The band’s latest video event certainly qualifies as different. It’s not just different from everything Fall Out Boy has attempted in the past, though–it’s something unique among music video projects. The band that was raised on Guns N’ Roses epics and million-dollar Michael Jackson extravaganzas loved the idea of concept videos, and wanted to pay homage in a very Fall Out Boy way. They’ve taken the concept of concept videos to its furthest conclusion by making one for every song on their latest album and connecting them all together to form a Voltron-like feature film.
Save Rock and Roll, the band’s first album after a four-year hiatus, came out in the spring of 2013 and was followed by a steady trickle of videos. As the clips continued to roll out, sharp-eyed fans noticed some connective tissue, but it wasn’t until this past March that the band announced there’d be a video for each of Save’s 11 tracks, and that they would comprise a film called The Youngblood Chronicles. The complete movie emerged online near the end of June, and a limited DVD release is available on July 14. And for a band who’s early videos had raucous school dances and boys sprouting antlers, the movie is next-level crazy.
Directed by Donald/Zaeh, the movie begins with lead singer Patrick Stump walking the streets with a Pulp Fiction-ish glowing briefcase handcuffed to his arm. The rest of the band is scattered–much like they were in real life, during the four-year break. Before we see what they’re all doing, however, Stump’s arm is chopped off (leaving him with, um, a stump) and he is kidnapped. At this point, Wentz sends out a falcon to reassemble Fall Out Boy. It does not go as smoothly as it could. Before it’s over, however, viewers are exposed to torture, zombies, snakes, God, and the devil. (The latter played by Tommy Lee, no less).
Part of what made the Fall Out guys decide to undertake the project is the relative ease with which they would be able pull this off now. “I think that laptop culture has leveled the playing field,” Wentz says. “You don’t need a crazy budget. If you have a good vision and someone who can execute that vision, that’s all you really need. It’s just something that interests us–we’re not winning any Oscars any time soon.”
Before they could get started, hover, the band had to construct the narrative of the film, and decide how it would hang together as a whole. “We had a beginning, middle, and an end. We had an in and out for each of those parts. Then we started formulating video-by-video,” Wentz says. “We also knew we had certain cameos we wanted to make and get to those points in the story. We tried to adapt as we went and then certain things became more important.”
The musician cites as an example a snake brought in for the “Yesterday” video. The slithering creature’s presence gradually evolved into a biblical metaphor, inspiring further exploration of this thread accidentally. By the end of the shoot, the biblical concept had taken on a far more prominent role. Not every individual video shoot turned out as fortuitously, though.
“Given a chance, I’d do the ‘Young Volcanoes’ video slightly different,” Wentz says. “It was a video we used to progress the narrative of the film, but I think we lost some of the connections between the song and the video.” He adds, “There were other ones, though, like the ‘Miss Missing You’ video, where I thought we nailed both the self-contained video and the point we were in the narrative at the same time.”
As for those guest spots, everyone who appears on the album–from Courtney Love to Elton John–made it into the film. Some of these appearances were touch and go, though. The rapper Big Sean shot his scenes in Griffith Park at 2 a.m. while it was cold and he was covered in fake blood and late for a plane to Hawaii. Singer-songwriter Foxes didn’t know how to drive a car, which became a bit of an issue when she spent roughly 75% of the video driving a pickup truck. One of the guests’ shoots went as smoothly as possible, however, and it was the one whose appearance gave him the chance to literally play God.
“Elton John is one of the most fascinating people to make a video with. When he comes downstairs, you’re like, ‘Yup, that’s God.’”
Now that the entire Youngblood Chronicles film is out, fans will be able to judge for themselves, and also view Elton John’s divinity through the context of the rest of the movie. As the band behind this whole spectacle continues a co-headlining summer tour with labelmates Paramore, having experimented with a new way of creating a unique visual counterpart to their music, they now have the challenge before them of topping themselves next time out.
“Maybe five years ago it wouldn’t have been possible to explore the idea that there could be an alternative narrative for one of our albums,” Wentz says, “But I think now the way people consume music whether it’s videos, or whatever it is, people are more open to different ideas and anything’s possible.”
Watch the full movie below: