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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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In Music

Former Fall Out Boy lead singer Patrick Stump brings his solo act to The Rave Nov. 8.

Patrick Stump branches out with solo "Soul Punk"


Establishing a solo career after being a part of an extremely successful band can be a daunting task for most artists.

The identity of the band is typically larger than any individual within the group, so once the title of the band is thrown off, the audience that once consumed the music created by that band shrinks away by and large from solo projects; unless, of course, you were a member of The Beatles. Even Ringo was able to get a couple gold records.

During the middle of the first decade of the 2000s a little Chicagoland alternative/pop-punk band called Fall Out Boy found itself riding the same wave of success that was caught by alternative/pop-punk band Blink-182 in the mid- to late-'90s.

Fall Out Boy crafted adolescent tunes about sex, despair, rejection, loneliness and other topics that were perfect for the tweenage to early 20s crowd that were seeking to find themselves, but didn't want to stray too far into the different underground cultures. Fall Out Boy gave them just enough emo edge while also providing stadium-style choruses to keep them hooked.

With the band now on an indefinite hiatus, former Fall Out Boy lead singer Patrick Stump has decided to continue with his musical journey, throwing caution to the wind while hoping that his new direction sticks with not only FOB fans but fans of music in general.

After releasing a largely electro-pop EP called "Truant Wave," the singer – whose voice is closer to blue-eyed soul than it is punk – released a full-length album called "Soul Punk" on Oct. 18 of this year that continued with that electro-pop theme.

Though "Soul Punk" is different from what he was a part of with Fall Out Boy, Stump still considers punk the core of who he is.

"That's why I call it "Soul Punk." I still am (punk) at the end of the day. I got into a lot of R&B and funk and things like that through a lot of the same avenues as a lot of my punk rock friends, but when you look at, when you hear elements of funk in LCD Soundsystem you know that dude was definitely in a punk band. I have the same story, it's just I also got really into pop music and at some point Fall Out Boy became a viable pop act. I think that context throws people off a little bit but, at the end of the day, if I were on an indie label or if I were a much smaller artist I think the whole "Soul Punk" thing would make a little bit more sense to a lot of people, but it's just the fact that – whether or not I am anymore – I was successful at one point."

That drive to find success with his out-of-the-box approach as of late also speaks to the punk attitude that lies at the core of the musician, and it's the challenge to get people on board with his new direction that continues to keep Stump grounded.

"I love winning people over. That was something you always had to do when you were in a D.I.Y. punk band because no one knew who you were in any town and no one cared. That was how it was. So, that's fun to get back into, the even potentially antagonistic audience, and win some people over. That's a really rewarding experience. And, it's also something that I just believe in. Maybe it's because of coming out of that, but I don't believe that you should ever take that for granted, that you should get out on a stage and everyone should know who you are. A performer should always go into every show assuming that people will be disappointed, and to do your best to not disappoint them."

With his voice being well suited for the new sound that he's pursued, Stump admits that he thought about doing a more traditional R&B album or even a record with an urban pop sound. However, he ultimately decided that he needed to tackle doing a project with a large amount of instrumentation first because he simply loves to play.

"I love a lot of that stuff so I'd love to do it. The thing was that there's not really a lot of opportunities to play instruments in that context, and so I really had to get that out. I really had to get all my instrumentation out because it is electro but, as a music form, when you listen to a lot of really big watershed kind of electronic records, there's always still live instruments on it. And, it's also the reality that as much I would love to do an R&B – because I may do it, I'm not going to count it out – as much as I'd love to do a more modern R&B record, I'm still a little bit more idiosyncratic than I think I could get away with in full R&B world. I would love to contribute to the vernacular of it rather than just like write it a little bit."

After spending so much time as a part of a band, Stump enjoys the freedom he has with his music, but finding people to be straight up with him when something works or doesn't is a bit more difficult, he reveals.

"There's something about when you're a band – and this is every band, so I'm not saying anything negative about Fall Out Boy – everybody has an ego, you know what I mean? Even if you're all on good terms, even if you're all cool with each other, even if you're talking very mild egos, everybody wants some sort of affirmation about something. It can be really frustrating sometimes and it also forces your ego out in ways that you didn't know that you had. So it's really cool getting away from that. If anything, because you're so in charge of everything, you start to invite more of other people's opinions and other people's thoughts. Which brings me to the trade off: when you're in a band you always have a second opinion. You always have some degree of objectivity somewhere, at least if you're listening to it, someone is trying to tell you what they really think about the record or really think about your song. Whereas when you're a solo artist I've noticed that I kind of have to ask people a lot more to be honest with me. When you're addressing a solo artist you're addressing the entire band, so if you say to them that you're really not feeling it so much there's no deflection there, so people are a lot less willing to be blunt with you, I think."

Not only is Stump flexing his singing and songwriting skills on "Soul Punk" but he also wears the hat of producer on the album, which presents its own pluses and minuses. As a producer, Stump lays out what's important to him to have when constructing an album as well as the unique different personalities that doing everything on a project can create.

"Something that's always been important to me as a producer and as a writer is that there's an album there. That there's some reason that those songs are together. It wasn't just my favorite ten songs at the moment. It really has some story to it, some sort of purpose to it. And honestly, when people ask me about why I did the solo record and I talk a lot about funk and R&B and synth '80s pop and stuff like that, doing different music was an important thing but really I think much more important was writing my own lyrics, because I didn't get to do that in Fall Out Boy. I've been writing lyrics for pretty much my whole life so it was always sort of uncomfortable to not have any outlet for it.

So, then as a producer, I had to restrain this writer who has been dying to get every thought he had out for a decade or two. That was really kind of a challenge, to kind of have any degree of objectivity with myself as a writer and as a producer. You have to disassociate certain parts of yourself from yourself to focus on it. You really have to be like, "OK, Patrick the instrumentalist do this, Patrick the producer do this," you know? You really have to be a few people."

Patrick the performer will be in Milwaukee at The Rave/Eagles Ballroom with Panic! At The Disco Nov. 8 as he continues to support "Soul Punk."

Check out the music video for his single "This City," which features fellow Chicago native Lupe Fiasco.


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