Monthly Archives: December 2011
MX Citybeat Newspaper Sydney: Chemical Reactions – Thursday 22nd December, 2011. Passionate fans have the final word on Twitter about the MCR family reunion Down Under
It took only one tweet to send My Chemical Romance fans in the Twittersphere into a spin.
“Interviewing Ray Toro on Friday about MCR’s upcoming Oz tour. Any burning questions you want answered?”.
After all, it had been a year since MCR’s last album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and lead singer Gerard Way, bass player Mikey Way and guitarists Frank Iero and Toro haven’t had a lot to say since its release, apart from navigating some tricky territory after sacking fill-in drummer Michael Pedicone, who was accused of stealing from the band in September.
So why not get the fans from MCR’s two biggest fan clubs involved? And yes, they did get involved. Within 24 hours the call-out had been retweeted all over the world – from Argentina and Venezuela to Norway and Japan – generating dozens of questions for the curly-haired guitarist. But Toro isn’t surprised by the reaction, saying MCR know they have some of the most passionate fans in the world.
“Oh really, ha!” he says of the response.
“That’s because we have the best fans. It is kinda crazy because we’ve been around about 10 years and the dedication that the fans have for us, still to this day, it’s always super-flattering. And it means a lot that people still care about us and in a way they’re rooting for us.”
And fans certainly have been rooting for them, riding out the lull between the highly acclaimed The Black Parade andDanger Days while the band tried to figure out their new sound.
“We were in a strange spot when we got into the studio to do (Danger Days),” he says. “We’d been working maybe for like, half the year on another collection of songs and as we got closer towards the mixing stage, it didn’t hit us as much as the other records did. So we went back to the drawing board. (Then) the songs kept coming and when songs come fast, you know you’re on to something.”
Toro says the band’s looking to have a good time when they tour Australia for Big Day Out, their last tour before heading back into the studio to write.
“We do love Australia, it’s a no bullshit kind of attitude and people say whatever’s on their minds and that’s a cool thing,” he says.
He’s quick to hose down rumours that tour drummer Jarrod Alexander would be joining the band full-time.
“I think for us, My Chem is just the four guys and it’ll probably be that for the rest of time,” he says.
“We feel like we’ve gotten burned a few times, making wrong decisions with members. We know who the core guys are, who the true family is, and I don’t think we’re really ever going to change that.”
My Chemical Romance play Big Day Out, Sydney Showground, on January 26 and Hordern Pavilion on January 27. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Warner) is out now.
What the fans want to know:
If you could perform with any band, past or present, who would that be?
That’s so funny, I’ve been on a Black Sabbath kick lately, so I’d love that. I reckon it’d be so f…ing rad to be up there for just one song. There’s not a band that’s f…ing heavier than Black Sabbath.
How did you choose your Killjoy name?
It’s funny because Gerard and Mikey chose Jetstar for me but I’m not sure why – I wish I had a better answer! I do know the name of the (Killjoy’s) gun comes from Mikey and Gerard, that’s from their old band which was called Raygun Jones.
Are you working on a new album?
We haven’t started writing yet but we’ve been talking a lot about it. After Black Parade we wanted to take a break from touring and writing and the band and everything and right now were in a much better spot, mentally and physically. We wanna take a break from touring after this tour and get back into writing after the holidays. We’ve been building our own compound in LA where we can go and work every day and just keep creating more music.
What’s your favourite song to perform live?
Destroyer because of the energy on that song, the beat. It’s very tribal and very animalistic. It seems any time we play that song it brings out a certain side of each other on stage. We let loose.
How many guitars do you own and which is your favourite?
I own more than enough, I can’t remember how many! It’s got to be at least 25 or 30. My favourite guitar right now is a Harmony acoustic, I do a lot of writing on it. I picked it up in this shop in Pennsylvania actually, in a small music store, like in an attic. I picked it up for maybe $200. It was all beat up and torn but it sounds great.
What’s going through your head when you’re playing in front of thousands of people?
I try not to think and I find when I do I actually end up messing up – so I try not to think too much. I could just be looking around and catch a kid’s eye and you make quick eye contact and even for that instant you have a quick connection with that person, that’s cool.
