“I’m the age of most people that probably listen to my band,” says Joe Trohman (29, by the way), guitarist with Fall Out Boy. “I’m either the age of those people, or twice the age of those people. [laughs] Depends which era of fandom of Fall Out Boy that you’re from.”
This year, FOB hurled into yet another new era, with the release of their supremely anticipated album Save Rock and Roll.
Yet, in all the building of this new era, the guys still found time to re-build in another way. Instead of a release party for the album that would satiate a four-year wolf-hunger audiences had for the new record, the band mobilized fans for Habitat for Humanity:
“We wanted to do a record release party for Save Rock and Roll in New York, but instead we decided to get some fans together and help rebuild homes in Rockaway Beach destroyed by Sandy with the help of Habitat for Humanity,” reads a humble post on their site the day after the release of the new album.
“I think musicians, actors—anyone that’s in the spotlight to begin with—has power of the press,” Joe tells me over the phone. “And power of the press enables you to get people to focus on things that you’re more interested in. And if you’re more interested in helping other people, then you’re able to get press to write about that, and able to get people that are fans of what you do to focus more on that.”
The band has a few issues they redirect their limelight onto.
“We’ve worked with Invisible Children, within Uganda, and our efforts with them were able to help them gain more notoriety, and help them raise more money and help more people out there,” he says.
Joe points to the unique perspective anyone who travels (let alone a band that tours worldwide) is given:
“[O]nce you get out there, get out of your home town, your country, it’s a really big world with a lot of problems and a lot of bad stuff going on, and it’s easy to not think about it, not really care because you’re so separated from what’s going on.”
“I think it’s very important that we as people that do travel around… bring that back home to people who will actually listen to what we have to say.”
Joe eloquently explains how anyone travelling in a foreign country can help people at home understand by putting it in terms they can relate to.
“It’s really hard, like for instance with the massacre in Sudan, it’s really hard for people to relate to that…but you can try to of relate it to home, compare it to ‘What if this were happening at home?’ You can try to relate it to people to put it into a perspective that they understand.”
Joe warns that not any one artist can save the world, “but the little bit that they can do goes really a long way.”
It’s no surprise the anthemic, head-banging renaissance that is Save Rock and Roll debut at #1 in the US, but what did come as a surprise was the quick follow-up. The momentum of that record overflowed into a summer session of recording with Ryan Adams at his PAX AM studio.
The band re-released the album with the EP PAX AM Days, and a once starving fan base became a gluttonous audience, well-fed by FOB’s surge of crunchy rock.
“It was great. He’s like a super nice cool down-to-earth guy” says Joe of working with Ryan Adams. “I think we all came from the same place—from punk rock and hard core music—and I think that’s why he wanted to make these songs with us, he knows where we came from, he knows what we like,” says Joe of the PAX AM experience.
“To get in a room with him, and become friends with the guy, and get on a level—I’ve had to do that with a lot of people I’ve grown up admiring, and it’s cool once you shed the putting-on-a-pedestal thing, you realize everyone’s just a person…so we all got along really, really well and the music coalesced really quickly.”
And so, whether it’s relating to victims of a far-away war, or relating to someone you’ve long admired, tearing down what keeps us from seeing each other, all humans, as simply other people is the key ingredient to saving a lot more than rock and roll.
Learn more and lend a hand locally or abroad to Habitat For Humanity.
Check out the work of Invisible Children.