by Ruby Parsons
I was 9 when I fell in love with music, which seems like an absurdly young age to form a real connection to a record. Primary school isn’t necessarily the time in one’s life where we ‘find ourselves’ – that journey usually starts later on when you’ve actually come up against anything other than really hard spelling tests.
Infinity On High was the first CD I actually bought (birthday or Christmas money, again – still only 9) and wanted. Before that all the music I had was what I think was inherited from my parents tastes. They weren’t mine, they were theirs. This though, this was mine, not passed down or influenced. I picked it, I needed it and I bought it.
How I discovered Fall Out Boy is beyond my memory’s capabilities, but I remember telling everyone how excited I was to finally be buying this cool new album. I also remember no one knowing who they were. It didn’t dawn on me at the time just how much I would grow to love and crave that feeling. It was like I had my own personal secret band I didn’t have to share with anyone.
This album was a lot of firsts for me. First CD that wasn’t a hand me down. First band I loved who weren’t mainstream pop. First crushes (Pete Wentz is a standard first crush for anyone who’s ever watched any Kerrang! I accept no judgement for that) and the first music I needed an air-guitar to play along with. Fall out Boy have never been a heavy rock band, and yet their pop-rock started a revolution in my musical tastes. I learnt every word, guitar riff, drum hit… I was the rock star and Fall Out Boy were my backing track.
My passion for the album came from the lesser known video-less, non singles. Thriller kicked off the album with that Jay-Z intro which at first made zero sense, the more I’ve listened the more I wouldn’t be able to live without his meaningful introduction. I was so excited about the guitar riff in ‘Bang the Doldrums’ and the incredible highs Patrick Stump’s voice reached in ‘I’ve got all this Ringing in my Ears and none on my Fingers’. Their ongoing passive-aggressive use of long, story telling song titles is a sign of their talents as wordsmiths. A lot of which I didn’t understand as a child, but having grown up and listened through more, I realise the often beautiful depth and occasional comedic piss-taking they fill their songs with.
The last 12 years of musical obsession has given me time to digress from just listening to Infinity On High on repeat all day. I’ve digressed and experimented in different genres: pop, scream-o, dance, trance and dubstep to name a few – I’m a lover of all music. My roots however were already set. Fall out Boy were like my gateway, the try for free and get hooked for life, ride or die, introduction into my own personal world of music. I wasn’t the only one to make changes. In 2010 the band that shaped my love for music had split, and I had no idea if they’d return. Which was another first, but not a welcome one.
Solo projects such as Patrick Stump’s Soul Punk and Pete Wentz’s Black Cards were experiments I followed but never loved quite as much. I like to theorise the stories of the world ending in 2012 are what pushed FOB to re-unite two years later: ‘We cant leave this world without at least one more Fall out Boy record’ is how I frequently like to imagine it going down. The much needed break saw the boys grow up, reconnect and ultimately reinvent their now famed sound.
Listening back now, I still feel the same excitement for the same parts of the same songs. The CD is battered, scratched and sitting in half a case. I won’t lie and say that Fall Out Boy are still my favourite band. They are up there with the greats on my long list, but they changed, I changed, and honestly, that’s okay. Infinity On High completely revolutionised that little 9 year old’s outlook on the way she saw music. It gave music to me, it defined my own personal tastes and opinions and gave me a leg-up into the genre I love.
I’d shifted from only ever listening to what was I was given, to having a genuine interest in a specific genre and it felt amazing.
Things really haven’t been the same since.