Wentz in October 2014
|Birth name||Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III|
|Born||June 5, 1979|
|Origin||Wilmette, Illinois, United States|
Peter Lewis Kingston "Pete" Wentz III (born June 5, 1979), known professionally as Pete Wentz, is an American musician best known for being the bassist, primary lyricist and backing vocalist for the American rock band Fall Out Boy. Before Fall Out Boy's inception in 2001, Wentz was a fixture of the Chicago hardcore scene and was notably the lead vocalist/lyricist for Arma Angelus. During Fall Out Boy's temporary hiatus in 2009–12, Wentz formed the experimental, electropop and dubstep group Black Cards. He owns a record label, Decaydance Records, which has signed bands such as Panic! at the Disco and Gym Class Heroes. Fall Out Boy returned in February 2013.
Wentz has also ventured into other non-musical projects, including writing, acting, and fashion; in 2005 he founded a clothing company called Clandestine Industries. He also hosts the TV show Best Ink and runs a film production company called Bartskull Films, as well as a bar called Angels & Kings. His philanthropic activities include collaborations with Invisible Children, Inc. and UNICEF's Tap Project, a fundraising project that helps bring clean drinking water to people worldwide. People magazine states that "no bassist has upstaged a frontman as well as Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy."
Wentz was born Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III, in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. He is the son of Dale (née Lewis), a high school admissions counselor, and Pete Wentz II, an attorney. He is of English and German descent on his father's side and Afro-Jamaican on his mother's side. He has a younger sister, Hillary, and a younger brother, Andrew. His black maternal grandfather, Arthur Winston Lewis, served as the U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone; Arthur Winston Lewis' cousin is General Colin Powell.
Wentz' parents met while campaigning for now-Vice President Joe Biden in the 1970s. Wentz recalled in a Rolling Stone interview that his earliest musical memory was listening to The Foundations' song "Build Me Up Buttercup" in the back of his father's car. Wentz attended New Trier High School and North Shore Country Day School, where he was an all-state soccer player. He considered pursuing a professional career in the sport, but decided that music was a more fulfilling choice; he says that he "always had a magical connection to the ball. But it didn't feel like an adventure. Music was more of a challenge and, in the end, felt more interesting."
During his freshman year of high school, he began skipping school regularly, and a school counselor convinced his parents to send him to boot camp to straighten him out. During this time, Wentz began writing songs as a way to vent his frustrations. He began taking piano lessons afterwards, and adopted a straight edge lifestyle. However, he now drinks occasionally. After graduating from high school in 1997, he attended DePaul University where he studied political science, dropping out one quarter shy of graduation to focus on his music career.
Arma Angelus (1998–2002)
Wentz was primarily involved in the Chicago hardcore punk scene and was in several bands in the late 1990s. These included First Born (first band, formed in 1993), Birthright, Extinction, Arma Angelus (alongside Tim McIlrath, frontman of Rise Against), Yellow Road Priest, and Racetraitor. He and Arma Angelus' bassist Joe Trohman founded the pop-punk band Fall Out Boy after Trohman introduced Pete to a musical acquaintance, Patrick Stump. Andy Hurley agreed to drum part-time, but only joined the band full-time later. In 2002, Arma Angelus, the band in which Wentz was the vocalist, played its last show.
Fall Out Boy (2001–2009, 2013–present)
In 2002, Fall Out Boy released an EP called Fall Out Boy/Project Rocket Split EP. Soon after, in 2003, the band released their mini-LP Fall Out Boy's Evening Out with Your Girlfriend on Uprising Records. This album would later be digitally remastered and reissued after the band's third, successful full-album release From Under the Cork Tree, on the major label Island Records. In 2003, the band released their first full-length album, Take This to Your Grave through Fueled By Ramen. Fall Out Boy signed with major label Island Records in 2003 and in 2004 released an acoustic EP and DVD entitled, My Heart Will Always Be the B-Side to My Tongue.
Their third album, From Under the Cork Tree, was released in 2005. Wentz wrote the lyrics to the lead single, "Sugar, We're Goin Down" with his dad in Chicago; the song peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent months in the top 50 of the Hot 100, marking five weeks in the top 10 and fourteen weeks in the top 20. The band's major label debut album has since been certified double platinum by the RIAA as well as "Sugar, We're Goin Down."
In 2007, Fall Out Boy's fourth album, Infinity On High was released to major success, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 260,000 sales, spurred by the #2 charting lead single, "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race". The second single, "Thnks fr th Mmrs" sold more than 2 million units in the US. The band's fifth studio album, Folie à Deux was released on December 13, 2008, and debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200. The band toured extensively in support of their albums.
