AFTER A LONG AND TURBULENT RISE TO undeniable success, capsized by controversy and a broken public image, Pete Wentz announced in 2009 that Fall Out Boy was going on indefinite hiatus, while stating that he believed “the world needed a little less Pete Wentz.” Fans were heartbroken, naysayers smirked in contempt, and for a moment, the Chicago-based alternative-pop quartet that had been making so much noise fell silent.
After four years of separation full of obscure side projects, unsuccessful solo efforts, and the healing of old wounds, the Fall Out Boy members decided they needed to create driven music once again, and that they needed each other to do it. And with a new chapter and forgotten past, the new Pete Wentz emerged.
Wentz’s playing on Save Rock and Roll, the band’s fifth full-length CD, stretches beyond his comfort zone of eighth-note picking, as he take rhythmic risks and explores new tones. The album as a whole plays more pop than punk; “Where Did the Party Go” even illustrates Wentz’s appreciation of funk grooves. This fearless return has put Fall Out Boy back at the top of the charts, as a redefined Pete Wentz proves that a lot can be accomplished when you have nothing to lose.
What was it like when you first stepped in a room together after your hiatus?
The first time we rehearsed again, we sounded a bit like a bad cover band. But once we got onstage together it all clicked and felt really natural. None of us knew if we’d ever play together again, so it was just so good to be back working with the boys.
Did it feel natural to get back in the studio?
Definitely. It was similar to our previous albums, where I wrote the lyrics and Patrick and the guys put together some ideas and we’d jam it all together as a band. [Producer] Butch Walker really helped guide the album. We had been a bit of a “kitchen sink” band where we’d layer tracks upon tracks in the studio. He said to us right off the bat that if we wanted to make the most important Fall Out Boy album, and we’re going to call it Save Rock and Roll, we need to do it right.
Describe the role of bass in your music.
It’s a balance of when it’s you’re time to shine and when you’re playing the supporting role, because you’re a working part of the art. This time I really understood that the bass needed to be part of the rhythm section and that I needed to home in with Andy and lay a big foundation, though I did explore a bit.
How much bass did you play during the band’s hiatus?
I didn’t play as much as I wanted to. I was working on other music, so I knew I had to get back into my playing before we even began to approach a comeback. I started playing a ton with a metronome and working on my technique. My picking was my main focus of my practice. So much of it is about my right hand and how it controls my tone.
You get the public attention and have the demeanor of a frontman, yet you chose to be a bassist.
Growing up, bassists were always my favorite guys in the band. I used to watch Jason Newsted headbang during Metallica shows, and I always wanted to be that guy. We grew up in the suburbs of Chicago where everyone played guitar, a couple people played drums, and no one played bass. So I was always in bands. Really, in music, bass is the sexiest thing going on.
What can we expect from your next Squier custom bass series?
We’re looking to go into production this fall or winter. The tone knob and the volume knob will be separated and the look will change drastically. I also want to use a heavier wood and new pickups. It’s important that my basses are part of the Squier series so that anyone can buy one and play it. You shouldn’t have to spend a fortune to get a good-sounding bass, especially when you’re first starting out.
Fall Out Boy, Save Rock and Roll [Island, 2013]
Bass Squier Pete Wentz Signature Precision Bass, Fender Custom Michael Jordan Precision Bass
Strings Dean Markley Heavy Gauge
Rig Orange AB200 head, Fender 810 Pro V2 cabinet
Effects Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI, Electro- Harmonix Big Muff