Whether it's his confessional lyrics for Fall Out Boy or his long struggle with mental illness, Pete Wentz is never afraid to share. On Tuesday morning (Jan. 20), Wentz sat down for an hour-long chat with SiriusXM host Howard Stern to talk about how he emerged from a dark period, that time he pierced his junk, and an alleged feud with 5SOS that isn't what you think it is.
"I think I went through when I was in my 20s... I went through a lot of highs and lows," Wentz said about a time early in his career where he struggled to keep it together and resorted to self-medicating to deal with what he later learned was bipolar disorder. "For me... you're traveling on the road. Everything is available to you and you can get what you need to get, or not... People just want to keep the machine going. They don't so much care how healthy you are... It wasn't really until having kids, that's the ultimate happy pill."
Pete also touched on his divorce from Ashlee Simpson, which he said was fueled by a combination of the pressure he felt after FOB went on hiatus in 2009 and suddenly being a stay-at-home dad to baby Bronx Mowgli after years on the road.
"Being too young... I think there's an important thing where you know how to fight," he said of his arguments with Simpson. "You can fight with somebody but it's not the end of everything. But if you don't know how to have those arguments then they become nuclear. And we were doing this all in the public eye, which you know doesn't help."
When Stern asked if Wentz was concerned that Bronx might some day suffer from bipolar disorder as well, the bassist said he was. "Yeah, that's one of the things I've worried about," he said before describing how the disorder has affected him.
"My highs, my happiness are really high and my lows are very low and I'm not able to regulate between the two," he said. "Through actual therapy and having kids it's way more under control and something I can see when I'm on the roller coaster and control it more."
Pete agreed with Stern that sometimes great artistry can come from those intense highs and lows, and that might be why so many fans have been able to relate to his often dark lyrics on albums like the band's just-released American Beauty/American Psycho. "I think It can, yeah. Some of our songs that people seem to relate to come from a dark place," he said.
"Sometimes writing has helped with where I was at in my head... When I'm talking to kids [I always tell them] 'you never know how you're going to feel the next day. Tomorrow might be the best day.' It's hard. Sometimes when you get so dark it's hard to see that there could be any light at the end of the tunnel."
Though he's in a great place now with long-time girlfriend model Meagan Camper (and Ashlee is happily married to Evan Ross), Wentz recalled that he hit rock-bottom after the divorce, dropping down to 95 pounds and growing what the tabloids dubbed a "break-up beard" before realizing things would get better.
"It's never going to get any worse than this and I can make it through this," he said he told himself. "If anything if talking about it means somebody else feels a little bit more normal that they're going through something," it's totally worth it, he added.
Wentz also (gently) discussed how at one point in his late teens and early 20 he was pierced just about everywhere, including, yeah, down south. There was just one problem though. "There were not a lot of girls that were interested in me [at that time]," he said, admitting he never had sex when his junk was pierced. "At that time I really would have wanted to [have sex]."
Near the end of the chat, Wentz brushed off a reported beef with 5SOS, in which the Australian pop punkers allegedly dissed FOB by saying they looked like Justin Bieber.
"At first I was a bit taken aback, because I thought they liked our band," he said. "So I reached out to my friend [who has also produced them] and he said what they meant by it was that they were a band where girls liked them as well and other punk rock bands have had that and that's what I was like and our band was like."