Fall Out Boy's new album, So Much (For) Stardust, is a return to some of the band's familiar sound and style of writing. Speaking to NPR's Juana Summers, two of the group detail the journey they took to this moment.
Who are they?
Pete Wentz is the band's bassist and lyricist
Patrick Stump is their vocalist and guitarist
What's the big deal?
It's the first album that the pop punk band has released in five years. The last one, Mania, was full of experimentation in sound that some fans didn't love.
Wentz and Stump know how polarizing the album was. So Much (For) Stardust is a more recognizable sound. It's also a show of the maturity and experience that the band members have garnered in the two decades working together – and some of the absurdity that has prevailed.
What has changed over the years: The passage of time is a clear theme in this album. The song "Hold Me Like A Grudge" reflects on getting older, and "The Pink Seashell (feat. Ethan Hawke)" uses a speech from the movie Reality Bites based on the idea that life is meaningless, and time goes by.
Wentz: "I feel like when I was in my twenties, early thirties even, life couldn't go fast enough. Now, being a parent it just feels like it's all going so fast and you're trying to slow it down, and you just can't make it slow down ... The interesting thing to me is, when I think about mortality and just the existential doom that I feel like not existing and people I love and care about not existing anymore, it's hard to go on, it can be a little paralyzing, you know? And I think that there is part of this record that is about giving into that nihilism. And then the other part is like, you got to break out because life is short and you will turn into dust at some point. But that means you gotta do everything, you gotta live."
Want to hear more? Listen to the full conversation by tapping or clicking the play button at the top.
This video contains profanity.
Writing "the darkest party song" and the pandemic as a backdrop of the album: Hit play on "What a Time To Be Alive" and you'll get two seconds of an energetic drum intro followed by a disco-y beat. It's a fun song, but the lyrics are a lot gloomier – "We're out here and we're ready to livestream the apocalypse, I don't care if it's pretty, the view's so pretty, from the deck of a sinking ship" – and sometimes it's hard not to associate that and other songs in the album with the early years of the pandemic, particularly the one reference to "quarantine blues."
Stump: "It's funny talking about it in the context of COVID because, with the exception of that line, most of the song was completed before the pandemic ... And when I started reading those lines, there was something about it where, 'what a time to be alive' had that double meaning; where I saw that line and it just inspired me. I was like, 'Yeah, I want to make the kind of song that you play at a wedding and don't really pay attention to how absolutely bleak it is.' It is just miserable. I wanted, like, the darkest party song."
What it has been like to work without one member: The day that So Much (For) Stardust was announced, guitarist Joe Trohman announced that he'd be stepping away from the band for an indefinite period of time, to take care of his mental health.
Stump: "We miss him tremendously. It's very strange to go out and promote something that he was fully a part of without him. I'm sure he would love to be talking right now about the record. But I think he had kind of, in a lot of ways, suffered in private. So when he came to us, I think he was anxious that he was letting us down or something. And I was like, 'Dude, we've done this together for 22 years, you know, we're in your corner.' ... We've been checking in with him regularly, and it's weird because he's still very much in all of the conversations. He's on all the emails, he replies to everything. He's, like, part of it, but he doesn't physically get to be there."
The decades that have gone, and the ones to come:
Wentz: "I feel really lucky. Like, none of it was supposed to happen this way, I don't think, you know? Like, from us going on [Total Request Live] as this, like, kind of terrible, weird punk band. We got shot into this vortex that I think it's very easy to get chewed up and kind of spit out. And I think that a big thing that I'm proud of is that we came out the other side and survived it. As far as the future, I think that the world is very open to artists doing things that feel authentic to them, they'd give it a shot at least, so you could do something a little strange, there's a big realm of possibilities."
Stump: "I'm not a very nostalgic person. And I'm not really a glory person. I'm not particularly interested in just resting creatively and going out and being a business; and going out and just playing all the old hits. You know, we'll do that, but I also really am driven by creating something new. Hopefully, we have a good 20 more albums in us. But if we ever find the day where we don't, and 'Oh, well, let's just book a tour,' I'm not interested. There's nothing more exciting to me than when Pete sends me lyrics. When I open that email, that's how the tour starts."
Review: Yves Tumor's disruptive pop-cultural synthesis
How Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily conjured Love In Exile
Camilo Lara: How Mexico's musical 'double agent' seeks a universal dance floor
Juana Summers and Christopher Intagliata contributed to this report. contributed to this story
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.