FALL OUT BOY
The secrets behind FOB’S songs? Hidden under Pete’s fringe, innit
As Fall Out Boy were gearing up to record Thnks Fr Th Mmrs, the Chicago quartet sat down to chill out in front of a DVD: 2001 cheesy comedy Josie And The Pussycats. It posed a question for the band. “We were like, ‘Who wrote these songs? Who recorded this record?’” says bassist Pete Wentz. A Google search threw up ‘Babyface’ as the man behind the tunes, and “We have to do a song with him!” came the conclusion.
Babyface being present in the studio didn’t prevent Pete and singer/guitarist Patrick Stump falling out, though – that was something that would happen, oh, at least once a record. Just as Patrick finished singing his vocals for the song, Pete upped and went home without saying a word, something out of character for the some-time micromanager, who usually stayed ’til everything was complete.
A furious Patrick immediately picked up his phone, and dialed Pete’s number. Upon the bassist picking up, he screamed: “WTF was that? Why did you leave?” “To his credit,” remembered Patrick. “He was like, ‘I left ’cause it sounded good, it was done. I knew I didn’t need to do anything else on it…’”
Released in 2007, Thnks Fr Th Mmrs became one of FOB’S biggest hits, yet its creation saw them at their most dysfunctional – especially Pete, who’d started dating popstar Ashlee Simpson, finding himself famous for all the wrong reasons.
“There’s parts of me that are so stoked that anyone can relate to it,” says Pete of the album to which the song belongs, Infinity On High. “Because there are moments where it feels really unrelatable. I was writing about things that were so personally situational to a guy that was ripped out of the Midwest, and fame eclipsed the art and ideas, and I was trying to desperately get people to focus on that instead, and be like, ‘I get what you think, but I’m not these other people that I’m stumbling out of a club with.’”
And because of that, the album brought several revelations to the lyricist, one in particular found in Thnks Fr Th Mmrs’ bridge lyric: ‘They say I only think in the form of crunching numbers / Or in hotel rooms collecting page-six lovers’ (referring to the New York Post’s notorious gossip page).
“I was like: ‘This is me saying, “I understand how you see me!”’ I’m self-aware enough to be able to laugh at myself and take the piss out of myself, and even in my most hazy moments it felt that way,” he recalls. “There were more metaphors being written about on this record than any of them.”
“I was angry, but I was angry at myself,” Pete told Kerrang! in K!1539. “I hated that what I was going through at the time eclipsed what the band was doing. I felt like there was a part of me that wanted to abandon this ship and just go back and hang out in the suburbs of Chicago.”
The album became something of a psychologist’s dream, with Pete, who had begun to get bothered about being bothered by the public’s perception of him, lashing out by writing about it even more. Needless to say, Infinity On High was Pete’s last biographical album before the hiatus, with follow-up Folie à Deux seeing him look to outside sources for inspiration.
“I remember thinking, ‘That’s the best way to remove one weapon that people are gonna use and write about,’” he says. “I wanted to stop writing in such a meta way, so there wasn’t so much to talk about.”