Category Archives: Ray Toro
Ray Toro, former guitarist of My Chemical Romance, is back!
“Welcome to my website. Over the past two years, I’ve stayed mostly silent about what I’ve been up to. It seems if you aren’t active on Twitter or Facebook you are considered erased, washed up dead on an endless shore of tweets, likes and favs. I am here to tell you I am not dead. In fact, I am very much alive.
The last two years has been a time of immense transition for me. I’ve said goodbye to the old friend that was MCR. I’ve spent my time learning how to write songs on my own, learning how to sing, and most importantly learning how to be a great father and husband. Becoming a father has taught me countless lessons about life and love. Hopes and dreams. Who I am, and who I want to be. Being a parent, you will see the best of yourself. And you will see the ugliest parts of yourself. My wife has been right by my side in this school of hard knocks. Through it all, she has taught me to look inside myself. To better myself. To believe in myself.
With all that said, I am pleased to announce I will be entering the studio next week with Doug McKean to track the first clutch of songs for my next project. I am beyond excited to share them with the world. I know that Doug will take my vision, and with the skill of a magician, help conjure it into reality. Throughout the process, I will be posting pictures, audio teasers, and behind the scenes video, so keep an eye on my Twitter feed and website for updates!
Thank you all for visiting. I do hope you stay awhile…”
When Gerard Way confirmed Warner Brothers will be releasing a My Chemical Romance Greatest Hitscompilation next year, he also noted that he would be designing the packaging.
Check out Way’s most recent tweet below with what appears to be the artwork for MCR’s Greatest Hits, subtitled May Death Never Stop You:
Recently, the former MCR frontman also teased that he was “working on something special” with the following photo, which you will recognize as a piece from the full image:
Ray Toro, former lead guitarist of My Chemical Romance, has entered the studio with dark multi-platform artist Aurelio Voltaire to record guitars for select tracks from his upcoming album, Raised By Bats!.
In the video below, Toro plays the album’s title track.
“It is with a tremendous amount of joy and pride that I share with you that Ray Toro of My Chemical Romance was kind enough to record tracks for my upcoming album Raised by Bats!,” Voltaire wrote in the description for the below video of Toro playing his song “Oh My Goth!” “I am truly moved by this man’s abilities, his humility and the fact that he chose to share both with me.”
This isn’t the first time members of MCR have paired with the multi-faceted artist. In 2008, Voltaire tapped former MCR vocalist Gerard Way to voice his Creepy Christmas stop-motion animation, “X-Mess Detritus,” which you can watch below:
“I WIPE THE MAKE-UP OFF; I TAKE THE SUIT OFF; I TAKE THE TIE OFF AND EVERYTHING. I’M NORMAL AGAIN. I’M GERARD AGAIN.” -Gerard Way
Pelissier, who now works as a mechanic back in Jersey, is still searching for answers, insisting, “I was flat-out told the only reason I’m being kicked out of the band is because ‘We don’t feel comfortable with you onstage anymore because one, you don’t play to the click track, and two, those couple times you messed up, we just don’t fell comfortable.’ Even through Gerard was drunk every night and messed up every night…” His voice trails off.”They haven’t even avoiding the subject.”
“People probably though it was weird that we didn’t make any kind of statement beforehand or really talk about what happened,” Toro responds, carefully. “It must’ve been weird for people to notice, ‘Wow! One of the members who started the band and has been in the band for three years is now gone, and they haven’t said anything.’ The main reason why we decided to do that is because we didn’t want to get into a pissing match, and we didn’t want to have this sort of he-said, she-said bullshit.
“There are obviously things that went along with that [decision],” Toro continues, ‘like a lack of getting along with him and a lack of being able to play songs the same way every night. But the main reason was that we weren’t having fun being in the band… he had to have known in this heart-whether he’ll admit it or not-that he wasn’t performing up to the way we needed to perform. You had to have been fucking blind to not see the relationship problems between each of us and him-that we just didn’t get along. When I started getting into the reasons of why we made the decision, he just walked away. That was the last time I spoke to him.”
Pelissier, obviously, doesn’t see things the way his former bandmates do. “I had Ray come up to me once or twice and ask me to play to a click track [a metronome-type machine that helps a drummer keep time] live, and I said no. Pretty much no drummer does, because it takes away the whole live feeling. And that was it. I got back from Japan, and only Ray come to my house with [manager] Schechter. It’s like your whole world comes crashing down, after I gave everything I ever did, everything I ever owned to make sure the band would survive, and that’s the thanks I get.”
