The album gradually created interest in the band as they toured across the country, including a five-day stint on Warped Tour 2004. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with sales of 634,000 copies, as of August 2008. The record produced three singles, including the minor success "Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy". The album has often been named as a vital blueprint for pop punk music, with Alternative Press calling the record a "subcultural touchstone a magical, transcendent and deceptively smart pop-punk masterpiece that ushered in a vibrant scene resurgence with a potent combination of charisma, new media marketing and hardcore-punk urgency".
Fall Out Boy was formed in 2001 in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, Illinois by friends Pete Wentz and Joe Trohman. Wentz was a "visible fixture" of the relatively small Chicago hardcore punk scene of the late 1990s, performing in various groups including the metalcore band Arma Angelus. Wentz was growing dissatisfied with the changing mores of the community, which he viewed as a transition from political activism to an emphasis on moshing and breakdowns. With his enthusiasm in Arma Angelus waning, he created a pop punk side project with Trohman. Trohman met Patrick Stump, the drummer for grindcore band xgrinding processx at a bookstore in Wilmette. The band's first public performance was in a cafeteria at DePaul University. The band's only performance with guitarist John Flamandan and original drummer Ben Rose was in retrospect described as "goofy" and "bad", but Trohman made an active effort to make the band work, picking up members for practice.
The band later went to Wisconsin to record a proper demo with 7 Angels 7 Plagues drummer Jared Logan. Uprising Records owner Sean Muttaqi wanted to release half of it as a split extended play (EP) with Andy Hurley's band Project Rocket, which the band viewed as competition. With Logan's help, the group put together a collection of songs in two days, and recorded them as Fall Out Boy's Evening Out with Your Girlfriend. The rushed recording experience, and underdeveloped songs, left the band discontented. At Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin to record their three songs of a possible split 7-inch with 504 Plan, engineer Sean O'Keefe suggested they record with Hurley who sat in for the session.
The band booked a two-week tour with Spitalfield, and invited Hurley to fill-in for recently departed members, while Stump borrowed one of Trohman's guitars for the trek. The band began to shop around the three songs from their unreleased split as a demo to record labels. In the process, Bob McLynn of Crush Management became the band's first manager. The band returned to the studio with O'Keefe to record several more tracks to create label interest. John Janick of Fueled by Ramen had heard an early version of a song online and cold-called the band at their apartment, first reaching Stump and later talking to Wentz for an hour. Rob Stevenson from Island Records eventually offered the band a "first-ever incubator sort of deal," in which they gave the band money to sign with Fueled by Ramen for their one-off debut, knowing they could "upstream" the band to radio with the sophomore record. Fueled by Ramen, at the time the smallest of independent labels clamoring to sign the band, would effectively release their debut album, and help build their ever-expanding fanbase before they moved to Island. While the band had secured an investment from the label, they did not see immediate success.
The pre-production phase was completed in a warehouse the band used at night, free of charge, where they discussed how they wanted the songs to sound. Many songs intended for the album did not fit, and though the band originally planned to use the leftovers for future albums, they abandoned the songs instead.