If you watched Monday night's THE Ohio State versus Oregon college football playoff, or you've gone to any basketball/ baseball/ hockey/ extreme sports event in the past two years, chances are you've heard some Fall Out Boy blasting through the arena. And if you haven't been there for the game, you've definitely heard their tracks roaring through commercial promo spots.
The Chicago quartet -- who began their musical career as a band of guyliner-wearing misfits representing the picked-upon high school weirdo nation -- have been reborn into a second coming as the go-to band to get crowds pumped up at just about any sporting event you can imagine. (We know! The irony is as thick and knotty as one of the band's notoriously lengthy early song titles. Looking at you, "I've Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth.")
If you got pumped in the '90s you probably remember "Jock Jams" -- the Tommy Boy Records collections of heart-pounding, testosterone-inducing musical sweat and swagger. But how did "Centuries" and "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark", off of, respectively Save Rock And Roll and FOB's brand-new album, American Beauty/American Psycho, become the f--k yeah jock jam anthems of the same jersey-wearing bros that probably would have swirlied these guys just for walking on the same side of the football field as them back in the day? (Yeah, yeah, we know Pete Wentz played soccer back in the day.)
We asked Fall Out Boy's longtime manager, Bob McLynn, to explain how FOB got so many jocks strapped.
It's The Songs, Duh
People like to categorize this band as one thing or another. It's a f--king great band. They came back and grew up and still make rock music... Rock was taking itself too seriously [when they reformed in 2013], and they wanted to just make big-ass rock songs that were still fun. That’s why it works so well for sports.
How Many Other Bands Are Rocking This Hard?
You hear hip-hop too, but sports has always loved rock... going back to AC/DC, Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones. FOB are the new ones making theses songs. They didn’t set out to write sports jams, just big-ass rock songs that sound good in stadiums... [Plus] there are only a couple of rock bands that get played on the radio these days that lend themselves to this.
Do The Boys Like It? Hell Yeah They Do!
They're absolutely proud. Their old songs got played here and there, but never at this level where they were a staple of sports... They're selling a ton of singles and getting huge radio airplay that spikes on the weekends since ESPN made "Centuries" the theme song for college football all year.
We also talked to ESPN Music Director Kevin Wilson, who knew "Centuries" would be the theme song to the college football playoff the second he heard it.
Don't Be Fooled By The Long, Weird Song Titles; FOB Write Songs That Kill The Game
The relationship with Fall Out Boy just evolved over the years... we've been licensing them for years, since the beginning of the X Games. We used 'Dance, Dance' back in the day and because we use lots of different music here at ESPN we always need different styles. They write anthemic tracks, which is funny because a lot of times you have to dig into the lyrics because the song titles are long and they have nothing to do with the lyric.
With 'My Songs,' the whole 'light 'em up' thing became huge in sports. Because we have a relationship, they brought 'Centuries' to us prior to its release, and I immediately knew the song would be fantastic. At the time I was looking for a song that would fit with the college football playoff, and Bob [McLynn] hit me up and he felt [singer] Patrick [Stump] had just written another anthem. They came down and played us the song and I said, 'My God, lyrical the chorus says exactly what we want it to say for the first ever college football playoff!'
Everyone Wins When FOB Plays
They've been nothing but helpful since the first time we licensed a song from them and not in the way of just doing it to sell albums. They seem to really enjoy the process of working together. You can't use a song all year like we did if someone is not interested. ['Centuries'] was a great song for the college football playoff and the proof is in the pudding: it's a huge hit, and I hope we had something to do with it. It almost felt like they wrote it for us. But we look at it as we're all in the same business: to entertain folks.