On November 20, 2009, the four band members announced they will be taking an indefinite hiatus, saying they were unsure of the future of the band. Wentz has said that his personal reason for taking a break is that he feels that his name and marriage to pop singer Ashlee Simpson had become a hindrance for the band. He added: "I think the world needs a little less Pete Wentz".
On February 4, 2013, the band announced their hiatus was over, via their official webpage. They released a new single off their upcoming album, a video for the single, upcoming tour dates and a pre-order campaign for the new album titled Save Rock and Roll.
Black Cards (2010–present)
In July 2010, Wentz, with singer Bebe Rexha, guitarist Nate Patterson, and drummer Spencer Peterson, formed the ska/electropop band Black Cards. Originally, the band had planned to release a full-length LP in the summer of 2011. However, after several delays, the departures of both Patterson and Rexha, and general uncertainty about the band's future, the group reshuffled, scrapping the original album and announcing plans to release a mixtape, write new material, and continue to remix tracks by other artists.
With regards to the band's sound, Wentz has said that during the time he took off to spend with his family, he began to be inspired by Jamaican reggae songs such as Culture's "Two Sevens Clash" and The Gladiators's "Warriors". Wentz then contacted producer Sam Hollander (Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship, Hey Monday) and discussed the idea with him to mash up ska, dance and reggae with 80s British rock and pop to create a new experimental sound.
Apart from his musical career, Wentz has been involved in various entrepreneurial ventures. Fall Out Boy bandmate Patrick Stump says of Wentz's endeavors: "It scares me sometimes, watching him. The two seconds you're not with that dude he's made 30 decisions that are going to affect our band for the rest of the year." Wentz's company, Clandestine Industries, distributes books, clothing, and other merchandise. On August 2, 2007, fashion company DKNY joined a partnership with Clandestine Industries. Wentz himself has served as a model on the DKNY/Clandestine promo website.
In April 2007, Pete came out with his own signature Squier Precision Bass. It has a black body with a red shell pickguard and special graphics that include Wentz’s own red bat/heart design on the body, plus a black bat/diamond fingerboard inlay at the 12th fret. It also features Wentz’s signature on the back of the headstock. Wentz owns a very similar custom Fender bass with a purple pickguard and bat/heart. In 2008, Fender gave his son, Bronx Wentz, a three-quarter-sized modified version of his guitar.
Wentz opened a nightclub in New York with his bandmates as well as members of Gym Class Heroes, The Academy Is..., and Cobra Starship; the bands' managers are also involved in the enterprise. Called Angels & Kings, the club occupies the former space on 11th Street near Avenue A that housed the Orchid Lounge. Notable guests, including Tommy Hilfiger, arrived for the grand opening on April 20, 2007. In June 2007, Wentz celebrated the opening of Angels & Kings' second location in Chicago.
On December 13, 2008, Wentz, along with Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, created several pieces for an art exhibit at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA called "Without You, I'm Just Me." The exhibit closed on December 24, 2008. Wentz appeared in the season 5 episode of CSI: NY, "Point Of No Return", along with wife Ashlee. Wentz also hosted the Australia MTV VMAs on March 27, 2009.
Wentz collaborated with Mark Hoppus on the track "In Transit" on the Almost Alice soundtrack for the 2010 movie, Alice in Wonderland. He was also a judge for the 10th and 11th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
Wentz has written a book entitled The Boy With the Thorn In His Side, a story based on nightmares he had as a child. The title is a reference to a track on The Smiths' album The Queen Is Dead. Wentz explained that writing books serves as another mode of self-expression other than songwriting: "My inspiration and my ideas don't begin and end at the beginning and the ending of a song. It is too limiting." It was reported that he was to publish another book, entitled Rainy Day Kids, but years went by without any word on the book's progress, and Wentz even expressed on his
Twitter account that he didn't think it would ever come to fruition. However, in February 2012, he posted a photo on his personal blog of what appeared to be a rough draft of the book's manuscript, explaining that he was currently in the process of editing Rainy Day Kids and that it would be 40-50 pages longer than he originally expected. On December 13, 2012, Wentz revealed the cover for the book, now titled Gray, on his personal blog. The book, which was written with MTV News writer and former FNMTV co-host James Montgomery, was released on February 26, 2013.
In June 2009, it was announced that Wentz was working on a five-issue comic book mini-series called Fall Out Toy Works, to be published by Image Comics. The idea was conceived by Wentz and designer Darren Romanelli. The plot is loosely based on the Fall Out Boy song "Tiffany Blews" and focuses on "a mysterious toymaker, a cyborg gal named Tiffany and a kid in a bear suit that looks lifted from the cover of Fall Out Boy's Folie á Deux." With writing by Brett Lewis, and art by Sam Basri, the first issue was released on September 2, 2009.
