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Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz On New Music, ‘Mania’ And Making An ‘Unlistenable’ Song

Andy Biddulph
Andy Biddulph 28 April at 17.57

We speak to Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz about new song 'Young And Menace', the band's forthcoming album 'M A  N   I    A' and standing out from the crowd.

HOW’S THE REACTION TO 'YOUNG AND MENACE' BEEN? WERE YOU SCARED WHEN IT DROPPED? EXCITED?
Says Pete Wentz: "I was excited! Patrick played me the song at Reading & Leeds, and I was like, ‘This feels like a moment that we should do something with,’ so we decided to finish the song.

"We talked about it. We were like, ‘This doesn’t seem like it’s a song designed for the radio,’ and when we realised that it freed us, because we were like, ‘It could still be a cultural moment. It could still be a moment where it reacts with our core fanbase and reacts with kids around the world.'

"Once we established that was what it was and that was the modus operandi of the song, it was alright. We felt pretty free to make the song that we wanted to make."


TELL US ABOUT THE MEANING OF THE SONG...
"Where we grew up, I felt like an outsider in my own city. I was like, ‘I don’t look like any of these people, I don’t feel like any of these people’. That’s kind of a strange feeling, and that's when I discovered punk rock and this community of people who are like, ‘I don’t fit in anywhere either’.

"You don’t all fit in with each other, but you’re at least inclusive and open to the idea of including other people that don’t fit in. I think there’s a nostalgic element to that with both the video and the song. I think about it with kids today - the world can be really, really, really harsh, and I hope people find some way to navigate that."


THE VIDEO GIVES OFF A VIBE THAT YOU'RE REALISING THE WORLD ISN'T YOUR OWN. WAS THAT THE POINT?
"I think that was the point. It’s a way to get around that influencing the stuff that we're making. Sometimes when we play a pop radio show, we’re like, the weirdest band ever there because we essentially sound like Slayer next to the artists we’re playing with, but at rock festivals they’re like, ‘You guys aren’t rock!’ They’re like, ‘You guys don’t look like a rock band and you kind of sound like hip-hop’ and I think that’s the nature of the way our band works."

AND YOU REVEL IN THAT, RIGHT?
"Sometimes, but sometimes it’s like, ‘Wait, are we doing this wrong?’ Sometimes it feels great and you feel bold and proud of it, but there’s moments where it’s like, ‘It seems like it would be a lot easier if we could just do this like everybody else...’"



DOES FITTING IN EVERYWHERE BUT NOWHERE TIE INTO WHAT ‘M A  N   I    A’ IS ABOUT? THERE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE TWO SIDES TO YOUR BAND - EVEN GOING BACK TO ‘AMERICAN BEAUTY/AMERICAN PSYCHO’...
"When people talk about depression and manic depression, lots of the time they’ll refer to mania as the smiley face. That’s not really what mania is.

"To me, true mania is dressed as euphoria but then flips into a delusional thing. It starts getting violent and people aren’t sleeping and their ideas don’t make sense, and I think that is what we’re referring to with ‘Mania’. It becomes this surging wave that you can’t control. It didn’t start like that, but that’s what it’s become."


HOW’S THE ALBUM SOUNDING? IS IT DONE YET?
"It’s not done yet! We’re about halfway through it I would say, and I would say ‘Young And Menace’ is the furthest afield song - the furthest left.

"Doing an album full of that would be a little hard for people to process, but at the same time we always update the software. I think we could put it on cruise control and kind of put out whatever and tour when we felt like it, and it could just be a job and it’d be fine, but it’s much less interesting.

"Because then if you’re going to do that, then there’s a lot of jobs that are a lot easier to do, so why not keep it interesting? That’s kind of the driving force behind the album."


WHO ARE YOU WORKING WITH?
"We did ‘Young And Menace’ ourselves. It kind of sounded like a hot nightmare, it was really chaotic.

"We had our friend Jesse Shatkin [who produced Sia’s ‘Chandelier’] put it back together for us, because it was kind of unlistenable. I don’t know if we’ll get a producer for the album, but being really real about it, we need somebody to help us produce it. Sometimes when bands self-produce you get too close to it, you lose perspective and sometimes it can go the wrong way, and I definitely think that would be the case for our band."


DOES IT SCARE YOU THAT YOUR BAND MADE A SONG THAT WAS "UNLISTENABLE"?
"It’s an extreme song, and when Patrick played me the demo I was like, ‘This is brilliant. It’s pretty mad though...’ It’s pretty out there, and when we finished it, we made the most chaotic version of it that we could.

"[Jesse] helped us in the way a true producer does in the way he reined it in and made it more into a song and not something where it’s like, ‘This is just fun for us to play and spinkick each other in the face to.’ it’s like, ‘Oh, other people can listen to it now!’"


HOW’S IT GOING TO WORK LIVE?
"The interesting part is the song is all real instruments but they’ve been super manipulated. Patrick took real pride in doing it that way, so it’s all guitar and bass, the drums are real drums and they’re just pitched up super high.

"We’re going into rehearsal I think next week and we’re gonna try to figure it out. I think the only thing that will be real wild to figure out is the vocals in the chorus - if you can call it a chorus I guess - that will be the only thing where I don’t know how to do it, but we’ll figure it out. We’ve been in this situation before, we’ll figure out a way to do it."


Fall Out Boy's new album 'M A  N   I    A' is out on September 15 via Virgin EMI UK / DCD2 Records.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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