My Chemical Romance


My Chemical Romance interview

words by XvScott

There are few things worse than boring, stagnant music... And personally, I'm in a place right now, where not much rock-based stuff excites me. It used to be a lot easier - if a band had riffs, if they rocked, then great, I'd love it... Maybe I'm snobbish or too demanding, but there are so little rock bands I really LOVE right now...
Which is why when someone told me to check out a band called My Chemical Romance, I was skeptical. Nevertheless, I went to their website, and downloaded a song called Vampires Will Never Hurt You. I came to listen to the song later, only to discover, if you excuse the horrible chiché, my new favourite band! These punky kids from New Jersey make music that is vibrant, immediate, dark and youthful. And it rocks.

The day I came to interview Gerard Way, the singer from My Chemical Romance, was the day after their support slot with Jimmy Eat World was announced. This will have been the band's biggest gig yet. And this accentuates how small the band actually are - their debut album on Eyeball Records was released around August this year, and I still can't find it in stores in the UK. Gerard is apologetic:
"Ooh, sorry about that. We know how much of a problem it's been to find our record, and we're really upset about that. Right now it seems the best place to get it is the Eyeball website."

At this point I still know nothing about the band, apart from the few songs that I have heard. Please introduce yourself and your band, and tell us your story.
"I'm Gerard Way, I sing. Ray Toro plays guitar, Matt Pellesier plays the drums, Frank Iero plays guitar, and my brother Mikey Way plays the bass. we're all from New Jersey in the Bergen County/Essex County area. Lived here all our lives as well."
So how did it all begin with MCR?
"Matt and I got together around October/November and I had this song, Skylines and Turnstiles, that we worked out together. We liked where it was going so we asked the best guitarist we knew to play, Ray Toro. It started snowballing musically and then we needed a bass player. Mikey loved the songs and he learned them with little experience. Before we recorded the album we added Frankie as a second guitar player.
We've all been in bands before that didn't work out for some reason or another. Nothing notable except for Frankie being in Pencey Prep, another Eyeball band. We asked him to join when that band dissolved. We've all been involved in the local scene since we were young, either in supporting or creating. I actually drew a t-shirt for Thursday and that's kind of how I met Geoff Rickly and we became friends."

So, is it fair to say that the band come from a very punk background?
"Yeah, all of our bands before this were punk bands. Ever since I heard The Misfits I was sold on punk, that band opened a lot of new things for me personally. I know the whole band are huge Misfits fans as well."
Considering your relative proximity to New York, was it the British punk of the 70s or the NY hardcore later on that inspired you most?
"It's interesting, what we got from UK music wasn't punk, directly at least. It was bands like The Smiths, Blur, Pulp, The Cure, who were obviously had roots in punk music, as well as the New York and New Jersey hardcore scene that was influenced by UK punk. It's a weird mix of influences with us."
Well, most bands would like to think so - specifically, what movements and artists inspire you guys the most?
"Everything from Iron Maiden to The Smiths and The Misfits, Samhain. More recently At The Gates, the Swedish metal band had a big influence on us when they released "Slaughter Of The Soul". Dark concepts influence us - film-wise, the works of Terry Gilliam, The City Of Lost Children."
We take a semi-autobiographical approach to things, with some roots in fiction. We try and connect with people in a more abstract way, to get more meaning out of what were trying to say."
Like using cult imagery on Vampires Will Never Hurt You?
"Yeah, obviously we use vampires as a metaphor for something else, something deeper than just the supernatural. But there's just something about the bloodsucking walking dead, that can say so much to people. There are really so many people trying to get control over you on a daily basis and steal your soul in some way, take a part of you..."

That explains a lot about the content of your music, but what about the delivery? What relevance does extreme music have in everyday life?
"The extremity of the sound comes from a sincerity and an energy that we can't contain. When we play these songs, what they mean to us really comes through. We're all locked in together in this kind of life or death struggle, it gets pretty dangerous up there sometimes. But it's really that extreme because of the way we play, and what we like to play and what really gets our motors going."

It's a unique kind of energy and severity that My Chemical Romance share with bands like Drive Like Jehu and the sadly defunct At The Drive-In. It always strikes me as something of a phenomenon that a group of four to six people can channel their collective energy into a sound like that, while the overwhelming majority of the peaceful world spends their lives with the volume turned down.