While Pelissier dealt with the blow, the rest of the band had to find a replacement. Enter well-respected soundman and secret MCR wannabe Bryar. “It was at Irving Plaza, maybe a year-and-a-half ago, and My Chemical Romance [were playing with] Finch and the Used,” recalls Bryar. “My Chem finished playing, and I walked into the back and said something to [their manager] like, ‘I wish I could do that.'” At this point. Bryar was just a cellmate the band met along the way. The band didn’t even know he could play drums, but after flying him out for a test run, there was no doubt Bryar was the perfect blend of personality and technical ability they were looking for.
No one in the band has talked to Pelissier since returning from Japan, except for Iero. “I called him right after it happened and was like, ‘Yo, I wanted to be there, but I understand why Ray wanted to talk to you alone. I hope that we can be mature about this after everything.
THE JETSET LIFE IS GONNA THRILL YOU
In three short years, My Chemical Romance have done things some bands only dream about-dueting with punk-rock royalty, hanging with hip-hop heavyweights and chilling with Frodo Baggins. But that’s not to say the men of MCR still don’t get starstruck. Here are their top three out-of-body encounters that had them scratching their heads, wondering. “Is this really happening?”
Attending a 2004 post-Oscar bash attended by the cast of The Lord Of The Rings and other A-List celebs.
“The whole time I’m thinking, ‘I don’t belong here. What am I doing with these people?'” remember Ray Toro, eyes wide. “I was sitting this close to Kirsten Dunst. I could’ve literally touched her.” In addition to lighting his hair on fire and seeing Countney Love moon a deck full of innocent bystanders. Toro and the rest of the band also watched as an actor (known to play an all powerful wizard) eyed Mikey Way “like he was a piece of chicken” Mikey refused to comment on the poultry comparison, but did say it ranked as his craziest night in Los Angels.
Giving Keith Morris vocal lessons during the recording sessions for Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge.
“I wasn’t coaching him,” Frank Iero insists, “but the was asking me how we wanted it.” The band invited the Circle Jerks singer to sing on “Hang Em High,” and it was all Iero could do not to pinch himself in the vocal booth. “Basically, I was like, ‘Do it like this.’ Then he’d do it, and I’d say, ‘Done one more take.’ We just sat down, ate Chinese food and he just talked to me for hours and hours. Ir was so fucking cool.”
Being invited to tea apt Rubin’s house.
After an MCR show with Piebald at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, a mysterious man came up to Gerard Way and said, “Rick Rubin would like to meet you.” Legend has if that the producer rarely leaves his house and hardly ever goes to see bands, so Way was intrigued. Rubin eventually invited the band over to his house to talk about abour music, and MCR jumped at the chance.
“We get to his house, and they asked us all to take off our shoes and they hand us these giant bottles of water,” Gerard recalls. ‘We sat in his library with a huge stufed polar bear and picture all over the wall-original points of John Lennon photographs and Black Flag. He came in and sat across from us I don’t think he blinked at all. He stared right into our souls. And then somebody comes to the door and asks if we can close the two doors to the library, and it’s Cedric [Baler Zavala] We all turn to each other and go, ‘Was that Cedric?’ Then we ask, is that the Mars Volta in there? Can we meet them?’ We totally nerded out. So Rick gets right up, opens the doors and goes into the piano room. It was their last day. They were finishing De-loused In The Comatorum. He goes, ‘Would you mind meeting these guy?’ They were the coolest guys. I remember Omar [A Rodriguez Lopez ] went. ‘I really like your belt.’ What the Fuck? That was huge!” [LS]
Actually, they’re more of a pill-and-booze-induced haze. Since releasing MCR’s sophomore album on Warner Bros, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, nothing’s been the same. Exceeding anyone’s expectations, the sales were bigger (Revenge sold in one week what Bullets sold in nearly two years), the show were bigger-and the drinking problem that had been plaguing Gerard for years was now officially out of control. “I can’t believe that they’re even still a band,” says Rickly, incredulously. “Who can go from zero to 120 like that? I heard stories that Gerard was drinking so much and going so many drugs that I through, ‘Somebody’s gonna die; the band’s gonna fall apart, and it’s gonna be awful.'”
With an unyielding momentum, My Chemical Romance embarked on the Vans Warped Tour ’04 and soon started making fans out of their idols like Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. “I wandered out into the crowd. [MCR] started playing, and I got kind of the same feeling that I got going to see Naked Raygun shows,” Skiba remembers fondly “They were so good and sounded so great, and the energy exchange with the crowd was something that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I had no choice. I had to start dancing. My drink was full when I walked in there, and five seconds later, it was all over a bunch of kids ‘heads.'”
