They’re going up

Dani Garcia

No one can accuse Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy of having the dreaded disease known as LSS – Lead Singer Syndrome.

When a rock band successfully breaks into the music scene, an inflation of egos usually follows. But instead of bragging about winning the MTV2 Award at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, Fall Out Boy’s frontman says he couldn’t believe Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas congratulated him for their win – only because she knew who he was.

“It’s something that has changed a lot because I used to never get recognized at our own shows, so I’m not used to it all,” Stump says.

Fall Out Boy, a self-described “soft-core” band from the Chicago suburbs, consists of Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley. The release of From Under The Cork Tree in May marked the beginning of their rise to the mainstream, becoming more recognizable among celebrities and fans alike.

But if you were to ask Stump if the band has met his expectations since they formed in 2001, he’ll tell you no, mostly because he didn’t have any expectations.

“We were in a band that existed exclusively to enjoy being in a band together,” Stump says. “As far as any of the success goes, it has been a surprise and kind of a bonus.”

Regardless of where success takes the band, Fall Out Boy continues to keep up its notorious reputation for non-stop touring. The band’s Web site even boasts that in the past two years the band has played almost 500 shows.

Stump, who has been touring with the band since he left high school, doesn’t see how that could ever change. “We tour because it’s what we know,” Stump says. “I’m so used to touring, I don’t know what it’s like to not tour.”

The band members spent the summer with their peers on the Vans Warped Tour. Now, less than a month and a half later, they are headlining the Nintendo Fusion Tour.

Nintendo Fusion is one of the band’s biggest tours to date and called for more work and preparation than usual, Stump says.

The tour includes the bands Boys Night Out, Motion City Soundtrack, Panic! At the Disco and the Starting Line. And what exactly do all these bands have in common? They were hand-picked by Fall Out Boy to come along for the ride.

“We had total control this time,” Stump says. “They’re all bands we love and bands we’re friends with.”

The dates set for larger cities already have sold out months in advance, including the Chicago show on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave. For Stump, a kid from the Chicago suburbs, playing at the Aragon alone is something he “can’t believe is happening.”

“Everything has come to us gradually,” Stump says of the band’s progress. “On one level, it’s totally reasonable to talk about playing at the Aragon. But at the end of the day, it’s totally crazy to me that we’re going to play there.”

Sold-out shows are a sign of a growing group of fans – one that has been expanding due in part to Island Record advertising and appearances on MTV. Stump knew that after appearing on shows like TRL, it was possible that some of their fans wouldn’t be happy. They proved him wrong. Not only would the majority of them not mind, but some would be proud.

“We’re not an industry band,” Stump says. “We’ve never had the right clothes or known the right people. It’s a strong thing to have such a supportive fan base.”

It’s because of this fan base that From Under The Cork Tree held a steady place on the Billboard Top 100 well after its debut – despite its variations in sound and taste from 2003’s Take This To Your Grave.

But when you apply the word “mainstream” to a band like Fall Out Boy, most fans will protest. Stump acknowledged that when he was 17, he too saw it as “some sort of concrete thing to fight against.” Today, he feels that “mainstream” has a different meaning for him. “It really is just a bunch of idiots that somehow figured out how to do something really good and are getting rewarded for it,” Stump says.

So what if it all ended tomorrow for the Chicago quartet? Stump says he would be more than pleased and that he would have no regrets.

Regardless of whether this is Fall Out Boy’s 15 minutes of fame or the beginning of something much more concrete, Stump says he thinks that the band will be “playing it by ear.”

“We’ve already done so much. We’re just going to do whatever we want. I think,” Stump says.

Medill sophomore Dani Garcia is a PLAY writer. She can be reached at [email protected]