Shedding light on a dark issue

Love him or hate him, Pete Wentz really doesn’t give a damn. Better known than his platinum-selling band Fall Out Boy, Wentz’s face (and other body parts…) have been plastered all over the media since the band shot to the top of the Billboard Charts with “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” bringing their emo-pop sound to the masses.

Two years later, the band is still going strong, having just released their latest album “Infinity On High.” But Wentz has all eyes focused on him, waiting for the pop-rock king to get into yet another fight or to see which new Hollywood starlet he will be seen with next.

Deciding to show a softer side, Wentz has teamed up with MTVu and The Jed Foundation’s “Half of Us” campaign to combat depression and prevent suicide on college campuses. Pete Wentz, as well as Mary J. Blige, Nelly Furtado and Max Bemis of “Say Anything” will relay their own struggles in dealing with depression and will offer advice for students suffering from the same mental health issues.

Wentz’s involvement with the campaign stems from his own struggle. It brings him to a sort of empathy: to help kids feel like they aren’t alone.

“This is one thing that felt close to home,” said Wentz in a conference call with The Hatchet. “I felt like I could offer my side of a conversation. Maybe not answer people, but at least let them know someone else felt similarly.”

It may seem strange that The Jed Foundation chose a rock star who has been an open book in the media about his drug habits. In the March issue of Blender, when asked what drugs are in his system currently, Wentz bluntly answered, “Well, I’m out of Ambien. But you’d find Lorazepam, which is basically Xanax; Flexeril, which is a muscle relaxant; Seroquel; and I think there would probably be Zoloft in there.”

Courtney Knowles, the director of communications of The Jed Foundation, insists he is a good spokesperson for the campaign, saying that his “candor is exactly what is needed to shatter the overwhelming stigma around the issue of mental health.”

While answering journalists’ questions about his dealings with depression, Wentz also spoke about the public’s view of Fall Out Boy and the band’s future plans. You would think that a band consisting of 22 to 28 year olds may have a difficult time playing to 13-year-old screaming girls night after night, but it doesn’t seem to faze them at all.

“It’s more fun to play people who aren’t jaded, to be someone’s first show. There’s nothing worse than someone who’s seen it all before.”

As the poster boy for the new-age emo genre, Wentz said he sees the use of the term as ridiculous as it was in its inception in the early 90s. “It doesn’t affect my life one way or the other. We don’t have meetings about what color to paint our nails or how to take over the world or anything.”

So what does the future hold for Fall Out Boy? Wentz said the band will be on tour for a while and then produce a DVD and maybe another B-sides record. Their goal for the year is to “go to every corner of this earth and maybe do some good now and again.”

For now though, it’s difficult for pretty boy Pete Wentz to look toward the future when he’s on top of the world. It’s sink or swim for Wentz, and he’s treading water while he still can.

The “Half of Us” campaign will begin April 2 via, and in mid-April, MTVu and will air the interview with Pete Wentz in a commercial-free half-hour episode, in which Wentz will discuss his ongoing struggle to overcome depression. Fall Out Boy will also soon be headlining The Honda Civic Tour, featuring +44, The Academy Is ., Cobra Starship and Paul Wall.

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