Fall Out Boy
South By Southwest (SXSW) is one of the preeminent new music venues in the U.S. The annual event closes down Austin's 6th Avenue and turns the clubs and theaters that line the street into make or break arenas for countless bands, many of which are unsigned. The idea is to impress some record label type. At the very least get some music writer to pen a few kind words that might create a buzz. Unfortunately, in most cases the label heavyweights and the writers are all too wasted to remember what they hell they heard, much less determine whether they liked it or not. Chicago's Fall Out Boy actually beat the odds and came out of their '03 SXSW appearances with positive reviews that helped build a national following.
Fall Out Boy formed in '00. A self-released demo hit the following year with a split LP, with Project Rocket, coming out in '02. Early, the next year they released "Evening Out With Your Girlfriend." That got the group noticed. First they were signed to Fueled By Ramen, a label co-owned by Less Than Jake drummer Vinnie Balzano. Island Records also got into the act providing the advance for the group's "proper" debut. "Take This To Your Grave" was the result.
'05 release "Under The Cork Tree" preceded an extensive tour. F.O.B. even won a Road Woodie (Best Tour) at the student-selected mtvU Woodie Awards held in New York. While all this was going on Peter Wentz found the time to "discover"* and sign Panic! At The Disco to his own Decaydance label.
"Infinity On High" dropped in early '07. The album's title had an artistic reference. "It's taken from a quote by Vincent van Gogh," said Wentz. The first single was "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race." The group then headlined the Honda Civic Tour. "We try and make a show that we would have wanted to go see if we were kids going to see shows right now," added Joseph Trohman.
Having just started thinking about F.O.B.'s next album, Wentz was interviewed by MTV News. "It's early, but the ideas we've got right now, they're really guitar-riff-heavy," said the bassist. "A lot of other bands, like AC/DC or the White Stripes, you know their songs by the opening guitar riff, so basically, I want our record to be like an AC/DC album or a White Stripes album." Then, Wentz amended that a bit. "Actually, I'm just kidding about that. Well, I was kidding about the White Stripes part. Not AC/DC."
Meanwhile, Patrick Stump appeared on the TV show Law And Order (as Marty Dreshler on an episode titled "Darkness") and the group collaborated with Rapper T.I. on "Out In The Cold," which appeared on the vinyl edition of his "Paper Trail" album.
Back on their own turf, F.O.B. issued "Folie A Deux" just before Christmas, '08. The album's title literally means a "madness shared by two."
"Believers Never Die," F.O.B.'s greatest hits album, came out a year later. The collection included "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" and "Dead On Arrival." The new songs were "Alpha Dog" and a cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It." There was also a DVD with videos and band commentary. But all was not well.
F.O.B. weren't the first to air their issues publically but their February, '09, online outbursts showed just how petty and wishy-washy musicians can be when breaking up or even thinking about it.
Wentz got the ball rolling on his blog when he stated that he wasn't sure F.O.B. would ever play together again stating "as a band we grew apart." Stump, who was working on a solo album (though he was initially reluctant to call it that), responded by writing, "I'm not in Fall Out Boy right now."
Likely the root of the problem was the "failure" of "Folie a Duex." F.O.B. was a platinum act - album sales over 1 million copies. However, that set logged a little over 400,000. Respectable, but not up to standards.
Wentz concluded the discussion of F.O.B.'s future by writing, "If it's fun for everyone to do again, we're going to do it."
The end result was an "indefinite hiatus." To fill the void, Stump finished his solo album while Trohman and Hurley formed Damn Things. After a spell, Wentz weighed in with his own band, Black Cards.
That "indefinite hiatus" ended in '13 when the group launched a tour months prior to the release of "Save Rock And Roll," their sixth studio album. "This isn't a reunion because we never broke up," claimed the band's website. "We needed to plug back in and make some music that matters to us. The future of Fall Out Boy starts now."
Many surmised that the reactivation of Fall Out Boy was driven by the negative reaction to Wentz and Stump's side projects. "Save Rock And Roll" set things right with U.S. sales of over 3 million albums.
Months later, F.O.B. released "Pax Am Days," a mini-album with Ryan Adams. The eight song set was recorded at Adams' Pax AM studios in Hollywood.
Even after the stint with Adams, F.O.B. wasn't completely done with "Save Rock And Roll." They hosted a special screening in '14 of their film "The Young Blood Chronicles," at Hollywood's ArcLight Cinemas. It was the first time the 47 minute film, inspired by songs from the album, was shown in its entirety. "It's like a mix of Star Wars and Jackass - but not really," claimed Wentz.
The final installment featured Elton John as God, a God who plays a white grand piano, and Tommy Lee (Motley Crue) as the devil. And there was enough stage blood to cover everybody.
"Tell me Rock and Roll wasn't saved," proclaimed Wentz.
F.O.B. also covered "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" for inclusion on a multiple artist covers set celebrating the fortieth anniversary edition of Elton's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
With the summer of '14 well underway, yet long before anyone was focused on back-to-school, F.O.B. found themselves dropped into a controversy over one of their songs.
After a school board member called the lyrics to "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" "trashy" and "inappropriate" for teens, the board banned Pennsylvania's Garden Spot High School marching band from performing the song, even though they would only play an instrumental version. The lyrics revolved around a loveless relationship where a couple continues to sleep together to "appease their physical and mental desires."
Wentz spoke out against the ban during a concert a few days later and offered to perform with the students at the school.
To promote their sixth studio effort, "American Beauty/American Psycho," F.O.B. led with the single "Centuries," which premiered on BBC Radio 1. They then performed at the 41st People's Choice Awards at the Nokia Theater in L.A. And just a few days later, a taped version of "Centuries" was aired during the pre-game show of the first ever College Football National Play-Off Championship game between Ohio State and Oregon. The '15 album dropped the following week.
"(It is meant) to capture the threshold between the American beauty and the American psycho . . . what rages on the inside, how what we all feel is permanent and impermanent all at once," read a band release.
"American Beauty/American Psycho" was Fall Out Boy's 3rd #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart ("Infinity On High" and "Save Rock And Roll" were the first two).
Their next move was another collaboration. The 49th Annual CMA Awards telecast featured a Fall Out Boy performance with the 2015 New Artist of the Year nominee Thomas Rhett (he didn't win). They rolled through Rhett's "Crash And Burn," as well as F.O.B's "Uma Thurman."
* They sent him a two-song demo.
2003 Fall Out Boy's Evening Out With Your Girlfriend
2003 Take This To Your Grave
2005 From Under The Cork Tree
2007 Infinity On High
2008 Folie à Deux
2013 Save Rock And Roll
2013 Pax Am Days (w/ Ryan Adams)
2014 American Beauty/American Psycho
F.O.B. plays muscular yet melodic and engaging Punk. They can, at times, approximate the snotty charm of prime Blink 182. Ex-girlfriends, soon to be ex-girlfriends, bad breaks and life in general, from a jaundiced point of view, are the lyrical topics addressed by Stump's heart-on-my-sleeve tenor. It can be difficult to determine whether Stump is singing with his tongue-in-his-cheek or biting down on it hard.
Fortunately, the group's music is as clever as their song titles ("Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued" or "The Pros And Cons Of Breathing" and "It's Not A Side Effect Of The Cocaine, It Must Be Love"). Fall Out Boy kicks hard. But "Save Rock And Roll," contrary to the title, is a Pop/Dance Rock album.