Plucked from the midst of recording their next album, New Jersey’s own My Chemical Romance were announced last week as being the last-minute replacement for pop-punk forebears Blink-182 at this year’s Bamboozle. The two bands toured together last year, and as Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker was reportedly admitted for an emergency tonsillectomy (he’ll get ice cream!), My Chem seemed the most natural fit. In the 10 years that this fest has been happening, they’ve played 30 times. We don’t even know how it happened, but that’s 100 percent true.
When we sent guitarist Frank Iero the questions for this email interview, he and the rest of the band were holed up in the studio in Los Angeles, working once more with Doug McKean on a new batch of songs. Iero was tight-lipped on the particulars of the material—as you’ll see—but managed to reveal that it’ll be drummer Jarrod Alexander playing on the album and that the band is looking forward to being back in what they (no doubt lovingly) refer to as “the NJ.”
First thing’s first: Who’s playing drums? Will it be Jarrod for Bamboozle, and will he play on the next album?
FRANK: Haha, oh my. First thing off the bat, huh? Jarrod is a rad guy and a fantastic player. It’s been really fun making music with him these past few months. He loves coffee and hitting drums super-hard… and the fact that he’s not a thieving piece of garbage is a breath of fresh air. But since we only had a week’s notice to prepare for this show and with scheduling conflicts and all we decided that instead of using a real-live human drummer we are going to use the super computer from War Games instead. However, we have nicknamed the computer Jarrod.
You guys are pretty much the super-heroes of Bamboozle 2012, stepping in at the last minute to save the day. Obviously you toured with Blink-182 as well. What was that experience like? The bands don’t seem to have much in common musically, but was there a lot of audience crossover on the road?
FRANK: Well, it’s our pleasure. We love to play shows, and we’re glad to help out. Especially in the NJ.
We are in writing-mode right now and weren’t going to consider playing any shows, actually, but then stuff happened with Blink and we got the call. Plus I get to see Foo Fighters.
The Blink tour was cool. It’s crazy when a band you’ve listened to since high school literally calls you up and asks you to tour. You’re right, we don’t really have much in common musically, but that was kind of the point. When Blink proposed the tour to us they said they wanted a very diverse bill and that was a big draw for us. There’s no point in preaching to the choir, y’know? It’s fun to have a challenge and to play to an audience that normally wouldn’t come out to see your band. It keeps you on your toes as a player and hopefully exposes people to new bands and styles of music.
Is Jersey another stop on the road at this point, or is there still a sense of homecoming when you play here?
FRANK: Well, it’s funny you ask that because since we’re making a record right now we are currently home based out West, so my wife and kids are all out in L.A. and I’m going home to NJ for the show. This is the first time I’m like, “Eh, I’m just gonna fly in do the show and fly out.” It’s so fucking strange—I never do that in Jersey! Never. But it’s not the same without them, y’know?
You’ve done just about everything a band can do at Bamboozle over the years except play the comedy stage. Tell me about your history and memories of the fest.
FRANK: Ha! Yeah, I guess we kinda have. Well, definitely when the call came in for the show I did take a little trip down memory lane for a second. I remembered way back playing in another band selling tickets (buying most myself, I’m sure) in order to convince my friend Ricky Sapporta to let us play the side stage at the first Skate And Surf fest. That show was magical. I think a tiny pit broke out (probably by mistake) while we played and my heart exploded, and then flash forward to playing the main stage years later at Bamboozle to then headlining. Shit, we’ve done Bamboozle East, West. I played it with Leathermouth… How are you not sick of having us at Bamboozle?! It’s really gonna be fun though to come do it again, especially now for the anniversary and having it back in Asbury Park. It’s gonna be rad.
How does it compare to other festivals you’ve played?
FRANK: Well it’s run very smooth which is always a plus, and because it’s a NJ fest, plus we’ve had so much history with it there’s a sense of pride. It’s not someone else’s fest. It’s ours. You don’t feel that anywhere else.
How has the writing been going for the follow-up to Danger Days? Where are you at in the process?
FRANK: It’s going really well, actually. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to start tracking. I think we’re maybe a month away from the record button lighting up.
Can you give some clue yet as to what fans can expect from the new songs? MCR seems to evolve so much each record. What’s coming this time around?
FRANK: No fucking way.
What keeps you working with Doug McKean?
FRANK: Haha! Oh man. Doug is a special human being. He’s a fucking genius when it comes to making records and he’s fucking rotten, just like us. When you find someone just as rotten as you are, you shouldn’t let them go.
Any idea yet when the album will be done or out? How long do you expect you’ll be in the studio this time around?
FRANK: No fucking way.
Catch My Chemical Romance headlining the Bamboozle main stage on Saturday night, May 19.