Do you prefer Gerard’s hair red or black?
Black. It seems more him, you know? It reminds me of when we first started the band.
What’s your favourite horror movie?
Right now, The Exorcist. It creeps the hell out of me. Every time I watch it I can’t sleep at night.
Do you think your guitar-playing talent comes from your ‘fro?
My family has good genes. My dad kinda plays guitar but my older brother’s a guitar player and he showed me everything I know. So it comes from family, not hair!
Hailed as the best Grant Morrison book not written by Grant Morrison (By me. Just there), Umbrella Academy is the brian child of My Chemical Romance frontman Gerad Way. With art by Gabriel Ba, it casts the traditional super team as a dysfunctional family. Brought together by a man who shouldn’t be allowed care for a plant let alone a group of children with enough power to end the world, these super powered kids grow up to be maladjusted adults brought back together by the death of their ‘father’.
The first two mini series were critically acclaimed, and featured a very rich and detailed world filled with talking monkeys, time traveling assassins, murderous orchestras, and Viet Cong mummies. The third mini series, Hotel Oblivion, was originally announced for release sometime in 2010. But sadly that wasn’t the case.
Drug addiction, highway accidents, destroyed instruments, a death hoax and a thieving drummer coloured a tumultuous 2011 for My Chemical Romance. But the band’s silent linchpin, Ray Toro – who plays guitar like Randy Rhoads and sports an afro that has multiple fan-founded Facebook accounts – is celebrating. The year that tested their tenacity more than ever is the same year that marks MCR’s decade anniversary.
“We’ve been through some tough stuff this year,” says Toro. “All those things that happened, you can take it either of two ways: you can let it get you down and defeat you, or you can rise up from it. The cool thing with us is that we’ve always risen. We’re still around now and that’s incredible.”
He most recent hurdle was in September during their US tour with Blink 182 when Michael Pedicone – the fill-in for departed drummer Bob Bryar – was kicked out for stealing and trying to frame a crew member.
“We were hurt, we were deeply, deeply hurt and that’s all I’ll say on that,” Toro says dismissively. Adamant that MCR will never add another member, Toro says life post-Pedicone has never been better. “I don’t know what it is but for some reason we’ve just had bad luck, and things right now are easier than when it was just the four of us who started [the band].”
Looking back to when the New Jersey four formed in 2001, just one week after the September 11 attacks, they couldn’t be a less similar group now. In fact, each album release since their story-telling 2002 debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love has staged a rebirth where the band has enveloped themselves and their fans in a world of their own making. Since then, MCR have explored the deal with the devil trope (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge), mortality and the afterlife (The Black Parade), and post- apocalyptic totalitarianism in last year’s most ambitious and meticulously-created record to date, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. This high water mark redefined perceptions and created a fresh rallying output for escape-seeking youths while admonishing their connection with the term ‘emo’.
“It felt like a power cleanser,” he says. “We were saying ‘hey, you know it’s okay to wear colour’. Danger Days opened up what people perceive of us, not only the image but also the intent behind the band.
“Ten years in, I feel the band has proven everything we wanted to prove. When we came out with our first record there were a lot of naysayers, people were very quick to lodge us into a genre and give us a timeline, and a date, and a death sentence, rather than connecting to any musical movement.”
MCR were even accused of having a hand in the death of a thirteen-year-old girl from the UK in 2007, who allegedly joined a suicide cult after becoming obsessed with the band. “I feel like those people have been proven wrong, and very wrong,” says Toro. “Out of the last ten years we’re one of the bands that people didn’t think would stick around, that did stick around rather than decide to call it quits.”
To the band, the story-telling and realm creation bundled inside each musical movement is not only an act of catharsis, personifying all they’ve experienced, but is also a method which proves more profitable the more eccentric and intense the concept.
“It’s all about momentum and capitalising on that,” admits Toro. “I guess that’s why we keep changing it up.”
