Saturday, September 10, 2011

Patrick Stump Interview (Fall Out Boy front man)

Photos by Laura Means
After many years of touring and recording with the incredibly popular punk-pop band Fall Out Boy, lead singer Patrick Stump is now pursuing a solo project. Stump's soon to be released debut LP, Soul Punk, aims to take listeners in a direction vastly different from that of Fall Out Boy. With a groundbreaking sound, Stump's music draws from several genres, including soul, funk, jazz and pop. With such vast influences, yielding such unique and diverse songs, Stump will earn your attention, and keep it.

How has the tour been thus far?
Stump: Awesome! It's a whole new world. First off, this is my first real tour. We've done some one-off dates, so this is the first time doing the full on in-a-bus tour, which I was scared to see how everyone got along on a bus and it has been awesome. The shows have been so great!

I've seen you perform with Fall Out Boy before, but would you say that you perform differently on stage with your solo stuff?

Stump: Oh yeah, I would say it is a totally different show. The dynamic is totally different. It's like the difference between being Brian Johnson in ACDC, which I always kind of related to because I was the lead singer, but I wasn't really the focal point in Fall Out Boy. I didn't really talk in between songs, or whatever and I think that he really had that vibe where he is the singer but Angus is the center. It is the difference between that and something like a Fela Kuti show, there were moments where he would really take it and say "this is my show," and also he would back off and really rest on the band that he had. he had really brilliant musicians around him all of the time. I think that I get to be a little bit more energetic. Fall Out Boy's nature of guitar rock, four piece music really meant that I was doing a lot of playing. With this (project), there is a little been more of an atmosphere where if I wanted to dance, I can dance.

Are you playing a good bit throughout the set?
Stump: Oh yeah! I play a lot, but its great because I play piano, I play drums, I play trumpet. I literally move around the stage a lot because I am playing a lot of different instruments, but I'm also instrumentally moving around a lot because they give me the space to. I can be part of the horns section for a minute, I can be lead guitar player for a minute, I can be the drummer for a minute, so that is really cool and a totally different thing that Fall Out Boy didn't get to do.

Photo by Laura Means
Your debut full-length album, Soul Punk, is set to drop on October 18th. How long has this album been in the making? Do some of the songs date back to F.O.B?
Stump: Yeah, I mean ultimately a lot of the stuff that I ended up writing years ago ended up got  jettison in favor of new stuff. It's kind of like the Ship of Theseus, where it is the same record that I started years ago, but it doesn't have any of the same parts that it used to. Over the course of (creating) it, bits and pieces got replaced until it was replaced. It's a "tin man" kind of thing, where it is a different thing then what it started out as, but it's still the same thing as far as I'm concerned. I have been working on it for a long time, but really I have always been working on material. I have always had "solo material," that didn't really make sense in Fall Out Boy. Musically I fell like it is a totally different facet of my personality. With Fall Out Boy, musically the four of us got together and all of us liked hardcore and styles of music, but decided that we were going to be a "pop-punk" band when we started. When you set that umbrella for yourself, and you have an idea outside of that umbrella, you can't pull it in. It's still got to fall under that somehow. With this music I can do literally anything I want, which is great. But it is also a challenge because I'm like “what do I want to do(laughs)?" Also, how do I avoid making it every flavor at the soda fountain? How do I avoid making it "the suicide (laughs)" That was a cool challenge I thought.

Just from listening to the Truant Wave EP and a little sample of Soul Punk, you have definitely developed a brand new sound. When you were developing your sound, were there any specific artists that maybe inspired the direction you ultimately chose?

Stump: The thing is that I wanted very much not to try. Any art that you are playing based on effort, loses something. I think that most of the time it should be something that happens, and you are inspired, and you just feel and follow your instincts. The best chiseled sculptures happen when the sculptor looks at the stone and says "I saw this sculpture in the stone, and I had to get it out."  It's not contrived. I had to just write, and see what I wrote after. I ended up having this pretty wide birth of material sound-wise. And that's the thing, I feel like as a writer I have a bunch of different styles and I had to be like, "alright, which one do i start as my first record?" I noticed that with this record, when I listen to it objectively, I hear a lot of Prince; I hear a lot of Minneapolis, The time, the family etc. I also hear Michael Jackson in there. Those artists are like comfort food for me, those are things I grew up on. Also, there is a lot of jazz, especially 70's fusion jazz, and the way that 70's funk and fusion jazz were in this echo chamber together. What Herbie (Hancock) was doing, Sly (Stone) really liked and what Sly was doing, Herbie really liked. Also, I have always loved David Bowie. When he began to experiment with pop (music) in the 80's, I really thought there was a really fascinating reverence for it.  A lot of people looked at pop music as just idiot music, or dance music, and with this he was giving it a lot of respect. I thought that was really cool, and I am hearing a lot of that in what I am doing on this record. None of that was intentional. Again, I wrote and then worried about it later. I wrote and then I was like "well, what songs make sense together? What songs tell an audible story?"
What about the other songs created during this process? Do you think that they will surface eventually?

