OK, so most people our age cringe when they hear the name “Fall Out Boy”, but you have to give these four Chicago guys some credit. The band has been named by Rolling Stone as one of the bands to watch out for in 2005 and they’ve also been called the saviors of pop-punk. Their most recent album From Under The Cork Tree has already sold close to 800, 000 copies since its release at the end of May, the band recently won the MTV2 award in August and are selling out shows everywhere they go. Thus a chat with their singer/guitarist Patrick Stump last week when the band stopped in Montreal was inevitable.
The Concordian: The Nintendo Fusion Tour has been doing really well and most of your shows have been sold-out. How does that make you feel?
Stump: It’s weird because you don’t really expect it. You still think of yourself as this little band that was playing in basements. In fact, the other day we were playing in Cleveland and there were like 6,000 kids and I was sitting there thinking about how 6,000 people paid x amount of dollars to see us play this song that I wrote in my bedroom, probably in my underwear. It seems like the silliest thing because there are bands that get to that point, because they were trying to get to that point and then there are bands like us that ended up at that point and are like we don’t know what we’re doing.
The Concordian: But it’s a good feeling right?
Stump: Oh, it’s great! I guess at this point we’re professional musicians but you don’t think of yourself with any degree of professionalism.
The Concordian: As a result of that, have the your shows changed at all?
Stump: Yah, they’re still the same shows we would have played, though on this tour we try to do some different things like having costumes and sets. I am making it sound way bigger than it is but I am saying there are little things that are different. But at the end of the day it’s still going to be the four of us running around not playing that well, jumping into each other, bleeding a lot and losing our voices while making sure that no one that’s not on stage gets hurt.
The Concordian: You recently won the MTV2 award, an award, which is voted on by the fans. Everyone’s been talking to you about that. How did that make you feel and why do you think you guys won that?
Stump: Well I think my answer to both of those is; our fan base, for whatever reason is absolutely rabid. I don’t think that we have more fans than anybody that was nominated, I just think that we had more dedicated fans. So I realized when I was up there that it wasn’t my award, it wasn’t my band’s award, it was every single one of those kids’ award because they carry us with them wherever they go. You are a Fall Out Boy kid; you’re not just some punk kid or music fan. I kind of felt that sense when I was up there; this is huge that everyone did this. I should hope that every single one of those kids were sitting at home saying, “Yah, we did it!” I wish MTV gave us more than just the four-set. I wish they gave us a few thousand so that we could give them out to everybody.
The Concordian: I’m sure you must be pretty pleased with how From Under The Cork Tree has done so far. Has it surpassed your expectations?
Stump: We didn’t really have expectations. Here’s the thing; we take ourselves seriously as musicians, but for each other. I want to make sure that I write a good song under Pete’s words because Pete takes his words so seriously and he knows that I am going to put a lot into my music, so he wants to write better words. We take ourselves really seriously like that, but we don’t really, outside of that. We’ve never thought of being this big band. I think the thing that was weird about this album was that we were kind of confronted with the fact that someone was actually going to be listening this time around. The first one, we were just going to do this thing and it was going to be exclusively for us and this one we didn’t really do things to further our success or any of that crap. We were mostly focused on, as far as other people hearing it, that there was another person that was definitely going to listen to it who possibly had the reference of knowing our last record. So they knew a little bit about us, so we could say a little bit more; we can be a little more vague. We don’t have to spell everything out because they know who we are. I totally just avoided your question (laughs)…I just ran away from it.
The Concordian: Are you scared now that people are going to put pressure on you in the future to produce an even more successful record?
Stump: Again, that’s not something that we come from. The second you start believing your own hype is the second you stop having any hype because you don’t deserve it when you’re full of yourself. I know plenty of celebrities right now who have stopped being fruitful in any of the things that made them a “celebrity”, but they are still a celebrity. They are just famous for being famous now and they stop being whatever they were. They were phenomenal singers or actors and now they are just some phenomenal a**hole that’s famous for it. We’re not going to do that. We’re a band, we’re musicians and we’re going to make music. If it sells a million records, if it sells 10 million records or if it sells 10 thousand records, we’re happy.
The Concordian: You were talking about staying grounded; I mean how much of that is actually possible? On your Myspace page you have close to 400,000 friends, you always have tons of fans waiting at the bus for hours, you ride in big tour buses and your shows are sold-out. How can you stay grounded?
Stump: Look in the mirror. I’m this short smelly kid: I’m the same loser I always was. There’s no amount of money or fame that can take that away from me. I don’t think it’s important to think about; it’s not a conscious thing for me to stay grounded. I couldn’t ever imagine not being what people call “grounded” because there’s so little time in the world to waste on being excited about yourself.
The Concordian: Does all of this ever get to be too much though?
