Here’s the concept behind the video for “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” the first single off Fall Out Boy’s major-label debut, From Under the Cork Tree: Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with Girl. Girl’s father forbids said love because Boy has deer antlers. Boy tries to express his love to Girl’s father, only to have Girl’s father attempt to murder him with a bow and arrow. Girl’s father is subsequently run over by a Jeep Wrangler, wherein it is revealed that, much like Boy, Girl’s father is also part deer.
There is also gratuitous bowling.
Confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Fall Out Boy bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz seems equally mystified by the clip.
“It was the one treatment that really stood out. It was so strange. When I read it, it reminded me of Wes Anderson, like, ‘Am I supposed to laugh at this, or is this depressing?’ ” he laughed. “It’s a very bizarre theme and video, and I have a hard time attaching it to the song, but at the same time it was the only video where the director [Matt Lenski] took a chance.”
Basically, Fall Out realized that Cork Tree represented a major artistic growth (see “Fall Out Boy’s Sound Has Changed, But The Weirdly Long Song Titles Remain” ), and as such, they made it clear that they were going to allow outside directors to submit treatments for the “Sugar” video, something they had never done before. Island hastily cobbled together a video for the song comprised of live footage and zany backstage antics (which would go on to be known as “Sugar, We’re Goin Down Version 1″), while the band got busy sorting through the volumes of video treatments, all of which seemed to be the same as the last.
“In the past we had written our own treatments, but this time we decided to take someone’s treatment and try it out, because it was our first jaunt on a major label,” Wentz explained. “So we were like, ‘The only kind of treatment we don’t want is something like ‘A guy and a girl, blah blah blah.’ But every treatment we got was like that: ‘Punk-oriented people are at a pool party. One guy falls in.’ And we were like ‘What?!?’ We’d seen that video 80 million times.”
Lenski’s bizarre clip rose above all the other emo ephemera, so Version 1 of “Sugar” was scrapped in favor of Lenski’s Version 2. The clip quickly debuted on MTV’s mtvU channel and was promoted to rotation on MTV even quicker (the video debuted on Tuesday’s edition of “TRL”). And if you don’t see a whole lot of Fall Out Boy’s contemporaries following suit — it’s hard to imagine many Warped Tour headliners shooting videos featuring anthropomorphic protagonists — well, then that’s just fine with them.
“A lot of emo bands, or pop-punk bands, they’re afraid to be seen in a different light, or to be seen outside of some mold,” Wentz said. “But we’re not like that at all. We don’t take ourselves so seriously, which is why we have song titles like we do. I mean, how many songs can you have that are called ‘Burn’ or something stupid like that?’ ”
And Fall Out Boy only hope to further separate themselves from their tats-and-tears brethren with their second single, “Dance, Dance,” an honest-to-goodness tribute to the spandex-and-synthesizer heyday of the 1980s.
“We noticed a lot of bands referencing ’80s music without really seeming to reference ’80s music. Like, ‘Oh yeah, I got an ’80s haircut, I totally sound like an ’80s band,’ ” frontman Patrick Stump said. “And we love ’80s music, so rather than just getting a synthesizer and jacking it, I just tried to write [David Bowie's] ‘Modern Love.’ ”
“The cool thing about ‘Dance, Dance’ is that it’s not afraid to have this rhythm that’s dance-y,” Wentz added. “I think kids appreciate it, but people in emo and pop-punk bands are kind of scared by it. They’re scared to have different rhythms that are a bit dancier and a bit ’80s and a bit sexier. Not us. I think our motto could be, ‘Don’t be afraid to be sexy.’ ”