When American rock band Fall Out Boy announced their ‘So Much For (Tour) Dust’ world tour in support of their eighth and latest studio album So Much (For) Stardust, Filipino fans crossed their fingers for a Manila stop, as it had been ten years since the band last visited our country. Sure enough, the band announced a one-night-only show at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on December 9, 2023, and as soon as tickets went on sale on September 24, they sold out in an hour.
To say that Filipinos love Fall Out Boy is an understatement, given the turnout and fervent reception to the band at the Araneta show. Then again, Fall Out Boy have always been a top-notch live act with infectious emo/pop-punk tunes that are hard not to sing along to.
On the day before their sold-out concert, Billboard Philippines sat down with singer/guitarist Patrick Stump and bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz to talk about their latest record and why it might be their “most Fall Out Boy record,” and what made this last tour different from their previous ones.
Billboard Philippines: So Much (For) Stardust is the band’s eighth studio album. How would you describe this era in Fall Out Boy’s music?
Pete Wentz: I feel like there’s really two distinct Fall Out Boy eras if you break it down. Super simply, there’s before we took a break — with From Under The Cork Tree, Infinity On High, and Folie à Deux — and there’s the “after” period, which would be Save Rock and Roll, American Beauty, and Mania. In our live show we always figure out a way to have those songs sit next to each other. If you talk about any artist, there are artists who do change and evolve; you see these distinctions — whether it’s visual art, cinema, music, or whatever — and sitting them next to each other can be like, “How do we have this make sense?” I think this record was an attempt at weaving it all together, but then also obviously expanding beyond.
People have said different things about the record; how I’ve always thought about it is like it’s a companion piece to Infinity On High. Infinity On High could’ve been a record like From Under The Cork Tree, but we did all these things from the experiences of being around the world — musical things that we could have done on From Under The Cork Tree but just weren’t able to do it. And I think that this is another version of that. Clearly we were not a band that worked a super ton on our own music during the quarantine. We weren’t like a lot of bands that put out a lot of music (during the quarantine), and I think this record was built for a while.
Patrick Stump: Pete’s talked before about this idea that some artists get tied to a genre, or an era, or a moment, and then there’s some that kind of end up just sounding like themselves for whatever reason. And when we played these things from [our] different albums, I think we really started to get a sense of what Pete was talking about — that we just sound like us, especially this far in. Because when we started — it’s weird; we’ve been a band long enough to have been attached to a couple of different genre moments, whether or not we really even meant to. So then it’s kind of like you look at it through a line of what you actually are, and I think the big thing about this record is ([he band] just stripping away all the affectation and just finding something that’s just honestly us.
We always say the thing about Metallica where it’s like, at this point Metallica just sounds like Metallica. And when you look back through all those records, there’s thrash Metallica and Load Metallica, but it’s all very them. Queen has a similar thing. The Who has a similar thing. These bands that go on for long enough, they start to just find their thing. I feel like that’s something that this record does, definitively to me, in a way that it ties everything together, where I see all the threads through all the other records.
This record is one of your heaviest in a while, and when Pete explained earlier that he sees it as a companion piece to Infinity On High, I can hear it, especially with the more up-front guitars and classical elements. What made the band go in this direction after the very electro-rock Mania?
Wentz: I think Mania in some ways came from the two records before, because before we were making art within pop culture, at a time when there were not a lot of bands doing that. So, we were finding ways to do it, and we were recording in hotel rooms. I think you can hear the frustration of that in Mania, and to me it feels like a true art project in that way — like when you listen to “Young And Menace,” you’re like, “Now this is a frustrated artist.” When I look at artists that I love, I’m like, “Oh, this is the period when they weren’t accepted by their fans.” It’s just interesting to look at, and I think that with this album, we felt freer during this period because in some ways there’s no more gatekeepers. Our whole career, there’s been gatekeepers, like “You gotta do this to get on TRL” [MTV’s Total Request Live], and then the song gets on the radio.
Now we just live in this time — and it’s not music; I look at my kids and they curate their own thing. They just go, “I like this and I like this,” and put it together. I think that that benefits a band like us because you know, we love Jay-Z, and then we’re referencing Metallica. We’re just a little bit all over the place, and I think we put out an album that felt free. And also when we put it out, it was coming out of living inside for a year and a half or whatever that was. So, I think this could be this niche Fall Out Boy record. It is what it is; I think there was some freedom in doing that, when we weren’t on the timetable of a label or the timetable of culture saying that you gotta do this (at) this time or whatever. I think the record benefited from the time.
It has been five years since your last record, and of course your longtime fans might have aged as much as well. Was there a fear within the band that many of your fans might have outgrown your music while making the album? Did it affect the writing in any way?
Stump: Well, not fear; if anything I think it’s kind of the opposite of that. My big regret with Mania is that I can hear some fear in it. On something like “Young And Menace,” that was kind of fearless, but then as a writer, I got kind of scared of that. I didn’t want to follow that, and I was afraid of alienating people or whatever. If I could go back, I would make the whole record full of “Young And Menace” because the whole thing was to make something challenging and different. So, I hear fear on that record — that’s the thing that I hear on that record; I hear me being afraid of that.
