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Tour Spotlight: Q&A with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Tour Spotlight: Q&A with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump

Currently touring the US with their fifth record Save Rock N Roll, Fall Out Boy have been writing it better than you ever felt it since 2001. With cameos from Elton John, Courtney Love and Big Sean, and genre flirting with hair metal, dubstep and disco, the first opus since their 2009 split is irrefutably their most ambitious. The record charted at #2 on the ARIA Chart in April leaving most confused by the title’s facetiousness. Lead singer/guitarist Patrick Stump offers his take on the current state of music and Courtney Love, explains why his solo album was a reaction to a death in his family and why he’s still happily the jaded boy-next-door.

What were your first few shows with the band like after recording Save Rock N Roll?
The first few shows post recording were an all around surprise; first of all our chemistry together was reenergized in a way I really hadn't expected, and secondly the audience was so different. They were fervent and new… most of them had never seen us before. We'd expected to play to a lot of the same fans we had before but oddly enough we seem to have accumulated a new following in absentia. I had returned pretty full-time to a very quiet suburban life so a growing cult following was news to me.

You’ve spoken briefly before about the CBGB era; that was an enviable time for music and the record title is an interesting take on that. Can you elaborate a little bit on why the record is a reaction to the current state of rock n roll?
With regards to the CBGB era, I'd say the thing that excites me most about it isn't just the advent of punk rock; every facet of music at the time (disco, hard rock, new wave, garage-rock, singer-songwriters, prog, country, the then burgeoning electronic and hip-hop scenes, even sleepy soft rock etc.) seemed to strive for newness. You can look at businessmen who wore the same haircut for their entire adult lives and for some reason, right then, they all decided to get sideburns. It was a wild time. Digging through those records is like watching an explosion in slow-motion… every piece of shrapnel left a new dent and caused another unique chain reaction. These days I feel like the music world has moved forward in an exciting way, but somewhere back behind the rest of the innovation is "Rock and Roll," which is increasingly becoming like a heritage music. We seem to pretend that "Rock," is a thing that sprouted fully formed out of Robert Plant's chest-hair riding a Harley and throwing up "Metal," sign while chugging a Bud Light. It becomes stale, and staleness sucks. There's a difference between teaching a generations old bread recipe to the grandkids so they can put their own spin on it, and letting a crusty old loaf turn into a petri dish because you loved it so much. It's suffocating. So as for the album title, yeah it's a little tongue-in-cheek coming from four suburban nerds. However, we genuinely want to hear "Rock," music trying moves as wild and left-field as when Blondie tried rapping, the Clash played break-beats, the Ramones tried to sound like a Phil Spector girl group, and Elvis Costello played reggae (only a few records before playing country!). And if nobody else will then we'll go ahead and make that crazy record with Elton John and Big Sean.

The collaboration with Courtney Love was a great way to remind youth of female rock n roll icons, what most sticks out for you about your time recording with her?
Courtney is like woman-concentrate; you get every kind of feminine force all at once when she's around. She's motherly and childlike. Cynical and earnest. Flirty and cold. Restrained genius and loose cannon maniac. It's pretty intense hanging out with her but it's amazing for that same reason. I'd say my favorite thing about working with her was how narrowly she cued in on our lyrics; I honestly can't tell where ours start and hers end. She clicked with our silly little band so well.

Soul Punk felt like it was a really important project you needed to get out of you. Looking back on those solo years, was there anything about Fall Out Boy you feel you took for granted?
It was incredibly important, yes. The shortest version I can give is that, I was dealing with a really screwed up death in the family but I didn't (and don't) feel comfortable naming names...so I had to find a way to disguise it in metaphors and synthesizers. I couldn't do this nakedly emotional guy with a guitar kind of thing so I made a funk record. You know: Obvious choice.

As for Fall Out Boy I suppose I took it all for granted! I'm ashamed to admit that, but I did so without knowing it of course. I think the whole experience was important though. I guess I really needed to both have the responsibility of fronting a project but also to be rejected for it. It was important to my growth as an artist…up to that point most everything I'd put out had been embraced by our audience but credited more heavily to somebody else in the public eye (Pete). I kind of accidentally hid behind him and let him take a lot of the praise but more importantly the blows from press and all that. When we got to touring on Folie (a Deux, 2008), that was the first time members of our audience looked to me specifically like "Patrick, please! Save us from this new bullshit music you guys are playing!" Meanwhile I'm like "Uh…I…I like this bullshit music. I wrote this new bullshit music."

I took that even further with the solo thing and while a lot of people liked it, a very loud group of fans rejected it strongly. It made me understand how Pete felt while I was standing behind him, but in a weird way I also realized how loved Fall Out Boy really were. When kids were screaming "Your solo record sucks!" I grew to understand it was them secretly asking for more Fall Out Boy.

Fall Out Boy had this jaded, boy-next-door feel on the first two records, inevitably you grew out of it but there's been a few tracks since that anyone going through a tough time can relate to. Do you still go through similar emotions as you did say, during Take This To Your Grave?
Oh very much so. I think we're more in tune with the emotions of the first two records than the other two albums mainly because we're not the shiny new toy anymore. When we wrote TTTYG (Take This To Your Grave, 2003) and FUCT (From Under the Cork Tree, 2005), not a lot of people cared or had any expectations about us. When we wrote IOH (Infinity On High, 2007) and Folie (a Deux), Pete couldn't walk outside without paparazzi following him around. Me, I was that go-to when you needed to make a then-current fat joke. It was a very strange time for us so of course we kind of lost touch with ourselves. It became hard to write about normal lives when we weren't living them. Now we're in this great place where people know our songs and want to see us live but they don't really care about our personal lives. Interviewers have stopped asking me which actress or singer I have a crush on and instead they're asking me how I made this artistic decision or what this lyric means. The joys of your early 20's verses your late teens! I love it. I can be as snarky as I want to be. I don't envy the guys in One Direction though haha. It's all allowed us to really return to proper life. Now we’re the same jaded boys-next-door but with that added layer of rejection and permanence a divorce and a couple deaths will give you. Now we all kind of understand that the people we said "Fuck off forever," to in our teens are very often the people you end up having to see the rest of your life. We've all had to learn how to suck it up. This whole record is like that jaded boy-next-door giving the civil obligatory handshake to the ex-girlfriend; Somehow "Very nice to see you," is more brutal than "Fuck off forever."

Fall Out Boy's Australian tour kicks off next Tuesday. See here for all tour information.

- Poppy Reid

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