On a recent night, Patrick Stump played a piano rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” for a sold-out crowd at Schubas Tavern. With his slender frame, Dior suit, and bow tie, Stump, 27, looked more like David Bowie’s dapper nephew than his more familiar persona, the trucker-hat-wearing lead singer of Chicago superstar punk-pop band Fall Out Boy.
Fall Out Boy isn’t finished, just on hiatus, Stump says, which has prompted him to head out on his own. In June, he releases Soul Punk, his full-length solo debut, which reflects his early days on Chicago’s punk scene as well as the R&B influence that’s long been evident in his soaring vocals.
“I think a lot of times soul has been punk,” he says, citing as an example Curtis Mayfield, the Chicago soul legend who wrote politicized songs like “People Get Ready.” Stump, who divides his time between L.A. and his hometown of Glenview, got his love of music—soul in particular—from listening to oldies DJ Dick Biondi on WJMK and attending concerts with his father, a folk musician with an interest in jazz fusion.
A veteran of several bands, Stump joined Fall Out Boy in 2001 at age 17. The careening group quickly built a following playing local Knights of Columbus halls and the Fireside Bowl, the storied West Side venue that also nurtured the Chicago bands Rise Against and Alkaline Trio. Fall Out Boy’s hard work paid off in 2005, when the album From Under the Cork Tree sold more than 2.5 million copies in the United States. After four more successful albums, the group announced in late 2009 that they were taking a break. “We were burned-out,” Stump explains, adding that he still speaks often with band members and believes they’ll record together again.
Despite his new sound and his sartorial makeover, Stump insists he’s still making punk music, which he sees as more a value system than a defined musical style. For all the dance beats and seemingly carnal lyrics, “none of it is about girls and drinking. It’s all metaphorical for war, the economy, racism, paranoia,” Stump says. “Maybe this is just an R&B project, but I’m the punk in it.”
Photograph: Saverio Truglia; Assistant: Sherry Flynn; Hair and Makeup: Gina Ussel; Styling: Martha Mulholland; Retouching: Tim Blokel; Wardrobe: tie, shirt, and boots from Penelopes; belt from Sir and Madame