The Break Is Over: Fall Out Boy Is Back To Save Rock and Roll

Fall Out Boy is back in Singapore for the third time! The punk rock band, on their “Save Rock and Roll” tour, made a quick stop at The Butter Factory’s Art Bar for a press conference on 5th August 2013. The boys were decked out in cool casual attire, with Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley clothed in t-shirts and jeans. Patrick Stump was a tad dressier in spectacles and a fedora, and Pete Wentz dressed down in a baseball jersey and a backwards-facing cap.

Popspoken had the opportunity to sit in on the press conference, as the seasoned rockers chatted with interviewers about their break back in 2009, the current state of music, and finally, their newly released album “Save Rock and Roll”. Check out the conversation below!

How are you guys doing? Where did you come from before this? And welcome to Singapore for the third time!

PW: Thank you!

PS: Yeah, it’s awesome. We just got here from South Korea.

How did you like South Korea?

PS: It was awesome.

Did you like Korean food/Asian food?

PS: Yeah!

Did that go down well?

PS: Yeah, definitely.

PW: Not as much as Singapore (food) [sic]!

Andy, you are vegan right? So how did that go down with the food in Korea? Lots of kimchi?

A: Great! I got vegan stuff from Taco Bell there, so that was nice (laughs).

Congratulations, first of all, on your Save Rock and Roll album! It debuted No. 1 on the Billboard charts. And also, at the moment, it is at the top of Hot FM’s Hot 30 Countdown. Yeah, so big round of applause. Singapore is loving you guys!

FOB: Thank you very much!

As for your break, how was it like coming back together?

J: It’s great. I think we needed the time off, but it allowed us to become better human beings and better at working with each other.

PW: The good stuff got great, and the awkward stuff got more awkward (laughs). In the best possible way.

Like how?

PW: I feel like we all became fully men. I think that when we started the band, we were younger, we were just trying to figure that out. I think that we all respect each other, but now we’re well set in how awkward we are as a band. We’re just like awkward dudes (laughs).

Just to carry on from that: Morgan Rose, drummer of Sevendust, and Tommy Lee, superstar drummer, agreed on the fact that bands that go on tour never age. From the time they start touring to the time they stop, they’re just the same level of maturity. Is it the same with you guys? And how did you mature?

PS: That’s a very valid point. I think it’s super real, it’s like a time warp when you start touring as a band.

A: Things have changed.

PS: Yeah, exactly. And I feel like part of the thing of us taking the break was when we got into a band, I was 18/19. Then 8 years later, we take a break. And then finally, we have to catch up to the rest of our contemporaries and actually be an adult. So I think it’s important to have those little breather periods.

PW: Did you say Tommy Lee? He looks like he’s 17! I would back Tommy Lee. He’s been 20 years old looking-wise for 20 years.

It must be all the sex, right?

PW: (laughs) You’re probably right.

J: I think you have both sides: you have people that look like they’re teenagers for forever and people that look like they’re 80 years old very quickly. It really depends on how you treat yourself.

PW: I think that also, to be an artist and entertainer, you have the ability to write everything off and be like, “Oh, I don’t need to care about that kind of stuff. People take care of them for me.” And I think that taking the time off and what everybody went through personally and what everybody went through with artistic stuff they’re doing, really enhances the vibe that we want to be adults and we do actively participate in the world’s community at large, and don’t just expect our tour manager to do everything, except, you know, get us coffee all the time (laughs).

What is the most adult thing you guys have done?

J: Online banking!

PS: Yeah, somewhere in that ballpark, just like paying bills, wooo!

I was at a press conference when you guys were in Chicago in 2007. That was just after the movie Transformers came out and before G.I. Joe came out. What’s your verdict on G.I. Joe?

J: Avoid at all costs.

A: I watched the first one. It was entertaining.

