PUNTA ARENAS, Chile — After having traveled more than 3,000 miles, spent nearly 100 hours trapped in their hotel rooms and survived roughly 76 borderline terrifying interactions with mobs of screaming fans to get to this very moment, the fate of Fall Out Boy's record-setting trip to Antarctica came down to a very small number: one.
To be more specific, one percent, as in "there is a 1 percent chance the weather on Antarctica will cooperate and allow us to land there on Thursday," which is what organizers of the trip were telling the band and their management late Wednesday night. On Thursday morning (March 27), when the weather didn't clear up, it was the final nail in the coffin: After much consternation (and a whole lot of profanity), the decision was made to cancel Fall Out Boy's Antarctic trip.
Which means there will be no concert on a research facility, no meetings with penguins and, most important, no entry into the "Guinness Book of World Records." Management is scrambling to book the band on return flights, pull up camp and get back to the U.S. as quickly as possible. In the end, it seemed that the unpredictable Antarctic weather — coupled with the exorbitant cost of keeping a crew of 15 individuals sheltered, fed and entertained — proved to be too much. It's official: It's over.
"It's an utter f---ing disappointment. ... It's so insane. We had this idea, and then to not be able to fulfill it is just disappointing, especially when you put it out there. But what are you gonna do, wait until winter's over?" bassist Pete Wentz sighed. "It's the worst feeling I've felt in Fall Out Boy, [we were,] like, two hours away from being able to do it. ... I read [on the Newsroom blog] someone compared it to Geraldo opening Capone's vault, but it's worse than that, because, like, Capone's stuff is in there, you just can't get the light on. There's no spin for it; we got two hours away from Antarctica and we can't go."
This is not to say that the band and their management didn't try every possible scenario to make it happen. When Wednesday's "1 percent" ultimatum was given, road manager Henry Bordeaux's hotel room was transformed into a (very smoky) sort of think tank, as the entire team tried desperately to figure out another way to get to Antarctica. There was talk of trying to fit the band on a boat and have them make the two-day journey to the continent by sea. Manager Bob McLynn paced in the background on a cell phone, trying to convince the flight crew they had hired to let the band's plane take off. Pete Wentz suggested hiring a private boat and sailing just inside the Arctic Circle, so the band could play a brief acoustic set. And Bordeaux somehow managed to track down a massive C-130 Hercules aircraft at a Chilean airstrip, which he was told could make the trip if the weather improved "even slightly."
"Right now it's just not looking good. I don't understand how all day they can go from saying the weather's looking great to all of a sudden it's not possible again," Bordeaux told the room. "But if it can change that quickly, I don't know why it can't change to be good in the morning. We'd be ready to go in five minutes if it happened right now. ... It's really frustrating. ... Everyone's reaching their boiling point right now."
That frustration was compounded by the fact that, for two days, the band had postponed their trip due to weather. They had pegged Thursday as the make-or-break window for getting to Antarctica (due to scheduling conflicts, the entire band needs to be back in the U.S. by Saturday morning, meaning they'd have to leave Chile by Friday morning at the latest). Of course, the postponements also meant they continually had to change their return flights, which by Wednesday night, was proving to be tough — and costly — as returning spring breakers had gobbled up many seats on every plane out of the country.
So at roughly 11 p.m., the decision was made by Fall Out Boy and their management to hang all their hopes on the Hercules and the 1 percent chance that the weather in Antarctica would improve, all while holding return flights scattered across several airlines. Everyone went to bed (or a very late dinner) knowing that Thursday morning was essentially judgment day. If they made it, they made it. If not, well, they certainly tried their hardest to get there.
And then, at 10:45 a.m. local time, the call was made to cancel. The weather was too severe for even the Hercules to land, and the band couldn't afford to wait around any longer. Everyone was heading home.
It was something no one wanted to hear, given just how far they'd come and how big of a deal they'd made this trip to be. But everyone in the band seemed to understand that there wasn't really anything more they could do, outside of completely rearranging their schedules and continuing to fork out cash to wait and see if the weather on the coldest, windiest continent on Earth would improve. They were bummed, to be certain, but also sort of proud of even getting to that point. And who knows, this might not be the last time they make an attempt at a world record.
"I think it's still kind of a pretty big success, because my interest in doing it was [to get] people to talk about Antarctica, and if you're gonna fail, fail big. I'm definitely disappointed, but ... the conditions in Antarctica are apparently not ideal for flying in, so c'est la vie," frontman Patrick Stump said. "I'm sure 'Guinness' won't ever return our phone calls again. I'm sure a lot of people are going to laugh at us, but the fun thing is I'll be laughing with them, because it's pretty funny that we made it all the way down to Chile. And we got really freaking far. It's still pretty cool. If we lost, and our name is never in some book for breaking some record, it's still pretty freaking cool."
"I'm bummed out," drummer Andy Hurley added. "Oh well, I wanted to do seven continents in two weeks anyway, so let's do that."
And that might be the case. Because as he was piling into the van bound for the airport, "Guinness Book of Word Records" editor in chief Craig Glenday, who flew in to witness their attempt, was telling the band that they're still on pace for the world record.
"They're still setting the record. It's whenever they make it down here," he said. "It can happen whenever; they've just got to make it down to Antarctica."