Walking through the lobby of Scottsdale’s posh hotel Valley Ho, I pass a group of whispering young ladies clearly abuzz over some kind of celebrity sighting. I have a pretty good feeling I must have been just steps behind what stirred them up. Sure enough, in a discreet corner of Café ZuZu sat Pete Wentz and Joseph Trohman of Fall Out Boy fame, one muscular body guard and Billy Siegle and Michael Schulz from our Artist Relations team.
In a blue shirt, grey knitted cap, and enormous silver skull ring (a gift from one of his guitar idols, Scott Ian of Anthrax), Trohman tells Schulz he’s recently been on a big Otis Rush kick.
Over omelets and a virtually untouched Bloody Mary for Wentz, the conversation transitions from music to wanting a pet snake (Trohman) and a giant jellyfish filled aquarium (Wentz) to the homeless to religion, and eventually back to another Chicago idol, NBA star Michael Jordan.
“Nobody could take over a game like Jordan,” says Wentz, dressed in black jeans, a white t-shirt promoting the Invisible Children foundation, topped by a grey fedora and a pair of silver sunglasses he swiped from wife Ashlee Simpson-Wentz; the sunglasses remain in his pocket until it’s time to head out in the Arizona heat.
“I do have a particular affinity for Phoenix,” says Wentz as he walks through the halls at Fender about a half hour later. “I don’t believe I’ve ever been here in less than a 105 degrees. When we played Warped Tour here, it was a 105. We shot our DVD here and it was like a 106, and the really cool thing was that the DVD turned out better than it would have had we been in New York or Los Angeles because the crowd really wanted to be there. A lot of our crew is from here; we call them desert folk or (Star Wars) Jawas. So, we’re stoked to be here and…”
Wentz loses his train of thought as he spots a Fender Bubblegum machine.
A few quarters later, and I’m chomping on lime flavored bubblegum while Wentz works at his own watermelon flavored gumball.
“Of course I’d get my least favorite flavor,” he says.
Fall Out Boy will take the stage later tonight at the Arizona Fall Frenzy Musical Fest at Tempe Beach Park, just prior to tonight’s closing act by Blink-182. That’s been a familiar pairing this summer as Fall Out Boy has opened for Blink-182 as part of their Summer Reunion Tour.
“It’s crazy because you grow up on Dude Ranch and you go out and see the band and they make you want to play this kind of music,” says Wentz. “Then, Mark (Hoppus) and I started hanging out when they went on hiatus. We went to Australia – he and his wife and me and my wife – and we are like kindred spirits. But being on the same stage as Blink-182 is a huge honor for our band, something we never thought would actually ever happen. More important than that, we always get to meet people we look up to and sometimes they let you in and you find out they are total douche bags and you wish you hadn’t met them because it ruins your image of them. But, the Blink 182-guys are actually rad dudes and the cool thing about that is that it instills in you to want to be like that when people meet you.”
Fast forward an hour later after testing out some instruments and snapping a photo that Wentz posted on twitter, along with his whereabouts, and he got to prove just how cool he is when people meet him. Because there to greet the men from Fall Out Boy in the Fender parking lot were a few of their, obviously resourceful, twitter followers. Wentz and Trohman very agreeably signed autographs and took a few photos before jumping into their ride.
Here’s Wentz testing out a Fender California™ Kingman™ Bass SCE Guitar.
Here’s Joe checking out a new guitar model on Billy Siegle’s computer, and then trying out a Fender Classic Series ‘72 Telecaster® Deluxe Guitar a few minutes later.