As Internet news tends to do, this “announcement” got way out of hand way too fast. All Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump was trying to do early last year was focus a magazine journalist on his solo project, but perhaps he misspoke a smidge.
“I was doing an interview, and I said, ‘For the purposes of this interview, I’m not in Fall Out Boy.’ What I meant was: Right now, let’s not talk about Fall Out Boy,” Stump told us last week. “I underestimated the power of the pull quote. It was not said in a negative way. The guy was just starting to ask in-depth questions about the band, and I just said I’m not promoting them right now. It turned into ‘I quit.’”
Faster than you can text OMG!, word had spread that the platinum-selling suburban Chicago pop-punk band was no more, even though the four members were using the word “hiatus.” (You watched last week’s “30 Rock,” where everyone hears that word and moves on to “Plan B”? Precisely.) Bassist, lyricist and default face of the band Pete Wentz made it sound more definitive by tweeting, “A hiatus is forever until you get lonely or old. I don’t plan on either,” and then, “I can’t imagine playing in FOB again.” Drummer Andy Hurley and guitarist Joe Trohman each joined in, tweeting, “I quit too.”
“The Internet has no barometer for sarcasm,” Stump said. “People flipped out. It was blown way out of proportion. There is absolutely no acrimony between us. I personally still talk to all three of them twice to three times a week. But bands are like wrestlers — the press likes to make you into this character and pit you against each other. … Fall Out Boy is just not planning anything right now. I would be very, very surprised if we don’t do another record again.”
But in the interim/aftermath of FOB, each player has moved on. Trohman and Hurley teamed with members of Anthrax and Every Time I Die to form the hard-rock band the Damned Things. Wentz and Ashlee Simpson had a baby, then separated. He’s got a clothing line, he manages nightclubs. His new band, Black Cards, with intriguing new singer Bebe Rexha, debuted in March at the SXSW music festival.
Stump is stepping out with his own music, teased on the recent EP, “Truant Wave,” with a full-length album titled “Soul Punk” due later this year — if he ever stops tinkering with it.
“Truant Wave” is a surprise, though it shouldn’t be. Take the song “Porcelain.” In it, Stump plays nearly every instrument, including horns and some free-jazz guitar, and sings approximately four different styles of R&B in as many minutes. He also raps.
“It comes as a surprise to people that I enjoy R&B, jazz, hip-hop a lot,” Stump said. “I can converse more about those than I can about modern rock. If you really listen to Fall Out Boy, we were never really total rock dudes.” (Go back and listen to FOB’s “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” and the face-contorting, late-’90s R&B, wail Stump delivers as he sings, “As long as the room keeps singin’ / that’s just the business I’m eh-ee-eh-aahhhhn.“) “I’m calling the album ‘Soul Punk’ partly because there’s this assumption that I’ll put out an R&B record or a pop-punk record, and I’m really neither. I’m in between. I’m my own eccentric little me.”
The R&B comes oddly naturally for this native of Glenview. During FOB, Stump tried to channel his other ambitions outside the band as a songwriter and producer, working with the Roots, Gym Class Heroes, even producing a track on Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool” (“Little Weapon”).
Ever-indecisive — thus the over-production he admits is rampant on “Truant Wave” — Stump recorded two different versions of the song that became his first single, “Spotlight,” and let online fans vote on which they liked more. The stronger, poppier “Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)” would show up on “Truant Wave,” and the wispy dance-rock of “Spotlight (New Regrets)” will be on the album.
Stump says some of the eclecticism on “Truant Wave” goes back to his youth in Glenview, raised by father David Stumph (Patrick dropped the “h”), a satellite folk player in the John Prine, Steve Goodman heydays.
“In the late ’70s, he was kind of experimenting with fusion jazz, and that era of his music had a profound effect on me,” Stump said. “He’d be playing some not-out-of-place ’60s folk song, then go into an instrumental break and do his freedom-jazz dance. That definitely plays into what I’m doing. I’m very concerned with musicality. I try to restrain myself, but I want to make musician’s music.”
To that end, Stump’s band for this tour — which kicks off with its first show in Chicago — is composed of wonky session players: bassist Matt Rubano (Taking Back Sunday), guitarist Michael Day, keyboard and sax player Casey Benjamin (Q-Tip, Mos Def) and drummer Skoota Warner.
“It feels like being in a jazz combo,” Stump said. “I sometimes leave the stage just so I can watch them, too. … Assembling a band is a weird thing. It’s not about getting Fall Out Boy chemistry. Fall Out Boy was very much a band, best friends, live and die for each other, that kind of thing. This is a much more relaxed, ‘we’re gonna go out there and kill it’ feeling. It’s about the music, not the people, and that feels refreshing for a change.”