A few things have changed for Fall Out Boy in the decade and a half since they released their first album. “We’re, like, adults now!” says bassist and songwriter Pete Wentz, 38. And part of being an adult means taking the time to get things right. The group’s seventh album, M A N I A, was originally supposed to come out this past September, but Wentz and frontman Patrick Stump pushed back the release after realizing that many of the songs were “just not good enough.”
“There were some songs that weren’t going to reach a wide enough demographic to be singles and at the same time they weren’t meaningful enough to us — they were too middle of the road,” Wentz explains.
So they spent the extra months expanding their sonic palette. “We wanted to move the ball forward,” Wentz says. “The great thing about the way people listen to music now is there’s such disregard to genre. I think this record is expansive in that way.” Now, the 10-track collection, out Jan. 19, features everything from foot-stomping soul on “Heavens Gate” to EDM-tinged rock on “Young and Menace,” which Wentz calls “the musical equivalent of a cat chasing a laser beam.” (The album as a whole, though, is less laser-chasing feline and more baby-monkey-riding-a-pig, Wentz clarifies.)
In addition to Wentz’s song descriptions, animals also show up in the band’s recent videos and live shows. Two towering figures — which some fans refer to as llamas, though they look more like upright versions of The Neverending Story‘s luckdragon — made their debut in the “Young and Menace” video and then stuck around. “We created them as an homage to Henson Studios and that whole era of film where there was so much puppetry,” Wentz says. “Now they’re on tour with us — they’re a bit like the old guys from the Muppets. We’ve been calling them Frosty and Royal Tea, but I don’t actually know if that’s their names.”
Those de facto names come from the new song “Stay Frosty Milk Tea,” a track that gets its memorable title from a combination of two things. “‘Stay frosty’ is like a military term. It’s basically like, ‘Stay cool but alert,'” Wentz says. “And royal milk tea is this really good bottled milk tea that I think you can only find in Japan.” He laughs: “Just trying to get that sponsorship!”
Jokes aside, Wentz says that, as much as the band’s sound has evolved, its mission remains the same: reach anyone who feels like they don’t belong. “We try to speak to the idea that if you don’t fit in anywhere else,” Wentz says, “you can fit in with us.” Even if you’re an anthropomorphic mystery creature.
Fall Out Boy are now on tour. Check out dates here.