From the moment that they burst onto the scene in 2003 with the release of their first major album, Take This To Your Grave, pop rock soon began to realize that Fall Out Boy was a force to be reckoned with. With every album that the band has released since Grave, they have consistently shown how to reinvent yourself as a musician. Having explored the worlds of hip-hop, rhythm and blues, electronica, pop, and hard rock and combining these genres with their own flair of pop-punk, Fall Out Boy are a clear example that there really is no limit to what you can do as a band, and that act of taking risks with songwriting really can pay off.
The band's most recent release, American Beauty American Psycho, has seen them back where they belong: headlining amphitheaters and arenas around the world. The band are currently traversing North America on their "Win-Tour", and will be stopping in the San Francisco Bay Area to headline the massive Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Easter Sunday. Get ready to explore the band's history a bit more as we delve into their discography.
Evening Out With Your Girlfriend
Label: Uprising Records
Released: March 25, 2003
Producer: Jared Logan
While this was technically the first record that Fall Out Boy recorded in their career, the production and recording of the record was rushed, discouraging them from wanting to dub it as their official debut. Here, however, we see the early beginnings of Fall Out Boy. One of the tracks that ends up on Take This To Your Grave, "Calm Before The Storm", even appears in a demo form. The album was released in 2003, after being recorded over a period of only two days. This was the only Fall Out Boy record to not feature current drummer Andy Hurley. The drum tracking was done by then-drummer Mike Pariskuwicz, who left the band shortly after the release of Evening. While material from Evening doesn't appear in the band's set list nowadays, the band pay tribute to their first release in the Folie a Deux track "What A Catch, Donnie", where they have vocalist William Beckett sing part of the song "Growing Up" in the grand finale at the end.
Take This To Your Grave
Label: Fueled By Ramen
Released: May 6, 2003
Producer: Sean O'Keefe
The official debut album from Fall Out Boy was released on May 6, 2003. The lineup was solidified, they had signed to Fueled By Ramen, and they garnered interest from new fans as they toured consistently to promote the record, including a five-day stint on the Vans Warped Tour in 2004. The process to get there, however, was an entirely different story. The entire pre-production for Grave was completed in a warehouse that the band used to rehearse in the evenings, before going into the studio with producer Sean O'Keefe to nail down the tracks over a period of nine days. The band were sleeping on floors, living on a shoestring budget that barely provided them food. The creative process proved incredibly challenging, and Pete Wentz took on a major role in the lyric-writing duties, nitpicking at every little word that he and Patrick Stump wrote to make sure everything was perfect. This is the first time we're introduced to the songwriting duo of Wentz and Stump that the world would come to know: many creative differences, but both working together to craft something incredible.
But the band proved to create a seamlessly crafted, timeless pop-punk album that fans still rave over to this very day. When it came time to release the record, the band were actually signed to Island Records, who employed an unusual tactic: they allowed the band to release Grave through Fueled By Ramen, whom they were already signed to, before transitioning over to Island to release their next studio album and major label debut. The band were able to create the album for around $18,000, with a budget from Island of about $40,000.
From Under The Cork Tree
Label: Island Records
Released: May 3, 2005
Producer: Neal Avron
Take This To Your Grave was a mere warm-up. This was the take-over. The world began to know who Fall Out Boy was, and as soon as tracks like "Dance, Dance" and "Sugar We're Going Down" hit rotation on radio, MTV, and the band's name began appearing on arena marquees, they would have no choice but to acknowledge the massive success of the pop-punk outfit. This was the band's second official studio album, and their first release and major label debut on Island Records. For From Under The Cork Tree, the band recruited Neal Avron to handle production duties.
However, the band had to take a step back in February 2005, when Wentz attempted suicide (for more information on this particular topic, I'd recommend reading the beautifully written "Grey", Wentz' memoir). Once Wentz underwent therapy and began to feel better, the band headed back into the studio.
