Via email, the Fall Out Boy bassist/lyricist, guitarist and drummer chimed in on their evolving sound, what makes them feel old and more.
Bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz
As you wrote lyrics for “Save Rock and Roll,” what topics did you find didn’t interest you as much as they once did, and what took their place? What subject matter will always appeal to you?
It always changes I guess. I guess you will just write or think differently at every period of your life. So it is not topics that I stick to or what not. At the same time you just write differently from age 23 to 33.
What’s something you learned during Fall Out Boy’s hiatus, and what impact did that have?
I learned a lot. I am not sure how much was tangible teaching vs. just reacclimating to life as an adult human. It felt good to just hang out, go to the beach, drive to preschool. I just hadn't been able to get my head around really basic things like that from being on tour so much.
What’s a recent moment when life felt surreal?
Life is super surreal to me always. but flying from New Zealand to Japan I thought back on it all- the whole journey has been so crazy and it's crazy that we just might get a second chapter. It was just weird to travel the world backwards and think back to how it all began.
How often do you think about the old days of the band, and what comes to mind? I can’t help but recall interviewing you at the Panera on Green Bay Road 10 years ago and think about how much has happened since then.
Still got love for that broccoli cheese bread bowl. I think about it a lot- the past that is not the soup. I'm in so much more calm of a place in my life now that it makes reflecting back kind of easier and harder. It's hard for me to understand some of the stuff that I felt back [then] because I think my head was just in turmoil so much more then ... one day it'll all make a great story to tell someone- not that they'd ever believe half of it.
What, if anything, do you wish you could change that’s taken place during the band’s tenure?
I don't really think I’d change anything. It all happened so that we could make it to where we are right now.
Guitarist Joe Trohman
How has the development of the band’s sound changed the way you play? How has it changed the way you perform, if at all?
Well, I've always approached guitar playing in sort of a loose, bluesy manner. I was raised on classic rock from my father, and grew up in Chicago of course. So the blues just makes sense to me as a guitarist. That being said, FOB is not a blues-rock band. I think when we began, I had to throw some of those notions out the window. There was a real tightness and specific way things were supposed to be played within the songs. It helped me to focus on precision playing, which doesn't leave a lot of room for error. It's been an invaluable skill that I've taken with me to other projects.
As well, FOB isn't an improvisational band. While I enjoy improvising live and in the studio, FOB taught me how to hold back. It's an art form in itself to know when to play, and when not to. I still play around with adding in different flourishes, chord phrasings and slight bits of improv. But it has to be minimal and on point. However, there are a handful of songs here and there where I do make up something new every night live. But those are within songs/parts that really call for it.
With the new record came a new way for me to approach playing within the band. It allowed me more room to do some of the things I do naturally, as well as try some brand new things. I've employed a lot more effects and atmospheric guitar playing. I really enjoy sonics, constantly changing up sounds and the idea of making a guitar sound like, well, not a guitar. I've done a lot of that on “Save Rock And Roll.” I also was able to employ some of my abilities as a programmer and synth lover. So I got to have some fun with that too on this record. People would be surprised as to how much I love synths and drum programming outside of just guitar playing.
Also, when making “SR&R,” there were spots where I wrote something in the moment and laid it down. Even though that's not normally the way we did things, we've learned to embrace those aspects [this] time around. Our collective growth, creatively, taught us to embrace the human aspects of making music. Part of being human is to err. Some of that looseness that I have always be drawn to in playing has come to rear it's head with this resurgent band.