"I think the chemistry has to be just right. But I've seen a ton of bands trying to do the 'At The Drive-In' thing or the 'Thursday' thing and just go nuts but it just comes off as contrived, like they watched tapes of the bands and just studied moves. But for four or five people to lock in like that and channel everything they got together is pretty rare. I think it's what makes for a great band. I'm spoiled ever since I saw Thursday play... A band really has to kick my ass nowadays and give it everything they got"

What about bands that do the whole lo-fi thing, and are all about subtlety? (And that's not to call post-hardcore crude!)
"I think there's something great about that as well. I feel like a band chooses a voice - an identity- and then they figure out the best way to say that, be it polished or rough. The new Bright Eyes for example, a very lo-fi recording, very subtle delivery, but it's great. Some of those songs sound like they were recorded in a closet or a car, and they probably were. From what I've heard, which is most of it, I think it's a real accomplishment."
When you say that a band chooses a voice, is this a final committal thing, or can you see yourselves mellowing out in future projects? It would be interesting to see how the darkness of My Chemical Romance manifests itself in a lo-fi context.
"There's a band on Eyeball called Little Joe Gould, and for me those guys are the most evil, lo-fi thing out there. So I'm most familiar with them as far as that kind of sound is concerned. We're going to work on a song together so it should be pretty interesting with the clashing of the metal and the soundtrack-to-a-slasher-movie type sound."
Cool, sounds great. I'm looking forward to it. But ... would you really describe your music as metal?
"Hahaha! I like to think so but that's just me and I've been told 'Gerard, you guys are not a metal band', but it's just wishful thinking. I actually consider ourselves a rock band, I think everyone in the band agrees and shares the sentiment."
Interesting... maybe this self-perception is where some of that ferocity comes from.

"I think making music is all about self-perception of what you're doing. If you feel like you're in a metal band and the end result is what you think a metal record is and it works - then go for it. It's just the Iron Maiden fan in all of us in the band. I know personally if we could accomplish a tenth of what that band has then we've done well. I can't think of a single band that more personifies a lack of compromise. There's so much fucking integrity behind that band, it's so non-elitist. I use the same mic as Bruce Dickenson for that reason"

To be honest, At The Drive-In are the first band I thought of when I heard your music. How big an influence have they been on you?
"Hmmm, At The Drive-In... I can't say they've been a big influence on us when we write. Though, I think intensity wise and sound wise there will never be a band like At The Drive-In.
What about the Mars Volta?
"Now that's interesting. The Mars Volta is probably the one band out there right now that I feel shares a kinship with us musically. We had already written our album when that EP came out and the things I heard on there sounded to me like we were both going for the same thing. Taking risks, writing seven minute songs with real movement, and the dark aspect of it."
I agree. Actually, of all the ATD-I offshoot band, I think the Mars Volta really share the original band's spirit of spontaneity and experimentation. Anyway...
"I saw Les Savy Fav open for Blonde Redhead and Helium like six years ago, and they blew the doors off both bands."

Speaking of At The Drive-In, during the climax of their sudden fame, they were getting all sorts of Nirvana comparisons by the more sensationalist music journalists out there. And now Rival Schools are making chart success with their album, and it's receiving a fair bit of praise from the press. Do you think this kind of music truly has a place in the mainstream?
"Absolutely. I think anything someone creates deserves to be heard by as many people as possible, if they so desire."
Even if it means abandoning your roots on an indie label and being frowned upon by purists? LostProphets got hell for it in this country, just recently.
"Well I think you can get to the mainstream without abandoning your roots. The thing a band needs to do is never forget who they are or where they came from. Unfortunately that happens all too often. This is what probably gets purists mad when a band goes mainstream. There's a degree of bitterness when a band goes mainstream, people get very protective of a band they've discovered and aren't so willing to share that. I think anyone that's a real fan sticks with the band if the band sticks to their guns."
Well said. Would you agree that the punk/emo/hardcore scene is too insular for its own good these days?
"Haha, define 'insular' and I'll let you know," says Gerard "I went to art school. Sorry..".
(Heehee) I mean mean, would you agree that it's too self-inclusive and self-absorbed... And way too often elitist?
"I think that there are definitely people that are like that. It's what happens when a scene gets too big. I think it happens in every scene eventually. There are enough people keeping it fun right now I think."
Like Buddyhead?
"Hahah, yeah I think those guys have a good sense of humor about the scene. They ragged on us when they found out Geoff (of Thursday) was producing the album, they said he was going to tell us to 'turn up the emo'.

Haha! Well... I only have one major question left. As a band, you have existed for less than a year. You already have an album out, and tomorrow night, you will play to an audience there to see international giants Jimmy Eat World. Are you surprised at your own rate of success?
"Yes and no, and I'll tell you why. I am surprised because it's happening so fast - I think there's always a degree of surprise when you find yourself accepted and embraced. But I'm not so surprised, because I come from the school of thought now, that if you're cinsere, honest and stay yourself, people will respond. Though, I guess I'm a little more surprised than I let on...".


