After a four-year hiatus Fall Out Boy has come back fighting fit and are heading to Auckland's Westfest where they might seem the odd men out. Rachel Bache talks to bassist Pete Wentz.

Your new album, American Beauty/American Psycho, takes a dig many aspects of the American dream - was there something in particular that inspired you guys to run with that concept?

More than anything it's just talking about us as people. Whether you're feeling disenfranchised, or whatever you're going through, we wanted talk about it. It's not like, necessarily, an album can change that kind of thing, but we wanted talk about the feelings at least. If our record gives somebody an hour of an escape from that, that's what we wanted see.

It's a frenetic album that chops and changes between styles - what's it like to play it live? Is it fun?

It is fun. It's been a little bit interesting to figure out how to play some of the songs live. Like, the title track is obviously a different sounding song than we've written in the past. The real challenge has been to get all of our songs to blend together live, but it's been fun so far. It's always fun to try new stuff 'cause it changes when you play it live.

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Has it had the reaction, the reception and the reviews that you'd like?

I'm not a big review person. There's that Morrissey quote where he says something like: "If you read and believe the good reviews then you still have to read and believe the bad reviews", I kind of believe that. It's crazy that fifteen years later and we're still able to do this thing. We've always been a band that's been more of a people's band. When you're walking through an airport and there are people who nod to you or give you high fives, to me that means a lot more - that we're still relevant in that way - than the reviews, you know?

As long as the fans are into it, you're happy?

Yeah, or as long as it's reacting. We're not the kind of band that writes just to please people, but as long as people are reacting. If people didn't have an opinion one way or the other then I think that would be a problem.

Was it a conscious decision when you guys reformed to head in a poppier direction?

No there wasn't conscious decision. The thing is, we're a weird band. As much as we're influenced by metal bands we grew up listening to, we're also influenced by like, Michael Jackson and pop music. When we came back four years had gone by, so we wanted to adapt sonically. I mean for me, when I listen to Sugar We're Going Down, to me it sounds like a pop song, but I guess maybe it doesn't to other people.

So it was a case of changing with the times and growing your sound in that way?

Yeah, I think we're a band that attempted to grow with every record and four years off is a long time for a band like us. So when we came back we wanted to remind people of what they first felt for Fall Out Boy, but that was only in spirit alone - sonically we needed to update. It's like if we were running around with a Dell computer from 1997, I mean it's kinda cool, but not that sweet.

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You're coming down to play Soundwave in Australia and Westfest in NZ - there are some very heavy bands on the line-up. Do you feel like you fit in or are you the odd ones out?

The thing about Fall Out Boy is we've always felt like the odd ones out everywhere we've gone and we don't make an attempt to fit in. We don't change what we do or how we look or any of that stuff to fit in. People have told us, whether they're in the bands or whatever, that they respect that.

So you won't be playing a heavier show because you're playing with bands like Judas Priest?

Nah, I mean, we have songs in our catalogue that are like, heavier for Fall Out Boy and like, we will play those of course, but we're not going to be doing like, a Slayer cover, but we should probably in general just because we're Slayer fans, but we won't be.

Who: Fall Out Boy
Where and when: Westfest, Mt Smart Stadium, March 3
Also: Sixth album American Beauty/American Psycho, out now.

- TimeOut