it’s going to come out like shit. It’s sometimes better to have a little bit of mental diarrhea, let it happen, and not think about it too much.
[Photos: Getty Images; Christina Leake ]