In The Firing Line: Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz

Ahead of Fall Out Boy’s October tour, Pete Wentz went into The Firing Line with DAVID SWAN to talk Soundwave, Twitter and why Wentz owes nothing to no one.

There was no stopping Fall Out Boy a few years ago. Bassist Pete Wentz was becoming a household name, the band graced the covers of countless music mags and tattoo artists were busy inking meta-lyrics onto young fans. In short, torch had well and truly been passed from The Get Up Kids and Sunny Day Real Estate to FOB. But then emo died. Bands either broke up or re-invented themselves, and Fall Out Boy was no exception – the group went into hibernation (and onto various side projects). After a three-and-a-half year hiatus they boldly announcing their comeback last year with an album called Save Rock and Roll featuring Elton John, Big Sean and Courtney Love.

We went “in the firing line” for exactly 12 minutes with bassist and band wordsmith Pete Wentz to find out what exactly the band aren’t playing Soundwave and how it feels having three million followers on Twitter.

The promoter of Soundwave Festival in Australia [AJ Maddah] said earlier this year that Fall Out Boy wanted to headline the festival but then you “”fucked off in a huff””: when you were told you couldn’t – can you clear up what happened?

He said we fucked off? Is that what he said?

Yeah, he tweeted that.

Here’s what I think. It seems whoever runs Soundwave talks a lot on Twitter, or whatever, and that’s definitely not how our band does business. Anyone who has dealt with our band knows that we’re not assholes; we’re a very humble unit. We do our thing, and that’s it. That’s literally all I know about it. I didn’t see an offer for Soundwave, I don’t know anything about it at all. I did hear there was stuff on Twitter or whatever but I would never be a person who deals with other men like that. If I deal with men in those relationships, I would never talk about it on Twitter. It just seems like a douche-y thing to do.

Andy [Hurley, Fall Out Boy drummer] described you as a million times better after the hiatus, what changed?

I don’t know, not a whole lot changed about me other than I’m the dad of a four-year-old, so my patience got a lot longer. I probably have a stronger resolve now. I had a short fuse back then, I don’t have as short a fuse now.

Had Fall Out Boy become “The Pete Wentz show” before the hiatus?

I guess so. We did a couple of different interviews and it’s like… when you’re an artist it’s just sort of like you do your thing, and it’s up to everyone else what to write or decide how people react to us. I don’t decide where I stand in pictures, man. That being said, a bit of perspective and hindsight is always a little bit clearer, so I probably could’ve done some things differently that would’ve allowed people to have a different perspective on our band. But everything gets you to where you are. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for all of the things I’ve done – both personally and in the band. I feel, well maybe not happy, but carefree. I’m not bothered by it now. And had I not gone through the ringer of being a 25 year old that half the world loves and half the world hates, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in this position as far as being carefree now. So it’s good.

Do you feel like the hiatus would’ve ended if the various side projects had been more successful?

I don’t think so, I mean it’s a super loaded question in that the side projects weren’t little. Fall Out Boy’s real big because we were in like 50 bands before Fall Out Boy that no-one’s heard of, so Fall Out Boy’s actually the anomaly, the side projects aren’t the anomaly. That being said, I’m not defending anything, it doesn’t bother me much one way or the other, there’s just obviously something special about our band when the four of us are up on stage, and it’s a little bit different. But we’re not going to get back and go on tour if there’s not any music. I can sit in California and hang out and watch grass grow if it was going to be about Fall Out Boy the legacy act, it was always going to be about doing something new, and something different. And we talked about getting back together before and turned down different offers, and different people that were interested and whatever, until the music was right.

“I don’t feel like I owe anything to anybody”

Is it hard keeping your lyrics relevant to your fans as you get older and more famous?

I’ve never been the kind of guy that writes lyrics that try to be relevant. I write about what I’m going through most of the time, or what I imagine people are going through most of the time. On a record like Infinity on High, I feel like I tried really hard to explain my perspective – and when I look back on it in hindsight I think it’s an extremely unrelatable record. I’m writing about a skewed perspective, from a skewed perspective. And of course it’s a cathartic experience. In the same way I heard Metallica for the first time or [Green Day’s] Dookie for the first time. I thought those bands were writing records for me, and they weren’t. They were just guys in the Bay Area writing about what they knew. The duty of art is relating to other people’s perspectives, and applying them to your own. So I feel like the danger in doing that stuff is trying to be something you’re not, I feel like Fall Out Boy is an attempt at honesty and authentic perspectives.

Would you have liked Fall Out Boy as a teen?

I was basically into fireworks and skateboarding. I feel like I would’ve been into Fall Out Boy. I needed a soundtrack to vandalism, basically.

Which ‘90s act do you feel like you owe the most to?

I don’t feel like I owe anything to anybody, and I don’t feel like our band owes anything to anybody. We were definitely inspired by a lot of bands, and we definitely have a lot of artists that, because of them, it was a gateway-drug to certain songs. I feel like I could list some bands that I would definitely tip my hat to, and Green Day would be a huge one. Screeching Weasel would be another huge one, we played with Marky Ramone from The Ramones, The Ramones would be a huge one. Metallica, Earth Crisis, Gorilla Biscuits, Lifetime. There are a lot of bands, but I feel like it’d be insane to ask an artist if they “owed” another artist something, I don’t feel like I owe anybody anything. Art is about making the next thing.


Given you’ve got almost three million followers on Twitter, is that a lot of pressure every time you tweet?

Read my timeline. It’s all weird. Half of it is about pizza, and the other half is just weird random stuff. But I don’t feel any pressure, no. Twitter’s definitely an interesting place where you can put yourself out there, and do it in a super succinct way. And it blows my mind that 2.8 million people really care. And I’m sure of those people a lot of them don’t, you know, which is fine. Twitter isn’t anything too serious.

Have you ever got anyone to tweet for you? You know how some people pay people to tweet on their behalf?

I have a ghost writer. I have a ghost writer tweeter that no-one knows about. His name is Skeeter. He writes all the genius stuff that comes out. The fluff in between is me, and the genius works of art are my ghost tweeter-er.

You’re vegetarian – have you cheated?

I’m not vegetarian actually. I think that’s like on my Wikipedia or something.

Shit, yeah I’d better check my sources.

I cheat all the time then. I was vegetarian for a lot of years actually. But I’m not now.

What Simpsons character do you most associate with? And you can’t say Fall Out Boy.

Umm….. Frank Grimes.

Fall Out Boy tour:

Tuesday, October 22 – Entertainment Centre (Theatre), Adelaide

Friday, October 25 – Entertainment Centre, Sydney

Saturday, October 26 – Festival Hall, Melbourne

Sunday, October 27 – Convention Centre, Brisbane