Stump bounds off after the conversation winds down, grateful to escape the attention.
In contrast, it’s hard to get Wentz to stop talking.
“It’s gonna be hectic with all the fans outside.” He pulls a bright pink scarf tightly around his neck, pushes a heavy door open and braces for mass adulation.
Outside, it’s the kind of Manchester evening that moved Morrissey to pen morose lyrics about fat girls: Rain falls in frigid drops from a single, endless gray cloud.
“It’s almost like watching him bone.” The other guys in the band namecheck the Smiths, Pantera, Slayer and hardcore bands you’ve never heard of, but Stump big-ups jazz guitar virtuoso Joe Pass, John Prine, Tom Waits, the Small Faces, Prince, Jackie Wilson, Christina Aguilera, Ornette Coleman, Taj Mahal, Abba and Earth, Wind and Fire, among others, in the course of an hour.
He drops his voice an octave into an eerily accurate impression of Elvis Costello singing “New Lace Sleeves.” “My Costello thing helped me a lot in Fall Out Boy, because he has that element of Yeah, I’m singing this really catchy pop song, but the lyrics are really negative,'” he says.
But then came “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” perhaps last year’s catchiest rock single and certainly its most unintelligible, as well as the -inspired video for “Dance, Dance” and a marketing strategy that takes its cues from hip-hop (Wentz has his own clothing line, record label and protégé acts).
Stump wrote “Sugar, We’re Going Down” in about ten minutes.” As Wentz, 26, hustles toward the side entrance of MTV’s Times Square studios, he pauses to face his public: a giggling group of junior high school girls wearing braces and North Face jack’s. A year ago, Wentz and his band – an emo-ish pop-punk quarter from the wealthy suburbs of Chicago that took its name from the sidekick to Bart Simpson’s favorite superhero, Radioactive Man – were an indie act known only to skateboarding Warped Tour kids.They seemed unsuited for mainstream success: Their singer, Patrick Stump, was a music geek who hated the Spotlight; Wentz was borderline suicidal, OD’ing on his anti-anxiety meds as they recorded their first major-label album.Still glistening with post-show sweat, Pete Wentz – bassist, lyricist and designated pretty face of Fall Out Boy – strides through a grim backstage hallway.“I better say goodbye now,” he warns, heading out of the squat brick building that houses tonight’s venue, a club in Manchester, England.A bulletin board on one wall is emblazoned with graffiti left by bands like Sepultura; a huge marker drawing of a hairy penis covers another wall. Wentz ignores the ambience and seems to enter a trancelike state, answering questions with compulsive honesty over the course of three and a half hours.The twenty-six-year-old son of a law professor and a private-school admissions dean, Wentz was a soccer jock who dove into hardcore in his teens, becoming a local celebrity in the scene.“That’s what I did instead of making out with chicks,” he says.“I didn’t have girlfriends or anything.” His strongest memory of his parents’ divorce is carrying his father’s records out of the house.“I guess Patrick is some kind of genius – he’s a total mad scientist,” says the band’s shaggy-haired lead guitarist, Joe Trohman, 21.Trohman first met Stump in a Borders bookstore when they were both high school juniors in 2001; after checking out the songs Stump had posted on MP3.