Pete Wentz Talks Playing Wrigley Field and What's Next on Fall Out Boy's Bucket List
The FOB bassist also shares some pictures from The MANIA Experience pop-up.
Fall Out Boy had their biggest hometown return this past weekend when they played the iconic Wrigley Field on Sept. 8. In addition to the monumental show, the Chi-Town-formed band held The MANIA Experience in downtown Chicago, which brought some of the songs on the group's seventh album, MANIA, to life.
With six different rooms for fans to enjoy (and of course snap some photos tailor-made for Instagram), The MANIA Experience was Fall Out Boy's way of showing fans another side to their latest LP. And in Pete Wentz's mind, the pop-up was a counterintuitive thought. "You can feel it, you can touch it, you can experience it," the FOB bassist explains. "I think we live in an age [that's] very digital, and everything kind of exists in a cloud. This is the analog to that."
But it was also a way for fans to further celebrate Fall Out Boy's bucket list achievement of playing one of their city's most famed landmarks, something that Wentz couldn't really fathom ahead of the show. Before The MANIA Experience opened its doors on Sept. 7, Wentz chatted with Billboard about the MANIA Experience, what Fall Out Boy's Wrigley homecoming means to them, and his boundary-pushing hopes for FOB's future.
Did you see MANIA as a physical experience when you guys were making it?
[Looking at] the cover art and the art that went with it, I always thought, “This would be insane down a hallway.” I wouldn’t say the most difficult thing we’ve done, but it’s just different and completely out of the wheelhouse. It’s very difficult to make a thing of semi-permanent structures that lasts for three days. I never thought I would look at like blueprints and room flow, stuff like that. It was much more difficult just than when it’s an idea in your head.
Do you have a favorite part of The MANIA Experience?
The pill pit is a lot of fun. I think about that from the perspective of my 4-year-old, who’d be super psyched about it. There’s these side rooms that are really cool -- there’s a teddy bear room, an upside down room, an infinity mirror coffin. I think the atrium when you walk in is mind-blowing. He’s a local Chicago artist [named Eric Rieger, known as installation artist Hot Tea]. That’s the thing that I thought was really cool, is we ended up partnering with a lot of local [artists] – that makes it feel like something that makes more sense here.
I feel like when you get into ultra-hyper-literalism it could get like, super corny. We did a lot of research going to other museums and experiences and pop-ups to try to figure out how to do it. Making this successful is having it be people successfully feel like they integrated and were a part of it, had fun in it. This was about trying to do something – we’ve been doing a band for 15+ years, when you try something different, it’s like brushing your teeth with your left hand, like “Oh man I feel like I opened other neuro passageways.” And then it allows to be more creative with the music then after that.
Speaking of new music, did the Lake Effect Kid release feel any different than your past releases, since it was a surprise announce and immediate release kind of thing?
That one felt interesting because I was like, “We’re putting out three songs about Chicago – I don’t know how people will kind of walk away with that” [Laughs]. One song is from 10 years ago, but we finished it. One song was the literal accompanying piece to “Young and Menace,” and then one song is a vibe that's kind of more maybe what we would be doing in the future. None of those made sense on their own, none of them made sense on another album, and so they maybe make sense together.
I think the world that Fall Out Boy could exist in is more of a world that Drake exists in -- Drake just puts out music, and some of it’s a single and some of it is like, Drake music. And then sometimes the audience decides, this song’s a single because we made it a giant meme. That’s what’s fantastic about the time we live in. I don’t see any of those songs as a single. Lake Effect Kid did what it did because there’s nostalgia attached to it, or whatever it is, but that’s the beauty of it -- people just decide. You don’t have to have the guys in like A&R in a room being like, “Did we get the recipe right?” It’s kind of cool and liberating.
Has Wrigley Field always been on the Fall Out Boy bucket list?
I think it's always been a bucket list item but it's never been a realistic one. In the vein of [Rookie of the Year] where the kid breaks his arm and then he can throw super fast and [becomes] a pitcher on [the Cubs], like, "Oh I could be in Wrigley Field. I'm supposed to be on the field," but not in realistic way. We’ve talked about playing a stadium, and playing this stadium is one of the wild things where you're not ready to do it, but you just have to do it. No one's gonna be like, "You're ready."
Do you have a favorite Chicago show from over the years?
I would say that the first show we played back here [after their hiatus, at Subterranean in Feb. 2013]. That was cool, it was special. It felt like a thing that maybe two or three years before that couldn't have ever happened. It wasn't a thing that was realistic because we just weren't going to be a band. I think, more than anything, it brought me back to [the feeling of] being here with these guys. There's a lot of other things that come along with being in a band, but it's really special being on stage with those guys.
Did the Wrigley show and the MANIA experience make you think about Fall Out Boy's legacy at all?
I'm, like, a crazy person, so I never really think about the legacy and that's probably why Patrick [Stump, FOB's frontman] and I work well together -- I'm a foot-on-the-gas kind of person all the time, and he's the guy that's steering the car and hits the brakes every once in a while, which is good.
I would say there are two things we're shooting for. First, [for example], Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was pervasive, but it was like, "This is our band." This is one [song] that is for me, the misaligned people. The people who are weird and odd. I think we're shooting to be that band for somebody. So maybe we're your entry point into finding and discovering another world, knowing that there can be these other bands that are like that.
I think the second one is way more like, less specific. Again, I'll use Metallica. There's a lot of bands where you're talking about the band and you're like, "Yeah they're heavy metal" but when you talk to somebody you're like, "Metallica just sounds like Metallica." They are a descriptor, their name is a descriptor and I think that's good thing to shoot for too, because at that point it's not genre -- you just kind of become a thing unto yourself.
Also, when someone comes up to me and they’re like, “your band helped me through this” -- someone came up to me the other day and was like “I played drums because of Andy Hurley." That’s crazy. I'm just like, in a punk band with this guy. It’s a crazy thing, you know?
Now that you've crossed this off, what else is on the Fall Out Boy bucket list?
There’s all kinds of things on the bucket list. We’re the band that tried to go play in Antarctica and play on every continent. We’re crazy [Laughs]. You can always tell when a band or an artist has been doing this for a while, at some point you’re like, “This is just a different version of a thing that they [already] did.” And it’s really hard – that’s why, when we worked with Burna Boy on “Sunshine Riptide,” it was like, “Wow, this is so refreshing” because you’re looking at yourself through a different lens. I would say the next Fall Out Boy thing needs to be like, a film score, or we go to Jamaica and [make] a dancehall record. It’s gotta be something that forces us out of our comfort zone.