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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Reunited, refocused Fall Out Boy ready for Tampa

Fans have short memories. A five-year hiatus could be death for a band, especially for an act that was flaming out a half-decade ago.

The members of Fall Out Boy had no idea how their comeback album, “Save Rock and Roll,” would be received when it dropped in April.

“We didn’t know what to expect from fans,” bassist-lyricist Pete Wentz said during a phone call from his Los Angeles home. “The music world changed.”

Would there still be room for Fall Out Boy? Could it be worse than what the band experienced while touring behind its 2008 release “Folle a Deux”? That album was a commercial disappointment. The members of the group weren’t getting along after touring hard for seven years.

“We decided to take a hiatus and do other things or that might have been it for our band,” Wentz says. “It was the smartest thing we did.”

When the members of the band took the much-needed break, vocalist Patrick Stump put out a well-received solo album that didn’t sell. Wentz formed Black Cards and crafted dance music that attracted little attention. Drummer Andy Hurley and guitarist Joe Trohman formed the metal supergroup the Damned Things with members of Anthrax and Every Time I Die, but their 2010 album was just a blip on the radar.

So Fall Out Boy reformed.

“It wasn’t hard reconnecting since we all remained friends,” Wentz explains. “I was part of Patrick’s wedding party. We remained so close. But we didn’t know how Fall Out Boy version 2.0 would be received.”

Since the emo wave Fall Out Boy rode to the shore a decade ago faded and their fans grew up, there was a decent chance their comeback would be ignored.

But a funny thing happened on the way to obscurity-ville. When making the album, the band heard that Elton John was a fan.

“You hear things like that all the time,” Wentz says. “The telltale is if you can get someone who claims to be your ‘fan’ on the phone. But it was true, Elton is a fan. Elton energized the band. Pat went to Atlanta (where John lives) and Elton said this album might polarize people, but who cares? One of the great things about Elton is that he doesn’t care what people think.”

John adds a pop sheen and Courtney Love, speaking of folks who don’t care what people believe, delivers welcome grit.

“Courtney blew my mind,” Wentz says. “Courtney is not crazy. Courtney is authentic. I was in junior high when all that (Hole and Nirvana breaking) happened. To hear her tell the stories about that era was amazing. We had so much fun making this album, and having people like Elton and Courtney help us was amazing. But we still weren’t sure if people would care about the album.”

The fans cared. “Save Rock and Roll” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Taylor Swift tweeted that she couldn’t stop listening to the relentlessly catchy initial single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark.”

“We were completely blown away by the response,” Wentz says. “It’s an incredibly fickle world. Look at what happened with us and our last album. Look even further after that tour ended. But it was probably a good thing because I was a little too into myself back then.”

Wentz was in the tabloids daily in 2008, along with his then-wife Ashlee Simpson, who was pregnant with their son. “It was all about Pete Wentz then,” Wentz says.

Wentz began abusing prescription drugs, and he and Simpson divorced in 2011. “Life went bad, but you do your best to bounce back,” Wentz says. “My son is 4 and he’s awesome. He asks me funny things like, ‘Hey, Dad, what games did you play on your phone when you were a kid?’ I told him that there weren’t cell phones then. But I have him, and I have this band and things are awesome now.”

Fall Out Boy, performing Sunday at the USF Sun Dome, is showcasing cuts from “Save Rock and Roll,” as well as rendering its array of Top 40 hits, such as “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down.”

“The fans are back with us, and we’re in a great place,” Wentz says. “We took a break from each other and we got a lot of music out of our system. The time was right for us to focus on Fall Out Boy again, and I hope that remains the same for many years.”



With Panic At the Disco and Twenty One Pilots

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: USF Sun Dome, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa

Tickets: $27 and $37: (813)974-3004 and sundomearena.com

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