Fall Out Boy on Getting the Hip-Hop Remix Treatment and Staying Relevant in 2016
Fall Out Boy
Photo by Pamela Littky
Fall Out Boy is coming down off the high of a pre-Super Bowl performance in San Francisco when I speak with bassist Pete Wentz by phone. Football's biggest stage might seem like enemy territory for a band that fought its way to stardom one VFW Hall and Warped Tour parking lot at a time. But this is turf where Fall Out Boy finds itself ever more frequently as recent hits like "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)" and "Centuries" have met their ultimate destiny blasting from public-address systems at arenas nationwide.
Fifteen years into his career (more if you count time spent in early outfits like hardcore act Arma Angelus), there's still something charmingly geeky about Wentz, a slightly disarming awkwardness that has somehow survived his ascendance from the suburbs of Chicago to the pages of TMZ. Perhaps that's to be expected in a man who's made his bones wearing his insecurities on his sleeve, but there's a real magic in the way he tows between galaxies.
Not that the band ever felt inclined to stay in its lane. Its 2013 return from a three-year hiatus was heralded by a video featuring a flamethrower-wielding 2 Chainz; it spent the summer coheadlining amphitheaters with pop-rap hit-maker Wiz Khalifa; and, last fall, it dropped Make America Psycho Again, a reworked and reimagined companion piece to its American Beauty/American Psycho album, placing guest rappers from Migos to Black Thought (of the Roots) front and center.
"There's an open invite," Wentz insists. "If any of those MCs want to come out, that would be cool. We would accommodate and make the remix happen [live]." He briefly contemplates playing the mixtape at afterparties before backing himself down. "We'll see," he demurs. "I don't know if people actually want to hear that or not."
Wentz might not know exactly what "people actually want," but Fall Out Boy is nonetheless bringing it in spades — its appearance at the 5,500-seat Hard Rock Live this Friday sold out weeks in advance. And while no rappers are due to make appearances on this run (the band is supported this time out by digital rockers Awolnation and ascendant synth-punk stars Pvris), the band has clearly internalized hip-hop's lessons.
"When we came back, we saw that people wrote and recorded songs in a different way," Wentz notes. "Before, it was drum rooms and getting guitar sounds for two weeks. If you wait two weeks now, you grow a Father Time beard. If you're taking two years between every song, it's not relevant... We're always writing. We're a grazing kind of band. We're a buffet band."
As for what comes next? Not even Wentz knows for certain. "Maybe we do a song for a film," he speculates. "Or we just put a song out on the internet. Or maybe we do another remix." The only rule is to keep throttling forward. And if that leads Fall Out Boy to strange territory once again, well, Wentz's plan to keep the band safe could double as its motto: "As long as it's authentic to us, it's cool."
Fall Out Boy
With AWOLNATION and PVRIS. 7 p.m. Friday, February 26, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Sold Out. Call 954-797-5531, or visit Ticketmaster.com.
1 Seminole Way
Hollywood, FL 33314
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