PW: I kinda liked G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I thought the characters were pretty rad and Bruce Willis is… Patrick can really do a good Bruce Willis face (laughs as PS does his impression). He does that face a lot in movies. It’s hilarious.

Before you decided to make the album, you had some kind of big meeting to determine how things were going to be from then on. And I think one of the things was, Joe, you wanted more songwriting, so how did that work out? Were there many fistfights trying to get to where you are?

J: No, I don’t think that there were any fistfights. I think it was something everyone else really wanted as well. I think that’s part of the reason why I personally wanted to take a break back in 2009. It was to go write music with other bands, other people, so I could bring those experiences back to Fall Out Boy. And once everyone else saw what I was doing, they wanted that more out of me, if that makes sense.

PS: It’s funny. I put myself in a tough position because at once, intellectually, I was like, “We really need to do this. Joe should really be more involved. I know that that’s something he wants.” At the same time, I had a really comfortable spot where I always wrote all the music. It was very fun. I got to do what I wanted. So I volunteered to give that up. It felt weird in the studio at times when I’d be like, “Wow, I’d love to give my input here.” But I know that my plan was to allow for a lot more space, so I think that was the most adult thing I’ve done, back to your earlier question.

When you first took a break, fans and media were all quite shocked, and people weren’t exactly expecting a reunion. So when your album came out, it seems quite apt that you named the first track “The Phoenix”. It seems that you guys were rising up from the ashes, defying all odds and coming back again. Was that a conscious effort?

PW: I think that when we were writing the song, it seemed like it was going to be really important. And more than anything, there were a lot of people talking about if there was going to be a reunion tour, and all sorts of goofy stuff. But no one really expected a full album right away, finished. It was always about new music, and the idea of doing the next thing. You know, version 2.0 of Fall Out Boy.

Obviously, four years is a long time in music. Your contemporaries, and maybe your rivals, were different from they are now. What is your take on the current state of music? And who would you say your main kinds of rivals are?

PW: We were asked a question the other day, “What do you label yourselves as?” I think we’re just Fall Out Boy at this point. When people talk about Metallica, they don’t say, “Oh, Metallica, the rock band.” They just say, “Metallica, sounds like Metallica,” or whatever. It takes a long time to do that and it’s a journey that we’re on. I mean we feel a little bit isolated like on an island because it’s not necessarily obvious who [sic] our contemporaries are. The weird thing about music is that it’s really easy to shout from your garage and say, “I’m the coolest guy around!” and “Look at the fucking cool socks I wear.”

PS: (laughs) They say that a lot.

PW: Yeah, I don’t know what the talk is. They don’t let me in on those areas. I think for us, growing up, it was always important for us to have a band, something for the kids, who are a little bit odd, to be “Yeah, I can relate to that.” So that was something that was important for us to do. Speaking for me personally, I don’t think that there are enough rock bands doing that right now. I think that there are a lot of rappers, a lot of DJs, but I think more rock bands should be doing it.

So would you say the current state of music isn’t in a really good place, as it was four years ago?

PS: I wouldn’t say it’s not in a good place. When we talk about rock, when we say, “Save Rock and Roll”, I’d say that the state of the idea of rock and roll is in bad shape. We’ve talked about this a lot, because we’ve put out a record in this moment where it was so distilled down to, okay, this haircut, this jacket, this motorcycle, these four records we’ve put out in 1975. That’s all that rock and roll is and will ever be. That is kind of the mindset. That’s not what it really means to us. Or what it really means, period. At the time that we made the record, we hit the ground running and honestly haven’t really paid attention a lot since then. But when we put out the record, I would say that yeah, the state of the idea of rock and roll was kinda lame.

J: (laughs) The state of music is really subjective. One person can say it’s great, and another can say it’s terrible. And there are a lot of these awesome records getting made all the time. I think the way music fans treat music maybe could be a little better sometimes, as far as it is a commodity. The industry’s been terrible for a while.

