The A-Z of Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy are a band that defined a generation. Exploding in the mid-noughties, the Chicago quartet’s memorable singles and inventive videos helped play a pivotal part in pop punk’s revival. Despite going on hiatus in 2009, the band returned bigger and stronger than ever in 2013. So, ahead of their Reading and Leeds co-headline appearances, here are 26 things you really need to know about the band who named themselves after Radioactive Man’s sidekick in The Simpsons

A is for… ANTHRAX

Yes, this is a guide to Fall Out Boy. We haven’t lost the plot. During the quartet’s brief hiatus, drummer Andy Hurley and guitarist Joe Trohman decided to team up with Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano (now of Volbeat), and Keith Buckley and Josh Newton from Every Time I Die. They called themselves The Damned Things and released one well-received bluesy hard rock album, Ironiclast, before disintegrating. Which is a shame but, well, we got Fall Out Boy back.

The Damned Things: Fall Out Boy's Hurley and Trohman (right)

The Damned Things: Fall Out Boy's Hurley and Trohman (right)

B is for… BOOK

“This story is a complete waste of the eyesight you will lose reading it. When you’re done you’ll ask yourself what the point was. There isn’t one.” Cheerful stuff from Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, here in the opening pages of his 2005 novella The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. A mixture of Wentz’s childhood nightmares, worn clichés and lines that are as fresh and biting as early Fall Out Boy lyrics, this book boasts lavish, beautifully twisted illustrations from Joe Tesauro.


It’s the best Fall Out Boy song ever. Plus it’s an Alec Baldwin quote from the film Glengarry Glen Ross.


Fall Out Boy have been occasionally guilty of looking a bit stoic on stage, but the band have done their fair share of dicking about. They released a short film in 2005 called Bedussey, with Stump in the role of a drug dealer. While it didn’t really make a lot of sense, you still got to see Wentz in a rather fetching wig.


Fall Out Boy’s Evening Out With Your Girlfriend isn’t their debut album, OK? Much like Slipknot’s Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., this early offering is just a rushed, low budget snapshot of what the band had to offer. Hurley’s not behind the stool for this one – it was Mike Pareskuwicz – and aside from a section of Growing Up being reworked into What A Catch, Donnie, this release is more of a curio than anything else.

F is for… FOLIE À DEUX

American Idiot and The Black Parade were used as superlative comparatives to Folie à Deux in an NME review, but they got it the wrong way round; Folie à Deux surpasses the vague sloganeering of the former and the conceptual ambiguity of the latter. This, Fall Out Boy’s fourth full-length, saw the band expand their sound even further and achieve their ‘classic album’ badge. I Don’t Care is everything Muse have been trying and failing to do with their singles since The Resistance; the bombastic, swinging nature of From Under The Cork Tree and Infinity On High is cranked up via orchestration on the likes of (Coffee’s For Closers) and The (Shipped) Gold Standard. This is Stump’s baby, his eclectic, soul-laden tones ensconcing Folie à Deux top to bottom; he’s since expressed distaste towards the hostile way the record was received by a portion of the band’s fanbase at the time. But fuck ‘em, Patrick. We love it. Get out there and do (Coffee’s For Closers). Please?

G is for… GENRE?

The four members cut their teeth in hardcore, metalcore and even grindcore bands, and this reflects in parts – well, maybe not the grindcore bit – of Take This To Your Grave and even in songs further down the line like Thriller. And we’ve already mentioned those grandiose, quasi-vaudevillian overtones through Folie à Deux. In 2013, Save Rock And Roll shed any notions of punk and 2015’s American Beauty/American Psycho drove the band down an even dancier, commercial route; whatever your preference when it comes to the band, you can’t accuse Fall Out Boy of being predictable.

H is for… HIATUS

Following their fans’ reactions to Folie à Deux, Fall Out Boy decided to “decompress”, as Wentz called it, in 2010. And they needed it; Hurley was depressed, Wentz had his own problems and Stump was struggling with weight issues. The Damned Things, a Patrick Stump solo outing and Wentz’s electronic Black Cards project were the main fruits of Fall Out Boy’s lack of labour. When the band returned a few years later, they’d completely reinvented themselves and whipped the arses of their imitators with Save Rock And Roll.


While you probably remember Infinity On High’s promo videos with monkeys and weird stuff in them, I’m Like a Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You) is undeniably the record’s most poignant moment, both cinematically and thematically. (Me & You) is a straight-up love song and the track’s video, directed by Alan Ferguson, depicts a cutesy, romantic narrative between two Ugandan children; shots of the band are scarce, instead focussing on the people of the village in which the video was based. While the video was obviously to promote Infinity On High, the storyline and concept focussed on Invisible Children, Inc’s mission statement, highlighting the gross use of children as soldiers in Uganda. Sure, the company’s Kony 2012 campaign (remember that?!) ended up being a bit iffy, but at least they – and Fall Out Boy – spread the word.


