Like Sid Vicious And Flea, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz is the rare bass player who draws as much attention as his band’s lead singer. Wentz has also achieved notoriety through his business acumen, signing the megaseller Panic! at the Disco to his label, Decaydance Records, and through his exhibitionist tendencies: Last year, cell-phone photos of Wentz’s johnson circulated all over the Internet. On Fall Out Boy’s new album, Infinity on High – the title was cribbed from a letter Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother – Wentz and Co. jam with Jay-Z on “Thriller,” get slick with producer Babyface on two tracks and re-team with producer Neal Avron, who worked on Fall Out Boy’s triple-platinum 2005 breakthrough, From Under the Cork Tree. Even cooler: Kanye West has remixed the album’s debut single, “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race.” “It’s going to be an insane year,” says Wentz, 27, checking in from an Fob date in London. “We feel like we’ve proved ourselves, and everything else is icing on the cake.”
Your record leaked. That’s a bummer. When I started to get text messages about that, I felt the color come out of my face. I freaked out. I wanted someone in jail, and then we found out it was traced to a plant in Asia, so I didn’t have anybody to yell at. I think our band is going to sell CDs, but it’s frustrating, because we want to present it in a certain way.
What do you collect? I love Transformers. I used to collect hardcore records, but I don’t take very good care of them, so actual collectors would make fun of me. I’m kind of a hoodie collector. I have two years’ worth of hoodies, wearing a different one every day.
Why do you love hoodies? A lot of people in the hardcore scene used to wear them. It’s also like a comfort blanket. Long after I started wearing them, my manager told me that Bob Dylan would wear hoodies on tour. And when the hoodie was up, you couldn’t talk to him. I was like, “That’s fucking amazing!”
What lyric from Infinity on High are you most proud of? At this moment, it’s in “You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave.” I used to work with this [volunteer legal] organization in Chicago called Uhuru, and we worked on the case for Fred Hampton Jr. [Many believe that Hampton, the son of a Black Panther, was wrongfully convicted of arson in 1993.] The song is a courtroom narrative, and it’s so different from anything else we’ve done. I like the line “The headline reads, ‘The man hangs, but the jury doesn’t.”
As you travel the world, is there a city where you feel like you belong? In this weird way, it would be either Osaka or Tokyo. It’s so different. I’ll wake up at 5 A.M. and walk around, and everything seems so foreign and different, but it also feels so safe. Everything’s like a cartoon there.
What’s your definition of the ideal party? I’ve found that, for the most part, parties are like New Year’s Eves: They suck. But I like parties at my house [in Los Angeles]. I feel more comfortable. We do themed parties sometimes. We’ve done “Golf Pros & Tennis Ho’s” and other dumb ones that I probably wouldn’t have missed out on if I’d been in college. It’s fun.
What other musician’s T-shirt do you badly want? I don’t know him well, but I saw Adam [Levine] from Maroon 5 in a store wearing a Prince Purple Rain T-shirt. It looked tattered, definitely from the era, and I wish I owned it. I actually just stole an old Thriller T-shirt from a photo shoot. It was on the rack – for another band – but I put it on, put a jacket over it and walked out. I seriously just stole it.
Do you have a good Kanye West story? Yes. One day he was like, “Come over, play your new stuff and I’ll play you mine.” So we went over there, and he and his friends were playing [the board game] Taboo. They had all kinds of internal lingo, like Kanye would say, “My house is…” and someone answered with, “Museum!” Then someone said, “Another word for gun…” and I was like, “Gat!” They laughed at me like I was a suburban kid stuck in 1994. The answer was actually “toast”! Since then I’ve been saying, “Yo, I’m going to pull my toast on this dude!”
I saw you guys perform a couple of years ago and you sucked. Do you still suck? [Laughs] By virtue of being in a band, you don’t really get worse. I think we’ve gotten better, but at the same time, we’re not one of those perfect live bands. We’re sloppy, we thrash around, and that’s how it’s been. It’s a fun show. I know a lot of bands use smoke and mirrors, but when Patrick [Stump] is singing, he’s actually singing.
Does it bum you out to see your protégés, Panic! at the Disco, beat you to the cover of Rolling Stone? They’re like Frankenstein: Who could’ve predicted what’s happened to those guys? When they started outselling us… yeah, it’s disconcerting – I wish my band was on the cover of ROLLING STONE – but those dudes are some of my best friends. There’s no jealousy or weirdness. We’re all supportive of each other.
Did your parents see the shots of your wang on the Internet? I’ve got to say they probably did. I got an e-mail from my mom that said, “Be more careful next time.”
No way! But if they did or if they didn’t, I don’t ever want to have that conversation.