If it seems like just yesterday that Fall Out Boy was in Houston, that's because they played at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March. On Friday, though, they'll bring their "Boys of Zummer" joint tour with Wiz Khalifa to Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, separate from the Rodeo and all its trappings. Pete Wentz, bassist and primary lyricist for the band, describes the Rodeo as a “crazy experience,” he promised their second 2015 go-around will be something completely new for fans of all Fall Out Boy eras..
That's a tough thing to do. Since their inception, Fall Out Boy has defied categorization, continually making music that Wentz describes as “fun for us to do.” “It makes it feel like not so much a job,” he says by way of an explanation for their creative restlessness. Starting out as a pop-punk band, then transitioning more towards pop until 2013 comeback LP Save Rock and Roll established them as one of the hottest pop-rock bands in the game today, Fall Out Boy has definitely driven a massive wedge between fans of each era.
“I've totally noticed the divide too,” Wentz says. “It's an interesting thing. It think some of it has to do with how long we've been around. There's just going to be eras where some people love them and some people don't. Sonically, ten years ago, it sounded a certain way, and sonically now it sounds a certain way. To me, there's going to be people who love it and want it to be guitars and the wall of sound that it was then. And then we have a group of fans who don't really know anything before Save Rock and Roll.”
Save Rock and Roll was the record that catapulted Fall Out Boy back into the spotlight after years of being dormant. The band separated acrimoniously in 2009, but regrouped for the reunion album three years later. This time around, they brought on guests like Elton John, Big Sean and Courtney Love, blending pop-punk with synthesizers, rapping, piano balladry, and even string sections.
“What we have to try to do with our live show is stitch together something that, within reason, is interesting to everybody,” Wentz explained, which is what makes for such a tough task when planning a massive tour like this one. “What we usually do is we create a setlist that has some of the newer stuff, but I don't want to overload it. I always think about what I would want as a fan going out. If I was going out to see Metallica or U2 or something like that, I always think about what songs I would want them to play.”
Still, Wentz admits that Fall Out Boy has no interest in pleasing everyone, repeatedly explaining that the band does what is fun for them, and only them. “Fall Out Boy has always been an idea. The next incarnation will be different, and we'll probably alienate more people as well,” he says, only half-jokingly.
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“I remember years ago when we put out '[This Ain't a Scene, It's An Arms Race' there was a big group of fans and people from the label saying, 'This doesn't work,'" he recalls. "Now there's people who are like diehards about that era of Fall Out Boy. Until you've experienced it, it's hard to say whether you're totally going to dislike it.”
And what could be more alienating for Fall Out Boy diehards than the choice of Wiz Khalifa as an opener on their blockbuster summer tour? That came about organically, though, not as a challenge to their fans. Wentz describes Khalifa as “way more punk rock than people know.” He said the two often discuss Nirvana, and Khalifa has expressed a serious interest in the way Fall Out Boy makes music because he has a foot in the world of rock and roll as well as pop and hip-hop.
For fans of what's on the radio right now, this might just be the hottest touring bill of the summer. For Fall Out Boy's old-school punk fans, they'll have to groan their way through Khalifa and a set made up of quite a few songs from Fall Out Boy's latest hit record, American Psycho/American Beauty. But not to worry, aging punks; you haven't been left behind. The band still always closes with “Saturday” from 2003 major-label debut, Take This to Your Grave, along with older hits like “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and “Dance, Dance,” proving Fall Out Boy always has fans of all eras in mind. Just as long as it's fun for them.
Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa's "Boys of Zummer" tour stops by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., on Friday night. Gates open at 6 p.m.