Five years later, yeah, maybe some of our fans have “aged away” or whatever, but [making this record] felt very much like making Infinity On High. Putting it in context, we had the indie record that got successful, then we had the major label debut that didn’t fail; there were all these things that were working for us. I was always thinking of the history of pop music, and bands don’t really last that long most of the time. Bands don’t keep winning, so I was like, ‘OK, we’re destined to fail at some point, right?’ So going into Infinity, I was like, this might be my last shot to do all this. This might be my last shot to get strings and horns, and a choir, or whatever. So I really went in and was like, I’m gonna throw it all against the wall.
I found myself in a similar place five years after Mania, but for opposite reasons — now there’s no stakes. It had been so long, and I think a lot of people didn’t anticipate a Fall Out Boy record by that point. So, it wasn’t really under the gun, like “where’s the big hit?” or whatever. It was just us going in and doing something honest and earnest. And in that context, I felt the same fire of like, if we’re getting to do this, then I’m gonna throw everything I have in here out. It’s weird because obviously, there’s the guitars and there’s the strings and there’s the horns and things like that on this record, but there are some electronics, too. It was kind of about weaving all of it together. In this weird way, it’s the most Fall Out Boy record. It’s like “Fall Out Boy concentrate,” where it’s all of the stuff, all at once.
The past few years have seen a resurgence in Y2K culture, and a large aspect of that is this fascination with emo culture and punk rock. As influential figures in the emo and punk scenes, how do these make you feel?
Wentz: It’s all cyclical, right? Like hair metal and punk rock. I remember a friend of mine who was like, “Yeah, hair metal comes back every 20 years. You’ll see, it’ll happen with this, too.” To me the nostalgia of it is kind of like, whatever. Like I go see Guns N’ Roses at Dodgers Stadium and I think it’s rad but I wasn’t there for [their heyday] so I have nothing to compare it to, except for videos that I’ve seen or whatever. To me the thing that’s more interesting to see is like Willow [Smith], or seeing people who have been doing these reinterpretations of it. It’s so interesting because you’ve taken stuff from here and then added your own thing — that to me is the most exciting part of it. It’s so funny because the way we reference movies and stuff like that, a lot of it is nostalgic, but the music side of it has never really been a part of the band. That’s why you end up with Mania, or you end up with these choices that are like left turns when you probably should have made a right turn. Folie à Deux is that as well.
But I also know what that is like — you listen to your parents’ music, and then you find your own music, which is really cool. Then you go off to university or whatever you’re doing with your life, and you kind of listen to this cooler music. And then you get into the real world, and the real world is kind of tough, so you just go back to the music that you actually loved, like the first stuff you found. So I understand that, and we are fans of so many things; we have a big appreciation for what it is to be a fan, to go back and forth, to be like, “Why don’t they just do this thing again?”
Stump: It’s so funny because I have artists like that, where I’m like, “Oh gosh, I wish they would just do this,” but then I refuse to be that kind of artist, you know? I feel silly because I’m like — I won’t name names, but there are artists where I’m like, “Gosh, I wish they would just do that record again!” — but I won’t do that record again. (Laughs)
The band is currently on your So Much For (Tour) Dust world tour, and due to immense demand, you recently announced a second leg for 2024. How does this unwavering amount of support make you feel?
Wentz: I think it’s amazing. I also have a lot of artist friends in different genres, and it’s been really cool to see [them selling out shows]. Coming out of the pandemic, I think people were really excited to come back to it. And for us, we’ve been touring in front of a giant video wall for ten years; we were trying to compete with DJs and rappers — that’s who we saw as the level of entertainment and [concert] experience [to be matched]. I think, over the pandemic and talking to my kids — they love their skins and their avatars and Roblox — and I was like, maybe we should just do the exact fucking opposite. Because everyone’s talking about NFTs, so maybe we should just make real things. For most of this tour, we wanted a set that was tangible, that you could literally walk into.
Stump: I think something that pervades the whole experience, from the record to the stage show and everything, is that there’s been this idea of getting something tangible, something real. I think [the stage show] was one of the things that revitalized the band in this weird way — to just think about little ways of doing things without screens.
Wentz: This whole process was meant to be, like Patrick said, a tangible thing. The artwork — that’s a real painting. The thing that looks like clay is actually clay.
Stump: And back to the record, that’s a real orchestra. Even the synthesizers we’re playing, those are real old synthesizers you have to turn on and warm up and stuff. That was one of the big differences with Mania — I was doing everything what we call “in box,” where I was doing a lot of it on my laptop, working with plugins and things like that. Like with Zoom — I mean Zoom is awesome because we’re able to communicate — but it got really tiring to be a band from that much of a chasm, you know? So, with the stage show, we wanted to bring that out a bit — the idea that we’re actually here. You are actually with us right now.
It’s been ten years since your last show in Manila. Three more albums and many milestones later, what are you looking forward to showing to your Filipino fans this time around?
Stump: I’m just happy to be back. I’m actually surprised that it’s been that long; I mean, the pandemic was a time warp. It didn’t feel like it was ten years since we’ve been here.
Wentz: I think also it’s crazy for us, 20-whatever years in, to be able to come halfway around the world and play these shows. It’s pretty humbling; I think that now we all have families and kids that are growing up, it’s a lot to miss out on, you know? But when we play the shows — and we just played in Thailand and in Australia — I’m like, this does make it worthwhile. I do appreciate that there is this exchange of energy; there is this crowd that is completely and entirely different from a crowd anywhere else on the planet. That is a really special thing, and when I go home, carpool and drive my kids around or whatever, I can appreciate that Batman half of my life.