This month, AP readers voted My My Chemical Romance’s Thee Cheers For Sweet Revenge as having the most awesome album art. The blood couple on the cover was actually drawn by Gerard Way, who graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the school Of Visual Arts in New York City. Way spent the next couple of years truing to work as a comic-book artist before eventually settling with a company called Funhaus, which designed and sculpted Marvel Comics action figures for preschoolers. With the band’s grueling tour schedule, Way doesn’t get to draw as much as he’d like, but the did find the time to create these exclusive European-comic style, Mike Mignola-inspired (Hellboy) portraits of himself and his bandmates for AP
…blows over. I hope you keep playing music, but I’ sorry that it had to go down this way. Call me if you ever want to. ‘Then he called me back at 3 in the morning one day, because he had gone to our trailer and tried to get things out of it and he couldn’t get in. I was like, ‘Why are you at out trailer at 3:00 in the morning? If you want anything out we can arrange to get it out for you.’ Then he hung up on me.
“I went to where our practice space had been, and he and a friend had left cutouts from newspaper clipping and nasty notes, and had locked the door so we couldn’t get back in, but I broke in. I called him back after that and told him to grow up and to call me when he did. He hasn’t called yet.”
“NOTHING CA HURT ME. I FELL COMPLETELY INVINCIBLE. I FEEL LIKE EVERYONE ELSE ON THAT STAGE IS INVINCIBLE AND WE’RE CAPABLE OF ANYTHING. THERE’S NO STOPPING US.” -Gerard Way
“IT TAKES ME A WHILE TO TELL STORIES,” Gerard says with a smirk and a sigh. “I think it’s because I was drunk for three years.” His eyes are wide, and the excitement of newfound possibilities seems to ooze out of every pore. He’s ready to start a new chapter of his life, one that doesn’t take his band’s name too literally. When Gerard returned from Japan, he got the help he needed from his longtime therapist, and he says he hasn’t been the same since. He hasn’t sipped a drink or popped a pill in nearly two months, and today, the band are playing better than ever.
I his youth, Gerard may’ve aspired to be a famous comic-book artist, but as he reaches his late 20’s, he’s no longer interested in making a cartoon of himself. “I wipe the make-up off; I take the suit off; I take the tie off and everything. I kind of mop my hair out, and I’m normal again. I’m Gerard again. and that, to me, is way cooler, because it makes the Gerard onstage, the character onstage, a lot more special. Because I’m not him all the time anymore. It really puts the focus back on what the band was important for, to me, which is not this rock ‘n’ roll character. It’s this band of guys who leave something to say and love playing together.”
Now, when Gerard’s takes the stage, he’s no longer a liability-he’s a threat. The whole band are. “These are things required to be in My Chemical Romance,” he begins. “The main thing, above all else, is that you have to embody the spirit of the band. Talent is definitely part of it, but you have to be a fighter.” And Gerard should know. He’s been fighting the good fight against the toughest enemy-himself.
“For me, [being onstage] is me being everything I always wanted to be,” he says “It erases everything I have about myself. Nothing can hurt me. I feel completely invincible. I fell like everyone else on that stage is invincible and we’re capable of anything. There’s no stopping us.”
“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.
Mornings star. It’s just that simple.
Three times already the car had backfired, leaving gentle smog and a sonic dust up and down Carter Avenue, where the junk men and the dogcatchers argued wearily over parking spaces.’
“I’m having a hard enough time dealing with just one of you – and you tell me there are two” -Richard Laughed
This isn’t a joke.
The front passenger wheel of the Torino exploded, a discarded shoebox on the pavement.
“Are you sure?” he said, seeming more concerned this time.
“Not really, but my psychic says it’s true…”
“Let’s just listen to some music.”
They turned onto Mulligan, and blocks away in an alley, the rats, building a monument to filth, could gear “Fresh Flesh” by Fear.
