When Fall Out Boy reunited in 2013 after a four-year hiatus, they called their comeback album Save Rock and Roll. Tongue-in-cheek as that title may have been, the Chicago foursome are doing their part, bringing a radically revamped, sample-laden version of their pop-punk sound to radio (most recently with the Munsters-sampling “Uma Thurman” and the Demi Lovato duet “Irresistible”) – and, in late February and throughout March, to U.S. arenas. “I definitely don’t want rock to be a diorama in a museum,” says bassist-lyricist Pete Wentz, now a father of two. “Like, ‘These cavemen used to be cool.’ So thank god we’re sonically different than 10 years ago.”
You attended Kanye West’s album debut event. What did you think?
It’s awesome that he was like, “I’m going to introduce my fashion line and do a listening party at Madison Square Garden,” and then he does it. He sees the couch and then builds the couch!
You guys moved past your original sound and are making hits again. Is it fair to say that Fall Out Boy are in their Eighties-Nineties Aerosmith phase?
Dude, it’s so wild that you said that. I was just talking with my friend about what a rad period of Aerosmith that was, and I was thinking about that comparison in some ways too. But I feel like we’re also in the catcher’s gear/kilt/NFL-jersey Axl era. The ideas can just get weirder right now.
What is it like being one of the few rock bands with pop success right now?
It’s strange when it feels a little like being on an island. And it’s still a constant fight. Some of my friends are like, “It seems so easy for you guys, getting songs on the radio and stuff.” I’m like, I wish you knew. When we first played “Uma Thurman” for Top 40 radio, it was like the look on the face of a puppy when they don’t understand the command. But there are cool moments.We played a pretty heavy Australian festival, Soundwave, and we felt like oddballs. Then Rob [Halford] from Judas Priest sits down at our trailer, and he’s like, “That ‘Irresistible’ video is so good.” We’re like, “What the fuck?”
You recently hung out with 5 Seconds of Summer in Bali. How does it feel when they treat you guys as elder statesmen?
I went up to MC Hammer last night, and I’m like, “Dude, I love your music.” He’s like [doubtfully], “Yeah, right.” It’s the same thing: I find it hard to believe when people say that stuff to me. I feel like they’re messing with me. Someone came up to me the other day and said, “I play drums because of Andy Hurley and what he did on ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down,'” which is mind-blowing. With the 5SOS guys in Bali, I came out to the pool and they were listening to crazy butt-rock, like Poison. I was like, “Have you guys heard of, like, Refused and At the Drive-In?” They’re like, “No.” So I made them a playlist, and it’s cool to be able to do that. They were pretty into it. But maybe they were appeasing
How are you coping with turning 37 this year?
In a good, like, 70 percent of my life, my age really makes sense – like when I’m at school assemblies. And I’m on the young side of the parents there. But it does make me think, what are the next steps for our band? We’re in such an in-between thing. We’re not a legacy act, and we’re not in this echelon of bands that automatically plays the halftime show. We’re not there yet. And that’s OK. There’s still more for us to do. How do we play Wrigley Field? How do we headline festivals?
Did you talk to the Green Day guys about this stuff when you guys inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
First of all, Tré Cool is a really funny guy or whatever. We were next to them while they were making their speeches, and he kept moving his statue so the light reflected off it into our eyes. He thought that was pretty rad. But we sat with them and heard how they came up with “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” at that point in their career and how they made the Broadway musical. It’s important to hear these guys who’ve aged pretty gracefully talk about their paths.
Will there ever be a back-to-basics Fall Out Boy album?
When we got back together, we hadn’t recorded since laptop culture happened with people like Diplo. We were adapting to that. I’d love to do a back-to-basics, four-of-us-in-a-room album. But I’ve seen bands try it, and they can’t get there. They’re not hungry enough. They’ve experienced the world in a different way. And I don’t want it to be out of fear where we have to go recapture this thing. You can’t. Whatever it was, was some kind of magic.
Finally, as Star Wars superfans, is there a band consensus on Rey’s parentage?
The amount of Star Wars and Game of Thrones debates that happen in the van on the way to airports is insane. At one point, we had some wishful thinking that Rey’s dad was Obi-Wan, but the timeline doesn’t make sense. So everyone is thinking Luke.