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Fall Out Boy: The Fabulous Life and Secret Torment of America's Hottest Band

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 It looks just like a scene from a Fall Out Boy video: Pete Wentz and a striking young woman with a septum piercing and an aloof air stare soulfully at each other as they sit side by side. They look alike, their eyes enshrouded in the same amount of makeup. Wentz occasionally takes her hand, but says nothing. They're at a Fall Out Boy photo shoot, and the girl looks camera-ready too: Her hair is a punky shade of red, arranged in spikes. She's wearing knee-high leather boots over strategically torn stockings. Her name is Jeanae. She's just shy of twenty, a hair-dresser from Chicago. "This is way more boring than I expected," she says as flash-bulbs go off. Wentz keeps sending wounded little looks her way – and seems unnerved when he sees me talking to her.

Wentz appears distracted as the shoot continues at a warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hardly speaking to his bandmates. He does brighten when Stump mentions an obscure Star Wars spinoff: two live-action Ewok TV movies from the mid-Eighties. "You've got to see the second one – it's awesome," he says. Meanwhile, Hurley pauses from a vegan lunch and logs on to MTV's Web site to see the TRL position of the "Arms Race" video. The site promptly crashes his browser, and he goes back to his food.

Eventually, everyone piles into a van, headed back into Manhattan. Wentz and Jeanae sit in the last row. The conversation turns to Morrissey, Prince and then Young Jeezy's new album: Stump hates the rapper's trademark "ha-ha!" laugh, while Trohman – the only member of the band who drinks and smokes pot – is a fan. "We should bring him on tour," he says. "It's my dream to smoke weed with that guy."

Wentz and Jeanae seem to be ignoring this discussion. Wentz has the hood of his sweat shirt up, and they're whispering. Two days later, Wentz will tell me about her, how he can't let her go, how she's crazy, how she's the only girl he really wants. But I'm already starting to get the idea.

Photos: Fall Out Boy

 Trohman and Hurley get less attention than their bandmates, which can be a source of frustration. "We mean a lot to each other as musicians and as people," says Trohman. "But sometimes we start believing what people write about us: That the band is just one guy or two guys. That can be harsh for the soul." Trohman's playing combines heavy-metal riffage with Johnny Marr-inspired atmospherics – along with high-jumping, headbanging onstage showmanship so intense that he's given himself shinsplints. "Joe wants to put on a good show," says Stump. "There's a dichotomy there: He wants to be the guitar player where people stand back and say, 'Wow, he's good,' but at the same time, he can't help but go ape shit onstage." Trohman also has a segment of the Fall Out Boy fan base all to himself. "Middle-aged women love me – they say I look like Dr. McSexy or whatever his name is," says the guitarist.

We're cabbing over to Rudy's Music Stop on Forty-eighth Street, where Trohman spots a Fifties Les Paul Junior and inquires about the cost. "Eighteen-five – it's a good price," drawls a salesperson.
"Dude," Trohman whispers, "does that mean $18,000? That's a lot of money. Even for me." We walk out, but then Trohman heads back in to play a gorgeous 1972 black Telecaster. A different salesperson takes him into a back room. "What guitar are you playing at home now?" he asks. "I've got a whole bunch," Trohman replies, cranking Metallica riffs through an amplifier. The clerk takes a blind stab: "You guys in a band or something?"

"He is," I say, pointing to Trohman, who's wearing a Dior hooded sweater over an old Pantera T-shirt.

"Oh, yeah? Which band?"

"It's called Fall Out Boy," Trohman says and kicks into the chords of "Back in Black." The salesman's eyes light up with dollar signs, and Trohman walks out five minutes later, lugging his new $4,495 impulse purchase in its battered original case. 'I'm gonna feel guilty about this for a while,' he says, looking not at all guilty. "It's the Jew in me – like, 'Oh, no, you spent money!"'

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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