On Nov. 20, 2009, multiplatinum, Grammy-nominated rockers Fall Out Boy announced they were taking an indefinite hiatus. Bassist and chief songwriter Pete Wentz had become ubiquitous. His marriage to and subsequent divorce from singer Ashlee Simpson had turned into a celebrity gossip talking point and begun to overshadow their music. Wentz even publicly suggested the world could use a little less of him. Singer Patrick Stump went on to record a solo album. Guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley united forces to become part of heavy metal act, the Damned Things. Wentz, meanwhile, created Black Cards, a ska/electropop duo with vocalist Bebe Rexha. The future of the pop punk band from Wilmette, IL remained in doubt.
Then came February of this year, when they played the first single off their fifth studio album, Save Rock and Roll (Island), on Jimmy Kimmel Live. For the first time since 2008’s Folie A Deux, there would be new music from Fall Out Boy. They had returned.
But their resurrection raised as many questions as it answered. What was it that convinced them to reform? What does this resurgence mean for Decaydance, the imprint Wentz formed under the band’s first label, Fueled By Ramen? How had FOB’s sound changed in the intervening years? And could fans expect to see new material released in the coming years?
Wentz, who keeps himself active with all manner of endeavors including a film production company (Bartskull Films), acting (he’s appeared on One Tree Hill and Californication), writing (his book, The Boy With the Thorn in His Side, is based on his childhood nightmares) and a club (Angels & Kings, which first opened in New York and later expanded to Chicago), took time out of his whirlwind schedule to address these concerns and more in this revealing interview.
By Andy Kaufmann
Music Connection: You guys are back after an indefinite hiatus that went for three or four years. How did you know this was the right time to reform and record a new album?
Pete Wentz: I don’t know. It still could be the wrong time. When we took a break, we always thought it had to be about new music. None of us had any interest in being a heritage act or doing state fairs, that kind of thing. We really wanted it to be about the songs. We did try to write a couple times and it didn’t seem right. Then Patrick [Stump] and I wrote a couple songs and, when I heard the stuff he’d done, I was all in. There’s so much about our band that’s serendipity to me. So much about it seems to be being in the right place at the right time. Hopefully, that’s what it is again.
MC: Around the time you guys decided to take a break, you were the subject of a lot of tabloid fodder. Do you believe that sort of exposure helped or hurt your career? Do you suggest other artists seek out that type of coverage?
Wentz: I don’t think it really helped our career. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. We got a certain amount of press regardless of what was going on with the band. But at the same time, lots of the mainstream press only covered us from one perspective, you know? No one gave me a manual, like this is what you’re supposed to do, this is how you’re supposed to act. You kind of just figure it out on your own.
Tabloid culture is really just interested in famous people and not about people being known for their talent. So it was a weird space to be in and it was frustrating. It was a rollercoaster. There were a lot of ups, there were a lot of downs. More than anything, you’ve got to just do things for the right reasons. If you’re playing in your band and it’s fun, keep doing it. The rest of your life will fall into place around that.