Despite the recording of some demos throughout their tour with Blink, Toro says any agreement on a fifth album concept is a long way off. “I like to use the term ‘flighty’. Our ideas are always all over the place.” One thing he is certain of however, is what it will take to match the more than 4.4 million-selling juggernaut that was Danger Days.
“I know from our past concepts that it’s always going to be more than a record, more than just a collection of songs,” he says. “I dunno, it may be a whole new world or it may tap into stuff we’ve tapped into on prior records… we’re always searching for that next thing.
My Chemical Romance will tour with the 2012 Big Day Out festival and perform three sideshows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne throughout January.
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE are a band constantly progressing in both sound and image as they search for musical enlightenment. Bass player MIKEY WAY tells LINDSEY CUTHBERTSON about the US punk rock group’s most positive changes yet.
You know a band has made it when they can dictate the terms of their touring schedule. When My Chemical Romance bassist Mikey Way chats to Rave from his home in the USA, he is enjoying a nice long break from the road designed specifically to take in the festive season.
“We’re just enjoying a little time off after the year-long stretch that we’ve done recently. We’re just relaxing at home right now, regaining some energy and sanity,”
Way explains, half in seriousness, half in jest.
Hang on a second; wasn’t My Chemical Romance’s latest album released only last year? Five years ago MCR wouldn’t have considered stopping touring at this stage of the album cycle. But it’s not like that anymore.
“We’ve never done it this way. Every album [before 2010’s Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys] we’ve toured on for two-plus years, so this is a different way of doing things for us,” Way says.
“We decided to go hard for about a year and then stop and make a new album, which is the plan that we’re sticking to at this current period of time. The last thing that we’ve got booked as far as shows go is Australia. We don’t plan on touring much after that…” he pauses for a moment, casting his mind ahead before finishing his sentence. “…Actually, that’s the end.”
Yes, you heard that right. The touring lifespan of Danger Days, MCR’s fourth (and second concept) album is almost at its conclusion. After the sombre theatricality of The Black Parade, Danger Days was a blast of colour, positive musical diversity and Mad Max-inspired imagery. After the heavy touring schedule of The Black Parade almost drove Way and his bandmates into the ground, they’re now approaching a lighter life on the road with the same upbeat attitude that they conveyed on the more recent album.
“The thing is that the way we used to tour we didn’t really know what we were doing. We were burning ourselves out a great deal with the way we did things, so we figured that this is a good way to stay creative and keep things fresh. This way, not touring on Danger Days for two-plus years means that we’ll be able to get back in and write new music quicker and we’ll be able to get back on the road much quicker and play that new music to people.”
After MCR’s tough slog supporting 2006’s The Black Parade, Way sees their new approach to touring having a great effect on the attitudes of himself, his brother, vocalist Gerard Way, and guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero.
“Everybody is in the best spirit mentally that I can ever recall. Everybody’s happier than ever, everybody’s more positive; I think that this is the right move,” he happily exclaims.
Time, experience and a conscious effort to change for the future led MCR to this point, but the end result is what keeps them there. Way attributes much of this invigorating feeling to the success that creating Danger Days eventually proved to be.
“It was all about an optimism and showing a different side of the band and changing people’s perspectives of us. We wanted to have fun and make an album that the fun was conveyed through the speakers,” he says.
“We did something on Danger Days that people probably thought we couldn’t do. We all stepped out of our respective comfort zones and broke down the walls of preconceived notions about the band. We wanted to show all these sides of us and influences that probably haven’t been seen before.”
It wasn’t easy to create that sort of album for MCR. They recorded an entire album and scrapped it before discovering the spark what would eventually become Danger Days. It was that desire to provide something fresh, new and ultimately fun that kept Way and the rest of MCR striving to achieve their goals rather than settle for something less fulfilling.
“We always wanted My Chemical Romance to be the band that we wished existed when we were in high school.”
“We’re such fans of each other as musicians and I think that’s how we maintain that level of interest in the songs. We’re as into the music as our fans are, so it was as surprising a revelation to us as it was to any of them to discover what Danger Days was. We were as exhilarated and shocked as everyone else. One thing that as a band we all frown on is that sometimes bands make albums that sound exactly the same for the duration of their careers. Even as music listeners, we never wanted to make a My Chemical Romance album that sounded just like a My Chemical Romance album. We don’t ever want anything like that to happen because that is boring to us. With every album we like to create a kind of universe for it to live in. We always try to make it as different as what we did last time and if we do ever tread over old ground it’s at least a nod or a wink and not just us aping what we used to do,” he says.
