115 of 131 DOCUMENTS

  The Kansas City Star

June 23, 2005 Thursday 1 EDITION

Interview: Mixing it up with My Chemical Romance


LENGTH: 2325 words

Our parents might not think it by the looks of the guys, or by the artwork on the album but Gerard and Mikey Way (yes, they’re brothers) of My Chemical Romance are absolutely the sweetest people in the world.
Gerard, lead singer of MyChem, and Mikey, bassist, were nice enough to sit down and chat with TeenStar on Wednesday afternoon at Warped Tour, a few hours before their set.
Nicole Farley: So this is your guys’ second time on Warped Tour correct?
Gerard Way: Yes.
NF: Well, how about some fun memories, or events, or fun stories?
GW: Well you don’t we’re not a zany story band, we don’t actually havecrazy stuff doesn’t really happen to us. What is crazy that happens to us is how awesome everything’s been, all the really great people we’ve gotten to meet over the years and that’s what’s crazy. But I mean, great memories, is all the people you met last year that you’re still friends with and we’re very much into the camaraderie that’s on Warped. You know, there’s a vibe where everybody picks you up, and it’s kind of new, and they don’t know how to feel about everything, and then within a week, everybody realizes you kind of need each other to get this going, to keep this happening, and make it fun for the kids. That’s the objective. And the vibe of togetherness is great on this tour.
NF: Was that how you guys were when you first started it? Did you meet up with some other bands to help you out, or just catch on quick?
GW: I mean, every band in the history of bands has been helped in some way by other bands. We’ve made it a habit of never really asking for tours. We never want to be opportunists, we just wanted to get by on our abilities, and so all the help we got was just people that really believed in the band, or liked the way we sounded, and said, “Let’s bring this out, because it’s something different.”
McClain Johnson: Well, and you were voted Best Band on Warped Tour last year
GW:Oh, really?
MJ: Yes, you were. What’s the key to being such an amazing live band? You guys do tear it up.
GW: Self-beliefto a near-terrifying level always helps. There’s a point where you’re a band, when you say to yourself early on in your career where it never happens, “Let’s really just get up there and be ourselves.” And if ourselves just happen to be onstage, I don’t know, homoerotic, extremely energetic, or we end up having to fistfight, out of love in a really positive way, like it just gets so aggressive and things just collapse. And that’s just what happens. We also get up there and play each show like it’s the last time we were going to get to play, because, you know, (stuff) happens.
MJ: What do you want Chemical Romance to remembered for?
GW: I definitely want My Chemical Romance to be remembered as being the band that came in and changed things in a time where things were exactly the same, or boring, or people are saying things to you, that, you know, they were full of (stuff) and they didn’t have anything to say to you at all, they were just after your buck. And, you know, to be the band that came in for that moment of time, and changed all that. But in the end of it, I’d like to be remembered as a band that just helped people.
Katie Glueck: How did your band get together?
Mikey Way: We got together about 3 1/2 four years ago?
GW: Three. Well, it’s like 3 1/2
MW: About 3 1/2 years ago, we all got together, we were from the same 5-mile radius and had all just kind of been in bands together. And we had played either in a band together or with bands that it was kind of one of those things that just fell into place.
GW: It was a very spontaneous thing. It happened very quickly. We were playing out live within the following week. Now granted, we only had five songs, but that’s all we needed. You know, why are we going to sit around and try to write a record? As a rock band, you shouldn’t think about writing records you should write songs. You should always be writing songs, because that’s what a band does. You can get moved, and you want to say something, and you write a song about it. You don’t sit there and go, “Oh, we have to have an album’s worth of material to play live.” Our original sets were, like, 12 minutes long.
KG: Where did you get your band’s name?
MW: Oh yeah. We’re all just fans of this author, Irvine Welsh, and book critics have termed his books “chemical romances.” And we kind of just added the “my” in front of it.
MJ: What’s been your worst gig as Chemical Romance? Do you have any gig horror stories?
GW:I don’t think we do.
MW: That one show in Massachusetts, remember?
GW:Oh yeah.
MW:Everything just kept breaking.
GW: It was one of the first shows after “(Three Cheers for Sweet) Revenge,” we hadn’t played in a long time and nothing worked. There was, like, literally 4-minute breaks between songs where it got to the point where I didn’t even have anything to say. There was just nothing to talk about.
MJ: And where was this?
GW & MW: Boston.
KG: Are there any bands you’re really excited about seeing on Warped Tour?
GW: Yeah, I mean, The Bled, I watched today, I was excited about seeing them.
MW: Armor For Sleep, Fall Out Boy, Avenged Sevenfold, All-American Rejects.