From Under The Cork Tree was recorded in Burbank, California. While Take This To Your Grave had a more rushed, intense schedule, the band took their time with Cork Tree. The creative process proved to be just as intense; two weeks prior to the recording of the record, the band scrapped ten songs they had already written and wrote eight new ones instead (one of which ended up being "Sugar, We're Going Down"). This was the first album in which Patrick Stump wrote all of the music, while Wentz wrote all of the lyrics. The album, both lyrically and musically, showcased a more matured side of the band, yet it still maintained their iconic pop-rock element that made them a hit with fans in the first place.
The title of the album reportedly comes from a line in a 1936 children's book that intrigued Wentz, called The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. The story is about a bull named Ferdinand who would rather "sniff flowers under a cork tree than participate in fights". The cover of the album, which features an audience looking at a trailer covered in snow, refers to a van accident the band got themselves into when driving to the video shoot for "Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy".
All of their struggles and hardship had paid off: From Under The Cork Tree debuted at Number 9 on the Billboard 200, selling 68,000 copies in their first week. As of August 2006, the album has sold nearly 2.4 million copies, catapulting the band into mainstream rock stardom.
Fun fact: the first track of the album was intended to be called "My Name Is David Ruffin And These Are The Temptations". This didn't sit well with Island Records, who almost immediately intervened and said "you're going to get sued for that." The group changed the name of the track to what we know it as today: "Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued".
Infinity On High
Label: Island Records
Released: February 6, 2007
Producer: Neal Avron
Experimentation is beautiful thing. It's what led to the third studio record from Fall Out Boy (and what I personally consider to be their absolute masterpiece of an album). Infinity On High marks the incorporation of R&B and pop influences, creating an incredibly unique blend of mainstream pop and heavily-distorted rock music with angsty lyrics that address the pressures of dealing with fame, rapid success, and the dilemmas that come with it.
Pre-production for the album began in Chicago, before the band located to Los Angeles, California from July to October 2006 to record at Pass Studios with Neal Avron. Additionally, in the spirit of mixing things up, the band brought in producers Babyface and Butch Walker to help with production duties. The final album features incorporations of strings, horns, and piano, the first for a Fall Out Boy record. As on the last record, Wentz took over lyric-writing duties. While there are more rhythm and blues elements incorporated into the record, it features some of the heaviest music the band has ever released, including the track "The Carpal Tunnel of Love".
The album title comes from a letter written by the artist Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo in 1888. While the letter was originally written in Dutch, the translation to English reads: "Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all."
Infinity On High proved to be a massive financial and critical success. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and sold 260,000 copies in its first week. The album, to this day, has shipped well over two million copies worldwide.
Folie a Deux
Released: December 16, 2008
Label: Island Records
Producers: Neal Avron
French for "A Madness Shared By Two", Folie a Deux proved to be an interesting moment in the band's career. Due to all of the press surrounding the success of Infinity On High, the band decided to keep publicity quiet surrounding the recording of Folie, and entered the studio with nearly 50 songs at the helm. Regardless, tensions were rising. Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman felt that they weren't being given the musical freedom that Wentz and Stump had. The latter were fighting over lyrics and music consistently, making the process that much more difficult.
The band intentionally cut their time recording the album shorter, in hopes that it would take them back to the time that they were a broke, young band and inspire more of that energy, rather than allowing them to sit and let the songs marinate for far too long. Folie A Deux featured the most experimentation thus far in the band's career, mixing more R&B and pop than on Infinity On High, but presenting them in a more stripped-down, raw fashion. Folie produced some of the band's strongest material to date, with the anthem-like "Coffees For Closers" and pop-rock manifesto, "I Don't Care".
The album premiered at Number 8 on the Billboard 200, and sold 149,000 copies in its first week, and generally received positive critical acclaim. Alas, the success of the record was, unfortunately, short-lived. For some odd reason, the record didn't hit as well with most fans as previous albums. A number of factors could contribute to this, but to this day, no one really knows why it didn't become as big of a hit with fans as previously anticipated. The response from fans was a contributing factor to the eventual hiatus of the band, when the four members took several years off to work on other projects. However, the album today remains a true favorite among diehard fans of the band.