Chemicals Make The Heart Grow Fonder

By George Koroneos
In only two years, My Chemical Romance has gone from a band of punks with a solid plan of getting out of their New Jersey basement to a world-wide touring rock group that has spawned legions of fans with their gothic version of pop-punk.

What’s a measure of success? In September 2002, MCR had a record release party at Maxwell’s (Hoboken, NJ), opening up for a bunch of unknown bands. The place was packed early, and when singer Gerard Way and his pack of Northern Jersey fiends jumped on stage, the spattering of fans went wild, culminating with an awesome sing-a-long to their favorite tune “Vampires Will Never Hurt You.” And that was after their first album “I Brought You My Bullets You Brought Me Your Love” had only been out for a week.

Now it’s 2004, and My Chemical Romance returns to their home state for another record release party. This time it’s at the newly baptized Starland Ballroom. The venue is 20 times bigger than Maxwell’s; MCR is headlining and just as packed. The crowd goes nuts as Way crawls on the floor piping out tunes from both albums to overpowering cries from the venomous crowd. This time the album has barely been out for 24 hours.

So what’s the band’s reaction been to the love they’ve been receiving wherever they go?

According to guitarist Frank Iero, “It’s been just silly.”

“We’ve been given so many great opportunities and amazing things have come through for us,” Iero says. “Kids we never thought we’d meet just love the band. All our dreams have come true so far. Anything from here on is just going to be a blessing. “

Initially, you guys mentioned that you had a plan for getting the band and your message out. Have you met these goals?

“When we started this band we set mini goals and then we had our ultimate goal,” Iero says. “We met all our smaller goals—we’ve gotten to meet and work with some of our heroes, and we’ve been able to reach an exorbitant amount of kids that we never thought we would ever reach. Our major goal was to actually make a difference, and I think we are on our way to that goal.”

Beyond your major goal, you guys have snagged the coveted ring, by scoring a major label contract in just over a year. That’s pretty incredible.

“That Eyeball record (“I Brought You Bullets…”) came out two years ago, and we signed maybe six months ago—a year and a half after the record was recorded,” Iero says. “It really wasn’t that quickly, but we were so busy in those last two years, touring asses off that it didn’t seem so short. We got calls early on in the band’s life from majors and we were always like ‘thanks for calling, but we want to see how the record does.’”

“At that time, a lot of bands from this scene/this state were getting calls,” Iero explains. We got courted by a few labels that actually heard the record and liked it and when we decided that going to a major was the step we wanted to make, we picked the labels that were there from the start and that ‘got’ us. We wanted to work with a label that would allow us to make the record that we wanted to make.”

So what have your parents thought of your newfound success?

“I’ve been in bands since I was 11 years old and my parents have always been supportive,” Iero explains. “They always let me practice in the basement with my band and as long as I was doing well in school I could play as many shows as I wanted.”

Produced by Geoff Rickley of Thursday, My Chemical Romance’s debut album “I Brought You My Bullets You Brought Me Your Love” was dark without being heavy, conjuring audible visions of bands like The Cure and Iron Maiden. Singer Gerard Way suffered through the recording of the album due to an abscess in his mouth causing some unintentionally brutal and mesmerizing vocal work.

Now signed with Warner Bros, My Chemical Romance’s sophomore effort is a tad more poppy and a lot more polished, but Way’s cathartic screams are still held together by his band-mates’ raging yet melodic punk hardcore instrumentation. “Going into the major label studios and having a bigger budget gave us so many more tools at our disposal,” Iero says. “We had three weeks to write in LA before we actually started recording, and we had more time to be secluded and just get in each other’s faces to really fine-tune the songs.”

“Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” was entirely written by the band and many of the same musical aspects carry over form the group’s first release. “Helena” is an epic tune, similar in style to MCR’s breakthrough hit “Vampire,” but according to Iero there was never any intention to replicate the past. “We do have epics on this record, but there are also a lot of different feels on this “Three Cheers,” Iero says. “We tried to bring the listener on more of a journey through different mindsets. When listening through this record we want you to go through different emotions like a ride.”


