Patrick Stump: "Prince Sounds More Like Backstreet Boys Than He Does Pantera"
Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump and his silvery pipes have struck out on a solo venture while the band is on hiatus. So far, things have headed far to the left of his group's hit-laden catalog of pop-punk. If his vocal hooks on Gym Class Heroes' "Cupid's Chokehold," the Roots' "Birthday Girl," Murs' "Bummed Out Blues," and his Truant Wave EP from earlier this year didn't already find your ears, let the record show that this guy can get soulful in his spare time.
Amidst his current solo tour, which stops at Culture Room on Saturday, the loquacious Stump called County Grind to discuss myriad typics, including his forthcoming full-length Soul Punk and its influences, talking James Cameron flicks with Pete Wentz, and how the Fall Out Boy well "dried up for a little bit."
County Grind: What would you say is
the state of R&B today and also what is your favorite era from the
Patrick Stump: Those are great questions. I love getting asked that. I
think R&B right now is fractured into two schools. There's
either the hip-hop-esque R&B, where pretty much it exists for the
club or whatever, or there's like the throwback history kind of R&B,
which really pays a lot of homage to specifically '60s and '70s really
organic kind of R&B. There are a lot of other artists who are
messing with it, but for the most part I feel like on a grand scale
there's a lot of those two things when you say "R&B" to people. It
frustrates me because I was always a fan of the '60s and '70s. That
covers a lot of ground as well. That's a mouthful already. One thing
that I kind of miss is that I do miss a lot of the post-funk stuff that
had such a really interesting effect on, before it intertwines with
hip-hop, there's a lot of interesting things that happened with Prince,
with James Brown and his influence on and that echo chamber that
happened and Sly Stone and where that plays into funk and soul, if I had
to pick an era. Ultimately, Minneapolis is my favorite thing, I really
have this historian love for it. When I pick up a guitar, it sounds like
a Time record.
Especially "Everybody Wants Somebody" from Soul Punk, might I add. I
noticed that Prince vibe as soon as I heard it. I'm actually from that
area, too. Who else are these soul punks? Do you see Prince as a "soul
Oh yeah. Absolutely. I think Prince is a great example of
it. In a lot of ways I always felt a really strong punk undercurrent in
somebody like Curtis Mayfield. It's obviously very different music, but I
thought "Nobody's serious and it makes me furious," that's a punk-rock
lyric. Eugene McDaniels, it's really proggy and fusion-y, but it has
some really serious punk-rock-isms. I think everything post-Prince is
really fused. I look at it now and you know the modern generation want
to look at Janelle Monae or J*Davey, or Bad Rabbits. There's a lot of
these artists coming up now who have very much of their own accord, this
weird kind of fusion-y funk thing with a lot of punk energy.
All of these people you mentioned all have huge bands
that they're commanding to do this and you've made this album by
hard is it to get all of that together if you're working on the
I think it's a little bit easier, actually, because I
got to explain it all to the people. One of the hardest things was to,
because obviously I come from more of the punk end of things, where I
cut my teeth. So I still feel like I'm hopefully acheiving the same
ends. Getting there, there's a lot of resistance to it in punk rock.
There's a lot of "Oh, R&B is for Backstreet boys," or something like
that. Which of course if you've never listened to any R&B, I guess
it sounds like that if that's your only benchmark for R&B, you know.
Prince sounds more like Backstreet Boys than he does Pantera, but
you're still talking about wildly different music. I think it was a lot
easier to do it and show it to people than it was to talk about it.
One thing that I was really cognizant of early on was that when i wasn't
listening to punk rock, I wasn't listening to the same stuff as my punk
rock friends. A lot of guys were treated to country music, they grew up
on it. I have no base in country music. I really have no idea. I've
never owned a country record, to be honest. It's not something I
dislike, it's just that I don't know that stuff at all. I never had a
Metallica poster on my wall, never had the Led Zeppelin poster, or the
Nirvana poster. Those weren't really things that spoke to me. It's not
something that I disliked, it just wasn't as strong an influence on me
as the Time, or Michael Jackson. You say pop, but at the end of the day
Michael Jackson was an R&B artist who got huge, especially the
1970's Jacksons stuff that's crazy. "Blame it on the Boogie" is a really
groovy song. I love the history of R&B. I love taking it from Nat
King Cole to Ray Charles, to Stevie Wonder and watching that influences
What about your Chicago hometown hero R. Kelly?
R. Kelly is in there, it's just tough to really separate man from myth.
He's definitely influenced me a little bit, I think, as a singer. It's
really hard to mess with him. Love him or hate him, he's definitely has a lasting
impact on modern R&B. When you put on Trey Songz's record, you know
where he's getting it. When I hear something in modern pop-R&B that I
dig, I still latch onto it. There are some records that come out that I
really feel. I like to look at the lineage of it.
"This City" is a good local jam in the tradition of many.
Kanye did one about Chicago as well, which I'm sure you've heard. Are
there any other city pride songs that you can get down with?
of the things that I really wanted to do was, that I wanted it to be
pride, but I wanted it to be conscious pride. So that was something that
I really thought about, like Stevie Wonder, or Bill Withers' "Harlem."
