PLAYBOY: Could you see doing a Sonny and Cher or Ike and Tina type of record with Ashlee?
WENTZ: Hopefully not Ike and Tina. [laughs] No, not right now. Our tastes are so different. We would have to be in the poorhouse to do that.
PLAYBOY: So after boot camp, how was high school?
WENTZ: I was pretty outcast, but a lot of it was by choice. I was kind of a geek. It wasn’t much fun.
PLAYBOY: You were a star on the soccer team. Jocks aren’t usually outcasts.
WENTZ: Yeah, but soccer’s a little fruity, and I looked weird. I would have been a giant Proactiv commercial.
PLAYBOY: There must have been quite a contrast between your affluent Wilmette home and life on the road in a rock band.
WENTZ: We went to Madison, Wisconsin to record Take This to Your Grave, slept on some girl’s floor and completely ran out of money. Every week, the recording studio would give us a case of Coke and a case of Sprite. So we asked if we could trade the Sprite for some bread and peanut butter. I ran out of deodorant, and they had orange-scented air-freshener spray in the studio bathroom. I used that as deodorant and ended up with these crazy hives on my arms. It felt as if I had taken razor blades and tried to slit my armpits.
PLAYBOY: We’re used to hearing stories about bidding wars for young bands, but no one wanted to sign Fall Out Boy.
WENTZ: Not at all. We sent our demos to everyone, and no one cared. The rejection letters were brutal. A lot of interns at Island Records were really into Fall Out Boy right after we’d gotten upstreamed, and the Island executives were like, “We should sign that band!” And everybody said, “You have the rights to that band.” We were completely ignored by all the right people and completely obsessed over by this other group of people.
PLAYBOY: Who were the obsessives?
WENTZ: They were in dorm rooms and on their parents’ computer. We were completely a viral band. You could get tons of downloads online. And not even legal downloads—we were a peer-to-peer band. That’s what made our band: illegal file sharing.
PLAYBOY: Even after your success you still lived with your parents, until two years ago. Why?
WENTZ: I was a loser. My room at my parents’ house is exactly the same as it was when I was six: the fliers on the wall, the posters, all my toys. When Ashlee and I visit, we sleep in twin beds. I still have the letters I wrote to my parents when I was 10, after I got grounded or spanked: “I hate you. I’m moving out. I’m running away.”
PLAYBOY: You were a very emo kid.
WENTZ: Totally. I was a solitary guy. I was definitely into invisible friends and making up stories.
PLAYBOY: What was so special about being six years old?
WENTZ: It was the last time I was truly happy, when every moment of my life was happy from waking up to bedtime.
PLAYBOY: Do you still feel like a loser?
WENTZ: I’ve never been able to see myself in any way other than I did when I was 14 years old. I’m always sure the band’s success is about to end.
PLAYBOY: How did you finally leave Chicago, at the age of 27?
WENTZ: I left because I hated a bunch of people in my life. I moved to California and went out seven nights a week. Out here I was just a nobody. I couldn’t get in anywhere. I had to be part of someone else’s entourage. I wanted to go everywhere and do everything, and I met everyone. That’s interesting for about two weeks.
PLAYBOY: It was more than two weeks. You dated Lindsay Lohan and Michelle Trachtenberg.
WENTZ: I was always pretty monogamous, outside of when I first got to L.A. The number of people I’ve slept with is under 15. I could name them all.
PLAYBOY: How many people have you made out with?
WENTZ: Fuck, I couldn’t count. I would guess I’ve kissed fewer than 100 girls. My wife will go apeshit if this makes it into the story, but I’ve made out with people whose last name I didn’t know. And this was long before I was a celebrity.
PLAYBOY: It sounds like you weren’t enjoying L.A.
WENTZ: I was lonely all the time. I was drinking by myself and taking pills at the same time. It made me crazy. Dude, I’ve punched out so many TVs, it’s unbelievable. My friend had a gun, and we used to play around with that.
PLAYBOY: Are you saying you played Russian roulette?
WENTZ: I pulled a trigger on a gun aimed at myself, yes. My friend and I did one pull each. We’d been drinking and had taken Ambien. I feel stupid even talking about it. It’s one of the reasons I’ve never owned a gun—I’m too impulsive. I’d probably get mad and shoot someone over a part in a song or something.
PLAYBOY: You’re worried you would shoot one of your bandmates?
WENTZ: “Patrick, you motherfucker!” [laughs]
PLAYBOY: You’re a manic-depressive who likes to take prescription pills and has suicidal impulses when drunk. Do you still drink alcohol?
WENTZ: I don’t. At my wedding I didn’t even drink any champagne. At the same time, there’s a part of me in the past three years that would kill to steal a prescription pad and get some happy pills.
PLAYBOY: Did you and Ashlee have a wedding registry?
WENTZ: No. We asked people to give donations to a group called Invisible Children. We decided that would be better than asking for gifts. I was like, “We don’t need a new coffeemaker.” Then I was sitting around the house, and I realized we did need a new coffeemaker. [laughs]
PLAYBOY: Not very long ago you said, “My biggest dream is to move to Nebraska and marry someone superregular.”
WENTZ: Obviously, the exact opposite happened. Ashlee is far more famous than I am or will ever be. But part of me still wakes up every day and wants to break up Fall Out Boy and move to South America. We have a lyric on the new record, “I just want to go out and preach on Manic Street.” It’s a reference to the Manic Street Preachers, whose guitarist disappeared, just left, at the peak of the game.
PLAYBOY: How can you tell Ashlee is more famous than you are?
WENTZ: When we’re on a red carpet together, photographers sometimes don’t even want me to stand next to her.
PLAYBOY: Photographers actually tell you to get out of the way?
WENTZ: They’re like, “Oh, solo shot.” That’s a nice way of saying, “You shouldn’t be in the picture.” It’s a great ego check for me.
PLAYBOY: What if we were to do a pie chart of your fame? How much of it comes from being with Ashlee?
WENTZ: Okay, let’s see. Fifty percent is from being married to Ashlee Simpson. Twenty percent is from being in Fall Out Boy. Seven percent is from being related to Jessica Simpson. Six percent is from having penis pictures on the Internet. Where are we now? I’d say five percent is from “Pete Wentz Industries”—the bar, the clothing line, being connected to Panic at the Disco and Gym Class Heroes. Another five percent is for hosting FNMTV. Let’s say six percent from my gay quotes. And let’s add one percent for being in a video with Tyga, the rapper. On a couple of occasions people have said, “You’re the guy from Tyga’s video!” I loved that.