Fall Out Boy refuses to fall off
A lot of bands make comeback albums. For Fall Out Boy, the album after the comeback album was the one that mattered.
The rockers released their sixth album "American Beauty/ American Psycho" in January. It's the follow-up to 2013's "Save Rock and Roll," which came after the group reunited following a three-year break.
"If you come back for one record, that's a comeback record. I've seen a lot of those. If you come back and delete the time you were away — it was a moment — then (that time away) is just a weird phase," says Fall Out Boy lead singer Patrick Stump, on the phone in May from his Los Angeles home.
"Jay Z went away for awhile, and at the time, 'Kingdom Come' was this big, 'Wow, it's his comeback record!' or whatever. Now, it's like that was his record between 'The Black Album' and 'American Gangster.' It stops being about that break."
For Fall Out Boy, who play DTE Energy Music Theatre Friday on a dual headlining bill with Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa, "American Beauty/ American Psycho" was a confirmation the group was back to active duty.
"It was about putting out that next record to show we're still a band, we still want to make records and we're going to make more of them," says Stump.
The reception for "Beauty/ Psycho" proves they made the right choice. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart, with 218,000 album equivalent units, besting the 154,000 first-week sales of "Save Rock and Roll." The album was led by the soaring "Centuries," which by many measures is the group's biggest single to date, with 123 million Spotify streams and 52 million YouTube views.
"Centuries," which borrows from "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega, became a sports anthem, played at stadiums around the nation and heard on repeat during ESPN's coverage of the College Football Playoffs.
"I didn't really expect much of it," says Stump, 31. "I thought it was fun and I had a good time doing it, but I didn't think I'd be sitting in Soldier Field listening to it at a Bears game. And that's the thing that's crazy, we have these songs that have gone beyond anything that we could have imagined. Now it's like I'm watching it happen, I'm not really part of it. I don't feel like I can take credit. I wrote 'Immortals,' but I can take no credit for the fact that whenever I go into a Disney store someone's like, 'My kid loves that song!'"
Those hits have helped make the pairing with Wiz — whose "See You Again" has topped Billboard's Hot 100 chart for 11 weeks — one of the summer's hottest tickets. Fall Out Boy has a kinship with the rapper, says Stump, who first caught wind of him when Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz showed him an early video clip of Wiz performing in his hometown.
"He wasn't signed, he wasn't on the radio, he didn't have any of the traditional channels in place for him, and here was this guy with this crowd of people singing every word and going crazy," says Stump. "That felt so us to us. He had this underdog nature, and I think that's the thing that Wiz is always going to have. He's an island unto himself, and we like that. It's great to have somebody that doesn't play by a standard set of rules."
Fall Out Boy has been playing by its own rules since forming outside of Chicago in 2001. In the '00s, the group became torch-bearers for what was then referred to as "emo," the name given to the heart-on-your-sleeve pop-punk in which it trafficked. The group broke through with 2005's "From Under the Cork Tree," which included the hits "Dance, Dance" and "Sugar, We're Going Down," which crossed over from alternative to pop radio and made the group MTV stars.
Two albums followed, but relationships in the band were strained by the time Fall Out Boy was touring on 2008's "Folie à Deux." The band split to pursue other projects, and reformed in 2013.
Since coming back together, Fall Out Boy has been on a tier, and the group's 2014 Monumentour with Paramore found the group playing amid walls of flames and pyrotechnics like a 1980s arena show act.
"We've always been very cognizant of, if you're paying for a ticket and you're going to go to this venue, how do you make it something worth seeing?" says Stump. "And there's so many good tours going out, why go see Fall Out Boy? We have to validate being on stage. And for everybody in the arena, this is their fun day, so it's gotta be something really escapist."
Since coming back, the group could have rested on its hits and done a series of tours revisiting its past albums. But that's something Stump says he wouldn't have been able to stomach.
"I'm here to make new music," says Stump. "I hope when I say this I mean it, but you're never going to see me doing the Vegas revue in my 50s where I'm just singing the old songs. I'm not excited about that idea. I'm more excited by the idea of making new things."
Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa
7 p.m. Friday
DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw, Clarkston
Ticketmaster.com or (248) 377-0100