Patrick Stump is at a strange place, career-wise. As the guitarist and lead singer in Fall Out Boy, he helped instill a limber tunefulness many of the bands' pop punk peers lacked. That was one of many reasons FOB built a huge following -- but even those tracking Stump's pop proclivities couldn't have guessed he'd make quite the leap he has in his solo work; his upcoming debut, Soul Punk, is shimmering, completely unrestrained, and most commonly compared thus far to Michael Jackson.
His first proper tour with the new material brings him to Fubar tonight -- doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8. We talked to Stump about what people's reaction to the new stuff has been like and how he wound up at Fubar, of all places.
Kiernan Maletsky: You've got this tour, the album's finally got a release date... does it feel good to be getting toward the end of this part of the process?
Patrick Stump: Yeah, this long amorphous kind of wait. I've just been waiting around for... it's been years now. Not waiting around for years, but I think I announced the album close to two years ago.
A lot of people have certainly watched your transformation as a musician and are not going to be totally shocked when they hear the album, but do you think there is still a large number of your fans who are going to be taken aback?
Yeah, I definitely think so. And I've already kind of been countering it. Because, like you said, people who have been paying attention aren't all that surprised. It's kind of what you'd expect from me - I've always been interested in Prince and Michael Jackson and David Bowie and kind of sub textual politics and light, proggy, fusiony moments and things like that. I think all those things are there.
I think a lot of people also know me as the guy that toured with bands like All Time Low and Cobra Starship and Blink-182. So if you know me from that, it will come across as a departure. Even though a lot of the things that inform this record I kind of touched on in Fall Out Boy. But this is definitely more of a distillation.
As much as this is clearly more inspired by pop, there's still some amount of what you were doing with Fall Out Boy in this stuff. And this tour.... you're playing in St. Louis at Fubar, which is not the kind of place you would normally hear the sort of music you're playing these days. How did you wind up playing these particular venues on this tour?
First off: Venues are hard to book in general. I'm in such a strange position because I have a lot of younger fans but I'm a totally new artist, which is usually paradoxical. You don't have a younger audience and be an unknown. They just don't make smaller venues that aren't also bars. So it was a really big challenge on this tour to find places that could accommodate the show. And there are a lot of considerations: What we wanted it to sound like, what we wanted to do instrumentally, those are major things. And also who could literally book us that night.
My booking agent was very, very adamant [Fubar] was where I needed to play. He definitely did not want to hear any argument on it. What does the touring band look like?
For this tour, it's the same band I've been touring with minus my friend Casey Benjamin who's on tour with Mos Def. But aside from him, it will be Skoota Warber, whose a great drummer - played with a lot of people. He just got off a Cyndi Lauper tour. Matt Rubano on bass, who obviously was in Taking Back Sunday. But he's just a killer session player. My friend Michael Day - he plays a lot of jazz; he's amazing. And then filling in for Casey is Max Drummey from Chester French.
This is the first time you will have gone on a full-blown nation-wide tour with this music, right?
Yes, it is. We did a run of shows but it was almost residencies. It wasn't hopping on our van or bus or something and going cross country. It was very much one-off dates.
Does this sort of feel like you'll be introducing this music, this version of Patrick Stump, to a lot of people on this tour?
Absolutely. And I might scare a lot of people off. But I think it's an essential part of the whole thing. To hear the record, it sounds really pop. And I don't have any qualms with that. I don't think pop, by nature, is a bad thing. But I think when you see the show, it really explains a lot more of it. It kind of expresses how much of it is actually music, is actually playing instruments. It's not just a computer program that plays all these things. I put a lot of time in the studio to make it sound good. And also, I have this band. I'm really lucky to have them; they're way better players than I am. I'm really lucky.
I'm definitely inspired by Michael Jackson, but I don't have any misapprehension that that's who I am. I know exactly who I am, and I'm just a musician. I'm one of those jack of all trades, master of none kind of guys. So I have this band that can accommodate that really well. It's in my name, but it doesn't really feel like it's just my show.
It does seem like you're occupying a sort of strange, jack of all trades, middle ground between genres...
It's interesting - I've done a lot of interviews in the past couple weeks and you're the only person that's acknowledged that it sounds anything like my old music. And I'm very grateful for that because I didn't think it was totally alien.
But it's surprising how much of people's perception is context. So it's pretty fascinating. The extremes have been so strange to me. People will say, "Oh, it sounds exactly like Prince or Michael Jackson." Which.. I think they sound different enough that if I sound exactly like both of them that's gotta be something different. But then I've heard really random comparisons, to bands I'd never even listened to. Someone was like - and I've listened to Duran Duran, but I don't think it informed this music - "Oh, it's very Duran Duran."
In the shows that have you played, are you getting a certain type of person in the crowd, or has it been a mix?
There are obviously people who like what I was doing in Fall Out Boy, and those people really haven't left. I'm very grateful to have them. Then there's also a surprising number of people who come to the show out of curiosity. And they'll pull me aside and go, "You know, I was kind of curious... I wasn't so sure about your Fall Out Boy stuff. But I really liked what you did." I get a lot of very... not backhanded compliments, but very open and honest ones. I've had a surprising number of bouncers and sound guys come up to me and be like, "You know, I hated your band, but you sounded really good."
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