For the initial gambits of "Truant Wave," which came out in February, and "Soul Punk," which is due in October, Stump is showing off an R&B-flavored style showing the acknowledged influence of artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson, among others. It's music Stump didn't record with Fall Out Boy because, he explains, "I didn't want to do that to the band. I didn't want to put too much of the wrong stamp on it, to put too much of my own thing in there when it wasn't necessarily what the band wanted. This is a lot more of a distillation of my influences, and (the band) is supposed to be a combination of all of our influences."
But with Fall Out Boy on hiatus while its members pursue other projects -- bassist Pete Wentz in Black Cards, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley in the Damned Things -- Stump had an opening to risk a path that might alienate some fans. "It's pretty split," acknowledges Stump, who grew up listening to the jazz fusion and R&B albums in his father's collection. "Some people like it, some think that, yeah, it's just a Prince or Michael Jackson knockoff. I anticipated that, and I'm very comfortable with it. But at the same time I thought it would be a pretty gross omission to not ever let anyone know this is something that I do. It's like how everyone knows Steve Martin is a comedian, but he also writes plays, and if you never read any of his plays you're missing out on a lot of his humor. I feel like, in a much lesser way, that's how it was for me. The challenge was finding something that I enjoy doing as much as Fall Out Boy but that has nothing to do with Fall Out Boy -- otherwise there's really no point in doing it."
The first single from "Soul Punk" -- "This City," a tribute to his home town of Chicago that features Lupe Fiasco -- goes on sale at digital retailers Tuesday [July 26] and, according to Stump, changed the course of the entire album. "I had written a while draft of the album and then at the 11th hour came up with 'This City,' " he recalls. "I really loved the song but felt like, conceptually, it didn't fit on the album. I had to go back and make an album for that song because I loved it so much. So one of the holdups on (the album) was re-writing the record around ('This City')."
Stump and his solo band kick off a 24-date U.S. tour on Aug. 3 in Minneapolis that includes an Aug. 6 performance at Lollapalooza. More dates are expected after "Soul Punk" is released. As for Fall Out Boy, Stump promises we haven't heard the last of the band but won't hazard a guess as to when the quartet will regroup.
"It's kind of like herding cats now," he explains. "Everybody is just in different directions and doing their own things, but we intend to do the band again. But when we do it, we want it to be for its own sake. So it's about as on the books as, 'Oh, some day we should do that,' not like 'Monday we'll do it.' It'll happen, though; I'm certain of that."