Another interview

"With the release of incendiary new album Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, New Jersey's own My Chemical Romance has consolidated a reputation for brilliant, biting, and boundary-leaping rock 'n' roll that first came to worldwide attention with their 2002 Eyeball Records debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. Featuring 13 new originals written by the band, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge is an impressive leap forward for a group that's been constantly on tour for the better part of two years, winning a fanatical following across North America and Europe, both as headliners and co-billed with the Used, Taking Back Sunday, Story Of The Year, and a host of others." (

Dennis: Hey guys, thanks a ton to take the time to do this email interview while you are out on the road! My Chemical Romance, how did you guys come up with the name and give a brief run down on how you 5 got together?
Mikey : The name "My Chemical Romance" originated from the author Irvine Welsh's novel "Three Tales Of Chemical Romance". All of Irving Welsh's novels have also been classified as "Chemical Romances" as they involved young people whom are strung out on drugs with some sort of romantic element to it. This isn't to say that the band condones drug use, as we are all clean and sober. We all got together after Gerard called up a bunch of friends after writing a bunch of songs with our previous drummer, Matt. We all loved the songs so much that we wanted to be a part somehow. Frankie joined the band after the break up of his then band "Pencey Prep". We wanted a second guitarist and Frankie really wanted to be a part, so he was inducted into the band. Finally, Bob was added after the dismissal of our previous drummer, Matt.

Dennis: MCR is all over the board on the latest release, "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge" both vocally and musically. What was the biggest influence for this album with those perspectives in mind?
Ray: There really wasn't one main influence on us for this record. We each listen to different music, so we all bring our own ideas to the music. I come from a more technical style of playing, Frank plays a little dirtier punk style, and Gerard and Mikey are obsessed with Brit-Pop and the Smiths, so all those elements work their way into the songs.

Dennis: One thing we noticed was a lot of dark imagery and doom-and-gloom lyrical content. Often through this type of message very important messages are given but sometimes missed. What was the purpose and the message you want portrayed from this album and why was their a PA sticker on the cd with basically limited offensive words at all on the cd?
Gerard: The PA sticker was for lyrical content, suggestive or otherwise blatantly violent lyrics. The message is simple, and one that we always portray: keep yourself alive and always have hope. If people see through the doom and gloom they will find the light at the end of the tunnel more obviously than "...bullets...". The idea behind this record was to tell a fictional story that mirrored the first 2 years of our lives. To execute the message we use metaphors, such as the supernatural element of resurrection.

Dennis: Our stance on lyrical content is listeners must weigh the positive and negative inputs in their life. I personally steer away from negative music. What are your thoughts of the influence of negative lyrical content on the listeners?
Gerard: People should be allowed to think for themselves. I know this is the typical answer but it really is true. We like to give our fans more credit than most people would and let them figure out what's right and wrong on their own.

Dennis: MCR has been touring machines lately and never seem to rest. You guys are currently on is the tour progressing?
Frank: Yes we are currently on tour for the rest of our natural lives. However, there is talk of using a form of cryogenics so that we will be able to tour longer. We are now on the Nintendo fusion tour and the shows have all been great because of the kids, and for no other reason. MCR fans are the most amazing people, our shows are a healing and everyone gets involved. I can't imagine any other bands having better kids than ours, and if they do at least I know our kids can beat up their kids.

Dennis: The imagery on your site and cd is pretty goth/eccentric. We don't noramlly even ask bands about that but I love art and what influences others in that regard. Who did the cover art for your cd and website?
Ray: Originally the cover was supposed to be a photograph, so Gerard painted a sketch of what it should look like. The sketch ended up being so good that we used it for the cover. The website was designed by Gerard and Jon Sulkow at Prod4ever.

Dennis: I noticed the image of the rosary in your cd booklet. One of the things are website deals a lot with are the aspects of importance on spirituality and with us that is Christianity. What are your thoughts, yes you can be honest we have heard it all haha, on the modern movement of Christianity both pros and cons?
Mikey: The image in the CD booklet of the rosary beads was meant as a memorial to Helen Rush (me and Gerard's grandmother) who passed away shortly before we went to Los Angeles to record the record. It's actually a scan of her rosary beads. As for my thoughts on the modern movement of Christianity, I am kind of on the fence. I'm not 100 percent familiar with the goings on in Christianity today, as Gerard and I grew up with a Christian upbringing, and we no longer practice it. I understand the importance of faith and spirituality but I think that each person in entitled to their own opinion for such. I have my own form of faith and spirituality but it isn't Christian based.

Dennis: Most bands are put on a pedestal by fans, whether it is welcomed or not. What is your advice to teens that may be going through some crazy things in their life and do you have any examples you are willing to share about how you guys have overcome adversity?
Ray: Everybody goes through rough things in their lives, us included. The best advice we can give is to never give up, and always believe in yourself because when you do that, anything is possible.

Dennis: AARRRGGG what did you blokes do on September 19 in celebration of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" and please answer in pirate talk only.
Frank: ARRRRGH!! The romance got tested fer the scurvey they did, and got drunk off Cap'n Morgan.....arrrgh!


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