It’s a funny thing, getting shot at The fist time it happens, you’d swear you really never heard anything like it. It’s a mixture of white noise and vibrations. It’s the only thing louder than being born – so new, it’s like the first time you tasted Ice cream. Then, after some time, you start to get used to it, and in some cases, you start to enjoy it. So much so that you start putting yourself in situations where someone is packing tunes, and that someone might have a reason to shoot at you.
So there, under the Westway and before State Park. Richard and Jeans Found themselves, again being fired upon, again for a very good reason.
“Where’s my ticket! yelled Quan.”
“I swear to Christ if you don’t give it to me, I’m going to blow both your heads off!”
the revolver began to empty again, ringing against the steel and draining the overhead noise of passing cars.
“Give it to me!”
He had begun to sound sad. He was definitely crying.
The Happiness Express ran from Seattle to Electrics, on the East side of Mars, and tickets wen expensive. It was powered by a Kinetic Drive, which meant your organs had to be fitted with a shielding-mesh in order to keep them from folding inside themselves – the procedure was costly, but recovery time was short. They sold package deals that included a one-way trip, meshing and Personality Insurance.
“I think you’re confused, man…”
“We never had your ticket!”
“Must have been Julius!” shouted Richard.
“Totally!” Jean backed him up, quietly slipping out the Lola Plus in pollshed chrome they had shared between them, and he thought about how many lives it had taken – it’s magenta impact- bursts punching clean holes in bone and carbon.
Silence, then – the sound of discarded shells spilling on concrete. Wait: were they full shells? Quan’s voice came back at them, small, and even sadder. Low, like someone on their hands and knees.
“You don’t know what’s up…”
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
Reimagined by Gerard Way
One thing that never falls to get AP staffers stoked is the marking of various anniversaries and milestones in tour storied existence. Our 300th issue was certainly no exception, and we wanted to do something different. We didn’t want to retread our history like we did for our 20th anniversary. There was no need to have new-gen acts reenact classic covers, as we did on our 25th year. We considered history, but stayed focused on the here and now. We thought about our magazine as a vinyl record in a world of sound files: how do you make something tried and true into something special?
We approached GERARD WAY, the frontman/ chief conceptualist behind post-emo juggernaut MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE about what we wanted to do. We asked the singer – who is also a well-trained artist and designer – how he would approach certain parts of his former band’s legacy. MCR’s first (AP 197, Dec. 2004, written by then-managing editor Leslie Simon) sold out quickly, was unavailable for years and has been the subject of many a reader inquiry as to where they could find a copy. We asked Way to give us some commentary about that issue, suggesting he reminisce about the process, the writer, the locales – any memories he could share exclusively with his fans and AP readers.
He did one better: He turned our 300th issue into an art project, something unprecedented in the history of AP. What followers is his artistic rehaul of the original feature in a cut ‘n’ paste style, with plenty of cryptic and collaged commentary. For an added layer of texture, Way embedded a short story in the art, reminiscent of MCR’s final album. Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, a post-apocalyptic cyberpunk read. (For those of you who missed Simon’s original story, we reprinted it at the end of Way’s visual ¨remix,¨ so to speak.) We’re honored to have Way back in our pages again, helping to shake thins up here, as well as inspiring readers in their own artistic pursuits, regardless of medium.
Way before My Chemical Romance quietly adjourned in late March, guitarist Frank iero and keyboardist James Dewees were already concocting abrasive electronic music under the name Death Spells. Free from obligation, Iero now finds himself in the driver’s seat with equal parts excitement, confidence, and abject terror.
Last spring, during demo sessions for what was intended to be the follow-up album to Danger Days:The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero flew his family from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be with him. When his kids became restless with California, the doting dad acquiesced and let everyone go back to their Jersey homestead. Iero moved out of the living space and into auxiliary keyboardist James Dewees’ dodgy apartment in North Hollywood. The complex they were living in was a non-stop bacchanal of shawties-in-waiting hoping to get a chance to do some work twerking in some rapper’s video- and the music constantly blaring reflected that.
