At this point, how would you guys say
you’ve evolved the most as musicians?
Trohman: I’m at a point where I’m so hungry to learn new stuff. I can play so much where I don’t have to think about it at all, so I’ve been looking for things to challenge me. I want to find some new tricks and weird techniques that I can apply to my playing. I definitely don’t think I’m anywhere close to being done learning, and I think that if you do hit a point where you stop learning then you should just stop playing music in general. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to learn theory, chords, picking patterns, and rudiments, and then just don’t think about it when you’re playing.
Stump: Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I’ve evolved into becoming a pretty rad little rhythm player. I never sat at home and shredded and ran scales for hours—I’ve always been a songwriter, but mainly by necessity. I developed all of my personal playing hallmarks in that span, and I think it’s a good thing to teach yourself—because you’ll develop your own style. A lot of my origins come from my love of funk. Over the years, I think I’ve become pretty well rounded.
Wentz: I’ve grown to accept the rule that I’m playing bass—and that it’s not just a guitar with four strings. I’m part of the rhythm section and, more than ever, I’m focusing on that and how to make myself better in that role. The average person doesn’t always hear the bass. You subconsciously hear it, but if it wasn’t there you’d know it wasn’t there. The bass can be a lot of ear candy in a great way.
Each of you has a line of signature guitars—that must be pretty cool.
Wentz: It’s crazy for me to be able to go in and design it from scratch—it’s really one of the greatest honors a musician can experience. When I first started playing and would go into Guitar Centers, I wanted the freshest basses and guitars they had, but as a kid they’re just too expensive to walk in and buy. I couldn’t pay $800 for a bass I was just going to play in my garage and learn other people’s music on. It’s important to me that it’s part of the Squier series—because those are the basses that kids are going to be able to buy. Kids come up to me and tell me they’re playing my bass, and I remember being on the other end of that. And to be able to share that with guys like Sting and [Green Day bassist] Mike Dirnt is amazing—though I’m probably the lowest guy on the totem pole.
Trohman: It’s beyond words how exciting it is—I would have never dreamed of it as a kid. To be honest, I still can’t believe it now. The people at Fender are so amazing to work with, and it’s such a trip to have other players play on guitars that I helped design.
What were the first guitars you
Trohman: Mine was a Harmony Barclay Bobkat guitar with a matching amp. I got them both for, like, $50 and just played away on it any chance I could get.
Stump: It was a black Epiphone that my stepbrother lent me, and it was in really bad shape. I still have it. The first guitar I ever bought, though, was a silver Gibson SG.
Wentz: My first bass was a cheap knockoff that said “Naugahyde” on the headstock. I had never heard of it before—but I really don’t think anyone has [laughs].
Who are your biggest musical
Trohman: Jimi Hendrix, [Depeche Mode’s] Martin Gore, Jimmy Page, Freddie King, Reverend Gary Davis, the old Delta blues guys, Johnny Winter, Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Greg Ginn, Eric Clapton, and Billy Gibbons.
Stump: One of the first people who got me okay with not being a shredder is Elvis Costello. He always said he was more attracted to chord changes than the big moments of shredding. Prince is a huge influence for me—he’s a shredder, but he’s also a metronome. [Pantera’s] Dimebag Darrell, also—because he was all about feel, and that’s rare in metal.
Wentz: [Guns N’ Roses’] Duff McKagan is probably my biggest. When you listen to him you might think that he’s doing what you’d expect from the bass, but then he puts in a run or a fill that just blows my mind. Mike Dirnt is also huge for me. When you’re playing in a three-piece, the pressure is so big for bass. You have to be the backbone and then some.
So what’s next for Fall Out Boy?
Wentz: We’re so excited about the reception that we’ve gotten with this album that we definitely want to move forward and make another record and keep touring. But at the same time, the space we gave ourselves to make this album made us better as a band and better as songwriters. So we have this tour and festivals overseas, and then a tour with Panic! at the Disco. All that time should give us some space to write some new music. We’re definitely always forging ahead—we’re just happy to be back.