Three years after the band announced an indefinite hiatus, Fall Out Boy has returned with both fists swinging. On Feb. 4, the quartet, which splintered in 2009 to pursue side projects, announced a multipronged comeback: the release of new single "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)"; its accompanying video featuring rapper 2 Chainz; its fifth studio album, "Save Rock and Roll" (Island Def Jam), due May 7; an upcoming tour; and three intimate shows later that week in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York that sold out immediately.
The response has been substantial. "My Songs" is the Hot Shot Debut on both the Billboard Hot 100 (No. 26) and Hot Rock Songs (No. 8) this week, selling 162,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The video, filmed and released in less than a week, has amassed more than 660,000 views on YouTube and pushed weekly clicks on the band's Vevo channel past 2 million. On Twitter, the group, which hadn't tweeted since Sept. 12, 2012, received 48,000 mentions on the single's release day and more than 100,000 replies in the week that followed. Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, FOB attracted 130,000 new fans, a 392% increase over the previous week, entering at No. 49 on Billboard's Social 50 chart.
But internally, the act's re-emergence didn't come without trepidation. "The hiatus was the healthiest thing for a while," bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz says. "I needed to get my head right."
Wentz explains that the quartet, which also includes lead singer Patrick Stump, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley, began working on new music 14 months ago, but it wasn't until four or five months later that they produced presentable material. Collaborating with producer Butch Walker, the Chicago-area natives kept recordings under wraps, deciding to announce their comeback on the same day as their single appeared-unusual for a group whose third LP, "Infinity on High," bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2007.
"I remember there were moments like, 'Maybe we'll do this and no one will really care, but we're doing it because we want to do it,'" Wentz says of the album. "I felt like the best marketing and promotion is just letting it speak for itself. It seemed right."
Eric Wong, executive VP of marketing at Island Def Jam, says that the 33-date "Save Rock and Roll" tour, which launches May 14 in Milwaukee, sold out in less than 15 minutes. "The music speaks for itself," he says. "Judging by the immediate reaction to the song, it's responding really well across the board."
Fall Out Boy promoted the single with performances on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (Feb. 13) and during the NBA All-Star Weekend (Feb. 16). Meanwhile, Island Def Jam serviced the single to multiple formats upon release, including alternative and mainstream top 40. Radio has reacted strongly, with alternative WROX Norfolk, Va., leading with 70 first-week plays. PD James Steele saw immediate potential. "This is looking very much like it's going to be a No. 1 hit, unless for some odd reason it doesn't test well," he says. "But I highly doubt it."
But Rich Davis, PD of mainstream top 40 KDWB Minneapolis, which gave the track 43 spins in its first week, says the song needs time to gestate. "It's too early to tell," he says. "I listen to a song and decide whether it's good enough to be on my radio station. That gut is hopefully backed up by the benchmarks I see. It's fairly early to know, but it's pretty good so far."
For band manager Bob McLynn of Crush Management, the single and tour are part of a long-in-the-making plan to start the band's next chapter with a bang. "We didn't want to come back and do a tour just to play old songs. It's all about the future of Fall Out Boy," he says. "We've been putting this plan together for about 10 months. The launch [was] more successful than we could've hoped for."