“When the days in the studio were getting shorter, we started hanging out back at the apartment with all this weird dance music being played around us,” says Iero.”James and I would go for long walks and talk about what kind of music we’d like to make for fun, and it pretty much started from there.”
So Iero and Dewees filled up their new pad with plenty of synthesizers, hard drives, software, and effects borrowed from MCR’s studio and proceeded to create their take on electronic music- a dark, over-modulated, cathartic pulse with Iero out in front, shrieking his throat raw or intoning like the creepy villain from The Silence Of The Lambs. As Death Spells, the duo have created a different beast altogether, avoiding trendy dubstep wobbling, tired electronic-flecked metalcore and faux feel-good rave fodder for some seriously ugly and mechanized post-punk you could listen to while dancing, moshing, or vandalizing a police station. They liked the noises they were making, so Iero and Dewees signed on as an opening act for a week of shows supporting Mindless Self Indulgence in early April. But shortly before Death Spells’ live debut, My Chemical Romance announced they were going their separate ways, leaving behind a bunch of songs Iero describes as “almost another Conventional Weapons situation except there wasn’t anything finished, just things in demo form.” Coincidence?
Not really. Iero is adamant the pursuit of Death Spells had nothing to do with MCR deciding to adjourn. He rolls his eyes at some of the most ridiculous rumors circulating about the band’s break, especially the one positing the members are regrouping under a different name to get off of Warner Bros. ( a fallacy popular with fans and self-aggrandizing British music-mag editors who don’t understand the term “first right of refusal”). Having just arrived back from a redeye flight from Los Angeles, Iero is jet-lagged but excited to talk about his future, reflect upon MCR’s legacy, and address all the uncertainty anyone would feel when hitting the reset button on his or her career. “Be it immaturity, throwing caution to the wind or just being punk rock, we didn’t give a fuck about what anyone else thought”, he says about his former band’s decision to retire. “Unless we were happy with it, we weren’t going to do what we didn’t want to do. We played it by our own rules, for better or for worse. That’s how we started it, that’s how we ran it and that’s how we ended it.”
Being responsible for some of the more unlikely aspects of certain My Chemical romance songs , the fractured hardcore of Leathermouth and now Death Spells’ raw-nerve scree, do you think fans and critics expect a certain thing from you?
FRANK IERO: I feel comfortable in awkwardness. [Laughs.] I think for some reason, people need to define, expect and pigeonhole things. This past week, I was talking to a few people about doing things for different outlets like movies and TV. A lot of them were like, “So you do this kind of thing? “ And I said, “Well, let me play you some stuff. “ And then the response was like, “Wow, Really? You do this, too?” I like catching people off-guard. I think people expect a certain thing from me and it’s not necessarily what I’m like at all. But I like that, as well; I like that people expect a certain thing from me, but very rarely get it. [Laughs.]
Currently, there are a ton of subgenres in electronic music. What was the overarching concept with Death Spells that you agreed upon?
I think [James and I] were rebelling against what we were creating in the studio- the day job- and the night shift were these two dudes who still wanted to be making music 24/7. What came out was the seediness of the area we were living in, the ability to get really loud and dirty but not get kicked out of the apartment and to get as grimy as humanly possible. There was no expectation as to what it was going to turn into. James would ask, “Hey, this is pretty grimy. Does this move you?” And I’d listen to it and go, “Yeah, I can totally curse over this for three minutes.” [Laughs.]
I’d assume the music sounds the way it does because you’re in a crap neighborhood, there’s all this bad music and annoying people at top volume in the building and you miss your family. But knowing Dewees, he’s like the post-emo Tony Robbins, where, “Dude! Everything is good!”