Warped was one big traveling circus, and MCR were becoming the star attraction. But the devastating heal, the overwhelming schedule and Gerard’s increasing chemical addiction were starting to affect the band and their performance. Rickly saw the self-destruction firsthand when both bands were on the tour and he wondered if he should intervene. “It’s weird to say, because the’re a band and they can do what they want, ” Rickly pauses. “But those are our friends. You don’t want to see them get sucked into something you’ve had your band get sucked into.”
At the height of the band’s success on Warped, Gerard was going through $150 worth of illegal pills per month, mostly Xanax, and drinking a bottle of vodka every day to day and a half.
“I worked out a system,” Gerard says as he takes a swing from this bottle of vitaminwater, “where if we played at noon, I was basically just hung over, still drunk probably from the night before. If we were playing at 1 or 2. I was already drunk if [I wasn’t] fully drunk, then I was trying to get drunk at any signings we had to do. After that, I would continue to get drunk well until the [day’s tour stop] was done, until bus call. Bus call would come , or sometimes before it, and I would pop an bunch of Xanax and basically be cracked out. It was the only thing at that point that would put me to sleep and shut my brain off.”
The name My Chemical Romance was no longer homage to Irvine Welsh’s book, Ecstasy: Three Takes Of Chemical Romance; it was now Gerard’s mantra. The band jumped off Warped’s traveling punk-rock circus in mid-July, and immediately embarked on a co-headlining tour with Senses Fail. Both bands were sharing a tour bus and partying it up, but things went too far on a tour stop somewhere in the Midwest.
“I had done to see the Killers and got really drunk,” recalls Gerard. “I found a way to get cocaine, and I bought a whole fucking eight ball and pretty much did the whole fucking thing. I did so much cocaine that I was in the middle of the street, throwing up everywhere. My head was pounding; it felt twice its size. All the veins in my head felt like they were going to explode. The next day, I woke up, and I was more suicidal that morning than I had ever been in my entire life-and it was completely amazing to me. “Nobody in my band knew,” he adds. “I had a really good way of hiding stuff.”
Or if they did know, they certainly didn’t acknowledge it as a problem. “I think I was accepting because I was equally bad as he was at one point,” explains Mikey. “I was even worse than him at some points early on in the band’s career. I thought it’d be really hypocritical to say, ‘Put that vodka down!'”
“Any time you mix drinking with narcotics, something bad can happen,” adds Iero. “And depression-mixing the three of them is really bad. Every time you do it, it changes your whole body chemistry. When we were touring, no one really thought about it, because we were all doing it together.” After making a call to his manager, who talked him down for the next three hours, Gerard managed to snap out of his suicidal stupor in time to finish the tour and head back to Jersey to regroup-but not for long. The band were scheduled and the one place he feared he wouldn’t return from.
“I was terrified,” he remembers. “All I did was sweat two days before Japan, I sweat buckets, drank and loaded up on my pills for the trip.” He loaded up on liquor at the airport bar, popped a whole bar of Xanax and woke up in a completely different country. Doped up and unsure how he even made it through customs, Gerard was on autopilot. He overindulged in sake, entertained more thoughts of ending his life and played two of the largest shows of the band’s career completely wasted.
“My intention was to make it a memorable experience for everyone, and I did,” he says with a shrug and a sheepish grin. “But it’s kind of like marking a deal with the devil. I made it a memorable experience for everyone-but in the worst possible way.”
“It’s weird, because usually when we’re playing, me and Gerard can look at each other and no matter what’s going on, I can pull back to it and go for it,” say Iero. “When I looked for him [in Osaka] and he was underneath the stage being drunk, I just wanted to [put my guitar down] and go.”
“I walked offstage and I threw up for 45 minutes straight in this garbage can, like I had never thrown up before,” Gerard says as he lights another cigarette. “I puked everything out. The whole band was there, and I was sitting on the couch in the corner. Ray turns to Brian [Schechter, Manager] and says. ‘You need to get him to the doctor. Listen to him. He’s really sick.’ Sitting there, I still have vomit all over myself, and I just thought, ‘This has to be the end.’ I was still really suicidal and depressed, but I was just like, ‘I have to stop drinking. I don’t know how, but this has to be the end.’
