Guitarist Joe Trohman explains the collaborative process behind the band’s newest record Folie à Deux, why they like to mix it up with tour lineups, and how being polarizing is a good thing.
How are you doing today?
I can’t really complain. Just hanging out in Austria, actually. We’re playing a show in Vienna today.
Oh, wow. How was that?
It’ll be good, I think. I don’t know. We haven’t played yet [laughs]. Hard to say. I think it’ll be pretty good, though.
Is it pretty nice over there?
Yeah, it’s really nice. The city’s really beautiful. We had a day off yesterday, so I walked around and checked out the city. I didn’t do anything crazy. It’s like the first day off on this tour where I actually did jack shit.
I was just doing what we call doing the thing. Doing the thing is going to the city that you’re in, whether it’s like Madrid, Spain, or wherever you’re going to, and if you’re in Madrid you go to the tapas and get drunk. After that you walk around and see the sights. I kind of lone wolf man walked around yesterday, and then I came back to the hotel and fell asleep [laughs]. Yeah, I’ve been sick lately and been drinking too much.
So you’re going to be kicking off a new U.S. tour in a couple weeks, as well as headlining both Bamboozles. Are you excited for that?
Absolutely. I think it’s definitely an honor to be able to headline anything [laughs]. To be able to headline Bamboozle is really cool. We got to kind of do it one year, but this is like our return. I’m really excited. It’s our only L.A. show on that tour, so it’ll be nice. We’ll get to play with a lot of bands that we haven’t seen in a long time, and a lot of bands that we’ve never played with, too.
What’s it like playing a festival versus playing a regular show on a tour?
It’s different. It’s definitely usually a shorter set. I don’t know how long they’re going to give us. I don’t know if they’re going to give us a full set time or not. Usually with festivals, there’s different stages and they have their own local crew there, so you don’t always get to bring your production that you’ve been bringing around with you on tour onstage. It’s usually a little faster, kind of like jumping in head first, but it’s fun. It’s definitely fly by the seat of your pants a little bit. It’s always a good time.
Playing the show is always fun. There’s always a lot of people, especially with Bamboozle. There’s so many people that show up to see all the bands, so you always get crazy with a warm welcome by a large crowd. It’s fun just hanging out all day and seeing all your friends’ bands that you haven’t seen in a long time, whether you guys don’t tour together anymore or what have you, and hang out.
You’re back up to playing larger scale venues again, but at the end of last year you did a little club show run. Was it nice to play in that atmosphere again?
Yeah, it was good times. It’s always fun to play the small shows. We don’t get to do that very often. It’s definitely where we started, for sure.
A while ago you did a secret show in Buffalo where you played all of Take This to Your Grave. Are you planning on doing more of that secret type stuff in the future?
We always do stuff like that. We’ve been doing things like that for years, forever. We have a really good relationship with our fans. We try to keep a good relationship with our entire fan base. I think part of that is by giving back, like fun secret stuff. It’s always awesome to give that away.
It’s our secret way of letting everyone figure it out, but when they do, they get really excited. So, yeah, we’ll definitely keep doing it. I don’t know if we’ll do another all Take This to Your Grave show in Buffalo [laughs], but we’ll do more fun stuff. We always try to.
On the new tour you’re going to be touring with Metro Station, and then it was just announced 50 Cent will be joining you for a few shows.
Yeah, there’s going to be Cobra Starship, Hey Monday and All Time Low as well.
Right, and I know a lot of fans have had a differing response to especially Metro Station and 50 Cent. What’s the reasoning behind adding those acts to the bill?
I think we’ve always tried to do interesting, different lineups, and I think this one is a little bit different. I don’t really honestly know any of the Metro Station guys at all, and I’ve met 50 Cent like one time and he was a super cool dude. It’s cool of both of them just to be on our tour. It’s rad.
Here’s how I look at it. If you put on a show and you have four bands opening for you that sound exactly like you, people are just going to show up for what you play or they’re going to be pissed off for having to sit through four of the same bands. So why not mess it up a little bit, shake it up, and have some different styles of music going on before you go on? I think it gives the show more of a festival vibe, more of a better mix. I think there’s a point and time where artists used to do that, so we’re trying to bring that back a little bit.
Do you think you’ll be touring with heavier bands at any point again?
If it makes sense. You know what I mean? One band that we’re really good friends with is Every Time I Die. I don’t know if you know that band at all, but that’s a band where, if our schedule’s sync up and it makes sense, we definitely would take that band out on tour. We love them.
Even when we take out Metro Station and 50 Cent, you might not think of them on a Fall Out Boy tour, but it fits. It makes sense, at least for us. We’d definitely take out a heavy band, as long as it makes sense. I’m definitely a dude that’s more swayed towards the rock side of things. I love metal and I love heavy music, so it’d be cool for me, but it’d have to make sense.