Absolutely. He is the silver lining embodied. He’d be baking stuff-cakes, soft pretzels-and bring it to the studio and make everybody happy. His demeanor is always jovial, but it’s in his musical sensibilities where he gets dark. I’m kind of the yin to his yang: He wanted Death Spells not to be his usual project. He was making music that was speaking to my dark side, and it started to work in a way we hadn’t expected to. With Reggie and the Full Effect, he wrote those parts and I just played guitar. When he was playing in Leathermouth, that stuff was written and recorded before he came in. When it came to My Chem, it was different. So Death Spells is the first time we gave birth to something.
What are plans for Spell-binding recordings? Because your name is obviously on MCR’s Warner Bros. contract, I’d assume the label gets first dibs on Death Spells material.
Yeah. I’m in legal limbo with a couple of things, right now. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen. We had plans on releasing some things, but I was told that is not the best idea right now. A few months ago, I put up [online] that Christmas song and that Ronettes cover (“Be My Baby” ), just to put them up and see what happens. And then I got the phone call. [Laughs.] We’ll see what happens after this article comes out and whether or not Death Spells have a home or are free agents. But I’m ready to get more stuff out there, more than just one muddled-and-muted- song on SoundCloud.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always saw you as the biggest cheerleader in My Chem. You’re kind of like a shark: Sharks don’t sleep; they have to keep moving. It seems like you’re always doing something musical or working on other unnamed projects.
You’re right. I’m a huge fan of music in general. I buy new music constantly; I seek out and listen to new music; I create it- whether it’s good or not- and need for it to be out there. I like to have things that I make not just heard by myself, whether I’m 100- percent proud of it or not. I need it to live and breathe out there. And sometimes it’s my own downfall. I was very much a proponent of keeping things going [in MCR]. Sometimes you bend over until your back breaks to keep things moving because you believe in it so much. In order for me to survive, I need to live outside the My Chem walls for a little while. I think that goes for everybody in the band: You reach a point in your life when you realize, “Shit, we’re not getting younger, even if we don’t act that way.” And there are things on the bucket list you don’t want to forget about. We’re all living our lives right now. Just going off and crossing off your list is healthy for everybody.
Was it a situation of ‘Kill the band,save the friendships?
Yeah. Listen, those guys will always have a piece of my heart.I love those guys to death.I grew up with them at my side. They are all my big brothers,and sometimes-to a fault-I will go out of my way to try to impress them or go out of my way to seek their approval on things. I have such a love for them. Second to my children,the band is the thing I am most proud of in my life. It will always hold a dear place in my heart. But I see where things needed to end in order for us to be the people we needed to be. A this point in our lives, it wasn’t in the cards. It’s hard to let go,but I know we ended it for the right reasons. Not only am I excited for my future, I can’t wait to see what those guys are going to do next.
Being a psychic cheerleader can be exhausting.
You give everything because you think it’s the right thing to do, and sometimes you’re forcing it for yourself. But I’ve always been a big proponent of “If you love doing it, well then fucking do it.” So that’s what I do. I love [playing and making music], so I’m going to do it.
What’s interesting to me is that you’re a full-on doting father and loving husband, but then you have the capability to make some crazy antisocial music. And since you’re kind of hitting reset on your career, how do you make this kind of decidedly non- commercial music and still provide for your family? How do you reconcile that?
I am a totally miserable fuck when I am not creating. I know deep down that in order for me to be the best father I want to be- the dude that my kids want to be around- I need to be creating. I can’t help it. If I’m not creatively fulfilled, I just crumble as a person. My wife understands that- she knew that from the beginning. But there are so many things that are new to me that I want to try. Things that make me think, “ I’d like to try my hand at that,” or “Man, I could totally fuck that shit up!”. Right now, I have nothing but dreams to fulfill- and that’s a scary and exciting and confusing and amazing time right now.
So then, Pencey Prep reunion this fall?
Ha![Laughs.] Move forward, man!
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.”