“I didn’t know what was was going to happen when I got back to the U.S.” Gerard continues. “I got off the plane and was really upset, I knew what was going to happen to Otter, and I think that’s another reason why I was upset. I said goodbye to him and knew that I probably was not going to see him again. At the same time, I didn’t know if I was going to be alive the next day. I said goodbye to everybody and I had tears in my eyes because I wasn’t really sure if I was going to see anyone in my band again.”
“THE LAST TIME I SAW OR HEAR FROM GERARD,” say Pelissier, “it was when I gave him a hug at the airport.” While Gerard was dealing with getting clean, MCR were struggling with and ever larger challenge-building up the courage to ask their drummer to leave the band he helped start. “It was like the moment that you break up with someone you’ve been dating for three of four years that you used to love in the beginning of the relationship and things went sour, but for some reason you’re still together,” explains Toro, who, along with the band’s manager, went to Pelissier’s house to break the news.
It was his all-created-aqual attitude that inspired a sense of community within the scene. A band’s singer was no better than the guy who was checking IDs at the door, who was no better than the 15-years-old fan waiting after the show to get picked up by his or her parents. Mikey was interning for Eyeball at the time, carrying equipment, putting up fliers and basically doing anything to help out the scene he loved. It was out of this relationship with Saavedra that Gerard was introduced to Rickly and asked to draw some designs for Thursday’s T-shirts. “I was this hermit artist kid who was Mikey’s weird older brother,” recalls Gerard, laughing. “I met Geoff outside of a record store called St.Marks in Kearny, and I remember this really strange-looking kid who looked like he was in Joy Division. He had a black mop; he looked emaciated and pales-as-shit sick. But he was so nice, and we hit it off immediately.”
Although they met under the pretense of having a working relationship, a deep friendship was born. ” remember at these parties Gerard coming up to me and being really psyched on Thursday, having seen us and telling some amazing stories about the way it made him feel,” recalls Rickly. “At the time, I think he was sort of at a low point in his life. He would disappear and not come out for a month and a half.”
Adds Saavedra, laughing. “[Gerard] would just smoke cigarettes and draw Spider-Man all night long.”
“When you’d see him, he’d look just terrible, just bummed out,” Rickly continues. “He told me one night that Thursday gave him new hope and he was gonna start a band with his little brother. Not that it was a joke, but I thought, ‘Yeah, they’re thinking about starting a band, but how long does it take you before you actually start doing something good?’ He would sit there and play me songs on one of Alex’s guitars that was so hopelessly out to tune and broken with bad strings that I was like, ‘I love you and your brother, and sure, I’ll hang out. I’ll come to practice.'”
It was through a mutual friend that Gerard was introduced to Iero who was in the midst of making a name for himself with his band Pencey Prep, who had already been signed to Eyeball. Pencey needed a band to share their practice space, and MCR gladly accepted, “Pencey Prep, Thursday and us would practice in the same room,” says Mikey. “which was great, because you could just hang out and watch someone else’s practice, do your own, share ideas [and] show people what was going on, it was awesome.” Pencey eventually disbanded, and MCR adopted Iero as one their own.
Back at the Eyeball house, at one of Saavedra’s infamous ragers. Mikey played Alex the demo, and the label immediately added the band to its roster. In early 2002, the band, Rickly and Saavedra trekked up to Nada Studios in New Windsor, New York, to start recording Bullets. The sessions were plagued by torrential storms and Gerard’s health problems, but somewhere amid the madness the band managed to craft 11 songs that would book/mark the visual aesthetic and musical texture My Chemical Romance aspired to achieve.
“As soon as it came time for Gerard to do vocals for ‘Vampires [Will Never Hurt You]; this insane stor, hit,” Saavedra remembers. “Gerard was getting very frustrated because it was his first time recording, decently, in an actual studio. He was overwhelmed and he was over-thinking it… So I punched him in the face!” The blow loosened Gerard’s jaw and somehow grave him the motivation to take the mic and rip a bite out of the track.
Gerard laughs triumphantly. “I remember it hurting a lot, and going. ‘All right, I hope I can do this.’ I remember singing, and something clicked. I remember Alex’s face was just amazed that the song was finally coming together. I think it was the second take that we ended up using.”
Ask Gerard the best compliment he’s ever received, and he’ll tell you what Rickly said after he heard a finished version of I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. “Geoff told me the first time that he had heard it, he was fucking terrified of what we were capable of. He asked, ‘You ever heard of Ink & Daggers?’ I was like, ‘Not really. I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them or heard them.’ He was like, ‘You need to get some Ink & Dagger, Because it’s what you guys are doing-but you’re doing it better.”
LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW OF MCR’S ROOM at the Hyatt on Sunset, you can see people pouring out of hotels barns and milling around like denizens of an ant farm. The smells of car fumes, expensive perfume and stale cigarettes waft through the air. The House Of Blues sits quietly across the street, a silent reminder of a job well done. The band should be celebrating after tearing up the place just three hours earlier. It may’ve been the last leg of Face To Face’s string of farewell shows, but it was MCR’s long-overdue welcome to the major league of rock. As members of New Found Glory, the Bronx and H2O looked on, My Chemical Romance covered every inch of the stage with their unique concoction of organic musicianship and raw machismo.
But instead, Iero, Toro, Bryar, Mikey and the rest of the crew gather their duffle bags and guitar cases and load everything back into their van. Tomorrow they’re playing a radio show in Phoenix, and a long drive lies ahead of them. Their white, 15-passenger van is making an obnoxiously loud grinding noise. Good thing a tour bus is meeting them in Arizona , because it’s only a matter of miles before their beloved vehicle shits the bed.
Gerard passes up the drive and stays behind one more night in Los Angeles. Sitting Indian-style on one of the room’s double beds, he surveys his surrounding and sees that his bandmates have left the room a sty. The floor is stained, littered with smashed cigarette butts, while someone’s dirty underwear sits balled up in the comer, unclaimed. Gerard takes a deep breath and lights a cigarette. It’s practically the only vice he’s got left.
For this enigmatic frontman who eats, drinks and sweats rock ‘n’ roll, the past six months are a blur. [continues]
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
WELCOME TO ODESSA, TEXAS.
More specifically, welcome to Dos Amigos Cantina an old horse stable turned restaurant/nightclub that boasts beef on the hoof, the longest continuous bull-riding contest in the United States, and tonight, surprisingly the opening date of the Nintendo Fusion Tour starring Story Of The Year, Letter Kills and New Jersey’s finest, My Chemical Romance. Sure, the venues’s had it’s share of rock shows – like a confederate hootenanny with David Allan Coe and a thunderous set by the Fabulous Thunderbirds – but these big-city outsiders can’t help wondering whether this gig got booked by mistake. Despite the backyard-barbeque decor (complete with picnic tables and bare feet) and the pony-tailed refrigerator-sized security guards packing heal, everyone can sit back in their folding chairs and appreciate seeing mullets and Wrangler Jeans frolic in their natural habitat.
As the sun begin to set, MCR take the stage-er bam. The audience throws up the requisde rock-show devil horns, starts jumping up and down as if their feet were bungeed to a trampoline, and hoots and hollers loud enough to make Willie Nelson proud. From the opening guitar riff of “Thank You For The Venom” to the bitch-slap ballad “The Ghost Of You,” My Chemical Romance sound like they’re successfully penetrating middle America. And for frontman Gerard Way – dapperly clad in a black suit with a white and black horizontally striped tie smeared with spit, blood and sweat-who once was kicked out of a rock band because he refused to sing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” this overwhelming roar of acceptance makes the moment all the more sweet.
It’s truly a beautiful mess, much like the happy accidents and unforeseen obstacles that have aided and threatened the band’s career. The members of My Chemical Romance- singer Way, guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toro, bassist Mikey Way and drummer Bob Bryar-formed out of necessity and lived out of urgency. They played basements, recorded in attics and rode to shows in the back of an AAA tow truck. They opened shitty shows for shittier bands, and enemies to fill the Pere-Lanchaise cemetery. Some drank away their sorrows until they almost drowned and others choked under the pressure. They refused to play by the rules, so they invented their own game. In a scant three years time.
There aren’t any celebrities in the crowd at the Odessa gig. There aren’t any industry types piling into the green room, drinking the band’s beer. There are no after parties. There aren’t even any drink tickets-not that the band members need them anymore. (After a trip to Japan where Gerard got slashed in translation, the energetic frontman kicked the bottle, and a couple of other bad habits, cold turkey.) Amid at least algunos cientos amigos at Dos Amigos, a member of the tour’s crew steps out of the bathroom and into the makeshift backstage bar. Still buckling his pants, he shakes his head in a_azerpent, muttering to no one in particular, “It’s like being trapped in a bad episode of Jerry Springer.” One question: was there ever a good episode of Springer?