Stump: It’s weird because on the one hand you dedicate yourself to your work and people accepting your work, because here’s the thing: At the end of the day, while we don’t necessarily care about people’s expectations or care about how much it sells, obviously you’re going to be happy when it does. We’re not stupid, that is not something that concerns us. When you take any of those things into consideration,
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when it happens and people are excited about your work, seeing your band and you, you can’t complain about it because you spend all this time getting there. Take it this way: I’ve been trying to keep this on the “down-low”, but I just bought a house. It’s really little, it’s nothing, but it’s technically a house. Say for instance a famous guy buys a house and all these kids come to his house and he gets pissed about it, it’s like; dude the only reason why you can afford this house is because of every single one of those kids, and you can’t be angry about that. And that’s kind of how it is with us. We know how much we owe to everybody. I try just about every night to find some way to hang out with kids at the show because they deserve it. If they think I’m something special, I know I’m not something special, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be hanging out with me.
The Concordian: Even with crowds at the bus and fans always after you, you’ll still make time to see them?
Stump: It’s not easy anymore. I make an effort, I know we all do. You get to a point where it gets hard and that’s insane to think about too. You get to a point when you can’t sign autographs all the time because there’s going to be too many kids, it’s going to be dangerous, there’s almost going to be a riot and that’s insane. I can’t imagine my stupid little band causing a riot, but it happens.
The Concordian: Fall Out Boy is still a fairly young band. Is longevity something you would want to obtain? Do you think it’s feasible?
Stump: I think longevity just as a band is something we’d like. I think that any band wants to be around forever, but at the same time but I am not going to slug it out for no reason. I think we’re very conscious of our relevance and the second that we stop being relevant, we’ll stop being a band. But in the mean time I still think we’re OK.
The Concordian: A lot of the Fall Out Boy fans are young girls; do you guys try to get maybe older fans or more male fans?
Stump: The funny thing is that I don’t think we’ve ever consciously tried to “get” anybody. That astounded me when it ended up being the people I saw at our shows because I couldn’t relate to a 14-year-old girl when I was a 14-year-old boy. At the same time, I feel blessed to have that. There’s a surprising number of 30-year olds….You’ll call somebody up from the phone company or something and they will be like “Hey aren’t you that guy from Fall Out Boy?” It just happens. People in the professional world aren’t totally ignorant of it; they just might not be coming to the shows. It’s weird.
The Concordian: On your website, you have a lot of Q&A’s, journals, things that are really personal. Are you at all scared that you are sharing too much of yourselves with your fans?
Stump: I am answering questions about myself to some extent right now. It’s like the same mentality of when you have something horrible happen to you. You go out and tell as many people as you can about it so that people who had similar experiences can understand and are comforted by that. It’s kind of the same thing when you have something so awesome happen to you. You feel the need to let people know that everyone’s just some dumb guy, that Michael Jordan is just some guy, that Michael Jackson is just some dude, that he’s a crazy dude, but he’s just a dude, the Pope is just a dude. And that’s what it is…not to say that we’re anything as cool as those people. We connect with people to remind them that we are just “people”. We are not wearing bling and driving around in limos and drinking Crystal with a bunch of hookers and cocaine.
The Concordian: What are Fall Out Boy’s goals for the future?
Stump: I just want to write some good records. We started writing for this next record, which we’ll probably record over the summer. I hope it’s good.
The Concordian: If this were to end after this record, what would you have learned from being in Fall Out Boy and how would you like to be remembered?
Stump: I think I would like to be remembered as one of those bands that was just legit. There’s a thing happening in music right now that I would love to hear that we’re a part of. You have like Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, My Chemical Romance, these bands and artists that are at the top of their genre who are the most obviously normal people. The thing that is so amazing about them is what they do, is their work. My Chemical Romance is just a really good rock band. They are cute dudes, but they are not the hottest dudes, they were not handpicked by anybody, they got together and toured relentlessly for years. And Kelly Clarkson went up against how many hundreds of other singers in America, and the only reason she’s famous is because she sings well. It’s not because of how big her boobs are or who she sleeps with, it’s because she’s a great singer. Kanye West is an amazing producer and he made a bunch of hits for other people and he’s an incredibly talented guy, and that’s why he sold so many records. I should hope to be remembered as one of those bands: We exist because of our own desire rather than because some guy in a suit is behind us telling us what to do and writing our checks.
What have I learned from Fall Out Boy? I’ve learned that for some reason celebrities say “hi” to each other even if they don’t know each other. That’s weird! At the MTV VMA’s all these dudes would walk up to me and I would be like “Hey Nelly! Thanks!” and he’d be like, “Hey dude, good job!” and I would respond like, “Alright, that’s crazy!”, or “Hey Little Jon, what’s up dude? You’re a nut!” I learned that anything you say can and will be used against you in some way, no matter how little or how big. You say something out of context and someone will assume you said something else. I learned how to play guitar.