My Chemical Romance’s journey has been astonishing. Growing up in New Jersey, they were at the heart of a scene that spawned the likes of Thursday and other acts associated with the band’s first label, Eyeball. Growing up, all four of the band say they were misfits. Gerard said his time at school was “pretty solitary. I didn’t have too many friends. I was really isolated and found solace at the comic book store. One of my first days in high school I sat all alone at lunchtime. It was the classic story – the weird kid in an army jacket, a horror movie T-shirt, long black hair. People were never really mean to me, though, they mostly just left me alone. I think I wanted to be alone, too”
Frank grew up sneaking into clubs to see his musician father play before joining local act Pencey Prep and gigging in halls, basements and anywhere that would have them. Meanwhile, Ray says he was one of the “invisible masses” in high school, and spent a childhood indoors trying to play Hendrix, Zeppelin and Metallica riffs while pondering a career in film. It was him, Gerard, Mikey and drummer Matt Pelissier who first came together as a band, kick-started by Gerard watching the Twin Towers collapse on September 11 2001, and realising that, with life so fragile, it was worth doing something with it. From that days on, he put down his comic book dreams and turned to music.
“I was in Hoboken, which is right across the Hudson River,” he said. “There were 400 people and me. Right in front of us, those buildings went down. It was the biggest fucking neutron bomb of mental anguish you’ve ever felt. From then on, I was in my parent’s basement with a very small practice amp and a very old Fender guitar. That’s when I wrote Skylines and Turnstiles [as a reaction to what he saw on 9/11] and some of the earlier material. I wrote those songs sitting in my pyjamas with notebooks all around me. It was me going, ‘All this stuff has been inside me for years and I want to get it out,’ I wasn’t depressed at that time exactly, but I mas certainly a hermit”
It was Gerard’s brother, Mikey, who found their name. He worked in a bookstore and, while flicking through the racks one day, came across the Irvine Welsh Book Ecstasy: Three Tales Of Chemical Romance. From then on, their identity was complete. They plagued Thursday’s Geoff Rickly to produce them.
“Gerard came up to me at a party and said, ‘Me and my brother are going to start a band.’ When your friends says that to you at a party, you think, ‘Okay whatever,’ ” recalled Geoff. “He said , ‘No, I’m serious. We’re going to be called My Chemical Romance.’ I laughed and said, ‘Well, at least you’ve got a great name.’ ” But they forced him to the studio in early 2002 and, a few months after they formed, they had made the rough diamond of their debut.
“The beginning of the band was a pretty magic thing,” said Gerard. “We felt like we were on fire, that nobody could touch us. Nobody could figure out what we sounded like, they just knew they liked it. There was this energy – we were like a fucking gang.” Needing an extra guitarist, they turned to their friend in Pencey Prep, Frank, and with the album made, toured it fanatically. It was there, on the road, that they discovered what they had. Something about their intensity, their openness and blackened poetry not only connected with the small crowds they found but inspired, too. From New Jersey nobodies, They became underground somebodies, their power and passion too potent to ignore.
By the time of second album Three Cheers Fro Sweet Revenge, though, the had been knocked off course. Gerard and Mikey’s grandmother died the night they returned from a tour.
“Se died the night I got home,” said Gerard. “The emotions I went though at that moment and over the next six days completely fulled…Revenge. All the fucking anger, the spite, the beef with God, the angst, aggression and the fucking venom all came from those six days. When I lost her, I felt like I lost my mentor.” He took out his frustrations by drinking heavily and popping Xanax, an antianxiety pill. Meanwhile, the pressure on his band to record a major-label album was tightening. “It was a very fucking insane place to be at that moment,” said Gerard.
