AP #300 – The universe and Everything #2


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Toro, a quiet kid who wasn’t interested in anything but guitar, lived on a dead-end street on the border of Keaerny and Harrison, New Jersey. “There was definitely a funny collection of people who would hang around my block,” he remembers with an awkward grin. “There was this guy named Bertine who was a drug addict, who, every couple of months, would OD outside my house I would see an ambulance come and take him away.”

“Our parents were kind of scared to let us outside of the house, because where we lived was pretty dangerous,” remembers Mikey, Gerard’s little brother and partner in crime. Ask Donna Way, the boys mother about Mikey’s first steps, and she’ll tell you he didn’t start by walking: he’d watch his brother run, try to chase after him and end up falling on his face. “We didn’t have anyone else to hang out with. We had friends  from the neighborhood, but it was mostly me and Gerard.”

“The way the Jersey is it’s very sheltering and you don’t have to develop,” adds Gerard, perhaps thankful that the wouldn’t want to live there-anymore. “You don’t have to grow. It’s kind of like this adolescence that lasts forever. I know 34 year olds that still live like they were in high school.”

If not for the band, Iero and Mikey would probably be college graduates, Toro might still be delivering film, and Gerard would still be living in his mom’s basement, trying to break into comics. It was the drive to make a difference, the lust for a life less ordinary and a fateful day in September that would eventually motivate five guys from the wrong side of town to form what would became My Chemical Romance.

WHEN THE TWIN TOWERS COLLAPSED ON SEPT. 11, 2001, it was a time of self-reflection and reevaluation for the entire United States. It was like a voice in everyone’s head perked up and said, What are you where you want to be? Are you happy? Are you where you want to be? At least, those were some of the inner conflicts Gerard Way was dealing with. He was trying to sell an animated television series to the Cartoon Network called The Breakfast Monkey. It was about a Scandinavian flying imp who talked like Bjork and harnessed a special power called Breakfast Magic, which meant he could manipulate and create an assorted menu of breakfast food. Cartoon Network turned down the pitch because they already had another food-relate show in production-Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Gerard was discouraged and wanted to move his life in a new direction. “9/11 happened and, literally, a week later, the phone calls were made.” One phone call and an impromptu meeting at Passaic’s rocker bar, the Loop Lounge, would eventually change Gerard’s life forever.

“I ran into Matt at a bar and said. ‘You know what? I’ve been writing songs. You’re not doing anything and I’m not doing anything, so let’s get together and give id a shot.” With a no-pressure commitment, Gerard played Pelissier a rough version of  ‘Skylines And Turnstiles,’ and he liked what he heard. At the time, Gerard couldn’t play guitar and sing at the same time, so the duo called on Toro, Pelissier’s old high school friend and former band mate. “I talked to him that night and said the same thing I had said to Matt : No strings attached; you don’t have to say yes or no. Just come, check it out and bring your guitar.”

The trio recorded a demo in Pelissier’s attic. “My attic had no walls,” he says, laughing. “It was a wooden, run-down piece of crap. I had a really cheap 16-track board, and we had a bunch of crappy mics. I basically had the drums and guitars playing  upstairs and ran mics down the stars and had Gerard sing in the bathroom.” What came out of those sessions were the blue prints for “Our Lady Of Sorrows,” remembers Gerard. “And a lot of people loved the demo.” Including Mikey, who was so impressed that he decided to learn bass-having never picked up the instrument-so he could play in the band with his brother.

At the time, Mikey was a fixture on the New Jersey music scene. If there was a party, Mikey was there. And if there was an Eyeball Records party, everyone was there. The house of Eyeball’s owner, Alex Saavedra, was a funhouse decorated with horror-movie memorability toys and comics book collectibles, and soon became a punk-rock bed and breakfast of shorts, the meeting place for some of Jersey’s most musically creative minds, including members of Saves The Day. Midtown and Thursday.

“Sometimes the parties were totally impromptu. It  was just a bunch of guys at the house getting drunk having fun, getting arrested and having to go to jail,” remembers Thursday’s Geoff Rickly, who ended up working closely with My Chemical Romance. ‘Then there were these huge parties Alex would throw that would be a few hundred people at the house. Half the Jersey scene would be there. It would be everyone from the kids who’d go to the shows to a lot of the bands to everyone who ran the clubs.”

“WHO CAN GO FROM ZERO TO 120 LIKE THAT? I HEARD STORIES THAT GERARD WAS DRINKING SO MUCH AND DOING SO MANY DRUGS THAT I THOUGHT, ‘SOMEBODY’S GONNA DIE; THE BAND’S GONNA FALL APART, AND IT’S GONNA BE AWFUL.'” -Geoff Rickly

Part #3

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Posted on 05/31/2013, in Frank Iero, Gerard Way, Mikey Way, My Chemical Romance, Ray Toro, Scans and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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