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Fall Out Boy Faces Future

Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

It’s a provocative title, but the Friends Or Enemies Tour does not exactly sound like a cheerful holiday jaunt.

“No, maybe not,” Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump says with a laugh, explaining that the group’s latest road trek takes its title from a Web site operated by bassist Pete Wentz.

“It’s kind of like MySpace, but you can pick people you don’t like, too. You don’t have to be friends with everybody on it.

“But it’s also kind of tongue-in-cheek, naming a tour after that. We’re just having some fun.”

And Stump, Wentz and bandmates Joe Trohman and Andrew Hurley fi gure Fall Out Boy deserves a little enjoyment after a busy but productive year. The Chicago punk group found itself vaulted out of the underground and into pop music’s multimillion-selling elite thanks to its 2005 sophomore album, “From Under the Cork Tree,” which sold more than 2 million copies, spawned the hits “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” “Dance, Dance” and “Sixteen Candles,” and snared a Best New Artist nomination for the quartet at last year’s Grammy Awards. The success, not surprisingly, kept the group on the road — only this time headlining in arenas.

But amid all that, Fall Out Boy still found time to make a new album — “Infinity on High,” which comes out Feb. 6. Stump says the group never stopped writing songs after it fi nished recording “Cork Tree,” which gave them the luxury of making “Infinity” at a more leisurely pace.

“It was real gradual, and maybe six to eight months ago we said, ‘We’ve got enough songs,’ which was kind of early, in a way,” he says.

“So we said, ‘Let’s start recording it, but we’ll take our time,’ and we had fun with it and just relaxed. I think we had a six-month period where we would just come in and out of the studio between touring or whatever. The record just kind of happened gradually rather than sitting down and trying to force it out.”

Stump anticipates that fans will be surprised by the wide stylistic approach of the album — “Lots of different perspectives and voice and styles,” he says. That’s already been telegraphed by the first single, a funky track called “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” which the band released last month and is built on a groove Stump came up with when he was doing some production for Gym Class Heroes.

“I love R&B music and hiphop music,” Stump, 22, explains. “It’s basically a hiphop/R&B song, but written as a punk song.”

“Infi nity” also features greater use of piano, he says, as well as strings horns. Jay-Z does a guest rap to introduce one of the songs, while Panic! At the Disco’s Ryan Ross and New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert play guitar solos on another.

Despite those heady creative ambitions, however, Stump claims that “we were really restrained about it. Just because we had the opportunity to do it doesn’t mean we went overboard and had it be a Phil Spector Wall of Sound thing. At the end of the day, the core of the songs is just four guys — drums, bass and two guitars — playing. They’re just rock songs.”

Fall Out Boy is soliciting fan designs for the album’s art, and another track, the harderrocking “Carpal Tunnel Love,” is available at its Web site (www.falloutboyrock.com). The group is, in fact, giving the album a kind of life before its released, which Stump hopes will help fans get acclimated to some of the sonic adventures.

“It would be dishonest for us to hold back any of those elements,” he says. “Ultimately, people might be weird about what we’re doing, but I like to think they get what’s honest better than what’s ... contrived.”

But even though Stump and company are hot for fans to hear the new songs, it’s not planning on playing many of them live before “Infi nity” — which takes its title from a letter Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother — comes out.

“We’re gonna play a few” new songs, Stump says, “but in general it’s gonna be a lot of older stuff. This is one of the last tours we’ll get to really ride the old stuff.

“I still love the last record. I’m still proud of it, so I’m looking forward to playing the old songs and maybe digging farther back in the crates for some really old stuff before we start touring on the new record. I’m excited about that.”

Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory and Cobra Starship perform at the 89X Nutcracker at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (December 13th) at the State Theatre, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $29.89. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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