PW: It’s influx. It’s a bunch of guys in suits trying to put a band band-aid on a corroded artery. The kids are all, “What the fuck are you doing? This guy just chopped his head off, whatever.”

J: I think that makes it confusing for music fans as well.

PW: I think that when you go out there and find it, there’s so much more broadcast now. There’s a lot more noise, there are a lot more bands. Like, “Well, this is barely a band.” But when you go out and find it, I remember the first time I saw Skrillex, like the stuff he was doing. I was like, “This is mind-blowing, That is heavy metal. That is rock and roll.” And the kids were going crazy and people were like, “What is this?” And people in bands were like, “That’s just noise!” And it’s like wow, we are dads (laughs). Yeah, that’s what somebody was saying about The Beatles.

PS: (laughs) True, that’s so real. That’s actually an amazing point because when Skrillex is doing his thing, people are like, “That’s noise.” Can you hear yourself right now? Can you put yourself back in 1960 whatever when everyone was like—

PW: It’s the sound of the last nail going into the coffin.

PS: Yeah, totally (laughs).

With this album, there is a level of sophistication as compared to the rougher sound of the previous albums. Is this a deliberate effort to engage younger fans who might not have heard of Fall Out Boy before?

J: I think it definitely should be the job of bands who are trying to constantly make music and progress to challenge their fans. And based off of what Pete has been saying, we’re trying to challenge the idea of rock and roll, as an idea and not as a specific kind of music or a specific kind of style. So I guess that’s something we’re trying to challenge people on a little bit.

PS: In the era where I was writing a majority of the music or even in this record where I still have a pretty big role in putting everything together I guess, I’d say that music always comes from the lyrics, to me. It’s always something that I find in the lyrics.

PW: And it’s essentially me laying on the couch and Patrick being, “I’m not that kind of doctor” (laughs).

PS: (laughs) Yeah, crazy. But you know, I’m always finding a lot of the music there, and I feel like you have this set of songs and you look at them and you go, “What is this?” and “How are people going to react to this?” And the reality is that you can’t ever really worry about how people are going to react to it because you are your art, you are who you are and that’s just it. And the more you mould it in any direction imagining how people would like it, you’re more likely than not to not have that work in your favour (laughs). So I guess you just have to do your thing and not worry about it, and I guess that’s kind of what we do. So I guess the sophistication thing, or any of the sonic differences, just exist and I don’t think we’d worried at all about it.

PW: I mean, we made this album in secret, an album entirely for ourselves. And if it was really bad, we were really just going to throw it away (laughs).

Despite being all grown up with responsibilities and getting married/having kids, how do you keep your “fuck it all” attitude with your lyrics?

PW: There is talk about whether you can be punk and have a kid, be punk and be married, or be punk and be an adult. And you can be. I mean, there’s nothing sadder than seeing The Fonz hanging out by himself when he’s like 75 years old in a leather jacket. You can grow up and take hold, to still be an artist and weigh all your responsibilities. In some ways, it adds new ideas. My brain is open to a whole different path of thinking from chasing a four year old around. I mean, divergent thoughts.

PS: Four year olds are pretty punk rock. They thrash (laughs).

PW: I was driving to preschool a bunch on my time off and I was listening to music on the radio and I just feel like there needs to be a band that’s on the radio that can be there for the anti-hero. And at that moment, I didn’t feel like I heard it.

PS: That’s a good point too. When we write the songs, we’re not thinking about anything. We’re just writing. After we have the songs, and we write lots and lots of songs, then there’s kind of a selective thought where “this song goes next to this song and this song”. I guess we did look at the set of songs that we had and there’s not a lot on radio that sounds like this but this sounds like it could be on the radio. And there’s something unique and necessary about that. You had these bands in pop radio that were inspiring people to be not so in the box, so I guess you aspire to that. 

Thank you so much, guys. We’re really looking forward to the concert tomorrow!

See all you Singapore FOB fans at Fort Canning tonight!


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