WW Chicago: Talking with Fall Out Boy's Andy Hurley

In an era when comic book conventions have broadened into something more akin to "entertainment" conventions, stocked with reality television personalities and retired Playmates, it can be easy to overlook the reason so many people take the time and spend the money to attend: the love of comics. As such, when an entertainment personality attends a convention just as a fan, their motivations are suspect.

Many older fans might think of Fall Out Boy's Andy Hurley as something of a teen idol, playing drums on the songs their teenage daughters won't stop singing. However, despite intimidating album sales, the 28-year-old former anthropology and history student demonstrates a genuine love for the comic medium.

CBR News caught up with Hurley during his visit to WizardWorld Chicago last weekend for a one-on-one interview about his reading material of choice and how MTV mainstays can still get star-struck meeting their favorite comics creators.

CBR: There are a lot of celebrities, especially lately, who have proclaimed a vague affection for comics, given that superhero movies have recently helped bring that genre and indeed the comic book medium to the public eye. However, they're not all truly genuine in their appreciation of the medium. What sets you apart as a successful musician who happens to like comics?

Andy Hurley: I guess what sets me apart is I grew up reading comics. My brother kind of passed down his Marvel collection. It's the same way I got into Star Wars and into music. That was kind of the legacy that was passed down to me. Once I got into punk rock in high school, I kind of had a phase where I wasn't into comics as much, and I wasn't really reading them. And that was when Warren Ellis kind of had his first run on "Transmetropolitan" and later "Planetary" and "The Authority." That era, and a little bit before with [Brian Michael] Bendis coming out with "Jinx" and then when he really hit with Marvel, I think it was just writers coming back strong. As a kid I was definitely into Image, but I kind of started shifting because their books were so much about the art. But that era of "Transmet" and "The Invisibles" and stuff like that, with such great writers coming from Vertigo, got me back into [comics]. It's the same today, most of what I read is because of writers. I've definitely tracked down everything Ellis has written, everything Mark Millar has written, Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, all of the "2000AD" stuff. That's what kind of reignited my faith in comics.

With your career, you're on the road a lot. Do you keep up with monthly titles, or is that something you just do when you're home?

I didn't for awhile, but now we have runners who go out and get supplies, like if we need shampoo or whatever, stuff from K-Mart. So I'll just have them go every Wednesday to the local comic shop and get what I need. Half of my collection I haven't read. I have 15 or 20 or 25 long boxes. I don't know how many I have. I have a lot.

There's a lot of stuff that I still get that I'm not reading. I think my next project is going through everything and figuring out what I'm never going to read that I just kind of picked up out of habit and to get rid of it. Because I'll never finish it. But I read the stuff that's really important. I kept up on "Y :The Last Man" until the end, "Ex Machina," anything Ellis writes, anything Morrison writes, anything Moore writes whenever it comes out. You know, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier," came out when I was on tour and that was like having a new Metallica album. Well, you know, if Metallica were still good [laughs]. In my opinion though, they'll never be bad. It's like Star Wars. I love Metallica throughout anything and I have heard some of the new songs and I think [the new album] is going to be good.

Here at the convention, what were some things you wanted to see and what's been your best experience here?

Well, I've been to probably three or four conventions. I used to go before the band and then the band hit and I was always gone. But I used to always go and just check out the floor to see the new stuff that had come out. I'd always raid the bins. But now I'm at a place where I have most things, like I have my collections of [Garth] Ennis stuff and Ellis stuff and Moore and Morrison. I pretty much have almost everything, so I'm not really looking for that.

This was the first year that I made an effort to go to every panel I could because I've never really gone to panels. I always just figure I can read about it on CBR! Pretty much every panel that Marvel did, Bendis was at. So I didn't go [to Marvel panels] today because I figure, "What else is he gonna say?"

But you know, the main thing I came this year for, because I was bummed about missing [Comic-Con International in San Diego] last year, was Warren Ellis. Besides Alan Moore, he's my favorite writer. And I mean my favorite writer, not my favorite comic book writer. So I got to meet him and hang out with him for a little bit, and he's one of the nicest dudes I've ever met. All the dudes I've met, everyone I've met working in this industry so far has been really humble and really cool. It's just cool to meet people who love what they do, because I've met a lot of people in my industry that obviously don't love it. They just want to make money from it.

There were rumors a few months back about a Fall Out Boy comic that didn't materialize for whatever reason. Can you give us an update on that?

I'm not really sure. I think it was our management talking to people about it. I don't know what happened. All I know is there was a press release about it and then all of a sudden I get some emails from some of our people saying, "Hey, so you want to help write it?" And I was like, "If it's a comic about our band, it's the lamest thing ever." I mean, I'm not going to read it, so why would I help write it? So I kind of said that and they got back to me and said, "Well, we never said okay to this. We never gave it the green light. It just kind of went out and now we have to play catch up with it and deal with it." So with that whole thing, I don't really know what's happening. I wasn't really a part of it.

I've had some ideas and I've been sort of talking to some people. I don't really have anything to announce, but hopefully at some point, I would love to do something in comics. [My Chemical Romance singer] Gerard Way is a great writer. [His comic] "The Umbrella Academy" was amazing. I was really blown away. He's a friend, we're friends with My Chem and they're a great band. He's one guy I believed in. I knew he was for real. Whereas Virgin Comics has that whole line with dudes - and it's kind of just dudes that just throw shit out there - and I don't believe in it. They get you because they have Garth Ennis writing and Mike Carey writing, and those are dudes I love, but Nicholas Cage throwing out an idea? I don't give a fuck. So I didn't want to do that. We've talked to them at different times. They're actually a company that seems pretty cool. They are trying to do a lot of good stuff, they're trying to raise awareness about comics and broaden the art form - and that's great - but I don't want to be one of the dudes who just threw out an idea because I could. I want to do it because I love comics, because I love the art form and because I think I have something to say that would work in comics. I've had some ideas, but I think Gerard - to finish that thought - Gerard is an actual writer and I think he wrote an amazing comic. I'm not sure that I could do that the first time out. Maybe I'll work with someone. We'll see.

