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Pete Wentz: “Someone Said, ‘This Is Probably The End Of Your Band Being Played On The Radio…’”

Rock Sound
Rock Sound 6 February 2017 at 16.21

On the 10th anniversary of Fall Out Boy's 'Infinity On High', we dive into the Rock Sound archive for a unique interview with Pete Wentz.

Fall Out Boy's enigmatic bass player and lyricist shares his thoughts on relationships, celebrity and how having kids changes everything in this instalment of Life Lessons.

LESSON #1
TRY NOT TO BOTTLE THINGS UP
"Bands are like relationships – you either find a way through your problems, or you break up. It’s important to acknowledge that there will be hard times, days where you just want to kill each other.

"If Fall Out Boy had stayed together and kept touring at the pace we were – before our hiatus – that would have been the end. One of the hardest lessons we learned was to communicate more openly. If your bandmate is doing something that annoys you and you don’t say anything, it’ll build up until, one day, you go fucking crazy on them.

"It’s much easier to confront things early, while they’re still small."


LESSON #2
DON’T WORRY ABOUT HAVING IT ALL FIGURED OUT - NO ONE DOES
"When I was in my twenties, I put so much pressure on myself. People kept telling me, ‘If you don’t get this one thing right, or pass this test, the rest of your life will be terrible.’ It wasn’t true!

"That’s a shitty thing to lay on people, because you’re already uncertain about everything at that point – ‘What am I doing with my life, will I have to live with my parents forever?’

"It was the same when we recorded ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race’. Someone at our label said, ‘This is probably the end of your band being played on the radio.’ At the time I felt like, ‘Oh my god, we shouldn’t do this’, but now I realise, ‘Wow, you were such an asshole. That’s such a crazy thing to say to kids.’ You always have time."




LESSON #3
BEING FAMOUS DOESN'T MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON
“If you’re not a happy person going into celebrity, it won’t fill the void in your life. Fame can’t make you better, or answer any of your questions about life.

"It’s like living in a fictionalised world, where nobody treats you like you’re human – so you stop acting like one. For most of my twenties I lived like an adult-sized toddler, pushing my responsibilities on to other people.

"Celebrity also affects the folks around you. Sure, it’s cool skipping the line at Disneyland, but if that means my son not wanting to take photos at school – because he associates photography with paparazzi chasing after us – I would trade it away in a heartbeat.”


LESSON #4
PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING
“Maybe we all take family for granted, unless someone’s been born or someone’s died!

"Having kids has changed everything for me. Before them, I didn’t really understand the importance of patience, or considering other people’s needs. When stuff sucks now, like I’m annoyed at ticket sales or a bad review, I have this other part of my life that’s more important.

"It’s so important to have a balance. I’ve also experienced more of the world, and come to realise how small I really am. I’ve been to Uganda and seen the displacement camps, where people can’t even get access to clean water. Some fucking pop radio guy like me, I need to make more of a  significant contribution to humanity than just playing catchy songs.”




LESSON #5
GET TO KNOW YOURSELF, AND YOUR LIMITS
“Back in about 2008, I defined myself entirely as, ‘That guy from Fall Out Boy.’ I had no other identity aside from that, so I couldn’t process things properly.

"When we went on hiatus, I really had to get my shit together. I got therapy, a lot of which was based around taking my toddler to the park – taking care of someone else. Around the same time, I fired my assistant, not because they were a bad person, but because I needed to do simple stuff for myself.

"Out of that I learned how much I can give to the band, to other people, before it becomes unhealthy. I’ve also stopped reading what other people said about me. Before, I’d looked at it all, sitting in my head and going, ‘But that’s not true!’ That will lead you to madness, there’s nothing to be gained from it. You can’t take those things personally.”


LESSON #6
DO WHAT YOU LOVE, WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE IT
“I can only write when I feel like I need to, as a way of getting things out. Apparently Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day, and sits at his desk until he’s done – I could never be like that!

"If I try to force myself to be creative, it comes out wrong. It’s a balance because I’m also here to serve the fans, people who have spent their money on our band. We recognise that when we play, every night is a special night for someone. I try to honour that, without giving everything away.”



This interview was originally published in Rock Sound #220.

Look back at 'Infinity On High' in this month's magazine.

ONE OK ROCK + TWENTY ONE PILOTS POSTERS (ALSO AVAILABLE IN UK STORES NOW!)
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