EXCLUSIVE: Fall Out Boy Talks Career Milestones, 'Bad Styles' and How They Stay True to Their Fans

by Sophie Schillaci 12:02 PM PDT, March 13, 2015
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Fall Out Boy Talks Career Milestones, 'Bad Styles' and How They Stay True to Their Fans

It's been just over a decade since Fall Out Boy won their first award.

"For the record, there's no way we would have thought we would have ever won," a baby-faced Pete Wentz said back in 2004, as the band accepted the Streaming Award from the mtvU Woodies.

Next week, the band will travel to the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, TX, to perform a career-spanning set at the 2015 Woodie Awards and accept the honor of being the first act to ever be inducted into the newly-minted Hall of Wood.

"It's pretty wild," Patrick Stump tells ETonline. "I feel like we've grown up with the Woodies in a lot of ways, too."

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For Wentz, the award is bigger than just the band. "I think that the spirit of the Woodies has always been embracing new artists that are doing different things, emerging artists, and it's like something that we've tried to embrace those artists our whole career," adding nonchalantly, "if you want to call it a career, or whatever."

"I think we have a mutual respect," he says of the indie awards show. (Think the MTV Video Music Awards' younger, hipper sibling.)

It's only just begun, but 2015 is already shaping up to be a major year for Fall Out Boy. The band scored their third No. 1 album in January with American Beauty/American Psycho and are in the midst of a world tour. In a music landscape where rock bands often struggle to fill arenas, Fall Out Boy manages to pack them with fans new and old. At the Friday, March 20th event, FOB will be recognized for building an enormous career while staying true to their roots and their original fan base.

"It's a fine line between moving into the future and staying true to your roots, and trying to do it at the same time because you do what's authentic to you," says Wentz. "But at the same time, we have to grow and can't do the same thing over and over again. I think that our fanbase has been really great at growing with us."

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And they're still growing. The guys are tight-lipped about a follow-up to American Beauty/American Psycho ("Oh my God, what do you work for our management company?" Wentz teased this reporter when asked), but they do clearly have eyes towards the future.

"We have to think about what our legacy is, which is insane for us to even think about," Wentz says, while classifying his own band as "somewhere in the middle" of up and coming acts like 5 Seconds of Summer and veteran performers like Metallica and the Foo Fighters. "It's an interesting place cause it's like, we kinda have to fight a war on both sides," he explains.

One way they've done that is by expanding their brand far beyond the radio airwaves. In fact, if you've attended any professional sporting event in the last six months, you've probably heard their song "Centuries" blasting from the speakers. On the small screen, the song has been licensed by ESPN for its College Football Playoff coverage and by the WWE for Friday Night Smackdown's 15th anniversary show.

"We do think about, as a contemporary rock band that gets played on, or wants to get played on, a bunch of different formats, wants to address pop culture and have a dialogue, you need to think about permeating culture in any way that you can," Wentz says. "We want to be playing in stadiums and playing in arenas, and the things that happen in there when they're not having concerts is clearly sporting events. So it's good that some of it translates for us."

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One thing that hasn't translated over the last 10 years: their style choices.

"Yeah, those sideburns. That was a thing. I totally had those sideburns," Stump laments. (Watch the video above to see the flashback footage the prompted his outburst!) "It's crazy how many bad styles you can have -- all at once. We did them all at once."

Asked if he has any words of wisdom for his younger self, Stump quips, "All-over print isn't something you want to invest in... it's not going to pay off for you."

But Wentz has a more serious approach. "There's a lot of things I would tell my younger self. But I think if I wasn't my younger self, I wouldn't have been able to get here to tell that to myself."

ETonline will be on the ground at SXSW and backstage at the Woodies. Follow @SophieSchillaci and @ETNow on Twitter for the latest, and be sure to bookmark for exclusive video interviews and news.