Pete Wentz: How Wiz Khalifa, 'Kill Bill' & Bud Light Shaped Fall Out Boy's 'Uma Thurman'
Wentz also looks back on Fall Out Boy's recently-wrapped trek with Wiz: "People said this tour was going to be polarizing."
"Uma Thurman" is Fall Out Boy's latest hit. It currently sits at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100, its peak position in 19 weeks on the chart. There's an awful lot that went into it -- a prominent Munsters sample, an absurd music video, Wiz Khalifa, and of course, the titular movie star.
Billboard spoke to Pete Wentz, who broke down all that and more:
So why Uma Thurman?
The thing that I like about a lot of the characters Uma Thurman has played is that she picks these quirky, yet powerful roles. When we were writing the song, I'd play it for people and a lot them immediately thought Pulp Fiction. But to me, I felt like it was more her character in Kill Bill. It's iconic, vengeful…that's the character I thought of when we were writing the song. If you grew up at all in the '90s, it's hard not to crush on a woman like Uma Thurman.
And what's your favorite moment from those movies?
In Kill Bill, when she's in the sushi restaurant and kills everybody in the place, I thought that was an epic moment. I think of it every night when we play the song.
And that's why you wanted to name the song Uma Thurman, just that vibe?
Yeah, honestly the track came before the song. We had the track and we were playing it to people. We treated the process a more like the way DJs and producers create songs or the way hip-hop tracks are made. We had the tracks done, and we were playing them to people, and people kept saying, "Oh, Pulp Fiction" or "Oh, Dick Dale." That's what they thought the (sampling of the) Munsterstheme sounded like. Like this surfy guitar idea… because of that, we were like, why don't we write something that's in the Quentin Tarantino world? And then the Uma Thurman melody idea came up, and we were like, okay, now we'll reach out to Uma and see if she's down with us doing this, because otherwise we're going to have to go back to the drawing board and figure it out.
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So all systems were go after the reach out?
Yeah, I don't know how she really feels about the song, but she's ok about naming it Uma Thurman, which is cool.
That was very polite of you guys to reach out.
Yeah, I mean I think that if someone was going to name a song after me, I would just like to know that I liked the song or that was ok with it.
Yeah, if there was just a song called "Pete Wentz" by some artist.
Yeah, I don't know how that would sing. My name doesn't seem like it would sing very well.
I wanted to talk about the video, too. How did that concept come about and what was it like shooting that?
I remember…You know all those…I think they might be beer commercials or maybe a soda commercial and they aired in the Super Bowl and this guy gets surprised and he goes to a OneRepublic show...
Bud Light? "Down for whatever"?
Yeah! Something like that. Whatever it is, and I was like, dude, how cool. The go-to question in interviews is like, how crazy is it backstage? What's life like? And I was like, what if we could just create a version of that that's on steroids and let somebody experience it. So, that's where the idea came from, and then it was like, what are the aspects of each of our personalities and let's amp them up to the highest degree that they could create. I remember when we were writing the treatment for the video, I was like, what's the craziest thing I can ask a label for? I was like, why don't we see if we can get a tank?
I guess things were crazy too with the "Centuries" video before that.
Yeah. I reached out to the label and I was like, this is the video that I want to make and it has to be shot in the Colosseum in Rome. So, they reached out to the Italian tourism board or something like that and there are crazy rules about shooting in the Colosseum. Like, you can do it but it's like from 6 through 7 p.m., no lights. It was just kind of insane, basically impossible, so we found this fort in Canada -- that was originally built to keep Americans out -- and shot the video there.
What are some highlights of the tour with Wiz Khalifa?
I like seeing Wiz everyday. He's got such a good vibe about him. It's almost like a hippie vibe. It's good for the morale of the tour, and then he comes out and usually does "Uma Thurman" with us.
We've been doing this band for 13, 14 whatever years. I think that challenging ourselves to do new things is important. It's hard to find new things sometimes, you know? People said this tour was going to be polarizing, but we're doing bigger numbers than we've done before, you know? I think it's probably tapping into different kids or something.