Patrick Stump belts it out while holding down the rhythm at a recent Fall Out Boy gig in Seattle.
What was the writing process like for
Save Rock and Roll?
Trohman: On prior albums I would write very little—I felt very unintentionally discarded. Pete and Patrick would write so much that, by the time we’d be ready to record, I wouldn’t have much of a voice on the record. That’s what caused the greatest frustration for me. This time around, I was a big part of the process. I live in New York and they live in L.A., so we wrote ideas and sent them back and forth. We took each other’s tracks and worked on them and kept growing them. That’s just how we do it now.
Stump: It was a very collaborative record. I felt for a long time that I was overpowering in the studio for our previous records. I still like to be the central hub for the songs, but more than any other record this was all of us working together. I would wait for everyone’s ideas and then put them together, and I would only write in the studio when parts needed it. At this point, it’s hard for me to recall who wrote what—but that’s how a band should be right?
Wentz: It felt good to approach songwriting in a new way, and we all really stepped it up so that the burden wasn’t always on Patrick or anyone specific to come up with something. Joe wrote more on this album than he had on any records prior. Also, working with producer Butch Walker taught us that less is more and that when you give frequencies space, they sound bigger. It was a big change to go down that road.
It sounds like you approached your instruments
much differently on this album.
Stump: For a long time I had taken a lot of the melodic leads in the songs—the kind you would hum. That was my thing. If I wrote the melody of a song it would already be done, and that wouldn’t leave a lot of room for Joe to play around with. So this time around it was important that Joe had a strong voice, because he’s such a great player. Joe has some really great guitar moments on this record, and I focused on a lot of atmospheric stuff. I was cramming guitar everywhere on our last record because I had been really into polyrhythm and syncopated riffs—to the point where I was quintuple tracking all of my guitar parts. This was a lot simpler playing for me.
Trohman: I think what I was most concerned with was slowing down and feeling, versus speeding up and fitting in as many notes as possible. I was trying to do things that made the guitar sound like it was singing rather than just quickly repeating the same thing. I was trying to take things out of tune and discorded and make them sound musical. You can learn all the scales and modes that are out there and learn to play as fast as possible, and that’s impressive as hell, but if it doesn’t have some emotion and feel behind it, it’s not impactful. I got back to playing the blues and I relearned old Hendrix stuff and went back to my roots. I played a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally play in Fall Out Boy.
Wentz: More than ever, I really just focus on the rhythm and figuring out what the song needs from the bass. I don’t need to play flashy lines or stand out as much, because so much is already going on in the music. I’m writing parts that are in the pocket with Andy’s drums and create a strong foundation for the other guys. I think locking up with him and strumming with the kick drum has enhanced my playing and made me a better player. Live, Andy plays a lot of fills that he doesn’t play on the album, but he always gets back to the one and nails it. Andy is definitely the glue of the band—he just doesn’t mess up.
Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz says it was important for his signature bass to be part of the Squier series because he wanted it to be affordable to young players.
Joe and Patrick, in the past you guys traded
off playing lead and rhythm guitar on different
songs. That seems to have changed.
Trohman: We’ve kind of reevaluated our process. We looked at how it sounds at the front of house when we switch back and forth from lead to rhythm and figured out that, sonically, it can make it hard to come through at some points. So now I’ve taken over all of the lead stuff, unless there’s something that’s difficult for him to sing and play. I enjoy playing rhythm and just grind out on it and headbang to it a bit, but I’ve kind of evolved to playing the lead riffs. I enjoy serving the song what it deserves.
Stump: I still play some leads, but what we landed on was that Joe has a style that can accomplish more or less any of those great lead-guitar lines. In the song “I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me” [from 2005’s From Under the Cork Tree], there is a little arpeggiated tapping part that I would do while I was singing, and every night I was just making things so difficult for myself by playing that. It was like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach. So now Joe plays that stuff and it makes the whole band tighter because I can lock in rhythmically with Andy and Pete.