The album was made in LA, and three of the band – Gerard, Mikey and Frank – threw themselves, at least partially, into a hedonistic lifestyle. “When we weren’t making music, there was such a fog. Some of us were experimenting with pills. We’d all just vanish for days when we weren’t in the studio,” said Gerard. But the record they made was extraordinary. Furious, ambitious, imaginative, howking punk-rock, it was stunning. In lead tracks like I’m Not Okay (I promise) and Helena, they had written anthems. Yet as it was readied for release, the band were in trouble. Drummer Matt Pelissier was becoming isolated – eventually sacked was becoming isolated – eventually sacked and replaced by Bob Bryar – while Gerard was drinking to the point of breakdown.
An eight-ball of cocaine, handful of pills and his daily bottle of vodka in Kansas in 2004 caused one collapse, while binge-drinking sake in Japan soon after persuaded him to get help. As he got clean, so Three Cheers…became a phenomenon. No rock band in years had created the impact My Chemical Romance had then. Their fans were not simply fans; it became almost a cliche for crowd to tell band they had saved their lives.
And so it built, through the recording of The Black Parade and on until Danger Days vibrant slashes of colour and sound. They were the biggest, most innovative, most glorious band of the last decade. Four kids from New Jersey did something when they came together that no other band in 12 years has equalled: they created music that gave people a reason to live. How many others can say the same?
Where they go from there is anyone’s guess, but it seems unlikely we’ll not hear more from them. Gerard has already proven his talents as a comic book creator with the The Umbrella Academy, while Ray is too gifted to keep quiet for too long and might make a brilliant producer. Mikey has hinted in the past that he might work on comic books, while Frank’s future is perhaps clearest: his Death Spells side-project is touring with Gerard’s wife’s band, Mindless Self Indulgence. But, for now, it looks like it’s all over. For good? Gerard Way has responded to a 16,00-strong online petition requesting a farewell tour saying, “I think it would be best to spend some more time with my letter though, as time and understanding will make it clearer why this cannot be.”
It would be a shame, though, if the most important, perfect rock band of the last decade should come to an end with a whimper rather than the grand explosion they deserve. So long My Chemical Romance.
Thank you for the venom.
As yet, there are no reasons for the band’s break-up. They will, presumably, leak out over time. The band’s guitarist, Frank Iero, posted online, “Things that should be simple and easy rarely ever are.” Gerard Way, the band’s iconic singer, penned a lengthy tweet, stating that he felt a change in the way he felt about the band onstage at Asbury Park, New Jersey, on May 19 last year, at The Bamboozle Festival.
“Something is wrong,” he recalled. “I am acting. I never act onstage, even when it appears that I am, even when I’m hamming it up or delivering a soliloquy. Suddenly, I have become highly self-aware, almost as if waking from a dream. I began to move faster, more frantic, reckless – trying to shake it off – but all it began to create was silence. The amps, the cheers, all began to fade“
There are, of course, rumours. None are rooted in fact. Could it be that the band were at war with their label? Could it be a cryptic message? Or could it just nod to the image that adorned album number one…Then there’s a tweet from Mrs Way, Lyn-Z of Mindless Self Indulgence: “A new adventure is about to take place and I for one will be on that ride! Who’s coming with me?” another Clue? There are those who work with My Chemical Romance who see it as something simpler still. Insiders in their record company have pointed out that Frank and Gerard have young families. But then those same record company insiders previously talked of the band’s Hollywood space i which they were recording over Christmas. There, in a hang-out-pad-cum-studio, they had been laying down tentative tracks, for a new album.
The Kill Hannah frontman, Mat Devine – a friend of the band, on whose solo album Gerard has sung, who obliquely tweeted “When one door opens another closes” on the weekend of the split – has heard the fruits of those sessions, saying the band have evolved, and adding that it was a new phase for My Chemical Romance. With six songs laid roughly down, now seems an odd time to bring things to an end. But then there were no release dates chalked down; no plans to unveil another grand album to the world. Perhaps, it was simply time.