Stump: It's almost like I have the starts to four or five other albums, of material that sounds progressively different from this. I look at albums like novels. If you write a really good scene or a really good moment, just because you wrote it, doesn't mean that it fits with the story that you're writing. There are songs that I wrote before Fall Out Boy, that won't get released until well after, because they are sounds that make sense after this record, or after the next record. I have it kind of charted out. It's almost like "which record do I write next? Which record do I think that I am going to finish?"
Photo by Laura Means 
When recording the record, were you ever tempted to push the music in a certain direction to capitalize on Fall Out Boy's large fan base?
Stump: Commerce really didn't mean anything to me. It was one of those things where really early on I had to psych myself up for it, because it's kind of going to be scary. Some Fall Out Boy fans are going to be pissed, because it is not a pop-punk record. Again, there were a lot of other things that people liked about Fall Out Boy, but if that was the thing that you liked about F.O.B, I am not delivering that at all. I really had to come to terms with that. No one really wants to be hated, and I had to be okay with the reality that there were going to be a lot of people who are going to say "I hate this(laughs)." If anything, I made a concerted effort to never worry about that. Again, because it just didn't make any sense with the record that I was making. That is one of the reasons that I produced it myself. I always wanted to record it myself and play all of the instruments, and write everything, but I had initially intended on getting together with a producer. I wanted to find someone to really take charge of it. I realized in meeting a lot of producers, that in spite of my hesitation, I never wanted to be arrogant about it and be like "I know better ." I did have an idea of what I wanted it to sound like, even down to the title, Soul Punk. I think that expresses the album well, but when you say Soul Punk, everyone's going to have a different impression on what that is. I talked to some producers and they would be like "yeah, it'll be throwback 70's soul, then it'll have some 70's punk." That's not what I meant by that at all. So in regards to whether or not Fall Out Boy fans are going to be into it, I just had to do my own thing and worry about it later.

On Soul Punk, aside from writing, recording and producing the album yourself, you also played each instrument on the album. Did you always have that in mind? Or did you decided to just take the reigns and do the whole thing yourself?

Stump: It was something that I always wanted to do. A lot of people point out that Lupe Fiasco is on the re-mix of "This City," but it's a remix (laughs). The track is pretty much my original track. It is very similar to what I did, just plus Lupe Fiasco. The album version is just me, and the album is just me. That is something that I just wanted to do because it's me at my natural stasis in a studio. I'm learning a lot more about music theory, especially since I have had this solo band. Everyone (in the band) knows their music very well and I am kind of learning from them and getting a crash course from them in being a real-deal musician. I never knew how to converse musically, and it was always just easier for me to show it rather than describe it to somebody. I know a lot of people that are like "I want something like this kind of drum beat." There are some people that have a really good way of describing it without music theory, and there are other that can just say "it's in C-Sharp." I can't do it, so I have to show it. So it just made sense for me to just do everything myself. Now that the ball is rolling, I think that in the next record I will play very little. Because now, I have this band, and we have this unspoken kind of thing.  Even though I'm not writing it, it feels enough like mine. It's funny; this record was so starkly me, the next one will be pretty hands-off.

How did you assemble the band?

Stump: Well, Matt Rubano is a good friend of mine and he was a really big part in encouraging me to do this. He had been saying to me for awhile "if you ever do a solo thing, let me know." I told him "probably not, I don't think I'm feeling it. I'm scared of doing one," but he said “no, if you ever do let me know." So finally the time came and I was ready to do it, so we began auditioning people. That was one thing that took a while, on top of getting the record together. It didn't really take me that long to record it, but people had been waiting for a long time. One of the big things I wanted was "the band," to tour with it (the album). Matt and I auditioned a lot of people, saw some really great musicians and to make some really hard decisions as far of who it was. It's interesting, we picked these guys because of their musicianship, but we kept them because they are such rad people. We really get along, which is a unique thing because usually you have these tight bands based on musicianship and they are very disparate individually. With these guys, we are really good friends and then we go out there and shred together. It means something a lot when you have a good show, because all of us are like "we did it!"

Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?

Stump: "Rock With You" or "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson. I think that is pretty much, "perfect day" music.

1 comment:

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