Fall Out Boy followed the success of their mainstream breakthrough From Under The Cork Tree with 2007’s Infinity On High, which showed the band spreading their musical wings and expanding their pop-punk sound with broader instrumentation and influences from other genres. The album quickly became a huge commercial success, going platinum within a month of its release and spawning 5 singles.
The lead single (and the best selling of the five), ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race’ gave the band their first real taste of international chart success, making the top 10 in eight different countries. The band stuck to their tried and tested writing formula, with vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stump providing the music and bassist Pete Wentz penning the lyrics, which deal with his frustration at the increasingly commercial ‘emo’ scene which the band were lumped in with.
Musically, the opening wah-wah effect shows the band acknowledging the influence of soul music, an unlikely reference point given their previous musical output. The soul influence is quickly tempered by distorted guitars and aggressively picked bass – Pete Wentz begins the verse with a sparse, crotchet orientated part before ramping up the intensity by switching to a constant quaver line, a trick which is repeated as he moves to semiquavers to build momentum in the chorus.
As with the majority of Wentz’s bass lines, his part on ‘This Ain’t A Scene…’ doesn’t require a great deal of technical prowess or harmonic knowledge, but it does need to be played with consistency and conviction. In order to emulate the tone you’ll need fairly fresh roundwound strings, a pick and a hint of dirt to give your sound the necessary growl to compete with the distorted guitars. As per the band’s punk roots, attitude is everything.