The We Love Disney compilation of 2015 contributed as much to music as, say, an overripe avocado, but at least Fall Out Boy’s interpretation of I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song) was well-spirited and not completely devoid of life. The lads are renowned film buffs, going on to record the Ghostbusters theme song earlier this year – we don’t need to talk about that any more, though. One of Wentz’s kids is named Bronx Mowgli Wentz, too. Fact.

K is for… KHALIFA, WIZ

Performing Uma Thurman with the rapper during a performance at the Billboard Music Awards, Fall Out Boy sought Wiz Khalifa’s services once more when they remixed American Beauty/American Psycho on the cunningly-titled Make America Psycho Again. Khalifa toured with the band alongside Hoodie Allen and MAX last year, again displaying Fall Out Boy’s commitment to artistic growth and experimentation, even when it comes down to tour support.

L is for… LABELS

Wentz’ work ethic makes bees look like lazy bastards. Aside from signing Panic! At The Disco and several others through his imprint label Decaydence (since renamed DCD2), he also created Clandestine Industries to release The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. He’s also produced limited runs of clothing, warming the hearts and various body parts of fans worldwide. The band have gone on to popularise Fuelled By Ramen, the label that released Take This To Your Grave in 2003; since Fall Out Boy went supernova, Fuelled By Ramen have snagged the likes of fun., Twenty One Pilots and Paramore.

Sean 'Diddy' Combs and Pete Wentz for Haiti Benefit telethon at AmericanAirlines Arena on February 5, 2010 in Miami

Sean 'Diddy' Combs and Pete Wentz for Haiti Benefit telethon at AmericanAirlines Arena on February 5, 2010 in Miami (Image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)


To pick the Fall Out Boy video is pretty tough – there’s so many classic moments, each responsible for sucking impressionable teenagers into the band’s wonderfully twisted universe. The boy with the antlers in Sugar, We’re Goin Down? Pete’s woefully pants acting in the Saturday short? Or how about the shoplifting nuns, indecent exposure and martial arts magnificence in I Don’t Care? And let’s not forget Patrick’s saucy shirt-ripping in the Beat It video.

N is for… NEAL AVRON

Producer extraordinaire Neal Avron was massively responsible in sculpting the bass-heavy, intricate trappings of Fall Out Boy’s first phase as a band. Having a hand producing From Under The Cork Tree, Infinity On High and Folie à Deux, Avron’s unconventional recording techniques – drums and guitar first rather than drums and bass – highlighted the interplay between Trohman and Hurley rather than just the standard, bass and drum exclusivity so much pop punk can fall into during the preliminary stages.


Well… Their lawyer made them change the name of that song so they wouldn’t get sued, didn’t he? Originally titled My Name is David Ruffin And These Are The Temptations, the song was retitled after the band’s legal rep told them, “You’re definitely going to get sued for doing that.” And who said lawyers were heartless?

P is for… PAX•AM DAYS

Ignore any elitist, snobby reviews; PAXAM Days is bloody good fun. Yeah, it’s basically the Misfits with Stump singing over the top, but these semi-improvised sessions, conceived in Ryan Adams’ PAX AM Studios, are a potent reminder that Fall Out Boy can still rag you about if they fancy. Of the record’s spontaneous, punk aesthetic, it was completed in two days and Hurley tracked Love, Sex Death’s drums in one take. It’s not quite Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood but to say they’d just come out with Save Rock And Roll… pretty impressive, right?

Q is for… QUOTES

Some bands just do quotations well. Y’know, like every single line of Gallows’ Grey Britain or most of Electric Six’s singles? Fall Out Boy possess the ability to write these in their sleep, on the toilet and in any other state of apparent stasis. “Am I more than you bargained for yet”, “Trying to forget everything that isn’t you”, “You wouldn’t know a good thing if it came up and slit your throat” are all choice, um, cuts, and even later tracks, where the lyrical content has taken a significant beating, still produce lines bands spend a whole career failing to pen: “We are the poisoned youth” and “Wearing our vintage misery / No, I think it looked a little better on me”? We’ll take it.


Having slowly clambered up the ranks over the years, Fall Out Boy’s fifth outing at Reading & Leeds sees them co-headlining with Biffy Clyro. Having slightly suffered in 2013 from preluding a pissed off Nine Inch Nails and an incendiary Biffy, Fall Out Boy are back to have a stab at claiming their throne. Will they piss it away by playing American Beauty/American Psycho in its entirety? Or will they be packing a fan-heavy setlist, coupled with the massive production we’ve been promised by Mr. Wentz? We’ll just have to wait.


