By day, Doug Neumann's the General Manager of Crush Management, a New York-based artist management company whose roster claims Fall Out Boy and the Decaydance label of artists, including Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship and Panic! At the Disco. Neumann manages Fall Out Boy's daily needs (and there are many), helps book tours and oversees general...rockstar demands.
By night, Neumann, a Berklee College of Music graduate, rocks a vintage sharkskin suit and fedora and channels Frank Sinatra -- if Sinatra played guitar and was friends with Pete Wentz. He's devoted an entire album of reimagined emo covers -- Does Decaydance, out Nov. 20 -- and we wanted to know how and why.
We sat down with the coverman to get the scoop, and here's what he told us.
Buzzworthy: How did you first get involved with Fall Out Boy?
Doug Neumann: I came to Crush as an intern about five years ago. I'd just graduated from Berklee College of Music, and I needed to fulfill an internship. So, I found a book called the Yellow Pages of Rock, which listed all these bands and their management companies. I came across American Hi-Fi, who I knew of, so I figured I'd try that company -- Crush Management. I applied, came down from
BW: What is your musical background?
DN: My older brother played guitar and was into the metal band in the late '80s, early '90s. So I'd fall asleep at night listening to him knock out metal riffs. I was like, 'yeah I wanna be like my older brother.' So, I started taking lessons when I was 11. I started singing right away. Then over the years I played out at different coffee shops. I was writing my own stuff, and I played covers and originals in bars.
BW: Did you want to pursue performance at that point?
DN: Writing songs was never my strong point. My brother took me to see Frank Sinatra when I was 15. At that point I fell in love with jazz standards, and I knew I wanted to perform them. But I also had a love for the business side.
BW: How'd you end up reworking Decaydance songs?
DN: A year ago I was at home, bored, and I learned "Dance, Dance" on guitar, and I arranged it for jazz. I fooled around, changed the chords and tempo, added a little more swing, and I brought my guitar in and played it for fun. Bob [McLynn, co-founder of Crush] was like 'Hey!' and was into it. So I went into the studio back here in the office and recorded "Dance, Dance" and "Time to Dance" and put it on MySpace. People loved it. From there we decided to do a full album. We brought in studio musicians – I performed the guitar and vocals on all the tracks. We had a drummer, bass player, horn section. And Joel Hamburger produced it. He did a lot of the horn arrangements, which are awesome.
BW: Had you played your versions for Fall Out Boy or Panic! before you put them up on MySpace?
DN: No. (Laughing.)
BW: What was their reaction?
DN: They loved it. They wanted to hear more with more instruments, full production. And all our bands were like 'yeah, do our stuff!'
BW: How did you finalize the songs to cover?
DN: I pick songs I think can swing a little bit and have a melody I can work with, which turns them into a standard. Some songs are just too straightforward to do that. Honestly, you try to pick songs that are more well-known, with luscious melodies that'll fit nicely with that jazz vibe.
BW: Have you gotten any Decayance superfans hating on what you're doing?
DN: A lot of people just don't get it and hate on it the concept before they hear it. Which is fine. There was this one post online where half of people were like 'oh it's a cool concept. It'll be fun.' And half were like 'he's using his position to take advantage of the situation or whatever.' Which totally is not what it is. Then someone posted the link to the MySpace song, and then they're like 'oh it's actually pretty cool. This guy isn't just some hack.' Plus, a lot of people, when they hear Crush Management General Manager, they picture a much older person. And really I'm just the same age as the bands. And I'm still a fan of all the bands -- I'm in the crowd with everyone else jumping around.
BW: Do you consider this an homage?
DN: Yeah. It's me tipping my hat to their songwriting.
BW: Do you think there will ever be a situation like "Fall Out Boy Covers Doug"?
DN: Fall Out Boy covers Doug's version of their songs? That would be pretty amazing.
BW: That'd be so meta!
DN: But that actually sorta happened! Gabe Saporta performed "Bring It (Snakes On A Plane)," and instead of doing the rap version that Travis does, he sang my swingy jazz version.
BW: So if you win a Grammy or something do you have to share it?
DN: I would melt it and break it up into little chunks and send it to all the bands.
BW: Do you have any videos in the works?
DN: We might be doing a video with Alan Ferguson who does a lot of the Fall Out Boy videos. It'd be "Dance Dance." We're trying to work it out. We'll see.
BW: Do you have any duets planned?
DN: Patrick Stump and I have been talking about it for a couple years now. He LOVES Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra. He's a big fan of that genre too. We'll talk about it for hours on end. There's one song in particular we're thinking about doing. I'm gonna keep it a secret for now, but it's one that Frank and Dean did.
BW: Okay, Doug, let's talk about your future. Where do you wanna go with this eventually? You wanna blow this so-called popsicle stand if you get huge? Or will you keep it real and keep managing?
DN: Ultimately, Crush is like a family. With this genre I could perform but also still have my career here. Unless I turn into the next Michael Bublé. The ultimate goal is to do some more concept albums and old standards and play shows here and there, maybe get some Vegas things going. I love playing music and I love my job and our bands. So it's kinda like leave your family to be famous? You just wouldn't do that.