Film and television work
Wentz also has a film production company called Bartskull Films, which put out the DVD Release the Bats, starring Wentz, his bandmates, and several of his personal friends. Wentz has told several sources that he has all the footage to release a sequel, but editing and time constraints have kept him from doing so, and therefore the fate of the project is still up in the air.
Wentz was in a multi-episode arc of the show One Tree Hill, appearing at Tric (the local all-ages club in Tree Hill) with the entire band. The band first appeared in an episode "An Attempt to Tip the Scales", where they played their single "Dance, Dance" and went on to appear on Peyton and Ellie's (also One Tree Hill's album) tribute album, "Friends with Benefit" to support cancer awareness. Pete made his first solo cameo in the episode "When It Isn't Like It Should Be" as the romantic interest of Peyton Sawyer, a senior at Tree Hill who had booked the band to play at Tric.
He also made a brief cameo appearance in the show Californication. On February 6, 2008, it was reported that Wentz was the leading candidate for writer Diablo Cody's follow-up film to Juno, Jennifer's Body. The role ended up going to Adam Brody. On February 24, 2008, Wentz appeared in comedian Jimmy Kimmel's video "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck" as a chorus member (along with many other celebrities). The video was in response to one made by Kimmel's then girlfriend, Sarah Silverman, "I'm Fucking Matt Damon".
In 2009, he made a cameo appearance as himself in Degrassi Goes Hollywood.
Wentz has bipolar disorder, and has taken medication for it since he was eighteen. In February 2005, Wentz attempted suicide by taking an overdose of the anxiety medication Ativan, and as a result, spent a week in the hospital. Commenting on the event to a magazine, he said:
|“||I was isolating myself further and further, and the more I isolated myself, the more isolated I'd feel. I wasn't sleeping. I just wanted my head to shut off, like, I just wanted to completely stop thinking about anything at all.||”|
The suicide attempt was put into song form, "7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen)" and released on their album, From Under The Cork Tree. After this event, Wentz moved back in with his parents. Wentz later spoke of his suicide attempt to the support site Halfofus.com and cites Jeff Buckley's version of the Leonard Cohen classic "Hallelujah" as a song that saved his life.
In 2006, Wentz started dating singer Ashlee Simpson. In April 2008, Simpson and Wentz confirmed their engagement, and were married on May 17, 2008 at Simpson's parents' residence in Encino, California, with her father officiating the ceremony. Two weeks later, she confirmed her pregnancy. Her surname changed from Simpson to Wentz and she was briefly known professionally as Ashlee Simpson-Wentz. Simpson gave birth to their son, Bronx Mowgli Wentz, on November 20, 2008. Wentz said the reason behind the name Bronx "comes back to a very specific story between me and my wife. But I would just like to say that it wasn't because either of us were trying to give our son street cred. At the end of the day, we like the name. Brooklyn gets a lot of love. It's time for the Bronx to get a little bit of love too."
On February 8, 2011, Simpson filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences". She asked for joint custody and primary physical custody of their son, Bronx, with visitation for Wentz, along with spousal support. However, a later report said that Simpson believed the couple simply "married too young", with the source stating that, "It was honestly a classic case of marrying young, having a kid young and growing apart over the years". Wentz reportedly did not want the divorce. Their divorce was finalized on November 22, 2011.
On February 17, 2014, Wentz and his current girlfriend Meagan Camper announced that the couple were expecting their first child together and Wentz's second. Their son, Saint Laszlo, was born on August 21, 2014.
Philanthropy and activism
Wentz is a supporter of Invisible Children, Inc., an organization dedicated to helping the cause of displaced refugees in Uganda. He and Fall Out Boy traveled to the nation, and filmed the music video for the song "I'm Like a Lawyer... (Me & You)" there, which featured a love story between child soldiers. He explained that when he discovered the struggle of the children in Uganda, he "felt sad and I realized that I hadn’t felt sad for something outside of myself or one of my friends in a really long time." Prior to the trip, he participated in an event organized by Invisible Children called "Displace Me", in which 67,000 activists throughout the United States slept in the streets in makeshift cardboard villages, hoping to raise awareness about those displaced by the Ugandan government. Wentz said of the experience, "I don't feel like we got anywhere near what it's actually like, but it was an attempt at empathy. So we got the shots [necessary to travel to] Africa, and we're going to go to Uganda in July. I'm pretty excited, but also a little nervous. I feel like I won't really understand it until I go there, and I think that there's no other chance for me to do that."
Wentz was also an outspoken critic of California's Proposition 8, and attended many anti-Prop 8 rallies. He believes that voters were "tricked into" voting for the proposition. In a statement, he said, "Many people were intimidated on this issue due to the scary misleading communications on the other side. I believe that this is, and has always been, a civil rights issue. We should not allow inequality like this in America." He was also vocal in his support of Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election, designing a shirt promoting Obama's campaign through his clothing line, Clandestine Industries.
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