The once-sideburned, now fedora-sporting frontman of Fall Out Boy, Patrick Stump is not so much a square peg in a round hole rather than a saxophone-shaped peg in a Mohican-esque hole, if such a couple of things should exist. He used to drum in a grindcore band called Xgrinding processX and, during Fall Out Boy’s hiatus, he released a solo record entitled Soul Punk. It wasn’t really soul punk – that genre belongs to letlive. – but the record and Truant Wave EP showcased Stump’s luscious, lively vocal and songwriting ability, pulling influence from Prince, David Bowie and Michael Jackson rather than the Get Up Kids this time round. The man is a true student of life; he appeared in everything from House to Law & Order on the telly; he decided to take up Japanese just because, well, he fancied it; oh, he produced Cobra Starship’s ¡Viva la Cobra! in the back of his tour bus, too. All in all, he’s a bit of a slack knacker, then.


Fall Out Boy’s first ‘proper’ full-length, Take This To Your Grave, has one foot planted in pop punk and the other dipping a few toes in hardcore, exuding a racket that ex-Racetraitor vocalist Mani Mostofi branded as: “sounding like Hot Topic [but] feeling like CBGB.” That’s pretty accurate; Sean O’Keefe’s militaristic production job and the band’s tireless, seemingly endless revision of song structures and lyrical phrasing ensured that their debut was a watertight, bulletproof beast. The band were living in squalor and surviving on friends’ floors and stray Taco Bell meals, but that hunger is seemingly pumped into Stump’s soulful, nigh-on Motown vocal, taking the band’s proto-pop punk and blasting it from Space Camp into the stratosphere; a hilariously high hurdle was established, one which none of Fall Out Boy’s contemporaries could hope to clear. Take This To Your Grave also namechecks the band’s friend Chris Gutierrez, who, at the time, was apparently their only fan – a bit like Mel in Flight of the Conchords.


Starting life as Wentz’s protege, Brendon Urie grew from fringe-flicking Panic! At The Disco mouthpiece to multi-instrumentalist chart-botherer. Panic! sprung into your earholes through Wentz’s Fuelled by Ramen imprint label, Decaydence, and Urie’s not forgotten; he collaborated with Stump on Open Happiness and took the Fall Out Boy frontman on tour; he pops up on Fall Out Boy’s 20 Dollar Nosebleed, What A Catch, Donnie and 7 Minutes In Heaven; he also appears in several Fall Out Boy videos – even taking a dead Wentz to the fun fair on Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet. Most importantly, Urie tells the definitive biography of Fall Out Boy during the band’s own interpretation of Drunk History. Essential viewing, that.

V is for… VEGAN

Hurley’s been straight edge and vegan since he was 16 years old. He’s been a member of straight edge hardcore louts FocusedXMinds and also drummed on the slightly dodgy Vegan Reich’s 1999 record, Jihad. As of this year, Hurley’s started a straight edge, vegan hardcore supercrew called Sect, comprising members of Earth Crisis, Catharsis and Cursed.


An online mixtape used to plug Folie à Deux in late 2008, this puzzling promotional tool was originally mistaken as a political project by Wentz following his Obama rally earlier that year. Turns out it was just an interactive ballot box including various demos and snippets from Decaydance artists alongside a few Fall Out Boy bits – although there was a song by The Hush Sound called We Believe In (Barack Obama). Later available for download and streaming, Welcome To The New Administration was a curious and innovative tactic to hook listeners into Folie à Deux and the quasi-political themes held within the album.

X is for… XO

Closing the doors on From Under The Cork Tree, this ditty packs one of Fall Out Boy’s most wonderfully ambiguous lines: “Loose lips sink ships.” What we said about quotable moments, yeah? This. Even on a deep cut that ends the album, Fall Out Boy refuse to let their standards slip.


Yes, we already had music videos, but it’d be a disservice to brand The Young Blood Chronicles as just music videos. Spanning the entirety of Save Rock And Roll, this compendium of craziness is a slick, high-budget narrative that takes inspiration from Daft Punk’s Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. Patrick gets his hand cut off during The Phoenix and has a bit of a cry; Pete still hasn’t learned how to act and there’s a slew of cameos amid the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that ensues as Save Rock And Roll runs in sequence. Elton John playing the part of God is as ridiculous as it sounds – he’s no Morgan Freeman but, well, we imagine Morgan would laugh off the idea of Fall Out Boy chucking loads of blood over his fancy white suit. Elton? He’d be fucking livid.

Z is for… ZEBRAS

The Uma Thurman video was a classy pro-LGBT move on Fall Out Boy’s behalf, but it also served another purpose. Zebras have been grossly underrepresented in the sphere of rock and metal, so props to Fall Out Boy for including a striped stallion in this clip.

Fall Out Boy co-headline the Leeds Festival (Friday August 26) and Reading Festival (Sunday August 28).

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.