My Chemical Romance have been here before. When they walked offstage at Madison Square Garden on May 9 2008, the lights not only went off in the venue, they nearly went down on the band too. They were exhausted- burned-out from touring The Black Parade. That night was a culmination, a triumph, and the end of an album cycle in which they’d gone from underdogs to world-conquering heroes. But as Helena’s last notes were drowned out by Cheers, backstage, Gerard and guitarist Ray Toro knew it was all over. “Ray said to me, maybe you need a break, maybe you need to go and get stuff out of your system,” said Gerard later. “I remember saying that night, if we never do this again, thank you. What’s scary is that it felt like it was okay to say that. It felt accurate.”
“We had an energy – we were a gang…” –Gerard Way
Then, though, the circumstances were different. The Black Parade tour had become a monster – something that picked them up and whipped them along the road to burn out. “There was injury upon death upon illness [during the Black Parade tour],” said Frank. “It felt like we were being run along a cheese grater. We were leaving bits of ourselves all over the world. When something drains you as much as it did after Black Parade, you end up not knowing if you want to do it any more. Tou still have the love, but maybe not the want. There was something in the back of my head asking, ‘Is this going to happen again? Are we done?'”
“That Madison Square Garden show really felt like it was the closing credits,” Said the band’s bassist Mikey Way. “It was weird. It felt like it might have been the end.”
It was a record that had always taken its toll on the band. Its birth was torturous: in a lonely, creaking LA mansion, the band turned in on themselves as Ray became such a taskmaster that he later publicly apologised to Mikey in the pages of Kerrang!. The bassist had other issues, thought; he hat to leave the recording, suffering from anxiety and problems with drugs and alcohol. Gerard, too, felt he was under incredible pressure. He took a moment out from the studio, high up in the Hollywood Hills, to gaze at glittering LA below him.
“I was wondering what the hell I was going with my life,” he said shortly after the record was released. “I went through a crisis. I was examining every awful thing about myself. I was cutting myself open and taking all the parts out and examining them. ‘Wow’, I’m not a likeable person,’ I found I was a coward. I became very susceptible to depression. “It wasn’t the happiest time. I was extremely intense. I was living inside the record. It really did felt Like Something Was coming after us. We couldn’t escape it. It was there every time we turned a corner. It was just staring at us. It was a dark Time.”
And this was before My Chemical Romance went out on the road for two years. There, life got darker still. The response to the record was, rightly, phenomenal. But inside the band, that was harder to accept than it might sound to an outsider. In the course of their time on the road, they became as hated as they were adored, dividing opinion across the world. They became the figureheads of a genre they wished to have no part of – emo – and sensationalist journalist blamed them for the suicide of a teenager.
They were held responsible for the beatings of black-clad teenagers in Mexico, and were prodded and poked at by the world’s media. Their music seemed to have been forgotten in the whirlwind, while they themselves felt lost inside the thing they had created. “We created something and unleashed it onto the world and then, a year later, it had taken on a new life,” said Frank afterwards. “It was like a bastardised version of what we had done. It got weird.”
“It was a record that was so misconstrued on so many levels,” agreed Gerard. “It was really difficult and it took a toll on me. People in Mexico were getting hate-crimed on because they wore black and so anywhere we went that’s what people would talk music. That upset me. They were just talking about mascara and bullshit like that. I felt so small.” And so that’s why they wanted to bring it all to an end in Madison Square Garden. And it would have been a fitting finale, too; for that watching the Smashing Pumpkins in 1992. It was there that one brother turned to the other and said. ‘ This os what we’ve got to do.’ For them to have pulled the plug after that show, in the same room in which the after that show, in the same room in which the nascent band first began, would have been the sort of fitting farewell you might expect from My Chem.
This now? This feels like something else. This is not a band tired from the road, nor one rattled by media, fans or exhaustion. This is a rested band who quite deliberately retreated from The Black Parade hoopla with the stripped back Danger Days… and who had crafted a new space in which to exist. Somehow, this doesn’t feel right – this doesn’t feel like how it should end.
Rock Reacts! The stars took to Twitter to joig you in mourning MCR…Click Here