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BackRoom

Pete Wentz

The Fall Out Boy bassist, 38, on Xanax, private jets, and fresh underwear

Illustration by Stavros Damos
Illustration: Stavros Damos

When you’re young and thrust into this life, no one gives you a handbook on how you’re supposed to behave. We stayed up too late. We got laid everywhere we went. We destroyed stages. A lot of shows ended with the fire marshal showing up. Three of us have kids now, and you’re more likely to find a bounce house backstage.

The biggest luxury on our concert rider is we get new socks and underwear every day. They are basically disposable.

I feel like I’m stuck in a loop of bad hair days.

We’re superserious about making art, but the art doesn’t need to be superserious. It can be goofy and funny and tongue-in-cheek. It’s silly to me when rock bands are these superserious guys.

I don’t need to get into character. The person I am onstage is just an adrenalized version of me.

My mom has Jamaican heritage, so we grew up as mixed kids in Wilmette. I looked kind of different. I felt kind of different. I spent a good amount of time trying to fit in. Now I look for outsiders—people who are the one grain of wood running the opposite way.

I got into playing music when I was 14 or 15. I met groups of kids. We realized, We aren’t going to be like the Rolling Stones, but we can have fun next weekend and play a bunch of fast songs in somebody’s garage. It never felt like it was going to be anything bigger than that. But that was enough.

I remember playing the Fireside Bowl with one of my bands. My dad used to come out from work, and he’d be in a suit and tie. At the time I thought he was so goofy, but looking back, it was a very solid dad move.

When magical things happen, you don’t really realize it at first. It’s like when Luke levitates the stones in The Empire Strikes Back. He doesn’t even know. Same thing when Fall Out Boy took off: Oh my God, the stones are floating.

We were in the studio with Babyface, and he gave us this advice: “Don’t ever pay for a private jet. Make a friend who has one.” Now I understand what he meant.

The toughest thing about fame is that people feel like they know me before they meet me. It’s like you’re starting in the red and working just to get back to zero.

When I’m off-duty, I’m super-off-duty. I’m not walking around in leather pants. I’m taking my kids to play tennis.

My kids don’t care if I’m jet-lagged. They’re just like, “You’re here to make pancakes.” There’s something grounding about that.

If I could have zero tattoos, I’d have zero right now. Why give yourself more stuff to be stuck with?

I was walking through a hotel lobby in Berlin during the Europe Music Awards. I’d overheard something about myself at the awards and was feeling kind of lonely, and I walk into the lobby and see Dave Grohl and his friends. I hear, “Hey, Pete, come over and have a drink with us.” And I’m like, Oh my God, Dave Grohl just said my name! I went over, and I was trying to order a drink, and he was like, “No, we’re just drinking Crown Royal. That’s what you’re drinking too.

There’s a conflicted nature to being a human being. You’re trying to be the best you can be, but neuroses get in the way. Life is a battle between those things.

Maybe six months ago, I was driving to therapy and turned this corner. I had a chicken sandwich in my car, and it spilled all over the floor—lettuce and all that crap. I’m just screaming and going fucking crazy. I remember parking my car and thinking, I just screamed for two minutes at an inanimate object—I’m not going to tell my therapist about this.

I haven’t taken Xanax in years. I was living a life that was really fast, and that led to me being a bit of a drugstore cowboy. Ignoring the thing that’s wrong never makes it go away.

 

Mania, Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album, comes out January 19 (Island Records/DCD2 Records). Fall Out Boy will headline a show at Wrigley Field on September 8. 

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