The future of Fall Out Boy was uncertain, and only time would tell if the quartet would return to the spotlight. Wentz stated in an interview during this quiet time that Fall Out Boy will play together again only for the right reasons. Little did they know that in a few years time, that "right reason" would present itself soon enough. Rock and roll would soon need saving.
Save Rock and Roll
Released: April 12, 2013
Label: Island Records, Decaydance
Producer: Butch Walker
It's 2012. Rock and roll music is in an incredibly odd state: it's nearly non-existent. Pop music runs rampant among the masses, and the time of organic instruments and electric guitars in mainstream music seems almost non-existent. Whispers and rumors break throughout all of 2012 in regards to a certain band getting back together. They are all discredited. But soon, enough evidence amasses that the news could be true. On one cold Monday in February, fans wake up to the news they've waited years to hear: Fall Out Boy are back, with a new song, a new album to be released in April, and a coinciding North American tour to signify their return. The name of the new album? One that rock has desperately needed: Save Rock and Roll.
The album was recorded in secret with producer Butch Walker throughout the fall of 2012 at Rubyred Recordings in Venice, California. The writing process was vastly different: every single member of the band was crafting material and playing an equal part in the writing process of the album. There was a new spark, a renewed energy. It took a little while for reconnection between members to happen; Wentz and Stump had met up in early 2012 to write together for the first time in four years. The sessions proved unsuccessful, and the material just wasn't clicking. It took a few more tries, but something clicked. Once the track "Where Did The Party Go" was written, Stump and Wentz became increasingly excited about the prospective direction. Upon getting Hurley and Trohman to sign back on and join them to write the new record, the band decided to completely start from scratch and completely reinvent their sound. It focused more on the pop side, yet rock still permeated the album's writing.
The album was a critical and commercial success, in addition to an incredible surprise to fans. Save Rock and Roll debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 154,000 copies in its first week.
It wasn't just a forced attempt to get back together: Fall Out Boy were back because the world needed them and their unique brand of rock.
American Beauty/American Psycho
Released: January 16, 2015
Label: Island Records, DCD2
Producers: Jake Sinclair, Butch Walker, J.R. Rotem, Omega, SebastiAn, Young Wolf Hatchlings
The success of Save Rock and Roll evidently did something to Fall Out Boy: it kicked things back into gear for them. Fans didn't have to wait very long at all for another record, with the band debuting the title track for their sixth studio album, American Beauty/American Psycho, in late 2014. AB/AP has proven to be the band's most eclectic group of songs they've ever recorded, showcasing their ability to truly take risks and do it well.
Writing for the record began in the summer of 2014 during the band's massive amphitheater tour with Paramore. "Centuries", the lead single, became the first song to be written and recorded, marking a true departure from the band's original iconic pop-rock sound (don't worry, beloved FOB fans, they still play all of the rock songs your hearts can desire during their live shows). Working with a number of producers proved to show how far the band could stretch their songwriting abilities and venture into new territory as a band.
When people spoke out against the more pop elements of their new songs, saying that it wasn't "rock", Wentz went on record to state that rock and roll is a progressive idea, "with room to be dangerous and futuristic". In terms of lyrical content, Wentz talks more about the idea of modern love and what's going on in his head, being more direct about these subjects than on Save Rock and Roll.
The band has racked in yet another successful album, with the album selling 192,000 copies in its first week and debuting at number one on the Billboard 200. As of September 2015, the record has been certified gold, and the band has completed a summer tour with Wiz Khalifa that traversed and sold out amphitheaters and arenas across North America.
At this point, we can't really know what to expect on the next offering from Fall Out Boy. It could be a straight up punk record, or even a full-on pop album. One thing is absolutely for certain, though: Fall Out Boy have been and always will be a band that will push the limits of their genre. Nowadays, they could care less what you think about it, making their material that much edgier, impactful, and beloved by fans both old and new.