By Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles
“I think we’re taking each day as we go at this point. We’re still in the takeoff period — we’re still ascending. We maybe just got to turn on our electronic devices, as far as rock ‘n’ roll goes.”
Pete Wentz is at the airport, ready to get on a flight in Dallas to head back home to Los Angeles with the big plans of decorating his house for Halloween with his five-year-old son, Bronx Mowgli. Wentz has been under the weather and in jet-lag mode for the last three days, so much so that when asked about the future of Fall Out Boy, he makes the “airport metaphor at the airport.”
Since Fall Out Boy came back swinging this April with Save Rock and Roll, they’ve been more than a little busy (see above: Wentz’s travel delirium). Two separate tours had them zigzagging across America, and yet, they still had time to make a new EP with Ryan Adams on production duties, titled Pax-Am Days. The eight-song, ’80s/’90s-influenced EP comes out October 15 on Island Records, along with a double disc reissue of Save Rock and Roll, but the EP is streaming now on KROQ (a Radio.com station) and below.
When asked why they focused in on ’80s and ’90s metal and punk with Pax-Am Days, Wentz’s answer was simple: say what you will about their pop sheen, but Fall Out Boy grew up on that heavier kind of music. He named Metallica’s Master of Puppets as one of his “single biggest influence” and shouted-out Gorilla Biscuits, Los Crudos, Damnation A.D., The Descendants, Screeching Weasel, and Earth Crisis, who was “crucial” to the development of Wentz’s own persona.
“That’s the music that got us into playing as Fall Out Boy and we wanted to pay homage to that,” Wentz continued. “I think, for bands like us, we can be a gateway. We can say like, ‘Hey, check out what these other bands we grew up with do.’ I think that’s an important thing to do as an artist. But most importantly, it was just kind of exercise in fun. It was like, ‘Let’s just make noise and if it gets recorded, cool; if it never comes out, cool.’ And that’s something that we decided last time around, that this was going to be something that was really important to the future of Fall Out Boy. It was just kind of to make sure we were always having fun in the process.”
Working with Adams helped the band keep things fun and not over-think. “It was wild,” Wentz said. “Ryan’s brain works in such a divergent way. One minute he’s telling a joke about kale salad and the next minute we’re talking about old punk rock. I think that in some way it’s childlike wonder, and in some ways it’s so genius and different. He’s such an outside-of-the-box thinker — it was really good for our band.”
That theme of childlike wonder permeates everything Fall Out Boy is doing right now. Wentz describes the band as being in their teenage years, at the point where they can “make some noise and wreak some havoc”–but still spare their hearts and livers a little. “We’re probably at the stage where we get acne and stuff–or the band does,” Wentz joked.
The guys will channel the youthful energy into a charitable cause later this fall: they’ll play a November 29th benefit show for the GRAMMY Foundation with money going toward music education. Wentz himself describes his music education happening in a “bizarre way.”
“I really listened to a lot of stuff in the back of my parents’ car, so it was a lot of the Temptations, a lot of Motown standard stuff,” he said. “I didn’t really have a formal music education. My parents made me take piano lessons outside of school–which was difficult for me–and they said I would appreciate it later. And the shout-out is that I do appreciate it. It took about 30 years or 20 years, probably, to appreciate it. I played saxophone in junior high school, too — I don’t know if I was particularly gifted at it, but I liked that I had the ability to do it. I think the arts need to be a part of everyone’s s life, and I think it enriches kids and makes kids better thinkers and better people. Even in having my son, I can’t imagine him going to school where there wouldn’t be some sort of musical education or some sort of way that you’re able to learn and grow.”
If Fall Out Boy is in the midst of a teen revival, Wentz himself is focusing even younger, thanks to his son. By the middle of our conversation, Wentz has now boarded his plane home. For a dude that practically lives on the road these days, seeing his son is priority number one. Right now, there’s the matter of Halloween costumes and tattoos to think about. The former for both, the latter just for Pete, of course. He’s considering getting one of the judges on the new season of Best Ink, a tattoo reality show on Oxygen that Wentz hosts, to tattoo one of Bronx’s drawings on him.
“I think something that I’d want to get is something that my kid has actually drawn,” Wentz said. “He’s at the level where it actually looks like some bizarre abstract stuff, so I don’t know if people will even think it’s a kid’s drawing.”
Either way, it’s be a good fit for where Fall Out Boy is at right now: reconnecting with the fun and games of it all.