Touring in support of its newest release, Fall Out Boy gears up for a killer homecoming show on the North Side.
Joe Trohman, Patrick Stump, Andy Hurley, and Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy (Photo: Pamela Littky)
When Fall Out Boy brings its Mania tour to Chicago for the band’s first headlining show at Wrigley Field on Sept. 8, it will be a marked departure from how bassist and lyricist Pete Wentz experienced the Friendly Confines growing up. “My dad [and I] would always have nosebleed seats, and then as the game progressed, we would make our way down to other people’s,” recalls the North Shore native fondly.
It brings full circle a legacy born nearly two decades ago in Wilmette, where the group originally formed, and since burnished by an ever-expanding catalog of infectious, arenaworthy singles and studio albums (seven, with four of them—including January release Mania—reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart). Having played Wrigley for MLB’s opening-night festivities in 2015, the park isn’t unfamiliar territory for the rock powerhouses, but the corner of Addison and Clark never loses its luster. “Wrigley is so not of this time,” Wentz enthuses. “It’s a cool feeling to be part of something larger than yourself.”
Below, Wentz dishes on why he loves about returning to the Windy City, some of his favorite cuts off of Mania, and the invaluable lessons he's learned from nearly twenty years of Fall Out Boy.
When you’re performing live in Chicago, is there any kind of tangible, palpable energy that kind of feels different versus playing in other cities?
PETE WENTZ: When we play in Chicago it always takes me back to early shows that we played, where the energy is kind of kinetic and you feel like something is going to happen. This is where a lot of these songs were kind of birthed, so it feels a little different, which is pretty cool.
Do you have anything that really resonates with you that you carve out time to experience when you’re here?
PW: There’s nothing better than Lake Michigan in August or September; it’s kind of perfect. I go to all these tiny places where I grew up; there’s this little tiny burger place called the Chuck Wagon. I like seeing my parents, and my family is here. Even just like all the things that remind you of different times in your life, it’s great to experience and know that they still are there; it’s kind of like knowing you can set your watch to certain things, that it’s just always going to be there. It just feels nice.
Is there anything specific you want fans or audiences to walk away with, or take away, beyond just enjoying the performance?
PW: I think that we live in a really chaotic time that can feel super, super overwhelming and I just want people to have an experience for like 90 minutes where they can feel like they don’t have to think about that, you know? Whatever it is. You can just come and be away from that part of the world for 90 minutes and feel like you’re in a place, where, you can just kind of be yourself, and not really think about that.
Rise Against is opening on this stop here in Chicago—what does it mean for them to lend their talents to the evening?
PW: We grew up together, us and the Rise Against guys, and we played in different bands that were together. I like to think they’re different, but intertwined, and if not that, they kind of run parallel to each other, but we never really played together. We played together in Japan, [but] we never really like played, played together, performed together. So, knowing that we were doing the biggest show that we’ve ever done in Chicago as a headliner, we wanted to do something special, and that’s why we reached out to Tim [McIlrath] and the guys at Rise Against. Because it felt like a one-of-a-kind type of show. So we reached out to them, and I think that it’s great that they offer something that’s a little outside of what we do, in a really big and interesting way.
Fall Out Boy (Photo: Pamela Littky)
Another special aspect of the tour is the donation portion going to benefit local charities. What are some causes that you really like rallying behind?
PW: A dollar for every ticket is going to the Fall Out Boy Fund. Basically, the Fall Out Boy Fund is a fund where we can start to be able to channel and direct capital to people that we think are doing great things, especially in a highly localized way, where we think they’re not getting enough capital. So we’ve worked with the Bears and their charity; we worked with a sustainable, organic breakfast program with local Chicago public schools; and we've worked with a couple clean water initiatives as well.
The goal behind the Fall Out Boy Fund is to not to make it a singular idea, but finding people who are conquering and who have solutions to problems that are within our grasp, that we’re able to direct funds to them.
How do you feel about Mania, and is there a favorite cut that you’ve found that you enjoy performing live?
PW: Albums are interesting in the way that all art pieces are, where it doesn’t really become what it is until other people decide what they think about it.....It really becomes what it is when other people are like "Hey, I like this song," or "I don’t like this" [or] "I reorganized it, the playlist is now in this order." It’s just the way people curate their lives now.
"Last Of the Real Ones" is one that, when I would play the demo for people in my car, a lot of people gravitated towards it. I would play six songs, or something like that, and that's the one people gravitated toward. We never really thought of it as a radio song really, or a single per se, but the way people stream music and listen to music, that's the song that has really [resonated] with people. And I like the song "Bishops Knife Trick" a lot, the song that closes the record.
You’re closing in on nearly two decades of Fall Out Boy, what’s been the key to longevity for you? If you’re able to boil it down to a takeaway or a lesson that’s really stayed with you.
PW: I think that there’s a couple of takeaways....In some ways, we’re blessed by being this kind of permanent sophomores or juniors in the scheme of music and rock and roll. We’ve never reached, to me, like a pinnacle where you’re looking at a band like the Foo Fighters or The Beatles or something like that, and so there’s always something for us to strive for, because I think ambition is clearly the biggest driver.
But beyond that, I think we’ve been lucky enough that our band has existed in two different eras: we existed in the era where there's CDs and record plaques and had a foot in that, but the way our band really started, we were downloaded in peoples' dorm rooms and shared on peer-to-peer software sharing, and I think that created or bolstered the new era of music and the way people listen to music without thinking about genre as much. You'll have somebody who listens to Burna Boy, and then listens to Drake, and then listens to Zayn, and then listens to Rise Against. We have been a band that has been a little bit hard for us to figure out where we fit in, and I think as the world and the way people look at art becomes less based on genre, that it's benefited us.
I think, more than anything, our proximity to other people has been really helpful. Learning from Burna Boy, learning from Ryan Adams, learning from Migos, learning from Jay-Z, learning from the guys in Less Than Jake—I think we’ve been able to help figure ourselves out by being in the proximity to greatness around us. We really appreciate that. You can always learn from other people, and I think that we’ve never really reached a point where we feel like we’re masters of something, and I think we’re kind of learning and figuring it out, and that’s been really helpful, seeing how other people do it.