REWIND 72 HOURS. Before My Chemical Romance conquered the Lone Star State, they pillaged the City Of Angels. Thanks to their violent imagery and horror movie theatrics, the band have been asked for years about their participation in the occult. “As much as we shy away from the vampire, we know where it’r coming from,” rationalizes Gerard. “It’s coming from a whole fashion-scene. genre esque thing that they’re trying to find out about.”
But tonight, it looks like life is imitating art. After a 15-hours international flight from London to Los Angeles, MCR are practically walking zombies-and the fact that they’re unintentionally stumbled into an 80’s night at a sushi join down the street isn’t helping. A 20-something waitress, probably an aspiring actress/model/future American Idol contestant, shimmies up to the table wearing an almost nonexistent neon-green ruffled mini and an infinitely deep V-necked hot-pink tank top, and practically screams the specials to the band while Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” plays in the background. “You guys over 21?” she barks. “Y’all wanna do some sake bombs?.” Everyone at the table looks at one another, giggles and politely declines. Gerard simply smiles, uncomfortably.
The band have just returned from a triumphant trip to the U.K, where Gerard and his gang of modern-day Charming Men were practically treated like royalty. “British strongest elements [of our band],” he waxes “I think they heard emo and wanted something different. We are kind of the what-else-you-got of emo.” MCR have traveled the world seen a million faces and rocked them all-but nothing compares to Jersey.
“Really, I don’t know anything other than Jersey.”
With the exception of Bryar-who grew up just outside of Chicago-the members of MCR-including founding member and original drummer Matt “Other” Pelissier, who was recently asked to leave with their parents, and when the’re home (which isn’t very often), they still hang out with the same friends and frequent the same haunts that inspired them to write the songs on their Eyeball Records debut, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love.
“Me and Mikey could’t really play where we grew up, which was pretty much the same story with everybody, because it was so fucking dangerous,” says Gerard, a withdrawn child who was more interested in drawing and making up stories than playing with other kids. “We had to construct our own world we lived in constantly.”
The rough-and-tumble streets in and around Essex Country, New Jersey, shaped the band members, from childhood to young adulthood. “My parents split up when I was pretty young, [and] mu mom was kind of left to take care of everything. There were times when we really couldn’t even afford milk,” says Iero, who spent most of this younger years in and out of hospitals because of bronchitis ans severe ear infections. “I don’t know if it’s because I don’t see home anymore or [because] I’ll never change mu opinion on it. I would’t change my upbringing for the world.” [continues]
Former My Chemical Romance lead guitarist Ray Toro has posted a new song titled “Isn’t That Something.” Toro recorded and performed everything himself in true DIY fashion, as he mentions in the tweet below.
THIS MIRROR IS BIG ENOUGH FOR THE FIVE OF US
“This photo was taken in the downstairs dressing room at Hollywood’s Avalon in October 2006,” says K! photographer Lisa Johnson. “The band were set to debut The Black Parade live for a MySpace fan-only show that night, Gerard had just bleached his hair, and this was the first time I’d seen it.”
Here’s Frank taking five minutes out from whirling around onstage like a tattooed dervish. He’s wearing fingerless skeleton gloves, which would serve no real purpose if he was stranded on an ice planet. Anyway, if you want a pair of your own, you can find them on Amazon for a fiver.
TIARAS WILL NEVER HURT YOU
This poster features original drummer Matt Pelissier (left), who was replaced by Bob Bryar in 2004. Matt currently runs his own recording studio and drums for New Jersey band Revenir. We won’t mention the fact that Frank’s wearing a sparkly princess tiara. At all. Nice weather they’re having…
I TOLD YOU WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING
It doesn’t matter if you’re the singer of My Chem or not, everyone on a tour needs a laminate to get backstage. “I snapped this photo of Gerard on the Vans Warped Tour in 2005,” says our photographer, Lisa. “I think this was in Chicago. Gerard’s nickname on his pass is G-Way.”
THREE CHEERS FOR SWEET POSTERS
Here’s a shot taken following the release of 2004’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. Frank Iero’s wearing a bulletproof west. Did you know that one of the first forms of body armour was found in medieval Japan? It was made from silk, which is probably just as effective as lettuce.
GERARD AND MIKEY HANGING OUT IN A TRUCK
“This shot of Mikey and Gerard was taken just a few seconds before they took the stage in Milwaukee on the 2005 Vans Warped Tour,” says Lisa. “I loved this photo so much that I made prints for them. From what I’ve heard, Mikey had it proudly displayed on his fridge for years.”