Patrick Stump doesn’t claim to be cool.
“I don't believe in guilty pleasures,” Stump says, when the subject of pop music comes up.
The Fall Out Boy singer’s solo album, “Soul Punk,” which dropped Oct. 18, is the cool kind of pop music, though: the kind that draws on Timbaland as much as any punk band and ends up sounding a little like a Prince record.
Stump, who caps his tour Friday at Metro, called in during a recent stop in Buffalo to talk with RedEye about Hollywood parties, socialism and what hip-hop fans think of his other band.
Do you feel less famous now? Like “I'm just a dude who can talk to my fans after the show instead of getting mobbed?”
I never really felt all that famous. If anything now because it's my show, it's my name … I feel a little bit more famous … But you know, that's something I never really get used to.
Do you feel like you kind of have to make an effort to socialize in the way people expect now that you're in the spotlight?
Interacting with the audience is fine. That's the awesome part. … I look forward to that. That's how it always was when I was doing shows…
The thing I don't like is having to, like, sell myself to other artists. It's such a thing where it’s like, “Well that's how you get tours, that's how you get spots on records and stuff.” [It’s] this whole industry idea of you have to … try and make best friends with some pop star.
Pop musicians don't really play shows, don't really tour like rock musicians do. It was really easy coming up in Fall Out Boy to have all these friends in bands because you're always touring, you're always playing with somebody. But this [is] really hard. It's really arbitrary for me to call up somebody whose record I like and try to be cooler with them than I am.
Why have you decided to stay in the Chicago area? [He lives in Glenview.]
It’s just home, you know? I'm not going to lie to anybody, I keep a place in LA because there's a lot of work out there and I have to go out there all the time … My family's been in Chicago for 150 years. We all have the accent. I inherited furniture that was buried in the fire ... That's where I feel like I come from. That's the only city that I would want to live in.
Why do you think more artists don't choose to stay in Chicago? What do you think Chicago could do to have a higher national profile?
I think one of the things about Chicago is there's not really a lot of really bad scenes. I say that meaning in LA or New York—and this is nothing to slight LA or New York because there are excellent scenes there too—you can easily fall into a super drugged out party scene in either place. … I never really encountered that at home. I've gotten to play all over the place—my girlfriend is shaking her head at me right now! She's laughing at me! I don't know! That's my interpretation of it!
[LA] does attract—there are a lot of people that are looking for that. But then at the same time look at entertainment as a whole. I feel like you can't be an actor and not have passed through Chicago. You can't be a comedian and not have passed through Chicago. And honestly, I don't know, man. I don't want to beat my chest too much but I think we're pretty cool and I think we're just nice people.
You were 20 when Fall Out Boy blew up. Was it a challenge being welcomed into that sort of fame and being exposed to that kind of partying when you were 20?
I didn't take to it at all. I've been to a few Hollywood parties, but I remember one specifically … I just remember standing in the corner. It's funny because I was standing behind somebody famous, I think, so a picture of me ended up in a magazine, like me in the background. My mom cut it out … It's me just wallflowering so hard.
A lot of the lyrics on your album acknowledge that you're getting older. You're 26. Do you feel like a super old adult now?
I do feel pretty adult. I can't lie. The weird thing about getting out and doing my solo thing is … I am doing a lot of the same things all over again. It's very déjà vu, but I get to look at it with the benefit of hindsight, like, “I wish I knew all that I knew now when I was younger.” That kind of stuff.
Which I think is a very relatable theme. A lot of people in their twenties, maybe, are feeling that.
It's funny. I realized—I didn't do this on purpose—but I realized that part of me was really wanting for some kind of, like, pop music for grown folks. They have all these pop songs for kids, but there’s not a lot of pop music for people with their first mortgage who are struggling, people who are still trying to pay off their student loans, whatever it is, all those things.
“Soul Punk” very much sounds like a pop album. What are the punk influences in there?
First off, it was totally DIY. I paid for it myself. I recorded it myself. I played all the instruments myself. And then there are little flourishes—songs like “Greed” or “Dance Miserable”—the whole record is political for me.
That's what attracted me to punk rock. I was always one of the more political punk rock kids. I wasn't into it for moshing, I was into it for the statement … And when [Fall Out Boy] started it was almost a political statement to do a pop punk band. Because the scene that we were in kind of deteriorated … it became tough guys punching each other and it just wasn't our scene at all. And so we did this whole [pop] thing.
Sometimes I look at those kinds of statements, those big kinds of worldview middle fingers, and that's always a big punk rock thing to me.
