For a band at the top of its game, Fall Out Boy shocked (or at least surprised) many fans back in August when the multi-platinum band dropped the bombshell that a brief hiatus was on the horizon. News like this usually causes a whirlwind of speculation and rumor in the tabloids, but bassist Pete Wentz has done his best to clear up any misconceptions about the announcement. While it is true that the quartet does intend on taking at least a year break to figure out its next career move, things are still creatively strong within the group. Wentz told Ultimate-Guitar that the hiatus was essentially a way "to figure things out." Not long after our exclusive interview, Wentz was even more forthcoming when he told Kerrang! that his own personal life (which is often fodder for tabloids) had unfortunately often detracted from the band’s music.
Regardless of the reasons behind the hiatus, Wentz
was in good spirits during his conversation with Ultimate-Guitar – and with good reason. Fall Out Boy
’s greatest-hits package Believers Never Die
was released Nov. 17 and the first issue of his new comic book series Fall Out Toy Works
hit retail shelves on Sept. 2. Those are just a few of the latest endeavors in the life of a musician who is quickly becoming an impressive entrepreneur. In UG’s recent interview with Wentz
, the bassist gave us a little more insight into the current status of Fall Out Boy
and what he has in store for the coming year.
UG: Fall Out Boy had announced back in August that there was an impending hiatus, which certainly shocked many of us. What was the motivation behind it?
Pete: Everybody wants us to say that we’re breaking up, but we’re just trying to figure things out. I think it’s more like bands put out records and you’re forced to have a niche. We’ve been doing that for seven years hardcore. I think it’s a way for us as a band to kind of decompress. It will all work out.
The new greatest-hits album Believers Never Die features two new songs, “Alpha Dog” and “From Now On We Are Enemies.” Were those tracks written fairly recently? Or was it more of a case where the band was just waiting for an opportunity to release older material?
For the first new song “Alpha Dog,” we had written like half of it and put our mix tape out earlier this year. People really reacted to it, so we started to record over some of it. We saved a couple parts, and then we had to write the second verse and bridge. The other song “From Now On We Are Enemies,” we wrote it as a brand new song.
How different is your songwriting process now in comparison to the early days of the band in 2001 or 2002?
I don’t know. It always still starts with me or Patrick. I think basically we’re just open for ideas. The two new songs are different than any other Fall Out Boy songs. They seem like they could have been Folie à Deux B-sides, but they wouldn’t have fit on the record. I’m not sure. They are the songs that have the most electronic stuff going on in them.
Who is the individual in the band that usually takes over most of the electronic or synth work?
"Everybody wants us to say that we’re breaking up, but we’re just trying to figure things out."
I stick with bass. As far as the sounds, that’s all Neal (Avron), our producer, and Patrick. I brought up ideas, but I would definitely say that Patrick is the composer of the music.
Do you find yourself experimenting with different tones for your bass with each new record? Are you someone who prefers a trustworthy setup?
I feel like I was forced to experiment on Folie à Deux because of the way the songs are structured. I think on From Under The Cork Tree and Infinity On High, even though I’m part of the rhythm section, I felt like I was really playing with the guitars for the most part. It was just like in the pocket. There were no big solos or anything. I think on Folie à Deux, I kind of was forced to play with the drums more just because of how the songs were structured. It was interesting to me because it was a whole different style of playing. On “America’s Suitehearts” I fingerpick the verse, but then I pick the chorus. It was interesting to me. I used felt picks for the first time, too.
What made you decide to use the felt picks? Was that a suggestion from a fellow musician?
Our producer used some of Tom Petty’s basses. He’s like, “Why don’t we try those?” The guitar tones sounded heavy on the last record. It sounded weird to have metallic bass tones, so we tried the felt picks. It gives it a cleaner version of that. After being on tour with blink-182 we used a little bit of distortion on this record, but now I’m interested in getting a flange pedal and maybe using distortion live. There are nuances that you can hear subtly.
Did you and any members of blink-182 ever have jam sessions or trade off techniques while on tour together?
I played at the end of one night with them. We have jam sessions a lot. It just depends. They’re not set up beforehand. They’re like set up with a bottle of wine! Some nights Panic At The Disco is there or a couple of times John Mayer stands over there. It’s whoever and whatever instruments are around.
Can you give a rundown of some of the basses we’re hearing on Folie à Deux? Did you end up using your signature Squier Wentz Precision bass on most of it?
Yeah. I actually play the signature bass on pretty much all of the record. Other than that I played Fender custom shop basses. I actually play my signature bass and people won’t think it’s actually “it.” It’s got an awesome tone. We also used a Fender preamp that sounds really awesome.
You said people don’t believe you actually use the Squier signature bass. Have they given you reasons why they find it so hard to believe?
People have told me that they think it’s a souped-up version of my bass, and it’s not. It’s an actual one you can buy in the stores. On the record I play the same bass that people can buy in the stores. I play Fender or whatever, but we went through different tones. Whatever tone we wanted for each song is what we used, and most of the time it is with my signature bass.
The Internet is being utilized more and more as a marketing device for bands, as I’m sure you are well aware. Did you notice a good reception from Fall Out Boy’s viral campaign Citizens For Our Betterment back in 2008?
I think anything good is viral in general. Twilight started virally. I knew Twilight was going to happen before it was on Perez and stuff. There was this buzz on the Internet. I think it’s a really good campaign. The Batman campaign was probably one of the best ones ever released. It’s interesting when you run a viral campaign. It’s like a game! It’s like an improv class. You know the beginning, you know the point where you have to hit, and you know the ending. You can’t control what happens, if people figure it out too fast or don’t figure out what it is. We’ve hijacked a couple people’s campaigns. We’ve run into other people’s campaigns. You learn a lot. When something goes truly viral, people lose control of it for a moment. You’re hoping you’re not going to crash.
Did you find the game exciting enough to warrant another attempt at a viral campaign in the future?
"I feel like I was forced to experiment on Folie à Deux because of the way the songs are structured."
Yeah! There are interesting ones like being involved in the Lost one was pretty cool. It’s something I want to keep doing with ideas that I find interesting – but only when it’s interesting. I think that I’ve seen a couple of pretty forced viral campaigns and they are very unappealing. You can overdo it. There have been times when I’ve been like, “Ah, man. We dragged this on a little bit too long.”
Another new endeavor of yours is the comic book Fall Out Toyworks. How did you come up with the idea and how long has it been in the works?
We’ve been working on it for like eight months. We’re even making like a digital version of it, and there are just some really cool concepts. There are going to be toys, clothes, and some cool stuff. We’re pretty excited about it.
I know that Fall Out Boy is going through a hiatus period, but do you personally have any solo projects or collaborations lined up for the coming months?
I don’t know. I’m not sure. I don’t think I would ever do a Pete Wentz solo record, but I’m open to doing other projects. I don’t have anything in the works.
Are there any specific artists that you’d still like to collaborate with?
Yeah, there are a couple cool people. I’d like to collaborate with Pharrell again, Lil’ Wayne, Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus. It’s a long list, I guess. John Mayer, the guys in Panic. I know a lot of people that I think would be interesting to collaborate with. A lot of them I probably couldn’t even get on the phone, but we’ll see!
Interview by Amy Kelly
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