When Fall Out Boy learned that Elton John was a fan of their music, they jokingly thought he might want to record with them. As it turned out, he did.
"We were nearly done with the album," lead singer Patrick Stump said in a recent interview. "I think we were mixing at that point, but he said 'yes' and we were like, 'Oh, wow. OK, yes.'"
The Chicago-based rockers halted the mixing process of their fifth album — their first in five years — and Stump flew to Atlanta to record with the veteran rocker.
John is featured on the title track of "Save Rock and Roll," released last week. Band members say the title of the album is "tongue-in-cheek," but they're also serious about their choice of words.
"It hits on ... 'Why are we the only ones that are saying this?'" said frontman and bassist Pete Wentz. "But at the same time, it's kind of a joke, but if it means something to you, then it's not really that much of a joke."
Stump said John's inclusion on the title track really drives home their point.
"He actually spoke up for the album's title. He came in and was like, 'Love the album title. Love where this is going. This is great,'" Stump said. "And that was really special for us to have him support us like that."
Just before the John-featured tune plays on the 11-track set, there's the song "Rat a Tat," featuring Courtney Love.
"We've had a couple different run-ins just over the years, you know, just ones where you're like, 'I had 17 drinks last night and I ran into Courtney Love,'" Wentz recalled with a laugh.
"It's important for girls to understand that they don't need to just be coat hangers for boys, it's not all about being groupies," he said. "So we thought it would be important to have an iconic female voice on the album, and Courtney screams rock 'n' roll."
Fall Out Boy released their debut album in 2003. They are known for their alternative punk rock sound and Top 10 pop hits including "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race," ''Dance, Dance" and "Sugar, We're Goin Down."
The album's first single, "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)," is a Top 40 hit that was remixed by 2 Chainz, who stars in the song's music video.
"We're big, big 2 Chainz fans," Wentz said of the ubiquitous rapper. Added guitarist Joe Trohman: "He works hard."
2 Chainz and rapper Big Sean's appearances balance the rock heavyweights on "Save Rock and Roll," which the band will promote on a U.S. tour that kicks off May 14 in Milwaukee. (They'll also hit the road internationally this summer and will return to the U.S. for a fall tour.)
A year after releasing 2008's "Folie a Deux," the foursome, which includes drummer Andy Hurley, took a break from recording together. There was speculation the group had split up.
"No, we never broke up," Trohman said. Wentz quickly jumped in, saying: "No, but I think that it's like, I don't know. ... When we were taking time off and it was like ... we could be back in 20 years or maybe we won't ever come back. I think that was the great thing about how we took time off and it kind of allowed it to be healthier that it didn't put a return date on it."
"It wasn't like we were a library book being checked out," Wentz added.