In a way, embracing pop, to me, was a punk rock thing to do because I got real tired of people being like, “This is what punk rock is. You wear this leather jacket. You get up there and you yell about something” or whatever it is. I thought that was really stupid and really closed-minded. You can't have rules for non-conformity...
So in that way I think the record has a lot of punk. It's very subtextual and it's very subversive. I'm very openly talking about things I want to change in the world, things I think are bullshit and I want to change.
Are there any specific things people might not catch immediately?
In general, I think we’re operating on this myth that America was ever a capitalist state. It's pretty ridiculous because we are equal parts capitalist and socialist and you have to be in balance with those things ... There does have to be a certain degree of capitalism, and greed always ruins it. And there does have to be—we are socialists ... every police officer that's stopped a crime, every firefighter that's saved your house, that's socialism. So a lot of the record, I show these characters that have these personal stories because I think all those things start on a personal level. … I'm not asking anyone to buy part and parcel any ideology. I'm saying consider each other's feelings and that's where a lot of things will come from.
How do you feel about Occupy Wall Street? Do you think you'll play a secret show at Occupy Chicago?
That would be cool. My thing about Occupy Wall Street right now is that I feel like everyone's angry, which I think is a healthy start. … I think a key thing is to establish some goals. ... If we're talking about things like simply cleaning up the banking industry because it's insane or ending corporate personhood, things like that, then I'm 100 percent behind that.
I know you're a big hip-hop fan. What are some artists that you're into right now?
I'm really watching XV right now ... Obviously, I'm behind [tour mate] Rockie Fresh. I think he's awesome. He won me over live. That was really what killed me. But in general I've been kind of out of new music because I've been working on my album so much.
You've worked with a lot of hip-hop acts in the past, though. You've worked with Lil Wayne. How did that come about?
I remember we were working on that record [“Folie a Deux”] right before “808s and Heartbreak” and all that stuff came out, and we were like, “Man, it'd be awesome if we got an MC singing.” Because some of these guys can sing and it'd be really cool to have somebody singing on a rock record. Usually you get the hip-hop guest and you have him do a verse. It'd be cool—Lil Wayne isn't exclusively into rhyming, he also likes musicality and melody.
And he has the most amazing Auto-Tuned singing voice.
Yeah, he does have a really hilariously distinctive voice. So we got him on it. And then by the time the record came out Auto-Tune had already landed with a huge explosion. So by the time the record came out it was kind of a blasé point. But we had been trying to do it for awhile. We thought it was really cool. And I'm pretty sure, if I remember right, I don't think he's very tuned on that record. I think we pretty much went with his voice, which I thought was cool...
Fall Out Boy was pretty open about being into hip-hop and R&B and metal—whatever stuff we weren't supposed to be into, and I think a lot of people blasted us for it. …
I would definitely say I'm more of a hip-hop fan than I am a rock fan. It's funny because a lot of my hip-hop friends will come up to me and say things like, “I didn't really like rock, but I [bleep] with Fall Out Boy.”
Not that I want to draw out all the Patrick Stump fans to stalk you, but where does Patrick Stump like to hang out in Chicago?
I always love Reckless Records. That was one of my favorite places when I was growing up and buying punk records. I still hit up Reckless Records once in a while. Chicago Music Exchange is awesome for instruments. I know it's for little kids but I love the Museum of Science and Industry.
What was your favorite exhibit?
When I was a little kid they did one about superheroes. They had Marvel Comics. You could control The Human Torch with your body heat. You could control The Hulk with your strength. It was awesome.
Since Patrick Stump's album is titled "Soul Punk," we asked the singer for his musical picks for fans of the opposite genre.
Punk picks for soul fans
- "The Shape of Punk to Come" from Refused: "They deconstructed everything that hardcore was...They took the idea of screaming and deconstructed back to like, James Brown. They put everything in context and it's just the perfect punk record to me."
- "Midwestern Songs of the Americas" from Dillinger Four: "One of the things that got me into punk, pop-punk."
- "Early Buzzcocks" from The Buzzcocks: (No reason given; do you need one?)
R&B picks for punk fans:
- "Ommas Keith" from Sa-Ra: "He's got some stuff that just kills me. He's all over a lot of records."
- "What's Going On" from Marvin Gaye: "That's like the ‘Sgt. Peppers' of the Motown era."
- "Donuts" from J Dilla: "You still hear his influence. He's still so relevant in hip-hop and R&B."
KYLE KRAMER IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTORCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times