Fall Out Boy said they made ‘MANIA’ as a way of “surviving” pop radio

"It was like The Last of Us: The Pop Radio Version, starring Fall Out Boy fighting the zombies that do not want bands existing"

Fall Out Boy have reflected upon their divisive 2018 album ‘MANIA’, saying that it represented an attempt to survive in a climate that they thought was becoming more hostile towards bands.

Guitarist Joe Trohman previously said in his 2022 memoir None Of This Rocks that he wasn’t a huge fan of the album and subsequently didn’t really participate in its creation.

When asked if this motivated the band’s return to their rock roots on new album ‘So Much For Stardust’ by Variety, bassist Pete Wentz said: “I feel like our thoughts on ‘MANIA’ were taken a little out of context. Two records before, we were making albums in a landscape that was not particularly friendly to bands, and so we were just trying to figure out how to survive. It was like The Last of Us: The Pop Radio Version, starring Fall Out Boy fighting the zombies that do not want bands existing.”


He continued: “I think ‘MANIA’ was a direct response to all that. There’s a frustrated sound on there. I think it’s intentionally noisy, semi-intentionally polarizing, and the sound we landed on for ‘…Stardust’ wasn’t. I don’t think it was a reaction to any of that. I just think being with Neal [Avron, producer of the band’s albums ‘From Under the Cork Tree’, ‘Infinity on High’, and ‘Folie à Deux’] and wanting to create something that is tangible and that we took our time with was super important. The record spans the whole gamut of things that we’re into.”

Vocalist and guitarist Patrick Stump, meanwhile, said the new record’s sound “was only a reaction insomuch as I wanted to do a different methodology. It really wasn’t so much conscious of rock or any style or stylistic choice. To me, I felt like I had gone down this road of experimenting with technology and that was really fun and fulfilling. But we did that for three records and really culminated with ‘MANIA’. I was kind of like, ‘I had my fun with that. Now I want to see what happens with strings and horns and guitars and harmonies,’ and those kind of things, really tangibly.”

Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy CREDIT: Pamela Littky

Wentz had also told Dork that the frustration of ‘MANIA’ was one of the main reasons for the five-year gap between it and ‘So Much For Stardust’. “The album really benefited from us taking our time, though,” Wentz said. “The tools we use on the record were sharper because of it.”

Elsewhere in the Variety interview, Fall Out Boy also commented on the emo revival that’s played out in the last couple of years. “The pendulum swung so far the other way, away from guitar music, the emotional core of the lyrics,” Wentz said. “Also I think there’s something to be said for the actual, cyclical nostalgia. My kids are dressing like it’s the ‘90s and the early 2000s.

“I feel like we’re at a time now where people can discover art themselves. There’s a renaissance of all these different kinds of art and music because people go and discover it for their first time. To me, a counterculture, whether it’s hip-hop or pop-punk or punk rock or emo or goth music, always builds and swells, especially in times when the monoculture becomes so heavy-handed. You saw it during Reagan.”


He added: “There are also a couple of artists, like Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Uzi Vert and Willow Smith, that are new to playing rock music. The planets are all aligned perfectly. There was probably a group of kids that were just a little too young to have gone to see My Chemical Romance when they came back, or emo night. And they can go now — it just all lined up perfectly.”

In a four-star review of ‘So Much For Stardust’, NME wrote: “‘So Much (For) Stardust’, brings all the early ’00s nostalgia without the gimmicks. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously: see the spoken word intro of “an alligator prince with crocodile tears” of ‘Baby Annihilation’. A rock titan set with the task of advancing their sound in a way that can still appease the sensibilities of lifelong fans could be daunting, but Fall Out Boy pull it off.”

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