fall out boy's pete wentz turns fanboy
From Lil Wayne to Steven Spielberg, we talked to Pete Wentz about all the non-emo things that influenced their latest album.
Image via Youtube
“There are two types of people in this world” is a gratingly presumptuous phrase, one based on the unfounded idea that you can divide the messy swathe of humankind into regimented binaries, like cat-people vs. dog-people, girls vs. boys, Trump supporters vs. everyone else. Ok, that last one holds true. But there is another conclusive subject that unequivocally divides people, and that is emo music. Take the i-D office: for some of us, the chance to talk to Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz was all our teenage dreams come true. Others seemed to feel differently.
Whatever side of the kohl-rimmed divide you fall on, it appears that emo music -- and its sibling, pop punk -- is having a resurgence of sorts. Everyone from chart-friendly, new-school pop-punkers like 5 Seconds of Summer, to emo rappers like Lil Uzi Vert and the late Lil Peep have namechecked the influence of the genres’ pioneers, including Paramore, Good Charlotte and blink-182. But these formative bands haven’t just passed on the Black Parade baton to their successors -- Paramore’s currently touring. blink-182 just announced a residency in Vegas. Sum 41, Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco are headlining Reading and Leeds festival this year, next to Kendrick Lamar and J Hus.
So what’s driving this comeback? Is it just a bunch of miserable, nostalgic 20-somethings mining our old iPod playlists whenever we’re ghosted? Or have these bands achieved the near-impossible and found a way to reconnect with the kids (or their kids)?
Saturday’s Fall Out Boy gig was a testament to the latter. Sure, some of us were old enough to remember the existential angst and questionable side fringes of these bands’ heydays, and were consequently putting our necks out to early hits like Saturday and Grand Theft Autumn / Where is Your Boy. But the crowd’s response to these seminal singles was somewhat lacklustre compared to the fist pumps and phone lights reserved for their more recent tracks.
This could, potentially, be due to the band’s somewhat scattergun approach of late, delving into genres beyond their emo roots to target a broader cross-section of fans. Lead singer Patrick Stump took to the grand piano for a very Elton John rendition of 2013’s Save Rock and Roll. Turns out the track actually was a collaboration with Elton John. Their latest album, M A N I A, draws on similarly disparate influences: Young and Menace is basically an EDM track. Sunshine Riptide is very reggae, features Burna Boy and sings about blunts. Wilson (Expensive Mistakes) has an intro that sounds remarkably like M.I.A.’s Paper Planes, if M.I.A. sang lyrics like, “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker colour.” Pete explains, “I think that the beauty of making an album called M A N I A is that it can feel manic. And then beyond that, we made it in 2017, when people curate their own lives. So you're able to pick and choose some of the songs that you like or don't like.”
In light of the band’s more broad-sweeping approach, we got Pete Wentz to talk about all the non-emo things they’re fans of. Still lamenting their divergence from their original ethos? Don’t worry, we can always cry ourselves to sleep over Take This To Your Grave, just like the good old days.
The chorus of Young and Menace quotes one of the finest pieces of lyricism in pop -- and maybe all -- music: “Oops I did it again.” Why?
Britney to me is almost a mirror for American culture, pop culture. We build her up then break her down, build her up then break her down. So there was a larger reference there, to what it is she went through. Also, Fall Out Boy has always been a bit ‘Oops, can we do it again?’ So there was a little of that in there.
It’s also, unusually, quite EDM.
I think Patrick was looking into some Flume stuff. I think the idea was like, can we create this song that’s produced in a super modern way, but with instruments? I think that's what he was going for.
What about the reggae in Sunshine Riptide and Hold Me Tight or Don’t Let Go ?
I'm a big fan of a lot of the rappers coming out of Nigeria; the flow and the melody are insane. So we hit up Burna Boy to do a verse on Sunshine Riptide, which was pretty cool.
Any pop-punk inspirations?
I don't listen to anything in our immediate reference point. I was talking to my tennis coach the other day about how amazing the Federer match was the other day and he was like: I would never watch tennis. I guess he's close to tennis all day, so there's no way that when he gets home he wants to watch it.
Ok, but if you had to choose -- who would be in your dream pop-punk/emo band? You’re not allowed to say anyone from Fall Out Boy.
Brendon Urie [from Panic! at the Disco], Junior from Less Than Jake, Spencer Petersen [from Hidden in Plain View] on drums, Joe From Nothing Nowhere.... And then I would have Lil Wayne rap because he's the most emo rapper of all time.
You have quite an encyclopaedic knowledge of film.
That's the only way that Fall Out Boy has ever really gotten along with each other. We have a shared film and cinematic universe that we all kinda like. And I also think it's fun to pay homage to things. Like [the song] Bishops Knife Trick -- hopefully some people will go check out Aliens because of that. That movie was a big part of us growing up, so I think it'd be cool if people go and check it out.
What’s the main genre that you all bond over?
We all like sci-fi fantasy, And that's the one that we probably watch together the most. But then we all like Wes Anderson, and Drive is a big reference. Obviously all the Star Wars films are references. Three of us lived in an apartment together for a bunch of years, then we just lived on the bus, so we'd always be watching movies together, talking about how great they were, how bad they were. These debates you can have for hours in airport lounges, so that's a lot of our band.
What are some Easter eggs people mightn’t pick out?
Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea, I guess the reference there is -- well, I've seen it in movies, but in the military, 'stay frosty' is ‘stay cool but alert’. They'll be like, 'stay frosty Oscar Tango Mogul', and that means stay cool on the move. There's also a line, “some Princes don’t become Kings”. I always thought of -- I don't want to take stuff away from people, people take away their own meaning -- but when I wrote that lyric I thought of Prince Harry, and just how weird it is. You're this Prince, but you probably aren't ever going to become the King. Like, your brother's kids would probably would have to die in order for you to become king, which is an odd, morbid thing. But you're not a regular person. But it's so interesting, I always thought of him as a bit trapped.
What's on your rider?
We put all kinds of crazy stuff just to see if people get it. Whether it's guacamole made tableside by a local Mexican restaurant or first generation Transformers still in their packaging. And you don't get it 99% of the time.
What's the best thing you've ever asked for and received?
We got the first generation Transformers. We got the guacamole.
Who would direct the film of your life?
The big reach would be Spielberg. He just nails the vision no matter what -- it's the same guy that makes ET and Indiana Jones, and then Schindler's List. I guess my back up would be Michel Gondry, I think he's just got such an interesting mind.
Who would play you?
The height would be wrong, but Billy Zane would be cool.
It’s Hollywood, they can fix that.
In reality it would be the guy who plays Mac in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, because we look kind of similar. [Editor’s note: they look identical.] The tone of the character I would love is a Michael J. Fox post the first Back to the Future, where he's kind of got the acting chops down.
What would your film be called?
My Proximity to Greatness. Or maybe, Long Story Shitty Ending.