Fall Out Boy’s Journey to Authenticity

Fall Out Boy gained a lot of popularity in the early 2000s. After their fourth album they went on a 5 year hiatus. My question when they came out with their fifth album, Save Rock and Roll was: can they be authentic when they have changed their look and sound? I will argue that Fall Out Boy is being authentic in their Save Rock and Roll album and their progression from sellout back to authentic.

If you are not a Fall Out Boy fan here is a brief history that will help you understand what they were like before their latest album Save Rock and Roll. Fall Out Boy first came into being in 2001 in Wilmette, Illinois; the suburb of Chicago. They were formed by Pete Wentz and Joe Trohman. Patrick Wentz and Andy Hurley joined up soon after (Wikipedia).



All of the band members had all been a part of Chicago’s underground hardcore scene (Johnny Loftus & Corey Apar, Rovi). Their musical style falls in line within a pop-punk genre. They first signed a deal with Fueled By Ramen which is an indie label in Florida. This led to their first album Take This To Your Grave which was released in 2003. They were seen as being very authentic at this time period because it was considered good if you were with an indie label. With the success of their first album they gained the attention of Island Records.

Fall Out Boy then signed with Island Records (Rolling Stone). At this point Fall Out Boy’s underground star status had reached the mainstream (Johnny Loftus & Corey Apar, Rovi). When Fall Out Boy signed with Island Records, a lot of their hardcore fans felt they had become sell outs. Signing with a big record company made those hardcore fans feel like Fall Out Boy was just in it for the money and the music was of secondary importance. The band really gained their sellout status once they released their third album, Infinity on High. A lot of fans felt this was their big sellout point because of all the marketing campaigns that were used to promote this album. First there were dolls that were created in the bands image (Rolling Stone).

FOB dolls


Pete Wentz also launched his own fashion line during this time (Rolling Stone). Then there was the Aeropostale promotion campaign. Aeropostale was selling exclusive Fall Out Boy t-shirts which were used to help promote the album (Annika). Once they released their fourth album it started a spiral which would lead to their five year hiatus. The cause of this failure could be linked that the first single for the album received a lot less play on the radio compared to their other singles (Wikipedia). The marketing attempts for this album did not end very well, either. They had created a video game called Fall Out Boy Trail. It is a Fall Out Boy version of Oregon Trail. This was used to promote their 2009 tour and the goal was to beat the game in time to win tickets to one of their concerts (The Oregon Trail). If you want to see the game check out this link.

The game is surprisingly hard. My attempt to play it ended in disaster because the controls were just too hard to use. They also made a comic book during 2009 as well. This was a five issue miniseries and the initial concept was created by Pete Wentz (TV Tropes).

comic book


All of their marketing attempts throughout their third and fourth albums pushed the fans to believe they were now just in it for the money. Whatever the cause may be, whether it is that their fourth album is less popular than previous ones, it caused the band to split up for five years.

On February 1, 2013 Fall Out Boy announced that they were coming back and they already had a single, album, a tour lined up ready to go (Greene). This announcement that everything was ready to go and in motion truly shows how serious they are about this comeback album. The seriousness they showed gives them authenticity. A typical band might only announce they are coming back, but have nothing ready at the moment. What Fall Out Boy did shows that they want to make this work; that even when they were on an indefinite hiatus, they were working on an album in secret.

An announcement of indefinite hiatus usually tells us that the band is not going to come back (Quan). No one was really expecting them to return, but they obviously loved what they do and therefore, came back to do what they loved most. In an interview with CNN Patrick Stump had said, “We did just genuinely mean that we were just going to take a break, like it’s supposed to be.” Fall Out Boy had always planned on making a return and that shows commitment. They were simply taking a break until they figure out what they wanted to do with the band. In the interview, they said that they wanted time away from the band so they could grow up (Quan). They needed to mature in order to create good music again because they were still acting the same way as when they had first started. The band could not make better music because they needed to mature themselves. The five year break was there so they could take the time to grow up and do the music they wanted to create, which was beyond their grasp before. They were not going to come back until they were one hundred percent ready and this shows that they would be authentic when they did finally come back.

