Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump Reflects on the Band’s Early Success: ‘It Wasn’t Really Overnight’ (Exclusive)

The voice behind the award-winning group shares how their careers exploded after releasing "Sugar, We're Goin Down" — but that wasn't where it all first began

<p>Andreas Branch/Patrick McMullan via Getty </p> Fall Out Boy in 2006

Andreas Branch/Patrick McMullan via Getty

Fall Out Boy in 2006

The successes of Patrick Stump's career as the lead singer of Fall Out Boy are not lost on him, even after more than two decades with the band.

Stump recalls to PEOPLE how during the early days of his affinity for the Chicago music scene, "the peak of my dreams" was to be like the Ska group Blue Meanies, who released a series of albums before they eventually ceased touring full-time after they reissued their sixth project in 2001.

"That's what I expected would be the absolute best-case scenario," the singer, now 40, remembers thinking. " ‘Wow, if that could be me, if that could happen.’ "

Thanks to a chance meeting with guitarist Joe Trohman while at a book store, Stump was able to link up with him and local music scene legend Pete Wentz on bass to form the earliest iteration of Fall Out Boy. The group held their debut performance at Wentz's former school, Chicago's DePaul University, under the name Forget Me Not. (Drummer Andrew Hurley would join later.)

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<p>Timothy Norris/Getty </p> Fall Out Boy in 2024

Timothy Norris/Getty

Fall Out Boy in 2024

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Despite wanting to commit to his goals with music wholeheartedly, Stump needed to convince his parents that the path was viable. He remembers, "I literally told my parents, I was like, ‘Okay, this will just be the semester off, and then I'll go back to school after this fails.’ "

The singer may not have been initially optimistic, but time would tell what the band was in for. After building momentum with their first record, Take This to Your Grave, Stump remembers how the group "put out the major label record," From Under the Cork Tree, "and 'Sugar, We’re Goin Down' [came] out, and it just exploded. And then we were on."

All of which to say, Stump is looking to refute those who claim that Fall Out Boy was an overnight success.

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<p>Paul Natkin/WireImage</p> Fall Out Boy in 2005

Paul Natkin/WireImage

Fall Out Boy in 2005

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"It wasn't really overnight," he says. "Sometimes people talk about overnight, it wasn't really like that. We had already been touring for a few years and working." Nonetheless, he admits that the wave of success that came after the release of their major label debut record "was very different."

"I remember being in New York in Times Square at MTV, and they played it on screen there, like one of those giant billboard screens. And so everyone's looking at my stupid face in New York, and I was like, well, this is different. This is not what I expected," Stump shares.

Spotlighting his ongoing work on Marvel's Disney+ series Spidey and His Amazing Friends in tandem with his nearly two decades of successes in Fall Out Boy, the singer adds, "It was weird to see the comic book nerd on TV. It's weird to see the comic book nerd get to do this."

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