Don’t feel bad if on Halloween night, on your way to your friend’s party or some shameful trick-ortreating, it was unclear to you whether there was a Mary-Kate and Ashley DVD signing on campus or whether the hot costume for UC Irvine students was an inappropriately dressed 14-year-old girl.
On Oct. 31, the Bren Events center presented the Nintendo Fusion Tour, featuring headliners Fall Out Boy with supporters The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack, Boys Night Out and Panic! At the Disco.
‘People like to poo-poo on the 14- year old contingency. But, like [bassist] Wentz says, If you are sticking by us, I don’t care if you are 14 or 65,’ said lead singer/guitarist of Fall Out Boy Patrick Stump.
Fall Out Boy established themselves over the summer as the official heads of pop-punk with two big singles off their sophomore release,
‘Under the Cork Tree.’ Their extremely poppy brand of rock has been unavoidable on the radio and MTV, a serious advance for the Chicago band, who up to that point experienced an avid hometown cult following.
With a hit record, a headlining tour and major label backing, the band seems to be riding a wave of success. A very personable Stump was able to take time out of the tour to speak about the band’s success, the writing process and hanging out with Def Jam/Island label head Jay- Z.
‘It’s weird because Jay-Z is incredibly famous and I have incredible respect for him,’ Stump said. ‘It has been awesome to even know the guy. But most of my heroes, you could totally find them anywhere. I’ve met a great deal of my heroes on the road already.’
The Nintendo Fusion Tour has so far been a success on all accounts; the national U.S. tour, which has stopped in more than 50 cities, has sold out in almost every big city, and features five pop-punk acts ranging from up-and-comers, to almost huge, to … well, Fall Out Boy.
‘It’s been great,’ Stump said. ‘I’m stoked to be here. It’s hard to say. [The shows] are all different. One never weighs out. It’s kind of a lump. An awesome lump.’
Some of the most interesting Fall Out Boy news as of late, besides some over-publicized feuding between Wentz and the Killers’ singer Brandon Flowers, has been word that Fall Out Boy has already written some or all of their next album.
‘We haven’t pressed record, yet. But [the writing] is pretty much done,’ Stump clarified. ‘After this tour I thought I was going to take a break. But I ended up writing a billion songs.’
For any band who strikes gold in the world of mainstream music, the follow-up album is always an issue of satisfying high expectations. There is a thin line to tread between staying true to the elements of the music that generated initial hype to expanding your sound enough to not sound repetitive.
‘Every band wants to think that their new stuff sounds different,’ Stump said. ‘It is a such a common quote that a band says, ‘The new record is so different. It sounds like Locus and Bjork.’ But your last record sounded like your band. I’m not going to say anything like that. The new record sounds like Fall Out Boy with some new influences.’
Stump also went on to mention that the new influences would be those far from the image of his band. A self-proclaimed lover of pure pop, the lead singer goes on to express his dissatisfaction with the very genre that pays his bills.
‘Rock music is stale. I’m not interested in using rock music [as an influence]. If you’re not into Pink Floyd you’re not into rock. You know what, I don’t like Pink Floyd. I’ve been listening to a lot of R&B and hip-hop. But I don’t think anyone’s going to notice or care about [the influences],’ Stump said.
If one were to only know Fall Out Boy from the perspective of their press coverage, one might think that bassist Wentz was the lead singer because of his position as frontman for the public eye. This may be a reflection of Fall Out Boy’s approach to writing, in which Wentz writes all of the lyrics and Stump writes the melodies.
‘It’s weird. We split it up. Pete writes lyrics by himself, intensely sitting there writing. Then I write [the melodies]. Pete gives me a lot of words and I give him a lot of songs,’ Stump said.
I doubt that Stump cares one bit, but I think he gets sort of a bum deal in terms of recognition. While Wentz gets the title of ‘frontman’ because he started the band and writes the lyrics, you will never see Stump say anything in a television interview or get recognized as a songwriter. The lyrics may create an image for the band, and might even create the soul of what they represent. But if the song isn’t catchy enough to be on the radio, no one is going to care how witty a band’s lyrics are. It may also be Stump’s general attitude toward the flashier elements of the music industry that keep him out of the spotlight.
‘I hate the senseless obligations. Photo shoots, parties, all the superficial stuff. It’s easy to get trapped in the enamors and cease to do the thing you are celebrated for,’ Stump said. ‘They get to a certain point where they stop being anything interesting and just go to parties. Like a bearded lady who shaves off the beard. I’m not impressed. You’ve been drunk for three years. I guess it’s impressive that you are still alive.’
Most of the musicians to whom I’ve talked can’t stop talking about the joy of the live show, how it is a semireligious experience and that it is their favorite part about being in a band. Stump continues to distance himself from the image of lead singer in a famous rock band by going against the grain on this question, as well.
‘I’m kind of a recluse and socially awkward. I prefer being in the studio. I like that feeling of mad scientist, where you have forgotten to shower or eat for three days,’ Stump said. Fall Out Boy have a very busy schedule ahead of them. After the Nintendo Fusion Tour ends, the band hits the road for at least two more months on a European tour. Stump finished by commenting on his love for the work and how the success has affected the band as people.’I like being in my band. I don’t want time off,’ Stump said. ‘We watch movies, hang out with each other. We are basically the same four dudes, for better or worse.’
Tour dates, band info, journal entries and sound clips can be found at Fall Out Boy’s Web site, http://www.falloutboyrock.com.