What are your thoughts on the major crossover events that are going on at the major publishers? Do you see a destructive potential, or do you just go along for the ride?

I think they're just fun. Take it or leave it. There's stuff out there that you can find if that's not your thing. I guess it's sad that they take such a big share of the market. You have guys like Warren Ellis who can work for Marvel and do the company work, but he makes it known and you know that [Marvel stuff is] not his thing. He writes and he champions creator-owned stuff. I think, obviously, that that's more important. I think it's awesome that Warren Ellis came here for Avatar, not for Marvel, and he's been championing that cause and trying to help smaller companies with stuff other than superheroes.

But I did grow up reading superheroes, especially Marvel, so it's exciting. Sometimes [crossovers] are total letdowns. I'd say "Secret Invasion" is awesome because you know that Bendis has been planning it for fucking 50 years. I mean, he really has and it's awesome. I've seen some of his panels and he's one of the only guys in a position to do it because of his contract with Marvel and because he's kind of got free reign to do what he wants. That's hard to do with a lot of stuff. At the same time, a lot of the crossover events are bum-outs because 99 percent of the books are bullshit and suck. They're just horrible.

I'm reading Grant Morrison's stuff. I've never read any of the "Crisis" stuff, but I started "Final Crisis" because it's Morrison and I figure he's the dude who will write it so that you can get it. Even though sometimes he seems to be on drugs and you may not get it. But he's not writing mired in continuity. Geoff Johns, he's a great writer and I love him for superhero stuff and he's great. But I feel like he's so mired in DC continuity because he's a complete DC nerd. I was a little scared to get into "Infinite Crisis" because I never read "Crisis On Infinite Earths" and I didn't read all the backbone stuff from him. He's kind of like Bendis in that he sets [crossovers] up.

But I just feel like DC is just too hard to get into. Marvel seems a little easier. To me, it's more about letting the creator tell their story whereas DC seems like they try to stay in continuity all the time and then they do something where they completely fuck Grant. He had written, or at least plotted, "Final Crisis" and then "Countdown" and "Death of the New Gods" and whatever happened; they totally abandoned what he's doing. And that sucks. I mean, how could a company do that? That's ridiculous. Why would they let there be two different tellings of something he was going to get to? Why wouldn't they say, "This is one of the best writers we have in our stable. Let's do everything to make sure he's happy." It's like getting Alan Moore to do something and saying, "Eh, we'll just write your story before you write it," and look like an idiot. That's kind of a bummer. So the simple answer is, crossovers are cool, but all the extra shit sucks.

You come from a heavy music background of hardcore and punk, but of course now you're playing what some of our reader's might refer to as "the songs our daughter's like." Do you see any parallels between how you make your music with how some comic creators ascend in the business?

You mean comparing it to work-for-hire?

Yeah, like what you were saying about Warren Ellis.

Yeah, I can see that. When Fall Out Boy started we were all in hardcore bands together and the scene was getting so negative and so worthless. I got into hardcore because of Earth Crisis and Unbroken - a lot of political bands, and then punk because of Propagandhi and all of that stuff because of Rage Against the Machine when I was really young. I was really politicized and I had a reason. I mean, I'm vegan/straightedge still and that's really important. In the end it was all just fashion and kids were idiots and the music was garbage and it just wasn't saying anything anymore and I think it was a total bum-out.

So the impetus for FOB was just to kind of do a band for fun. Go back to the stuff we grew up on. I grew up on NOFX and The Descendants and kind of poppier punk stuff. I love Green Day and bands like that, so we just did it for fun. It's kind of a break from putting so much into [being in a hardcore band] and the scene kind of just turned to crap .I joined FOB because I was in bands with [Fall Out Boy bassist/lyricist] Pete [Wentz], hardcore bands, and [Fall Out Boy frontman] Patrick [Stump] was singing and writing the songs and I just thought he was one of the greatest songwriters I'd ever met. So, to me, I love the music. It means a lot and it's real. We really care about it.

Marketing-wise? It's totally marketed to girls and whatever, but I still love it. But at the same time I guess at this point it is kind of like that, where it is like work-for-hire because we are on a major label and at the end of the day you only control so much of what you do. We write the songs we want to write. We put out the records we want to put out. But we don't really control it past that. But this year, if everything goes right, I've already recorded an album with a friend's band and I have another side project that I've recorded a bunch of songs for. I just have a bunch of side projects, like some hardcore stuff, a straightedge band. Just everything I can think of with friends, just to do it. Just to throw stuff out there, like three songs. So it kind of is the exact same thing. You have a three-issue miniseries, we have a three-song EP. A twelve-issue graphic novel is like an album. Fall Out Boy's got a record coming out in the near future. So I guess I get to explore that [parallel].

To wrap things up, is there any thing you'd like to say about comics, the industry, etc?

Just that it's really sad about Michael Turner [passing away]. I had a chance to meet him a couple of years ago and he was one of the nicest dudes. He was way too young. So, I guess I just want to send my condolences to his friends and family.

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