2017 has proven to be a big year for Fall Out Boy. Not only did they release “Young and Menace,” “Champion” and “Last Of The Real Ones,” but they are also heading out on tour ahead of the release of their seventh studio album, MANIA, which was (as you probably heard) pushed back to January 2018. Patrick Stump cut to the chase in August when he advised fans that the album wasn’t ready and the band needed time to perfect it, with him declaring on Twitter, “I’m never going to put a record out I genuinely don’t believe is at least as strong or valid as the one that came before it.” Understandable, given that the members of FOB always find a remarkable way to top themselves.
Somehow, Patrick, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley have found a way to do so in a different way by giving back. For their upcoming 20-city North American tour, they’re going to donate one dollar for every ticket sold to the band’s Fall Out Boy Fund, which will support a number of Chicago charities. They are also asking fans to nominate local champions that are making a difference in their communities by posting a photo or video tagging #FOBChampion on Instagram for each tour date. Each champion will be honored during the band’s local show and on their official Instagram account, as well as having a donation in their name made to a charity of their choosing.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to speak with Wentz before he and his band-mates leave for tour, and when we were done I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for those once small-town, Illinois boys who are now, clearly, icons.
Tell us about Fall Out Boy’s Champion Campaign. What made you guys decide now was the perfect time to highlight one person from each city who is giving back in their own way?
Well I think that so much of life is like … it’s really easy. We all bitch and complain about the world and everybody offers their thoughts, and I think that there’s just room for that. It’s really important for people to feel vocal about that stuff. I think execution is really important, like if you’re going to complain about it, then try to execute, try to make it a better place. This is our small way of doing that. I know it’s not a huge thing, but it’s our small way of trying to execute it.
A dollar from each ticket sold for the upcoming MANIA tour will go towards the Fall Out Boy fund. What charities does your fund support and what type of impact do you hope to have with the funds?
So far, a few things we’re funding from the fund is a breakfast program that’s going to be part of the Chicago public school systems that we are supporting. I think it is in support of an organic farm system there. I think that it’s super important, that’s where we obviously grew up, to give back. And the champions of the city will be receiving money from the fund also, which is important to us because I think that helping people or putting a spotlight on people that are doing good or trying to do good in the world is super important too, so that’s what we’re trying to do with that.
But the great thing about having our own fund is that when we see something that we believe in or we see something that is not receiving enough money or we think could do great things if they just had money, we’re able to allocate money for that, which is something that we’ve always thought about trying to find a way to do. I’m glad that we finally found a way to do it.
Whose idea was it?
It’s been an idea we’ve been kicking around for a while, but we finally figured out a way that rather than partnering with somebody or whatever, let’s just do it ourselves. That way, we don’t have to be locked into one thing forever because I think sometimes when you’re trying to be helpful, like everybody is helpful towards something, it’s easier to jump on a bandwagon and forget about it, or over time kind of lose their focus on it.
With the fund we’re able to direct it as we go and that way it can be small things, big things, things that we all believe in, things that one of us believe in, you know, we’re still trying to figure out a way to do that.
What can you tell us about MANIA? What themes will you be touching on and what was the process like making the album?
It’s been a kind of crazy process. We came out the gate with a song that we were really inspired by, “Young and Menace,” and then as we wrote the record we kind of realized that we were writing something that we thought the other person wanted, so we kind of scrapped it and went back to square one and that’s kind of why the record got pushed back.
I think the themes that we are talking about and working on, they’re more nuanced this time. I think that the little flaws and little neuroses that we all have, are actually what kind of makes us all human. You know, when I see somebody walking around, I don’t think about what their room looks like, or what they look like naked, what would this person’s therapist look like? I can just see little things that kind of link us all together.
What would your advice be to those in the spotlight who feel the pressure and want to help out, but believe that they shouldn’t be making a stance on everything that’s going on in today’s political climate?
I think that we live in a time where being down the middle is probably the worst thing you can do. Just be authentic to who you are, you know what I mean? People know when you’re not. So just be authentic to who you are. And it doesn’t really matter, your opinion isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s and it may not be the “right opinion,” but I think being authentic and having an authentic voice is super, super, super important right now. I think you’ll actually find it helpful for your career. It won’t hinder it. People who believe in the same things will get behind you or you’ll have dialogue with people who believe in different things.
You guys have been around for more than a decade what have you learned in that time, individually and as a band?
I think as a band, one of the things we’ve learned is like, there’s a rollercoaster and you’ve got to enjoy the highs and get through the lows and know that it’s going to be up and down and stuff. And I think you don’t really know that when you’re a 23-year-old guy. People are always like, “When it’s over, it’s all over,” and, “You know it’s going to end,” and that’s a lot of pressure to put on people, you know?
… I think we’ve learned to appreciate each other more and try to be normal, adult-ish people while still being in a band. Like my kids do not care how late I was out the night before in the studio, they just care that they get pancakes or whatever, you know? There is something super normalizing about that.
It brings you back to normal life.
Yeah! In a good way. What have I learned? I’ve learned that you can never have too many baby wipes. That’s what I’ve definitely learned in life in general, you can never have too many of those.
I always like to ask two random questions for curiosity-sake. If you had the choice to record a song or share a stage with one person or one band, living or dead, who would it be?
Well, you should always answer this question in the greatest possible way you would definitely do it with a dead band. Always.
You would have to, right?
No matter who it is, you would want the band to be dead. A zombie show! No, but for me, it would be Michael Jackson. I just think he was the greatest. I think he’s the greatest of all time. I think that’s who it would be. But there’s a million around now that I love and think are great. We’ve gotten to collaborate with Kanye, I think he’s one of the greatest living entertainers and artist. You know, there are great ones around.
Out of all of the hundreds of songs that you’ve put out into the world, if you could only play one for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh my God! I guess I’ll always have a special affinity for “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” because that was the one that made it so that we could travel around the world and play music together. It was the one that unlocked the door and so I think I’ll always have a special affinity for it. I always think about that one as the one that made all the rest of this stuff possible.
It catapulted you guys into another dimension.
Yeah in an accidental way. It was an accidental song, so that’s one of the coolest parts about it.
Check out Fall Out Boy on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday, Oct. 29 in Philadelphia!