Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump detailed the band's winding creative process behind cinematic new song "Church" in the latest installment of Rolling Stone's behind-the-scenes video series, Levels.
The quartet were struggling to find a creative direction for their seventh LP, Mania, and they wound up delaying the release date from September 2017 to January. But they gained crucial confidence after figuring out the final arrangement of "Church."
"One song can really change an entire album, so we were really struggling to find that one song to properly contextualize the whole album," Stump tells Rolling Stone. "And there was something about when we finally got 'Church,' it was like, 'Awesome.' It was a very stressful thing, and we didn't know it was going to be that song until it was done."
The song originated as one of the singer's "homework assignments" from bassist-lyricist Pete Wentz. "Every so often, [he'll say], 'Hey, I want a song like this.' It's always a movie reference or something: 'Write me a song like that feeling that Ferris Bueller has when something, something, something.'"
But Stump wasn't satisfied with his original, meandering demo. The key collaborator was producer Butch Walker, who stripped away the song's density and revamped its structure: deleting tracks, moving parts around and opting for a funkier bassline.
In our intimate video, filmed at L.A. studio Crush Music, Stump highlights the song's full evolution – including the original drum track that he admits has something "inherently not Fall About Boy about it."
"My wife said something that I'll never forget," he says. "I played her a demo, and her way of saying she didn't like it was, 'Can you imagine [drummer] Andy Hurley playing that?' That really stuck with me because the four of us can play a lot of different styles of music, but there's something to be said for playing it and having a good time playing it."
Stump also praises Wentz as being the band's guiding presence. "Pete's lyrics and his taste really define Fall Out Boy," he says. "I'm always making stuff up; [guitarist Joe Trohman's] always making stuff up. We're always writing something. But it's when Pete goes, 'Ahh, I like that.'"
"We're a very funny band because I'm very analytical about it whereas with Pete, every word means something, feels something," he admits. "I'm not the guy that emotionally attaches to the lyrics, which I think is so ironic being in Fall Out Boy because I know that's like 90 percent of what people like about us is how emotionally attached to the lyrics they can get."