From Wentz He Came
Not many rock bands take a hiatus while they’re ahead, then come back together again. Fall Out Boy has made a big journey since it began as a punk band in Wilmette, Illinois, in 2001. The band broke through in a major way in 2005 with their album, “Under the Cork Tree,” and received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2006 Grammy Awards. After two more albums, the band took a break from 2010 to 2012, regrouping in 2013. “Mania,” which came out in 2018, is the band’s fourth album to hit No. 1. Today, their music has been compared to legendary groups like Queen: “[They have an] ability to fuse [a] Queen-ly operatic stomp with an elastic vision of pop,” said Rolling Stone writer Jon Dolan.
The co-founder of the band, 39-year-old Pete Wentz, bass player and lyricist, has worked as a model, nightclub owner, author and artist. He runs a film production company, is co-owner of Arizona’s Phoenix Rising soccer club and also works with charities such as UNICEF. He has his own record label, DCD2 Records, and has even designed a signature Squier Precision Bass guitar. All this from someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 18, and attempted suicide in 2005, which is described in the song, “7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen).” Wentz’s lyrics are also known for their references to such writers as Ernest Hemingway and Charles Bukowski.
Wentz, 39, has three children including a son, born in 2008, with ex-wife Ashlee Simpson, an American singer-songwriter/actress. The couple divorced in 2011. Wentz also has two children with girlfriend/model Meagan Camper: another boy, born in 2014, and a daughter born this past May. Wentz, who lives with his family in the L.A. area, performs with Fall Out Boy at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Sept. 4.
Are audiences different in New York than elsewhere?
Yeah, I think that culturally where you are informs the way the crowd reacts. Tokyo is very quiet and wants to hear everything we say. New York’s a pretty rowdy crowd, usually. Talking about crowds: When we first started coming to New York, we would always end up with the crowds in Times Square, not realizing we were in the most touristy part of the city.
When you play in Newark, will you have time to be tourists?
We always make sure we have some extra time in New York. One of my favorite places is this shoe shop Kith. They have this section of the store called “Treats,” a cereal and ice cream bar. That’s pretty hard to pass up when I’m in town. A lot of my friends live around Union Square, and my brother lives in Brooklyn, so I kind of go everywhere. We also try to get out and see the neighborhood around the venue that we are playing in.
Does your family come on tour?
Oh, definitely, they come out on the road. The kids like the tour buses, and there are video games and snacks. It’s like the ultimate kids’ hangout!
How do you find all the time to do all your many projects?
Yeah, I probably have ADHD [laughs]. I try to focus on one thing, and then on the next thing. You also find people who have expertise in different fields and learn from them. Right now, I’m into jewelry making. I’ve watched a ton of YouTube tutorials, but now I need somebody to teach me how to do it. [laughs]. I want to do metalwork, and I have all these ideas, but I feel like I’ve got to apprentice under somebody first.
Why did you choose to play the bass?
I played piano when I was little. I played a little bit of guitar, just goofing around. My friends were starting a band, had two guitarists and didn’t have a bassist. I said, “I think I can be the bassist!” I was 13 or 14. I didn’t realize bass was its own thing, completely different. I kind of faked my way through the band.
I like being in the rhythm section. If you listen to Bruno Mars or Guns N’ Roses, you don’t really know you’re hearing the bass line, but it’s what is making the song move. It’s like the underlying melody.
Who would you say are your fans now?
Yeah, I don’t know, because over such a long period of time the spectrum has gotten wider and wider. We have fans who know the one song that’s been in a movie or on the radio, and fans who embrace the body of work, and we’ve got to make the experience work for everyone.
How would you describe your music these days?
I think it’s really hard to label it. At the end of the day, the goal is to become like Metallica, where your name is the descriptor: “It sounds like Metallica.” We’re not there yet, but we are headed there.