“If people are expecting a big, loud, 2007 pop-punk record, it’s not that at all”: Patrick Stump on the return of Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy are back! After far too long, the emo titans have returned with brand new music that not only harks back to their more guitar-driven era, but it also slaps. And what can we expect from the forthcoming So Much (For) Stardust LP? Mainman Patrick Stump reveals all…

“If people are expecting a big, loud, 2007 pop-punk record, it’s not that at all”: Patrick Stump on the return of Fall Out Boy
Jennyfer J. Walker
Pamela Littky

When Kerrang! caught up with Fall Out Boy at our awards ceremony in June 2022, we asked Pete Wentz when new music was coming. He pointed us in the direction of Patrick Stump, insinuating the frontman was the cause of the five-year hold up. “Hey, I have a day job composing for Disney now,” said Patrick, “I’m busy.”

Well luckily, FOB were on the fob off, and had album number eight well underway an entire year ago. They finally let the world in on their secret this week – after two months of cryptic social media teasing – when they dropped brand-new track, Love From The Other Side, and revealed the album would be titled So Much (For) Stardust, out on March 24.

The follow-up to 2018’s M A N I A, marks a couple of returns for the group – their first album with producer Neal Avron since Folie á Deux, and their first album on Fueled By Ramen / Elektra since their 2003 debut, Take This To Your Grave.

We got fall guy Patrick Stump on the phone to find out more…

Patrick! Last time we saw you, you joked that composing music for Disney was your main job. Now you’re back doing Fall Out Boy, how will the two co-exist?
“You know, they’ve always co-existed really. I was doing the last season of the Spidey show [Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends] when I was on the Hella Mega Tour, so it’s something I've figured out. It's like, what do you do on tour? Some people go out to dinner, some go and play other shows, some go sightseeing… I work on a TV show – that’s my thing! I play the show and then I go back and put my headphones on and get back to work.”

How has your composing work influenced this new record?
"Well, last time we worked with Neal Avron [producer on 2005's From Under the Cork Tree, 2007's Infinity On High, and 2008's Folie à Deux] we didn’t know what we were doing. We were still trying to figure it out and I had ideas that I didn’t know how to describe. I didn’t have the language to get them out and now that’s what I do all day, get those ideas out. In the past decade, Neal has become this world-class mixer and he’s won I-don’t-know-how-many GRAMMYs, so I wanted to see what happens when we put all those things together. There’s quite a bit of that [composing] influence on the record in terms of orchestra or brass, or other instrumentation that I get to bring, and it’s more fun because I know what I’m trying to say now.”

You’ve also mentioned wanting to recapture the feeling of what it was like making Folie à Deux – was that another reason to get Neal back?
“Yeah! I used to work at a used record store, which is different than a regular record store, because in a used record store you see everybody’s failures (laughs). It's a whole room full of failures! Because what records are people selling back? It’s the ones they don’t want, so I got really acquainted with bands’ careers and legacies and how artists ebb and flow, rise and fall. Plus, my mom’s an accountant, and as an accountant you plan ahead, so there’s always been this expectation that at some point people are gonna stop showing up. People are gonna stop wanting it. And there was something about Folie… there was an urgency to getting the idea out because you might never get to make another record again, so I wanted to get back to that urgency! It has nothing to do with getting back to the style, this is not a throwback record in that way. Love From The Other Side has elements of it, but I wanted to get back to the spirit of it, that urgency, and that savouring of every moment. Neal was really amazing at that, being like, ‘We’re gonna spend an inordinate amount of time placing each microphone.’ Every moment was special. And I was really hoping he would work with us again because I wanted that.”

Do you feel like you made a record people won’t sell back to the used record stores?
“Yes, I certainly hope so (laughs). But I also don’t really care anymore! That’s one of the things that’s great as you get older, it’s like, we’ve had an amazing run, we’ve been very lucky and hopefully I get to do 20 more of these, but if this is the last one, I wanted to make sure it’s something I really cared about.”

A huge part of every Fall Out Boy record is the cryptic online roll out, teasing on social media for months. You are the anthesis to this since you have no online presence, but do you ever pop online to see what people are saying?
“Yeah I was never the [social media guy]. I just don’t know if I find myself that interesting (laughs). So the cryptic stuff is fun, but I don’t see it. Friends and family will be like, 'What’s this?' And I’m like, ‘Oh yeah! I remember that.’ I don’t go online to look. I have ADHD, so I don’t get to choose what I focus on and it’s just not ever that. It’s always music or politics or whatever.”

Does your ADHD always make space for music? Or does it cause issues?
“It doesn’t leave space for other things (laughs). So it’s like, I get an idea and that’s all I'm in. I’ll start writing something for the record and I always feel like that one scene in [1977 movie] Close Encounters [Of The Third Kind] where Richard Dreyfuss just becomes obsessed with these mashed potatoes and he’s like, ‘This means something!’ I’ll get a musical idea and I can’t not explore it to its conclusion. I don’t have any power to stop myself (laughs). I’m all in until the idea is done. It is hard to manage, but one of my doctors said it’s kinda like a superpower in a weird way. You have this ability, but it’s at the expense of other stuff.”

One product of all your focus is Love From The Other Side – what made you choose it as the first single from the album?
“I don’t know (laughs). I was surprised when that got suggested. Management were like, ‘Other Side!’ and I was like, ‘Really?!’ Label were like, ‘Other Side!” I was like, ‘Really?!’ I guess I assumed that it was not streamlined enough or pop enough, and I assumed it had to be more straight ahead or something... so I was really happy when everybody picked the song. It’s kinda become a running gag that I don’t know what ‘the’ song is. Any time I'm like, ‘I love that song! That’s the song!’ Everyone’s like, ‘Eeeeh, yeah it's okay…’”

And what is your favourite song on the record?
“I probably can’t talk about it yet, but it was the first song we wrote – it was written long before we got Neal onboard, long before COVID-19, and there’s a couple of things in there that I think people would be very surprised to hear lyrically. Pete was talking about the state of the world, and it seems like he landed very surreptitiously on what was about to happen (laughs). So there’s something magical to me about the way that happened. There’s a little bit at the end that directly references COVID, that was added after the fact, but the rest of it was all just Pete thinking about the world and, well, it’s been a weird bunch of years, hasn’t it?”

Pete does seem to be extra contemplative about the world at the moment – more so than unusual…
"Definitely! And that was something I really resonated with, that he’s speaking in a different way than he used to. The lyrics really drove me on this one, in a way that I was very excited about – I just followed them and where they went. Again, I don’t really have any control of the things I focus on – they tend to be these big scary world event things. That’s where my head’s usually at. If you ask me to stop and think about how I'm personally feeling, I couldn't tell you. I’m not very in tune with my emotions, but I’m very in tune with ‘insert name of current world event here’. So there was something about the way Pete blended the two that really spoke to me.”

And how does the rest of the album sound?
“It’s different. If people are expecting a big, loud, 2007 pop-punk record, it’s not that at all, but if you are acquainted enough with our history, I think it really feels like it’s in the thread of Infinity On High and Folie à Deux – it feels like part of that continuum. It’s not Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down Part 4.”

Finally, you mentioned it’s been a weird bunch of years – have they changed you much? Who is Patrick Stump these days?
“(Pauses to think) I’m a dad, I'm a composer, I'm a nerd… and I sit around and try and help other people tell their stories. And it’s always a joy when I get to help Pete tell his.”

Fall Out Boy's new album So Much (For) Stardust is released on March 24 via Fueled By Ramen / Elektra

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