The se­crets be­hind FOB’S songs? Hid­den un­der Pete’s fringe, in­nit

Kerrang! (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: JENNYFER J. WALKER

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.”

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