Fall Out Boy emerged in the 2000s as the biggest band in emo-pop. The Chicago quintet attracted tons of teenagers (most of them girls) to their shout-along tunes, which mixed snarky humor and big, deep-feeling choruses. As the decade wore on, Fall Out Boy continued to find new ways to market themselves — from Myspace ads to an FOB-branded video game — as the group began to sell out arenas. Pete Wentz, the band's heavily mascara'd bassist, songwriter and leader, became something of a celebrity and entrepreneur, marrying Ashley Simpson, starting a clothing company, and signing bands like Panic! At the Disco to his label, Decaydence.
Formed in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette in 2001 Fall Out Boy's line-up consists of Stump (rhythm guitar and vocals), Wentz (bass), Andy Hurley (drums, ex of Racetraitor) and Joe Trohman (lead guitar) with connections to the area's hardcore scene. An earlier configuration of the band without Hurley played on the group's 2002 debut, Fall Out Boy's Evening With Your Girlfriend. The nine-song collection that displayed lyricist Wentz's love of wordy titles and pop-culture references, often on the same track, as with "Parker Lewis Can't Lose (But I'm Going To Give It My Best Shot)."
A deal with Gainsville, FL-based indie Fueled By Ramen followed, resulting in Take This To Your Grave in 2003, and a follow-up acoustic EP, My Heart Will Always Be the B-Side to My Tongue (Number 153, 2004), both of which mostly stayed within the pop-punk formula, though with occasional flashes of wit and groove. That was enough to garner the attention of Island Records, which signed the group and released the multi-platinum From Under The Cork Tree (Number Nine, 2005), a commercial breakthrough that yielded three TRL-approved singles: "Dance, Dance," "A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More 'Touch Me'" and the Top Ten hit "Sugar, We're Goin' Down." The band also scored a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
Shortly after the release of Cork, Wentz became the most publicly visible member of the band: He confided to the press about an overdose of sleeping pills that might or might not have been a suicide attempt, and in 2006, nude pictures of a morose-looking Wentz were leaked from his cell-phone and quickly disseminated on the Internet. In 2007, he began dating pop singer Ashlee Simpson, cementing their status as tabloid-magazine fixtures, and they married in the spring of 2008. He also formed his own label imprint, Decaydance, which signed successful upstarts Panic at The Disco, Gym Class Heroes, and the Academy Is....
Fall Out Boy's next album, Infinity On High (2007), debuted at Number One and featured an unlikely (and brief) cameo from then-Island/Def Jam honcho Jay-Z. Stump was heavily influenced by both1980s pop and 1990s punk during the making of the record, which lent a rock-soul edge to songs like "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race" and the Babyface-produced "I'm Like a Lawyer with the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)."
The band's hugely successful amphitheater tour to promote Infinity was captured on the 2008 CD and DVD Live in Phoenix featuring 22-songs from the band's June 2007 Cricket Pavilion show in Phoenix, as well as all their Island Records videos and a studio recording of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" with John Mayer playing Eddie Van Halen's legendary guitar solo.
FOB developed as a full-fledged brand, engaging in many a marketing scheme over the course of its existence. There were dolls (2006), comic book (2009), Wentz's fashion line (Clandestine Industries, starting in 2006), a chain of bars (Angels and Kings, starting in 2007), Wentz's short-lived music show on MTV (FNMTV, in 2008) and a FOB-laced remake of the video game Oregon Trail (2009). The band also regularly embraced scavenger hunts and other viral marketing schemes to include its fans over the years and collaborated with other artists, including Timbaland, T.I. and the Roots.
The band's most attention-grabbing ploy was its March 2008 attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records by becoming the first band to play all seven continents. Weather ultimately forced the cancellation of a planned gig on Antarctica, but the band went on to claim another Guiness World Record: most interviews conducted by a duo in a 24-hour period, achieved when Wentz and Stump went out to promote the band's fourth studio LP, Folie a Deux, in November 2008.
Folie was the band's most ambitious undertaking to date, with FOB folding a multitude of genres, including glam rock and R&B, into their sound for another top ten debut. The album included guest vocals from Lil Wayne, Elvis Costello, Debbie Harry and an assortment of Fall Out Boy friends in Panic! At the Disco,The Academy Is… and more. The record was originally slated for an election day release but the band — who supported President Barack Obama during the campaign process — opted to push the release back until mid-December. On the Monday before the Democratic National Convention, they released the Welcome to the New Administration mixtape emceed by Clinton Sparks. Administration featured demos and unreleased tracks from Fall Out Boy and other Fueled by Ramen acts as well as a guest spot from Ludacris.
In fall of 2008 Wentz and Simpson-Wentz had their first child, Bronx Mowgli, and shortly after Fall Out Boy kicked off promotion for Folie with an intimate club tour that reverted back to the feel of the band's early days. The band headlined arenas following spring, taking on corporate America with the theatrics that had become staples of FOB live gigs, and spent the summer of 2009 on its last tour to date as the main support act for blink-182's reunion tour.
Known for putting out over-the-top music videos — from the pre-Twilight vampire showdown in 2006's "A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me" to the celebrity mockery of 2008's "I Don't Care" — Fall Out Boy's sentimental treatment of the clip for Folie's "What a Catch Donnie" (featuring Stump looking back at the band's memorable moments) fueled rumors that the band was heading towards splitsville when it debuted in the summer of 2009. In the fall of 2009, Fall Out Boy confirmed they were taking a break, but promised an eventual return.
The band put out a hits compilation in November 2009 without live dates or any of the other usual fanfare surrounding its releases. A month later, Trohman and Hurley announced a heavy metal side project with members of Anthrax and other hardcore acts. In late January 2010 Patrick Stump revealed he was working on a solo record, and less than a week later Wentz tweeted that something substantial would have to change before he saw himself playing in Fall Out Boy again — once more fueling rumors of a permanent breakup. In the days following this revelation, Stump announced he didn't see himself as a member of the band at the time — but the band as a whole firmly maintained it was on an open-ended break.
Erica Futterman contributed to this story.
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