Fall Out Boy are almost all grown up. Their fifth CD, Folie à Deux, sounds like an actual album, not just a collection of songs thrown together by a restless young band. The four members have settled into their various roles within their group. And tabloid magnet and occasional penis flasher Pete Wentz even became a dad recently.
It was simply time, says guitarist Joe Trohman. After seven years of playing emo poster boys and slapping totally irrelevant and wordy titles onto their songs (don't worry, there are still some on Folie à Deux — see "Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet"), Fall Out Boy are turning into, gulp, men.
"A lot of our other records were growing pains," says Trohman. "We wanted to do more this time. We got hyper-collaborative, and we got a little grandiose with the layering and experiments."
Fall Out Boy started work on Folie à Deux last year, right around the same time they started taking themselves a little more seriously. Their last album, 2007's Infinity on High, debuted at No. 1. It was three years since their breakout record, From Under the Cork Tree, which included the hit "Sugar, We're Goin Down." Brandishing their newfound maturity like a tube of eyeliner, they went into the recording with a plan. Sort of.
"We're getting more and more in love with going into the studio and layering," says Trohman. "There's so much going on in the songs. Some of them have 100 tracks. Then we get out of the studio and go, 'Oh, shit. How are we gonna play this song live?'"
The album's centerpiece, "What a Catch, Donnie," is built around a series of cameos. Elvis Costello, Cobra Starship's Gabe Saporta, Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy, Panic at the Disco's Brendon Urie and the Academy Is ...'s William Beckett all join a swelling chorus of Fall Out Boy's greatest hits, including "Sugar, We're Goin Down" and "Thnks fr th Mmrs." "It's so much more comfortable playing with your band," says Trohman. "But we loved doing this. We're not sure if Elvis Costello is a fan. He said he was. Regardless if he likes our music, he's on our record."
Infinity's top-of-the-charts showing gave the group some leverage with their record company, their fans and themselves. No longer content to be that band pop-punk bashers despise ("We're well-loved, but we're also well-hated," ackowledges Trohman), they — individually and together — expanded.
Singer Patrick Stump turned out to be a dedicated hip-hop head, collaborating with Timbaland, Lupe Fiasco and the Roots. He also produced a bunch of compatible artists (Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship, the Hush Sound) and some not-so-compatible ones (he worked on parts of Fiasco's last album). He also writes reviews for Rolling Stone.
Trohman, who grew up in South Russell in Geauga County, geeked out, feeding his action-figure habit and immersing himself in Queen records. ("Brian May is out of control," he says. "I tried to rip some of that off in my own I'm-not-a-virtuoso way.") Drummer Andy Hurley, a vegan who's pretty sure the world will end sooner than later, just chilled.
And then there's Wentz, the mascara-lined focal point of Fall Out Boy. Everyone is familiar with his name, his face and his hair. But how many people realize he's the band's bass player? "It's the older-woman syndrome," says Trohman. "They know who Pete Wentz is, but they don't know what Pete Wentz does."
Between the release of Infinity on High and Folie à Deux, Wentz opened a club, starred in a couple TV shows (including One Tree Hill and CSI: NY), hosted an MTV program, maintained his record label (Decaydance, home to the Academy Is ..., Gym Class Heroes and Panic at the Disco, among others), got married to Ashlee Simpson and had a son.
There's tons more where that came from. "I've been friends with Pete since I was a kid," says Trohman. "He was just a younger Pete. He's always been a Type-A personality, he's always been a magnetic person. So this is no surprise. The rest of us are introverted enough to say, 'Hey, do you wanna put yourself out there? Because we'd just like to play music.' He shines at that stuff.
"We're four different dudes who get into four different styles of music at times," he concludes. "We were being grumpy dudes the other day, and we sat down and said, 'We're still friends, right?' Then we realized, 'Holy shit, we're still friends and we still like each other.' How many bands can say that?" firstname.lastname@example.org