Though it may be hard to believe, 10 years have passed since Fall Out Boy first landed on the pop charts with “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” It was a time of MySpace, Pretty Ricky and Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Those things are pretty much gone and forgotten, but Fall Out Boy have a new song, “Centuries,” rising up the Top 20, currently sandwiched between hits by Nicki Minaj and Selena Gomez. It’s a remarkable comeback for a band dismissed as dead and buried just a few years ago.
Last month, we spent the day with the group as it drove across Florida – from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg – in an SUV caravan during a marathon tour of radio station festivals. We wrote about the experience in the new issue of Rolling Stone, but here are 14 additional things we learned while reporting the story.
1. They share all band money equally.
“Real early on we decided that, regardless of who wrote what, we’d split everything four ways,” says Patrick Stump. “There are records where I’ve done a whole song or Joe [Trohman] has written an entire music bed, but we all get the same credit. If there’s four of us onstage, the four of us are receiving the same amount of credit, the same amount of money and the same amount of everything.”
Many of their friends in other bands were shocked when they learned of the arrangement. “They were like, “Are you guys crazy?'” says Stump. ‘You do all the writing!’ And all those bands are broken up, every single one of them.”
2. Their new song “Uma Thurman” required the approval of the real Uma Thurman.
“At lot has changed since Outkast released ‘Rosa Parks,'” says Pete Wentz. “We might have been able to get away with it under parody law, but we don’t know many lawyers. We do have a ragtag bunch of friends and someone was able to get it right to her and explain the vibe.” This still makes Stump crack up. “That’s just so crazy to me,” he says. “I can’t even imagine what she was saying when she heard it.”
3. Don’t expect them to pull a Taylor Swift and yank their catalog off Spotify.
“I get so tired of people saying, ‘Oh, this is hurting the industry’ or complaining about whatever the new boogie man is this year,” says Stump. “People always think that whatever the new future is will put them in the poor house. I always hear these arguments and this anger and this vitriol, and I’m like, ‘That’s just bullshit! You’re just pretending that you didn’t record the radio when you were a kid.’ There were always different avenues of getting music. We still bought records. We still went to shows. People that care still care. I don’t think streaming has hurt anything, and I’ve discovered a lot of great bands that way.”
“I spent my twenties as literally the most selfish person that I know” — Pete Wentz
Pete Wentz completely agrees. “If you’re going to deny those things exist and pretend you live in a vacuum, then you’re the guy who’s on the other side of the Roman Empire that hasn’t heard it’s all over yet,” he says. “It’s just antiquated. If you pull music off streaming, the kids are on YouTube. That’s how a lot of people are consuming music. We should be a part of it, though the bigger artists need to speak out to make it equitable for smaller artists. The longer you hold onto the past the further the future moves away from you when you need to jump onto it. You’re going from life raft to life raft instead of building a bridge, or even a fucking airplane.”
4. They don’t care that people still refer to them as an emo band.
“I’ve always thought that genre was bullshit,” says Trohman. “It’s best we don’t worry about how other people describe us. They still call us emo and pop-punk, which is pretty incredible. If those terms didn’t lose their meaning when Under the Cork Tree came out, they’ve officially lost all their meaning now. But however people need to box us in is fine, but I don’t think we sound anything like Promise Ring or other emo bands.”
5. Drummer Andy Hurley feels the group’s three-year hiatus was the best move they could have made.
“Patrick and Joe were so young when we started the band,” he says. “As slow as it was, with all the touring and crappy clubs we played, we still never had time to stop and reflect. When we took a break, it finally gave us time to reflect and grow up. We learned how to communicate with each other in different ways.”
6. Everyone but Andy now has children.
“It’s done such wonderful things for the band,” says Trohman. “I look how at how having Bronx changed Pete. It really made him go from someone that looked into himself all the time to someone that looked outside of himself all the time. For me, I’ve learned how to control my levels of stress and patience. That’s what a child is supposed to do. I know I can’t rush a seven-month-old right now.”
7. They see their new album American Beauty/American Psycho as a bolder work than 2013’s Save Rock and Roll.
“Musically, it has hip-hop grooves with guitars on it,” says Trohman. “It has more in your face guitar than Save Rock and Roll, which is funny considering the title of that record. There’s also some really weird moments. This one song called ‘Twin Skeleton (Hotel in NYC)’ that has a psychedelic bridge that’s really cool.”
8. They have no intention of ever playing their classic albums straight through.
“I can’t see how a band sits around and says, ‘You know what would mean a lot to me?'” says Stump. ‘”Playing an entire album we put out 10 years ago, front to back. That’s the most honest thing we can do, and it’s not motivated by money.’ We get asked this all the time, and I’m always like, ‘Why? Why would I ever want to do that?’ The only way that’s ever cool is if you don’t announce it, like if U2 showed up at the Metro [in Chicago] and did Boy straight through or something.”
9. A greatest hits hour is also out of the question.
“I will straight up say that I will never tour if we aren’t writing new music,” says Stump. “There’s no amount of money. Some bands put out great records later in their career. I love the Who’s Endless Wire. Then you see them on the tour and they are about that record. It’s cool to be the older band playing the new album, and then you play the hits and there’s new life in them. Nothing is sadder than an old band that doesn’t care and goes out and just plays the hits.”
Wentz concurs. “It’s like seeing Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler,” he says. “That character exists in real life. It’s someone past their prime that refuses to believe it. We’ll never be that band.”
10. Their new hit “Centuries” was written before they had any other songs for the record.
“We took it the radio really early,” says Stump. “I was like, ‘Shit! We don’t have a record.’ But that pressure made us come up with stuff on the spur of the moment. My one regret with Save Rock and Roll is that it sort of ebbs and flows in ways that are hard to describe. I wanted to make a record that understood what it was the whole time.”
11. Pete Wentz feels like they have no real peers at the moment.
“We’re the last rock band that doesn’t feel like pop is a four letter word,” he says. “We like rock and pop, and we’re not ashamed of that. We’re on an island, and I feel like nobody wants to join us. . .A few bands have this gold-executive-platinum status, and they can do whatever they want. They don’t even need to put out music. Everyone else needs to interact with the pop culture, which means being able to react to things quickly. DJs and rappers can do that since they don’t have to get a whole band together and everything. We wanted to make a record that demonstrates that you can light the wick right away and get it out the door before the dynamite goes off.”
12. The fate of the original 21 Jump Street cast weighs on Pete Wentz’s mind.
“We want to be Johnny Depp,” he says. “Not Richard Grieco.” Patrick Stump jumps in to translate this. “All of our big singles in our first radio era were so weird and none of them were a proper follow-up to the last one,” he says. “That’s the way to keep it going. The way to honor the past is not to repeat it.”
13. The end of Fall Out Boy was even messier than most people realized.
“My life fell apart,” says Wentz. “I got divorced and everything was just collapsing. The last thing I was holding onto was the band, and I wanted to keep doing it. I didn’t realize that we needed a cocooning period, and I spent my twenties as literally the most selfish person that I know. I didn’t have the capacity for understanding other people’s time and empathy for what other people thought about things. I didn’t understand that three other people were making a choice to be there with me. They weren’t there because they had to be.”
14. They aren’t willing to give up on the album as an art form.
“It’s really short-sighted of people to say, ‘The album is dead,'” says Stump. “That’s just looking at a blank canvas and not seeing a painting there, not knowing what you can put there. Yeah, we live in a singles-driven world, but records still matter to me. I put a ton of thought into this new record, making sure it was an experience where the running order matters and the keys and tempo and everything. It all matters to me because records still matter to me.”