Yeah, Every Time I Die would be pretty sick.
It’d be awesome. I love that band. They’re definitely some of my best friends, for sure.
Folie à Deux was released a couple months back, which I think is definitely your most diverse collection of songs. What was the writing process like for that album?
It was basically Pete writes his lyrics, and what he does is give that to Patrick. Patrick will fit it into a song and get the ball rolling on kind of a skeleton of a song – the verse/chorus aspect of it, basically what the song will be. Then he brings it to the rest of us.
I’ll get it and start layering a bunch of guitar ideas and different ideas over it, straight music ideas. For Hurley, it’s a lot of the keying of the drums and helping with arrangements of that aspect as well. With this recording process, it was a very collaborative effort.
Would you say it was more collaborative than on your previous albums?
It reminds me a lot of recording Take This to Your Grave. It reminds me a lot of that, even like how the record is selling a little slower than our previous record. I kind of feel like that’s something that happened with Take This to Your Grave at that point in time. We were not a band that people knew about, so it took a lot of putting the word out there about who we were in the first place. But, yeah, the collaborative aspect really reminds me of making Take This to Your Grave.
It was definitely more collaborative than Infinity on High. There was collaboration on From Under the Cork Tree, but personally I was trying to figure out going from hardcore bands to Fall Out Boy, and then Fall Out Boy to what Fall Out Boy turned into once we got on a major label. I was sort of taking a bath, and I think it took me a little bit to figure out how to put myself back in the mix musically.
“America’s Suitehearts” has been around in some form since From Under the Cork Tree, right?
It’s been around for a long time, yeah, the demo of it.
Are there other songs like that that you have been working on for a while?
On this record, no, because we ended up ditching a lot of songs and rewriting songs on the spot for this record. That was one of the few ones that stuck around. There’s always songs we have on the backburner that we’re waiting to write the right bridge for or to figure out, “Oh, this song’s almost good, but there’s one thing wrong with it.” It may take years to figure out what’s wrong with it.
How many b-sides did you end up having, besides “Pavlove?”
Those are from preproduction. We didn’t get to truly record a lot of b-sides. We ended up using almost everything we recorded for the record. We had such a small amount of time that for everything we recorded we had to make sure we had everything for the record.
So, it’s the first time we didn’t get to record a lot of b-sides. But we have all that stuff we did in preproduction, and a lot of that got released on that compilation mixtape thing we put out.
You’ve worked with Neal Avron three times in a row now. Does he feel like a fifth member of the band at this point?
Yeah, Neal’s definitely a fifth member of the band for us. He helps curb some of our wacky ideas, for sure. He knows us as a band and us as individuals. We have a great relationship with him on a friend level, as well as on a working level.
He did the new Anberlin record, and when I was talking to them last year they were saying he could be a little demanding and perfectionist at times.
Yeah, he’s definitely a perfectionist. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, necessarily. I think he’s really taught us how to be better at our own craft, and I think that’s a really integral part for us when making a record. He makes sense with Fall Out Boy and he allows us to make the right records. We’ve gone through some growing pains. He’s got an insanely good ear, but he’s great to work with. I love working with him. He makes me feel very comfortable.
“What a Catch, Donnie” is perhaps the most epic-sounding song you’ve ever done. Was there a reason behind placing it in the middle of the album instead of as the closing track?
Well, there’s kind of a flow to the record and I think it fits better in the middle. You speed up, you slow down, you speed up again, and then you end on a dark note. I think we’ve always ended records on a dark note, which is why the last song is on the record.
It made sense to put it there. It also feels good in the middle because it’s all encompassing. It has all those lines from old Fall Out Boy songs at the end. It’s very much a description of the band right there. I think it’s nice sitting in the middle.
For whatever reason, Fall Out Boy seems to split people into two groups – those who really, really love you guys and those who really, really don’t. What do you make of that and what’s it like experiencing both polar opposites of the spectrum?
I think we’re definitely a polarizing band. If you look at bands throughout history, if you look at really important bands that have stuck around whether they’re still a band or not, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, they’re really polarizing. People either loved them, or they fucking hated them. I think that’s a great way to be.
I think it’s good to evoke so much emotion that you really cause a split. Honestly, it’s good for a band. Hopefully, people will look back in the sands of time and will look at us as a band that was able to evoke so much emotion to cause love or hate. I think it’s really important to be that polarizing. You want to be one of those bands that sticks around for all time.
Like a career band.
Totally. If you want to be a career band, you can’t just be for no one. You can’t just be for no one and try to please everybody. It’s impossible to please everybody. I think you end up self-sabotaging yourself that way.
Originally appeared on Mammoth Press