Although he’s two years younger than the compact disc, Fall Out Boy lead singer and guitarist Patrick Stump says that vinyl record albums were the central music-listening medium of his youth.
“That doesn't mean I was always allowed to play the records,” Stump says with a laugh. “I was the youngest in the family, and my parents didn’t want my peanut butter-covered fingers all over the grooves of the discs. For a while there, playing records myself was kind of this special, unattainable thing for me.”
Cassettes also figured into Stump’s early days, although the difficulties of trying to find key songs on the tapes proved somewhat frustrating for the young music enthusiast. “You had to fast-forward or rewind, and you never knew where you were half the time,” he recalls. “But you did get the side one and side two experience on cassettes, so they were like vinyl records in that way. That was cool.”
The internet was still on training wheels during Stump’s teenage years, so he sought out music at Record Surplus, which specialized in used product, in his hometown of Des Plaines, Illinois, and at a couple of shops in the nearby city of Evanston. Toward the end of high school, he even landed a job at Record Surplus. For Stump, the prospect of being paid to work in some capacity in the music business seemed unbelievably glamorous. Unfortunately, the stock at Record Surplus wasn’t always primo.
"Remember, it was a used record store in the suburbs of Chicago, not in the heart of the city," he says. "So there was a lot of Lawrence Welk and some of the unpopular Barbra Streisand records. Or you would find the record after the big hit by certain artists. We’d have first dibs on records that had a scratch or two on them. Sometimes we even picked through the dumpsters outside. Occasionally, there’d be something pretty good.”
It's been 11 years since Fall Out Boy released their gold debut, Take This To Your Grave, which they followed up with 2005's three-times platinum From Under The Cork Tree. Last year, after a brief hiatus, the group issued the chart-topping album Save Rock And Roll and hit the arena circuit. All of which means that Stump's dumpster-diving days are gone for good.
Surveying today's musical climate, he weighs in on the current singles vs albums debate: "People are still making great albums, but our focus is on singles. That’s OK, because for a while we forgot how to make a friggin’ single. It’s a pendulum that swings, and it’s important to have people who understand how to do both. I’m very grateful that there’s a Max Martin and a Dr. Luke and a Katy Perry pumping out these great singles. At the same time, that does make me kind of miss the album.”
On the following pages, Patrick Stump takes a stroll down musical memory lane and discusses what he considers to be 10 "life-changing" albums.