Wentz allows that the pregnancy was unplanned. "It was a happy accident," he says. "But I think that certain things happen for a reason in your life, and maybe it was time to put the wild child in a cage."

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The fact is Wentz has never displayed the feral behavior one might expect from a rock star­—especially one whose camera-phone genital study was seen by more people than the finale of Friends. Sure, girls throw themselves at him, he says, but "isn't it a little more thrilling to go on the hunt? It's like if a cow put itself between a pair of buns. I think most people think the rock lifestyle is crazier than it is. Maybe for some it is, but not really for me or our band."

As for drugs, Wentz has long preferred the professionally prescribed variety. The son of a law professor and a private-school admissions officer, Wentz grew up in the prosperous Chicago suburb of Wilmette and was a high-school soccer star. But the all-American idyll wasn't all it seemed. "I was diagnosed with ADHD and depression and, I don't know, you name it­—whatever happened to be the trendy disorder that week," he says.

The problems snowballed throughout his adolescence, and in his twenties, Wentz started having frequent panic attacks. As Fall Out Boy were nurturing a following, his anxiety became overwhelming. On one occasion during an early Warped Tour, he remembers, he stood frozen and weeping in the Denver airport, unable to board his flight. "I was like, Man, I don't want to do this. It doesn't seem worth it," he says. Though he was briefly on lithium­—which was "zombifying, you're, like, drooling"­—Xanax and Klonopin were his favorites. "For a while, I was a total drugstore cowboy," he adds. "I had The Pill Book, which is awesome because I could learn every shape and number, and then be like, 'Those are the blue footballs, those are the bars ...'"

One chilly day in February 2005, Wentz sat in a car in a Best Buy parking lot outside Chicago and swallowed a handful of Ativan. He then began woozily contacting friends and family members, who persuaded him to drive to the nearest emergency room. He eventually wrote about the incident in the song "Hum Hallelujah." Then, about a year ago, he quit everything except for the sleep aids cold turkey. "Dude, after Heath Ledger," he says, "I was just like, Man, this is not going to end up good."

Simpson played a role too. "I realized I'd found my soul mate, and it made me want to be a better person," he says. "Now, with the baby, I want to be the best dad I can be."

The following day the "emogul" is seated on a stage with five top-tier hospitality execs. The occasion is a press conference to mark the opening of the gleaming, 30-story ME Barcelona, and Wentz has agreed to say a few words to the international travel press. He looks intensely absorbed as one suit after another extols the virtues of Sol Meliá, a multinational hotel group in the midst of a massive and probably ill-timed expansion. It's an impressive performance on his part, considering that the speeches are in Catalan and nobody thought to give him one of the instant-translation headsets.