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On the Cover: Fall Out Boy

Editor’s Note: Normally, we post a snippet of our cover story a bit closer to the time you can find a copy at your local newsstand or in your mailbox. However, Perez Hilton beat us to the punch, posting our glossy, black-and-white Fall Out Boy cover this afternoon (read more). So, we decided to pony up our story a little earlier. Enjoy!

In a parked tour bus in the middle of Arizona, the men of Fall Out Boy are engaging in an intraband war of words. It’s a battle that requires on-the-spot flexibility and a sharp command of semantics, and at the moment, everyone is losing. “Dude, you gotta give me handjobs,” insists guitarist Joe Trohman, his eyes wide with disbelief.

The three other members — bassist Pete Wentz, singer/guitarist Patrick Stump, and drummer Andy Hurley — shake their heads and “unh-unh” in unison. For the last half hour, they’ve been immersed in several heated rounds of Scattergories, the game that requires you to fill random categories with words that start with a specific letter. And while the players have been willing to accept a few unorthodox entries — including a supposed “dessert” called “OxyContin candy” — the late-to-the-party Trohman is nearly shouted into the streets when he submits his entry for “Something You’re Afraid Of.” As everyone else notes, nobody’s afraid of a handjob.

Such nerdy endeavors are the norm during the group’s stay in Tempe, where they’re playing a rare small-venue gig tonight as part of a brief January warm-up tour in support of their third album, Infinity on High. Anyone barging in expecting rock-tour ribaldry will instead be treated to the sight of Stump and Trohman composing snippets of heavy-riff guitar noise on their PowerBooks, Hurley entrenched in Final Fantasy III, and Wentz mussing with his hair straightener or playing with his eight-month-old English bulldog, Hemingway. At times, even the dog looks confused: When does the party start around here, anyway?

And yet anyone who’s followed the group since the success of 2005’s From Under the Cork Tree knows that the Boys have been allowed entrée into the upper stratosphere of pop-music celebrity — the kind that fills your Sidekicks with the numbers of Top 40 luminaries and turns your bassist into a tabloid staple. Four years ago the suburban Chicago quartet were one of an estimated 2.3 million emo-enhanced pop-punk bands in the country, mining breakups for lyrics and taking their musical cues from hardcore stalwarts such as Lifetime and Quicksand. But Cork Tree showed an appreciation for apology-free pop — especially on the crossover hit “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” — and within a year they had a Grammy nomination (for Best New Artist) and a double-platinum record.

“The first thing anybody would say to me in the past year was, ‘Wow, you’ve had a crazy year!'” says Stump. “They’ve been saying that to me every year for the past three years.”

Maybe the band members aren’t ready for self-reflection, but outsiders who need convincing of just how much has changed for Fall Out Boy should ponder the band’s last game tournament, this time a round of Taboo held in Los Angeles: There was much less tomfoolery at the table, and they didn’t fare very well, thanks to their host’s jokey intimidation.

But then, that’s what happens when you play against Kanye West.

Read the complete Fall Out Boy cover story in the March 2007 issue of Spin, on newsstands next week.

>> Grab a bigger version of our March cover at our MySpace page.

>> Watch an exclusive video of Fall Out Boy showing off the tricked-out Honda Civic Hybrid that they designed for this year’s Honda Civic Tour.