It comes from love, but I think those two songs are a lot darker. In
both cases I think those guys really loved their cities. I was thinking
broad. I started writing it, I looked at it and thought, "this could be a
song about Chicago, I could take this all the way and have it be a big
Chicago song." I was like, "Chicago has songs. I love Chicago, but
Chicago doesn't need another song. Chicago has a lot of songs."
needs to be everybody's song. This needs to be about every city. It
needs to be about every aspect of a city. I wanted to be subtle with it.
I don;t think it's really aggressive in its politics, but I wanted to
say that I love my city unconditionally, here are the conditions. Every
city has some stuff that's wrong with it. I was looking at Detroit and
New Orleans, because these are places where they've been ravaged by
either economic or natural disasters. People ahve the audacity to say,
"Oh, they should just move." No they can't move! It's their home, it's
their soul. Motown, come on. New Orleans, come on. I didn't even think
of that until this conversation, how vital it is to music, music
history. And that's world music history, too; how important New Orleans
has been to the world, so you want these people to move? That's not
fair. So I wanted a song for that. i wanted a song because it can happen
anywhere, any city in the world. Everything's fragile and we all love
our cities. That's where i was really coming from for that.
songs, obviously since you're not working with Fall Out Boy, are
these the sorts of things you were thinking about you have a chance to
get these topics off your chest now, it's your album?
It's one of those things where I love Fall Out Boy and I love they way
we communicated. I love the way our lyrics were, but if I'm gonna do a
solo thing, I have to validate it in some way. I have to matter in a
way that Fall Out Boy didn't. Because Fall Out Boy mattered in one way, I
have to find some other thing, I have to find a way to say it that is
different from Fall Out Boy, If at any point I'm touching on something
that I could have or have said in Fall Out Boy, there's no reason to do
it. That was something that I was really cognizant of. I think the
record ends up being conscious. I try to be socially conscious and
positive about it. Those were the two big things that I wanted to be. I
think that's one of the things that always made me more R&B than
punk. I'm just as angry as any other punk rocker ever, but I'm still
something of an optimist. I want the world to be better. It's not just
"Fuck you. Anarchy."
When was your last conversation with Pete Wentz?
couple days ago. We were talking about James Cameron movies. I was
saying that I never liked James Cameron movies, I didn't think he was
any good. Then I saw Abyss. It was jaw-dropping. I said "This is a great movie, I'm an idiot." I can never unilaterally dismiss somebody.
That's probably not the most business-related conversation you guys have had.
we stay in touch. We don't really talk a lot of business anymore. When
it happened, it was like he'd send me lyrics and I'd send him music back.
One of these days he'll send me some lyrics and I'll write some music
and send it back to him and that'll be it. I think that well just
dried up for a little bit, or that he needs to inhale for a little bit
before he can exhale. Pretty early on in the band I considered
everything an essential component and it all starts with Pete writing
some words. That's how our process starts. If we don't get words from
him, we got nothing.
What is your favorite lyric so far that you've come up with? What's your moment that you're most proud of?
tough, because I try not to think of it that way. There's a lyric on a
song called "Coast" where I say "Pointing out trivia nearly broke me
with tragedy, so you need to put me back together." It's kind of wordy
and it's not really that poignant, but it's nice to have some kind of
catharsis for once. I was being the voice for someone else's for a long
time and I don't really get to say these kind of things, so that was
nice. That's a lyric that sticks with me. Or, "Depression's a little bit
like happy hour, it's always gotta be happening somewhere on any given
night." It's acknowledging that we all get, especially when you're
younger, it's easy to dwell on these things, but as you get older and
have actual real-life stuff happen to you, that's when you get to know
man problems, adult problems. That makes you appreciate the good stuff a
little bit more.
I think it's a nice balance. I think we also have your "pin-looking-for-a-grenade" moments too, that are fun, vivid images.
love playing with imagery. I have to restrain myself sometimes because
that's all i want to write about and then you look at the page and say
"This is all imagery and no substance. This doesn't say anything. I'm
not saying anything about any of the characters or any of the places,
I'm just having a love affair with words." it's always a balancing act.
There's a b-side called "Saturday Night Again" and all of it is
imagery. If you were to ask me what the song is about, I don't even
really know. It's almost a character study. I wanted this record to have
some statements and one thing that I really wanted to play with is I
wanted to take pop-culture paradigms, big things that you've heard a
bunch of times like "This City," or "The 'I' in Lie," all of these songs.
There's a drinking song, it sounds like a party, drinking song. There's a
song that's about cheating, like a traditional R&B song about
cheating, but I really wanted to infuse them with a lot more subtext
than that. I'm talking bout these things. I wrote a drinking song about
alcoholism, you know? I wrote a cheating song about what that actually
does and cheating on yourself more than romantically cheating. On this
record, one thing that Fall Out Boy never really did was write entirely
in metaphor. That's something that I'm doing more of with this.
Patrick Stump. With Wynter Gordon and John West. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 20 at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $20. Click here.
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