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Fall Out Boy comes back on top

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Patrick Stump admits there was a minute during Fall Out Boy's four-year hiatus when he wasn't sure if the group would actually come back together.

And the prospect didn't make him happy.

"We knew we weren't breaking up. We knew that wasn't the plan -- but life doesn't always go as planned," says Stump, Fall Out Boy's frontman. "The Press and the Internet and Twitter and all those things move so fast, and the stories -- regardless of whether or not they're true -- get around so quickly. And there was enough out there saying that we were breaking up that all four of us started to wonder if, like, 'Wow, maybe we ARE broken up' because we heard it so many times.

"So I would say without question there was a period I was very unsure whether the band would come back. It got a little confusing."

Fortunately for all concerned, Stump and his bandmates -- bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley -- stuck to their original plan. And the group -- which sold 7.5 million albums worldwide and notched hit rock anthems such as "Sugar We're Goin' Down," "Dance, Dance" and "This Ain't a Scene, It's An Arms Race" during the OOs -- has come back strong; its new album, "Save Rock and Roll," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last month, while the first single, "My Songs Know What YOu Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)," has gone platinum.

"It's been crazy. It's been completely out of the realm of what we expected," says Stump, 29. Trohman seconds that, adding "People think we're being coy, which is ridiculous. Maybe we don't see ourselves the way other people see us, but we really didn't know how far past Fall Out Boy people have moved. So we are humbled and floored that they're this receptive."

That said, Stump hastens to add that the group did not make "Save Rock and Roll" with fans' expectations in mind.

"I purposely wasn't so focused on what people would think and more just on what we would think," Stump explains. "I think the lesson of having done this for 11 years is to follow the old adage that you can please some of the people some of the time but never all the people all the time. The thing is to just focus on making sure you can sign off on everything so there are no decisions made out of fear.

"That was more important, and ironically that's the thing no one says -- the less you're worried about what other people thing, the more likely you are to please them."

Fall Out Boy, which formed during 2001 in suburban Chicago, was doing a good job of satisfying fans up to the point the group members decided to take their hiatus in 2009. "I think everyone was ready to break away from each other and go do our own things, and it was a great idea to do that," says Trohman, 28. The guitarist and drummer Hurley formed a heavy metal band, the Damned Things, with members of Anthrax and Every Time I Die, while Hurley also played in the hardcore punk band Burning Empires. Stump recorded a funky solo album, "Soul Punk," as well as shedding a significant amount of weight.

And Wentz, Fall Out Boy's most visible and entrepreneurial member -- he owns a clothing line, Clandestine Industries, and the Decaydance Records label -- formed the electronic/ska band Black Cards and worked on some film projects. He also went through a very public divorce from wife Ashlee Simpson in 2011

Despite any reports to the contrary, the group members kept in touch throughout the break, and it was Stump and Wentz who ultimately pulled things back together. "I always kept writing songs with Pete and Joe," Stump recalls, "but there was definitely a phone call. It wasn't, 'Hey, do you want to start the band again?' It was Pete calling me to say this one specific song I had sent him was great. He was excited. And that's kind of how bands start in the first place, so it was really as simple and that."

Reconvening was not only easy, but illuminating. "Everyone got to go out and become more confident in their craft and actually show each other what they could do," Trohman says. "It made everyone trust and respect each other more, and we kind of came back into this with a new appreciation for each other's abilities and talents." Stump, in fact, acknowledges that he and Wentz were much more open to letting their two bandmates be part of the creative process that was previously the duo's domain.

"I think it was really important for us to see Joe lead a band, to see Andy tour with...like, 10 bands or something like that," Stump says. "Everybody kinda came back with all these new stories and new lessons and new perspectives. We couldn't have made this new record without it."

As Trohman adds, "It's almost like starting the band over again in a really great way. It's like a reinvented version of Fall Out Boy."

With a litany of guests -- including Courtney Love, Elton John, Foxes and Detroit rapper Big Sean on "The Mighty Fall" (see sidebar page XX) -- "Save Rock and Roll" certainly reinvents the Fall Out Boy sound. The 11-song set is more Rihanna than rock, contemporary pop with a dance undercurrent but plenty of energy that comes from the group's punk roots. "People are like, 'Where are the guitars?!' on some of the songs," Trohman says. "They're there; it's just not, like, eight tracks of guitars. We definitely stripped-down the arrangements, which actually lets all the parts breathe more."

"Fall Out Boy is not a band that's easily defined, genre-wise," Stump adds. "We've been around long enough to have survived a couple of titles. Even before we were the emo band we were the pop-punk band, and before that we were the post-hardcore band. This time we were just looking to do something that was exciting to us."

That will likely be a guiding principle as Fall Out Boy moves forward, too. And, Stump assures us, the group is definitely the four musicians' priority again.

"It is a permanent concern, whether or not we do other things. I think that's key," he explains. "That's kind of the lesson and how we figured things out during the time off. Those side projects and things are SIDE projects; (the band) is really what we do. It's our main thing, and I think we appreciate that now more than we ever did."

Fall Out Boy and NK perform Wednesday, May 22, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are sold out. Call 313-961-2115 or visit www.livenation.com. Fall Out Boy returns Sept. 14 to the Palace of Auburn Hills, Lapeer Road at I-75. Twenty One Pilots opens. Tickets are $39.50 general admission floor and $35 reserved. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Getting some D flavor

How did Detroit rapper Big Sean wind up Fall Out Boy's chart-topping "Save Rock and Roll" album?

Easy, says frontman Patrick Stump.

"We were just hanging out with him," Stump recalls. "He's just a friend of ours, so it came about naturally and made it so cool and natural for us to work with him.

"We're so glad it was that way. One of the things that's always weird about the hip-hop/rock collaboration is you see these guys on stage or hear them (on record) and you know they'd never hang out. You'd know that they really are people from different worlds. But it wasn't like that in this case."

Stump, of course, is hoping that Big Sean -- who's working on his sophomore album -- will be in town when the band plays at the Fillmore Detroit. But he knows that "his schedule is insane, so I can't assume anything. But that would obviously be a dream. I would love for him to be there and maybe do something with us that night. We'll see."

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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