Fall Out Boy are currently in the thick of recording their next album, but in the meantime they’ve released the track ‘Centuries,’ which represents an evolution of the band’s sound while still being recognisably Fall Out Boy. Containing a vocal hook from Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner,’ the single sold a butt load right out of the gate, and its success bodes well for the band’s slot on Soundwave 2015. We caught up with bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz to talk touring and song writing.
So you’re coming back to Australia, this time for Soundwave!
Yeah! We’re stoked! We haven’t played on a festival in Australia yet and this one is a pretty big deal. We grew up as a band and came of age playing festivals, and in some ways that’s where we’re at our best I think. When you’re playing a festival crowd you’re playing to a lot of people who probably aren’t there to see you, so you have to earn them. So for us traditionally it’s what we thrive under. So we’re stoked to come down and do it.
And of course Soundwave is a good one to play at because it’s Australia which means there aren’t many gigs but there’s plenty of time in between to go and have adventures.
Totally! We’re stoked to go on those adventures and run around. I think it’s really cool to be able to play with Marilyn Manson — he’s a guy we grew up listening to.
You guys just released a new single, and I dig how you teased its release with a little cryptic Morse Code thing online…
Yeah! Years ago, before we took some time off, we always had the idea to do these shenanigans and viral marketing, where you have to pay a troll under the bridge to give you the magic egg to get the thing or whatever. In the time we took off there were a lot of bands and movies that did that, and somehow that becomes bigger than the piece of art itself sometimes, or better, or more thought through. So we thought we’d try to do anti-marketing or, like, no marketing. So Morse Code is about as simple as you can get. It was just “Here’s the song name. Now we’re going to put out the song.” You don’t have to do the tricks!
It’s a cool song too, with the ‘Tom’s Diner’ sample.
On paper it seems like it wouldn’t work. I love that song but it’s a sad song in a weird way… but then when it’s strung together it makes sense. It juxtaposes the chorus in a weird way. I’ve had ‘Tom’s Diner’ in my head since the 90s so it’s cool to get it out there again.
The great thing about the original version of that song is that it’s a cappella so you can kind of put your own chords behind it in your head.
Right, totally! That’s the thing. We were able to incorporate it into our song’s progression, but at the same time there’s an attitude to the delivery of the vocal that I think could rub the wrong way in the wrong song. It’s interesting.
So how far along into the new album are you guys?
I have about five songs recorded and about ten total written. So I think we definitely could have an album out in January, I would hope.
Is ‘Centuries’ an indicator of what the new stuff will sound like?
I think so, in the same way that ‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) was an indicator of the last album, or ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down’ was an indicator of From Under the Cork Tree. Those are the songs that we’ll build a body of work around, but then there will be other things. Like, that’s probably the dead centre of the way the record will sound, but there will be other things far to the left of that and far to the right of that. We’ve always been a band that cares about our body of work. Our albums are important to us. They’re not something to just throw away. So the whole album’s not going to sound like ‘Centuries’, but that’s a good indicator of where we’re at and what the stuff will sound like sonically. We’ve benefited from great mixers and producers like Butch Walker. Sometimes it sounds bigger when you add less to it. Sometimes that’s hard for a young band to wrap their head around.
I’ve noticed that the songwriters I interview tend to fall into two categories: they either pluck the songs out of the air somehow, or they agonise over every detail and are miserable until they get it. Where do you fit?
I feel like Fall Out Boy is a band that’s somewhere in the middle of that. ‘Centuries’ just appeared. ‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark’ did not appear. It showed up and it was underdressed and not ready to party, y’know what I’m saying? I guess it’s less agonising but more like ‘Now the bridge will be here… no, let’s try this,’ and you keep playing with the Legos until they fit. Unfortunately sometimes they don’t fit. Sometimes those songs just don’t end up anywhere and that’s where they end up hitting the cutting room floor.
What basses are you using at the moment?
I’m using my signature Fender. I have two from the Custom Shop so they’re a little bit jacked. They have Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickups and they’re a little more jacked, but they’re not far off from the Squier version. I play the Squiers onstage quite a lot. I run a pedal or two but I run DI with a SansAmp, and then a hot fuzz pedal to get just a little bit of a distorted sound.
Fall Out Boy will be performing as a part of Soundwave in February. For more information visit www.soundwavefestival.com