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Fall Out Boy Leader Balances Band, Personality

Of the Oakland Press

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Fall Out Boy is a band. But one of the boys tends to get a little more fallout than the rest.

Pete Wentz, the quartet’s bass player, lyricist and most outsize personality, is the face of Fall Out Boy. Patrick Stump may sing his words, but it’s on Wentz that the spotlight often shines — often for his outspoken opinions or his nude photos on the Internet, his prominent eye makeup or his purported relationships with starlets such as Ashlee Simpson, Michelle Trachtenberg and Lindsay Lohan.

And that’s not to mention a variety of extra-band interests that includes a clothing line (Clandestine Industries), a film production company (Bartskull), books and a record label, Decaydance Records, whose successes include hitmakers such as Panic! At the Disco and Gym Class Heroes.

Wentz — who suffered an overdose of the antianxiety medication Ativan in 2005 — knows better than to deny his profile and pretend he’s just one of the boys, at least in the public eye. But as Fall Out Boy trots around the country headlining the Honda Civic Tour in support of its fourth album, this year’s “Infinity on High,” he acknowledges he’s trying to achieve “this balance I haven’t figured out.”

“It kind of blows my mind,” he says, “because, honestly, when I wake up in the morning and I look in the mirror, I’m the same dude as I was when I was 14 years old, except now I have to shave or whatever.

“And it blows my mind because people are interested in aspects of my life that are purely boring. I am one of the most ordinary people anyone will ever meet. I spend 99 percent of my life reading and watching DVDs and hanging out in my back yard with my dog. The 1 percent where I go into a club or I do whatever is what people focus on, but it’s like, honestly, I’m not that interesting a person.”

And, Wentz says, he worries about his personality eclipsing Fall Out Boy, which the Wilmette, Ill., native — who now lives in Los Angeles — joined in 2000 after playing in Chicago punk scene bands such as First Born, Arma Angelus, Racetraitor and Yellow Road Priest.

“I still feel like (his notoriety) looms over it, and I don’t ever want our band to be known that way,” says Wentz, 27, the oldest of three children and an all-state soccer player in high school. “It’s a real delicate thing, but I don’t worry about it as much as I think I’d have to if the rest of the musicians in my band weren’t so stellar. They really make it not so much of an issue ’cause they’re so good.”

Stump, in fact, says he and the other Fall Out Boys — guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andrew Hurley — don’t give Wentz’s stature much thought.

“Pete’s a hard-driven guy,” Stump, 23, says, “but he drives us, too, and makes us better, I think. He’s out there a little bit more than the rest of us, but I think he represents (the band) well.”

The real fights, according to Wentz, tend to come over the music.

“Me and Patrick used to fistfight all the time,” he says with a laugh, “over everything — over song parts, over lyrics, over syllables. We’ve gotten into about every fight imaginable.”

Yet, Wentz adds, “we’re brothers. Maybe it’s closer to how you feel about somebody you went to war with. You’re stuck with this person but you love this person but you’re still gonna fight with them. It’s a really cool relationship.”

Wentz, Stump and their cohorts did at least agree over what the wanted to do with “Infinity,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in February and has since sold nearly 850,000 copies. They wanted to expand the punkcum-emo sound of Fall Out Boy’s previous releases, including 2005’s double-platinum “From Under the Cork Tree,” incorporating more instrumentation, elements of rap and R&B, and going outside the group’s “circle of trust” to bring in contributors such as Babyface, Jay-Z and Butch Walker.

And after three hit singles — “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” “Thnks fr the Mmrs” and “Hum Hallelujah” — any apprehension they felt about the experiments has largely disappeared.

“I really like the idea of changing,” Stump says. “We’re into a lot of things, and at the end of the day it would be dishonest for us to hold back any of those elements. We’d have to contrive more standard rock music, which would be lame.”

Wentz, meanwhile, says that Fall Out Boy “didn’t necessarily go out to experiment, but when it went there, we just let it happen. Mostly we decided we were gonna take away all those kinds of things that boxed us in. We never said, ‘We can’t go here ’cause it wouldn’t be right to the band.’

“And I’ve gotta tell ya, I’m the kind of person that never really likes anything after I do ’em, but I’m definitely happy with how this record’s going, for sure.”

The Honda Civic Tour, featuring Fall Out Boy, (+44), The Academy Is ..., Paul Wall and Cobra Starship, takes place at 6 p.m. Sunday (May 27th) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $38 pavilion, $26.50 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www. palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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