Interview with Mikey Way!
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
Emo Kings turned rock gods (with hair dye) My Chemical Romance are heading to Australia for the Big Day Out in 2012, including Perth on Sunday, February 5, at the festival’s new home Brownes Stadium. CHLOE PAPAS speaks to bassist Mikey Way about their recent album, Twilight and the perils of fame.
In November 2010, My Chemical Romance released their fourth album, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. Each album prior was dark and emotional, and whether you buy into it or not, the band were one of the pioneers of ‘emo’ for their generation. When Danger Days was released, the music world received a shock; the foursome ditched the eyeliner and songs about death for an upbeat rock album that, though it could never live up to 2006’s The Black Parade, could hold its own. Way explains that over the past year of touring, fans have eagerly received the album.
“It was a more challenging album for us, and I think the fans appreciated that more,” he begins. “They didn’t want to hear the same thing, they expected something greater from us, and so it took us a long to make the album. We had a first attempt with Brendan O’Brien, and that album was incredible, but we wanted to get this other, new flavour into it. We wanted to trigger what we hadn’t touched before, so we each went out of our comfort zone and played in genres that we’d never played before, and wrote on genres that we’d never written in before, and I think the outcome was incredible. I think we surprised a lot of people.’
The band have just finished up the US Honda Civic Tour with Blink 182, and Way says it was an amazing few months. However, halfway through the tour the internet blew up with rumours when the band announced that recently recruited drummer Michael Pedicone was being kicked out after a discovery that he had been stealing money from them. Though the band declines to discuss the incident, Way confirms that Pedicone’s replacement, Jarrod Alexander, is likely to be around for a while – but they won’t be making a permanent commitment.
“For the foreseeable future, we’re going to be playing with Jarrod,” Way explains. “He’s coming with us to Big Day Out. But we never want to get married again to a drummer. We like playing with Jarrod, he likes playing with us so we’ll do it for as long as each party is happy. But we’ll never add another member to the band again.”
My Chemical Romance have always been a very artistic band in terms of lyricism and subject matter, andDanger Days is no different. Each of the four members has an associated comic-book like character created to suit the storyline of the album, and Way explains how they were created, and states that this creativity won’t be stopping with their next album.
“Gerard [Way, frontman] actually came up with the theme and he’d ask us questions; ’what’s your favourite colour, favourite animal’ and he was creating these personas for us. He just had this vision of this in the future pirate radio station and a corporation’s gang of rebels. And it was this giant art project for everybody in the band, it was just a really rewarding experience and really got our creative juices flowing. We were creating our own world to live in. For each album we kind of make a universe, and that universe fit perfectly with the songs we were writing.”
A track on Danger Days, entitled Vampire Money, seems to be a direct ‘fuck you’ to tween phenomenonTwilight, with sarcastically yelled lyrics: ’Sparkle like Bowie in the morning sun’ and ’Hair back, collar up, jet black, so cool.’ With the timeliness of the new movie’s release, the song gets a mention and Way explains that the band didn’t mean to offend anyone.
“It’s not a dig at Twilight per say,” he hesitates. “It’s just that we had been approached numerous times by different parties to possibly make a song for Twilight. And we said ’no,’ countless times. And then eventually it became this sore subject where we were like ’no we’re not doing it’. Nothing against Stephanie Meyer or any of the actors, but I think it would be a disservice to our fans if we did take part in it. Basically the song [Vampire Money] is talking about when someone will just ask you over and over to do something you don’t want to do, and you’re telling them the reason and they’re not seeing why you feel that way. We have no ill will towards anyone. Far be it for us to knock anyone in their interests – we all have our geeky interests, we all have guilty pleasures.’
My Chemical Romance have a huge fan-base, predominantly in their teens. Way explains that there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with having millions of teenagers following your every move, and that fame is a very fragile power to have.
“The best thing about fame is being able to create on a grand scale with your best friends, and knowing that a lot of people pay attention to what you have to say, and a lot of people think you have something important to say,” Way explains. “The worst part about fame is that it’s a very volatile thing. Some people get it and use it proactively, and some people get it and it starts to eat away at their being. That’s the bad part of fame, where you have people getting drunk on their own fame. They’re believing in this fictitious hype that somebody else has set up for them. The other negative part is that people expect, the way the internet and the world is today, that there’s this self-entitlement now where kids have to be famous now at some point in their life. And some of them will be famous and hey, more power to them, but some of them don’t even know why they’re saying it, they’ve just been taught to expect it.”
When asked what the band’s plans are post- Big Day Out, Way confirms that they are beginning work on a new album, and hope to head back to Australia as soon as it’s released.
“Usually with records we tour so long that we’re fried and need to take a year off before we can do it all again,” he concludes. “But this time we only toured for a year. So sooner or later we’re going to get together and begin the process of putting together a follow-up album. Everyone in the band is consistently writing something – a riff, a melody, a song title, some kind of idea. So, you can expect us back sooner rather than later!”