Pete Wentz has been approached many times to do reality TV, but it never felt right – that is, until the Fall Out Boy bassist was offered the chance to host the second season of Best Ink, Oxygen's show pitting 12 artists against each other for a $100,000 prize.
"I thought it was authentic to my brand," says Wentz, who proudly rocks a sleeve on his right arm and more tats on his chest, left arm and leg. "It's not something that hides in the shadows anymore. It's probably comparable to punk-rock music or hip-hop. Eventually, if the counterculture becomes embraced by enough people, it permeates pop culture."
Inspired as a kid by Guns N' Roses’ Appetite for Destruction skull-and-crossbones album art, Wentz got his first tattoo at 15 – "The first one was brutal. It was on my back." He remembers two others fondly: one made by a Japanese tattoo artist while Wentz was hanging out at his friend John Mayer's ("It's of a little boy's giant face with bushy eyebrows," he says, a symbol of "good luck for boys in Japan"); and the keyhole he had done on his arm to celebrate the first time Fall Out Boy sold one million albums.
"It's an actual living, breathing piece of art," Wentz says. "Everybody's body has a different shape and a different skintone, so tattoos look different on who it is and when you got them. The wearer makes the choice of how much they'll add to it and where they'll go with it."
When Best Ink returns on April 3rd, Wentz will play the part of "the ringmaster," guiding the contestants as they face critique from a panel that includes the famous tattoo artist Joe Capobianco, pinup model and tattoo enthusiast Sabina Kelley and new judge and tattoo specialist Hannah Aitchison. Fellow musician and ink devotee Travie McCoy will also make a cameo.
Wentz taped the episodes over several long weeks last October, juggling his new TV gig with recording sessions for Fall Out Boy's reunion album Save Rock and Roll, also due in April. "I'd [film] during the day and head to the studio at night," he said.
As for the question many fans are still asking: What led to Fall Out Boy's reunion after five years apart? Said the bassist, vaguely, "We always said we were going to do it again if the music was right."