Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy hasn't always had it as easy as he does now. After having a hit and miss high school career due to the effects of bi-polar disorder, Wentz played with several Chicago area punk acts before hitting the big time with Fall Out Boy.
From his house in Southern California and in anticipation of Fall Out Boy's performance at Verizon this Thursday, Wentz talked to DC9 about his formative years and his many non-musical ventures.
You are originally from Chicago. Do you make it home often?
Not too often; I go there every three months of so. I was there for Riot Fest just a couple of days ago.
You come through our area pretty often. I've caught the band a couple times on Warped Tour. Those stops through the south in the summer must be a beating.
Yes, it was definitely hot and pretty crazy. It's nice to get indoors when you can. For the most part; Texas in generally has been really good to us. I have no band memories of Dallas.
Are there certain venues that are a preference?
I think so. I remember a place in Dallas called Trees. We played there a couple of times. We played this indoor/outdoor amphitheater kind of place. I can't remember what that place was called. Doing the smaller club shows and doing the bigger venues, it's all fun. They are vastly different experiences. Each one has been good to us.
With such a celebrity personal life, are there questions that are off limits?
I really only want to talk about the music for the most part.
You are quite the Renaissance man. You own your own clothing company, bar and label. What iron have you not put in the fire?
[Laughs] I feel like I don't sleep a whole lot. I sleep about three hours a night. Being awake and thinking about that stuff means my mind is constantly running. It's not that different from teaching classes and working in journalism. Many friends of mine work in many different ways. Some time it doesn't make sense. Some of them work out and some of them don't, but I put them out there regardless.
Why did Fall Out Boy go on hiatus in 2009?
We all really just needed a break. I think that we had been going for about ten years straight at the time. It was at the point that if we didn't take a break, we would have broken up. That's for sure.
What ended the hiatus?
It was always going to be about new music. We never wanted to be the kind of band that toured on our old songs. We waited until we had music that we thought people wanted to hear. After that, it takes on a life of its own.
The most recent effort, Save Rock and Roll, is considered the band's most diverse effort. The critical response was lukewarm. Do you pay attention to reviews?
I don't really care about them. I like to let the music speak for itself. We've never been critical darlings. We are a band that the kids liked. We had a number one album. And we have people coming to the shows. That's what it is all about. It's never been about what someone wrote on paper. It's about the kids that sing the words when we are playing. It doesn't matter if it's a small club or an arena. Who thought there would be new music from Fall Out Boy in 2013 and it would contribute any way to pop culture? I don't read reviews really.
It took a few years to establish a fan base, but once you start selling out larger venues and selling massive amounts of CDs, does it become surreal at that point?
So many things get compacted into such a small window of time. I don't think that the human mind is set up to compartmentalize what is going on. Then you realize that you have the Stanley Cup on stage with you. You see your own face on Time magazine and it's so insane. It's hard to understand it. Even during the time we took off, there were all these insane moments that happened. Even if you have the perspective, it is hard to take it all in. I think having the time off really helped us appreciate what we have done.
Do you still take medication for bi-polar disorder?
No, I do not. I am completely free of medicine.
You had some rough moments in high school. Do you have any advice for teenagers?
One of the biggest pieces of advice is that all of that stuff is temporary. You really don't know who you are in middle school or who you are in high school. It all ends and you move on. In time, you realize that high school is not the end of the world. Everybody goes on and life moves on. I think everybody's journey is different. Your life is far from over when you are in middle school.
Your journey could have been very different as well. You were a very good soccer player. Did you ever think of pursuing that as a career?
I mean, I think so, maybe. I don't know. In retrospect, it's hard to think about. Every decision has brought me to where I am now. That's not saying that I didn't have other passions besides music. I think that I may have been more naturally able to play music. I am very comfortable where I am now.
You have also written a book, The Boy With the Thorn in His Side. Will there be more from you as an author?
I put out one other book this year, a long book, more of a contemporary novel. It was called Gray and it came out earlier this year.
Do you find that being an author and running your own label takes time away from your music?
I don't think so. First and foremost, Fall Out Boy is what happens. I have the good fortune of being surrounded by people who are really smart and very passionate. They allow me to manage my time the way I really want to.
What do you think about that quote in People magazine saying that no bassist has ever upstaged the frontman as well as you?
I don't know. I don't really read that kind of stuff. We don't decide who sits where in pictures, who stands next to who. We are a band. We grew up playing punk rock music together. Whatever some gossip magazine says, that's not something we focus our time on.