The band didn’t tell anyone about their plan to come until the day they announced it because they were thinking about their fans. They felt that if the fans got word they were coming back then the fans would be driven crazy waiting for everything to come out (Rolling Stone). Fall Out Boy chose to think about how the fans would feel and in doing so, shows that they are authentic again. The fans are ones who are truly judging whether a band is seen as authentic or not; therefore, being thoughtful about their fans played a big part of their authentic image. The band was not expecting people to care so much because they have been gone so long from the industry (Rolling Stone). Even though they were not sure anyone would listen to their music again, they still thought long and hard about what the fans need even if there were not very many fans left. They did not care about how much support was still left, but they wanted to go back together into the music scene (Rolling Stone). What truly mattered to them were the feelings they put into the music.

In a CNN interview, Fall Out Boy was asked how they managed to make the new album in secret. Patrick had replied that there were no expectations to live up to because no one was screaming at their doors trying to find out when the next album would come out (Quan). This means they were free to make the album however they wanted and they wanted to make sure that the quality of the music was the most important aspect that went into the Save Rock and Roll album.

In the album Save Rock and Roll, Fall Out Boy changed their sound and their image. They have now taken on more of a rock persona. What they came back with clearly shows that they have matured because their sound and skills became are much better compared their older materials. The break was clearly a good move for them as a band. During the break, the band was able to spend time with their families and experience different things, which allowed them to find what they were missing as a band and united them even more (Quan). Part of being authentic demands being able to grow and figure out the weak points of the group and then learning from them. If a band stays the same forever then people will eventually think the band is not authentic anymore.



Some people will say that a band changing their sound causes them to be inauthentic. I believe that the change in sound and image is a natural progression of a band. If the band just stays the same then they are not growing and maturing as a band. This change actually makes them more authentic. They found out that creating their new sound wasn’t too difficult because they found a way to fuse their old sound with a new sound. Fall Out Boy wanted to find a sound where they could put their feelings in while making music that was fresh. They worked on the songs for Save Rock and Roll until they could come up with something that they would be happy with (Rolling Stone). I say that makes them truly authentic because they would not settle for something that less than they were happy with. A true authentic artist will work on the songs until they are satisfied. That is what Fall Out Boy has done with their new music.

There is a lot of symbolism of their authenticity in their music videos. I will be looking at their music videos for “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)” and “The Phoenix.”

“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)”

fire scene


Throughout the music video fire is being set ablaze to Fall Out Boy merchandise. If you look closely you will see that the merchandise being burned is all from their old albums. The things being burned are not only their old albums. There are clothing items and instruments being burned as well. If you look closely you will find issues of their comic book being burned too.

fire scene 2


I see this as them getting rid of their sellout image they had acquired from their old albums. Flame is often used for cleansing purposes. Fall Out Boy is telling their fans that they are not the band they once were. They are cleansing themselves of the advertising that gave them the sellout status. Their status as a sellout has been cleansed by the flames and they are now authentic again.

“The Phoenix”

Even before looking at the music video the title of the song shows how they are authentic again. The phoenix is a symbol of rebirth and it shows how Fall Out Boy has been reborn into an authentic band again.

phoenix 1


At the beginning of the music video we see the members of the band opening up a mysterious briefcase. This briefcase can be symbolized as the new image they are giving to the public. I see it as their authenticity in a briefcase. The authenticity is something they are going to hold onto this time around which is why it was handcuffed to Patrick’s hand.

phoenix 2


The falcon seen in the music video represents freedom. It shows that they are going to be true to the music they want to create and not something people have told them they should create. Staying true to the music they want to create makes them authentic because it shows that they won’t make music just for a profit. They want to only create music that they can put their whole hearts into.

Fall Out Boy has gone from being a sellout to becoming an authentic band once again. On a broader level authenticity is how we perceive the band and it is different for everyone. This applies not only to Fall Out Boy, but also to all of the other musicians out there.

Works Cited

Annika. “Aeropostale, a great clothing store.” Aminda. Trade Station, 14 March 2009. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. <>


Greene, Andy. “How Fall Out Boy Beat the Odds and Rose Again.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 18 April 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <>


Loftus, Johnny & Corey Apar, Rovi . “About Fall Out Boy.” MTV. Viacom International Inc., 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <>


Rolling Stone with contributions by Erica Futterman. “Fall Out Boy: Biography.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <>


The Oregon Trail. “Fall Out Boy Trail.” The Oregon Trail. The Learning Company, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. <>


Quan, Denise. “The Return of Fall Out Boy” CNN. CNN, 30 April 2013. Web. 16 November 2013. <>


TV Tropes. “Comic Book: Fall Out Toy Works.” TVTropes. TV Tropes Foundation LLC, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. <>


Wikipedia. “Fall Out Boy.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013. <>

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