Fall Out Boy tour brings a bit of controversy

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Carlos Santana and Chuck D are among the prominent musicians to voice support this year for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem at each NFL game he played in last season.

But Fall Out Boy appears to be the only prominent music act that is paying nightly tribute in concert to the embattled quarterback, who is now a free agent.

During its live performances of “Centuries” — a song from the veteran emo-rock quartet’s 2015 album, “American Beauty/American Psycho” — the band uses the giant LED screens above its stage to intersperse pictures of Kaepernick taking a knee with archival shots of Civil Rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr.

Intriguingly, ESPN used “Centuries” as a promotional song on its telecasts throughout the 2014 college football season. “Centuries” also aired during the 2015 NHL All-Star game and during that year’s season-opening Major League Baseball game.

“It’s not lost on us that ‘Centuries’ was played at a lot of football games and throughout the sports world,” said Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, whose band performs next Wednesday, Nov. 15, at SDSU’s Viejas Arena.

“It’s important to me we allow people to make statements and engage in discourse and dissent. That’s been an important part of our culture and society, and we shouldn’t lose that. It doesn’t mean you should agree with everybody, but we built our society based on that.

“So, this is just our small way of articulating that. We can talk about whether Kaepernick fits into a non-scramble, quarterback offense. But it’s important that somebody who is willing to give up millions to make a statement is given some support.” 

Fall Out Boy became politically engaged in 2004 during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, when the band played a Rock the Vote event at that year’s Democratic National Convention.

In 2008, Wentz co-hosted a Chicago fundraising event for Obama. His band’s recent single, “Young and Menace,” doesn’t name Donald Trump, but its lyrics reflect a discomfort with the frenetically polarized state of the nation.

Does music mean something different now to Wentz, 38, than when Fall Out Boy started in 2001?

“Yeah,” he replied, speaking from a tour stop in Boston.

“When I listen and play music now, I have a different sense of it. I really appreciate it and listen to stuff I listened to growing up. Some of it doesn’t hold up. But a lot does; things that really got me through my life. I think about that a lot.”

Fall Out Boy’s current tour was designed to promote the band’s new album, “Mania,” whose release has now been postponed until next year.

“I wish we had our record out now!” Wentz said, laughing. “But I was talking to a friend and told him I was bummed about pushing the record release back. He said: ‘The alternative is to put out something mediocre that you don’t believe in.’ So, I’m glad we didn’t put out a record we didn’t believe in.”

Is Fall Out Boy concerned that young music fans, who grew up streaming music, often favor individual songs over albums?

“We talk about that all the time,” he said. “But I think we have a solid group of fans who want the body of work from us. That those people are buying our albums, with the idea there will be a story told — with a beginning, middle and end — is good for us.

“Maybe it’s tougher to become an established artist now, because you’re living song-to-song. And, maybe, that’s the future. But it’s not the ideal way to make an album...

“Time does funny things. Like, I think there was a time when people thought a sousaphone would be big in music forever — and then it was relegated to one song played at football games.

“I do think that it’s important to know where things came from and how we got to where we are. But, at the same time, the way we consume music now is so different. Kids just listen to songs, not albums. And I don’t know that there’s much we can do to change that, because the way music is delivered is so different.

“My 8-year-old son just listens to songs, because he’s never had a record store experience. And he doesn’t miss that experience, because he’s never had it.”

Fall Out Boy, with Blackbear and Jaden Smith

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15

Where: Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl, 5500 Canyon Crest Dr., San Diego State University

Tickets: $30.50-$70.50 (plus service charge)

Phone: 800.745.3000

Online: ticketmaster.com

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