During last year's Vans Warped Tour, a hand-held radio was stolen. After being threatened and even bribed by tour security, the culprit demanded only one thing in return for the over-expensive piece of equipment -- to meet Fall Out Boy.

Fall Out Boy? With a name akin to that of a young radioactive comic book hero, Fall Out Boy has emerged from the obscure Midwest music scene with From Under the Cork Tree, which is reaching the top of radio station and MTV playlists. The first single "Sugar, We're Going Down," garnered the darkhorse band the coveted MTV2 Award at August's VMA's, beating out such buzzworthy bands as My Chemical Romance and The Bravery. Cork Tree debuted in the top 10 on Billboard's album charts and has sold over a half-million copies, achieving, by most standards, success.

"Success is such a vague word," says singer-guitarist Patrick Stump. "I heard that Huey Lewis believed that the best music is what doesn't make it on the radio. When one of his records went four-times platinum, he was bummed. I don't think any of us really think of commercial success as something to be strived for. Success for us is when we play a show and kids like it or when we write a song we think is great."

Fall Out Boy got its start when various Chicago-based punk and hardcore bands imploded, resulting in a collaboration between Stump, bassist Peter Wentz, drummer Andrew Hurley, and guitarist Joseph Trohman. The quartet found common musical ground among such pop-punk forbearers as Lifetime, the Descendents and of course Green Day and began writing ‹¨«ber-catchy pop-punk tunes that maintain and feel of genuineness.

While being from Chicago did make it difficult to reach the ears of music execs, Stump says there was something refreshing about paying dues, touring constantly and creating a buzz based purely on music, not image.

"It's definitely harder to get signed in Chicago. But you know you're not signed because you're wearing the right tie or the right scarf. In New York or L.A., there's so much hype about bands before they even play their first show."

While Fall Out Boy has been claimed by various music circles as the next big emo act or the newest torchbearers for a pop-punk revival, the band prefers to keeps its sound simply as that of Fall Out Boy.

"If someone's gonna call us pop-punk or indie or emo, that's OK," says Stump. "I'd just prefer that if you like us or hate us, it's because of our music. When you hear us, you're gonna hear Fall Out Boy."

While the radio thief never did get to meet his spiky music idols, he'd be happy to know they'll be sticking to their roots, with their follow-up to Cork Tree to be recorded next year. Says Stump, "Bands always think they're doing something innovative. For us, it's still the four of us playing together. We can't escape the sound of Fall Out Boy."

Fall Out Boy will be playing at the Electric Factory (421 N. 7th St.) Sunday and Monday.


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