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Ever since releasing From Under the Cork Tree in 2005,
Fall Out Boy spring boarded from the pop/punk/emo
underground into a mainstream meteor of fanfare.
Thanks in part to the contagious singles "Sugar We're
Going Down" and "Dance, Dance," the disc sold over two
million copies (and counting), making the members
mainstays on MTV and leading to a Grammy nomination
for "Best New Artist." A headlining club and theatre
tour followed, but the demand proved so great that the
group quickly jumped to the arena circuit. And while a
break following a whirlwind 2006 was certainly in
order, the gang stuck close to the studio and just
unleashed Infinity On High, which is the subject of
this winter's "Friends Or Enemies" tour.
Livewire's Andy Argyrakis caught up with drummer Andrew Hurley, who checked in via cell phone from San Francisco on opening night to uncover the band's latest goals, its continued evolution and his take on the ensuring though somewhat unexpected fame frenzy.
Livewire: How have you guys gotten back into the swing of things following the holidays?
Hurley: We're on a smaller club tour taking it down to more intimate spaces with our fans. We're with New Found Glory, The Early November, Permanent Me [and Lifetime on some dates] playing a couple older songs we haven't played in forever and some new songs we haven't played yet.
Livewire: After graduating to arenas last year, why are you heading back to theatres and clubs?
Hurley: We've been off for a little while recording the record and this helps us ease back in. We like to do smaller venues to kind of bring out long time fans. When we were younger, seeing our favorite bands in a small club after they went on an arena tour was the most amazing thing.
Livewire: How are you able to forge a connection with your fans in both settings?
Hurley: I think we've been able to cross the barrier and create an intense connection either way. The main thing for me is there are different types of vibes for both shows. You can make a connection with both, just a different type. In an arena, there are so many more people and you can have production like pyro that you couldn't have at a smaller club. When it's smaller, people are usually packed in and you can really feel the heat.
Livewire: What types of feedback have you been hearing from the new CD so far on the road or online?
Hurley: It's pretty much been really good. We released the video and single ["This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"] and it's been met with really positive reviews. There are always going to be people who won't like any new thing, but majority of people I've talked to really like it. There's an evolution and change. We've matured in a lot of ways with the new album from so many new experiences.
Livewire: In what ways?
Hurley: I think it's really amalgamation of everything that goes into us as people- from movies and books and music. There are also the experiences we've had in four plus years of touring, especially since the last record. All those [emotions] are filtered through the songs and we're finding ourselves not only influenced by music, but media.
Livewire: Tell me about the decision to team up again with your past producer Neil Avron.
Hurley: He did the last one and produced most of this album as well. We're really comfortable with him and he's kind of a fifth member of the band. He totally understands us, vibes with us and we love working with him.
Livewire: I noticed Babyface is also producing a few tracks. How did you get hooked up with him?
Hurley: He's kind of just been a dream producer. We were asked in an interview who'd we'd like to have and we told them we wanted Babyface. He wound up hearing that interview and thought to himself "well, I guess I'm working with Fall Out Boy." It was a dream come true and he was amazing. When you first walk into the room, it's the most nerve-wracking thing because you don't know what to say. He's kinda shy also so the first half hour was a little weird, but once we were working and vibing, it was awesome. He's produced Boyz II Men, Michael Jackson, Toni Braxton and all these huge people. He has pictures on the wall with Stevie Wonder, but he's always making jokes and impressions when recording. He's an awesome, normal guy and you start to realize as you meet more and more "famous" people that everyone's just normal. Babyface understood what we were going for- he listens to rock and everything- and it was surreal.
Livewire: Do you think your tag team with him will catch some fans off guard?
Hurley: Yeah, definitely more on the mention of his name. But if they heard the songs "Me and You" or "Thanks For the Memories" without knowing he produced them, it would definitely still be a Fall Out Boy song. But if they are listening for it, you can tell some things he did with the vocal arrangements and melody wise.
Livewire: Considering you started out as four kids from the Chicago suburbs playing music for your friends, does it ever feel strange to be sharing the studio or stage with so many of the artists you grew up listening to?
Hurley: It's definitely weird to be in the same room, but we're still the same four kids who are best friends. I still feel like the band that was playing in [our parents'] houses in Chicago four years ago. So I don't think for me or the band that it really makes sense when we're at the Grammy Awards in the backstage room because I don't really feel like we fit in. It makes better sense when we're on tour and on stage, which is why we do what we do.
Livewire: How do you react when fans get star struck over Fall Out Boy?
Hurley: It's a little overwhelming, but I understand because I grew up listening to music and grew up loving so many bands. A lot of times I didn't get to meet them, or when I did, they didn't seem to want to meet me. We want to make sure kids know we're not only regular dudes, but we appreciate everyone that likes us. At the same time, you or anyone who has passion can do this as long as you put your all into it.