“We could write 100 albums that sound just like (2004’s) Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and we could write 100 albums that sound like The Black Parade, but that would ultimately bore us as well as the fans. They’ve got those albums already. I think our fans would be disappointed with hearing The Black Parade, Part Two.”
That journey for progression has now taken MCR from an underground phenomenon to breakout megastars with the ability to not tour as long as they once needed to. But Way admits that while their sound and attitude has changed, the core of the band never has.
“We always wanted My Chemical Romance to be the band that we wished existed when we were in high school. No matter how old I think we get we still maintain that: we know how we felt when we were pissed off as 15 year-olds and I don’t think that’s ever going to leave us,” says Way.
MCR has come a long way in a decade. They’ve battled with preconceived ideas and burnout, but never once gave up on reaching their goals. Earlier this year Mikey’s brother Gerard described the difficulties of MCR’s career up to a point as being like “climbing up a mountain of slime.” It’s safe to say that they’ve now reached the precipice; so what does little brother Mikey see on the other side?
“That’s a good analogy he made. The uphill climb that we had, we were up against some impossible odds. We fought against everything: everything that was going on in music was against what we were doing, and we were this tiny band and we were playing halls and basements where sometimes only four or five people would show up,” reflects Way.
“So what’s on the other side of the hill?” he says, repeating the question as he searches for an answer, “That remains to be seen, but I know that it’s going to be exciting and fulfilling for us, because that’s the frame of mind we’re in and the type of people that we are now.”
Danger Days didn’t just provide My Chemical Romance with an opportunity to break free from The Black Parade’s heavy rules and restrictions. The freedom the quartet experienced throughout the creative process gave them space to not only reflect on their career, but also gain important insight into fundamental decisions they made along the way.
Chatting to NovaFM on the phone shortly before dinner, MCR frontman Gerard Way sounded relaxed and reflective and he explained what it was that pushed the band to shift from the darkness of Parade, to the hopeful and spirited Danger Days.
“I think it was a response, even if it was a self-response. And I think it had to exist,” Way, 34, said.
“It’s as simple as that. It’s what we needed at the time in order to make a new album. It’s what we felt the band needed and I think it’s gonna be looked at later on as a really interesting time in the band’s career.”
Way said the Danger Days process provided him with the opportunity to discover answers he didn’t even realise he was seeking.
“I learnt during Danger Days, more than anything else. I even learnt more about The Black Parade through Danger Days which was interesting because I didn’t learn anything about The Black Paradewhile touring on it,” he said.
“I think I just understood why The Black Parade existed and I took more ownership of it. I was a lot more proud of it. “I learnt why we made some decisions on Danger Days, why we made another record… I just really learnt why.”
In order to give the upbeat, energetic and fast-faced Danger Days tracks the electricity and energy they deserve, MCR’s live shows have taken a huge turn since the band members were last Down Under.
“Ever since the first show (of Danger Days) there has always been this intense party atmosphere. It’s definitely a very different thing,” Way said. “The atmosphere is not created by set pieces anymore. It’s created by the light and all the colours we have on stage – and then the audience,” he said. “It’s a bit more ‘bare bones’ in that way.”
Despite releasing Danger Days more than a year ago, the tracks on their most recent studio delivery haven’t aged over the last 12 months. When you listen to “Planetry (GO!”), “Na Na Na”, “The Kids From Yesterday” and “Party Poison” they sound as energetic and alive as they did when they were unveiled.
“The digital element we’re referencing on Danger Days is directly related to stuff in the 90s, like Chemical Brothers and a lot of British electronic bands,” he explained. “That’s starting to come back now. For this whole culture of kids that missed the rave scene, it’s staring to exist pretty heavily again and I think because that stuff is everywhere now, it’s probably sounding very right now.”