GW: All-American Rejects, I never got to see Atreyu live there’s a lot of bands I’ve never seenI never saw The Offspring I saw The Offspring when I was 15, or something, so I’m excited to check them out.
KG: So what kind of music are you guys listening to now?
MW: I think everybody’s kind of got really varied musical tastes. I mean, I love a lot of British rock, just a bunch of different stuff. It runs from everything from like, Frank (Iero, guitarist) is into really old-school punk-rock, Bob (Bryar, drummer) listens to hardcore, Ray’s (Toro, guitarist) really into metal.
GW: Classical.
MW: Classical, guitar.
GW: Bob’s into Children Above-type metal, like Killswitch Engage, I’m into basically the same stuff he (Mikey) is, like The Cure, I like that new Mars Volta record, a lot. A lot of British stuff.
NF: What kind of stuff are you guys working on now?
GW: We’re eight songs into demo-ing. I mean, writing we haven’t really laid them out as official demos, but they’ve gone as far as they can at this stage in the game. We’re really happy, we’re really inspired, and we want to make a record soon. We don’t want to milk this record.
MJ: How does your writing process work?
GW: Somebody’s got an idea with a riff, they bring it in, we just kind of listen to it, and then if we hear it could be something, I’ll free-style some kind of vocal over it.
MJ: On the first album, are there any songs that initially were just free-styled?
GW: Yeah. “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville,” which is the main reason we don’t really play it live. I mean, that was a jam song, really, that doesn’t have a definite ending, it just happened. So there’s no real way to play it live like it is on the record, so we have to figure out, if we want to play it live on our headliner, we have to figure out a way to kind of make it a real song. But as far as “Revenge,” “(You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us in) Prison” was completely free-style. Not in the studio, but constant rehearsal of the song, the lyrics, I would say within five attempts of singing that song, the lyrics were pretty much done. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes you have a situation like “Helena” where I didn’t realize, I mean, it wasn’t until after my grandmother died, that I said, “This song feels like it moves me the most, I want this song to be about her.”
KG: So what your favorite song that you guys have ever done?
MW: I like “Helena.” I think that’s the song that probably encompasses our sound; it’s probably the most important song.
GW: I think it’s the most important one. I think one I’m kind of really proud of, is “Prison,” because it really is kind of a genre-shattering song. It kind ofit’s a cabaret song. And I think it’s the kind of song that you hear on a record that you think’s going to sound a certain way, because you read a review, and then you hear that song and you’re like “Jesus. This is not at all what I thought it was going to be.” People are constantly questioning, “Is this what emo’ sounds like?,” “Is this emo?’ Because this doesn’t sound like it,” and I guess, that’s the objective of the record is to kind of go past labels.
NF: What would you describe your sound as, like to someone who hadn’t heard you?
MW: Rock-and-roll.
GW:Rock. Therapeutic rock-and-roll.
MJ: And how do you feel your music is therapeutic?
GW: Well, it started as therapy for us. That’s what it was it wasn’t for anybody else but us. And then people liked it, and then it became therapy for other people. And so you’d have these shows, that was just this cathartic experience, it just it moved you. And let’s say we’d played 20 minutes people never really wanted more. They were just you know, if they’re done, I’m done. Or even if sometimes we’d do an encore, sometimes the set still only clocks in at an hour, an hour, and people have, you know, they’ve got what they come for. I think the lyrics are therapeutic because they’re very honest, I think the music is because it’s beautiful and violent at the same time, and it does things when you hear these sounds that move you.
NF: I think that’s one of the really incredible things about your band, is just how much feeling you can get out of it. And people use the term “emo” so much, but it doesn’t have to just be that, you can get so much more out of it.
Aubry Gabbard: It doesn’t really describe what your sound is. You kind of go beyond that, mix things up.
GW:Yeah, and it’s weird. Well that’s, the thing is, when we started, we were this like, picture a pond and all the fish are yellow and we’re black. That’s what it was like. It was just like we didn’t fit in in New Jersey. We’d play these shows, and we’d be wearing black, and eyeshadow, and people didn’t know what to make of us. Then we just went out on tour, so nobody got attached to us in Jersey, in a way that, you know, bands usually get attached to their home. And people then also didn’t know what to make of us. We were on tour with everybody from Christian hardcore bands, to indie rock bands, to art-rock bands, to disco-type bands, to everybody that brought us out. It’s kind of like what’s happening with The Bled right now, which is awesome to see. You don’t really know how to describe them, I mean, it’s hard as heavy as (****), but everybody brings those guys out, I mean, they just like it.
KG: What was it like touring with Green Day?
GW:It was phenomenal. They were like our big brothers, they were super-sweet, super-humble, living legends, yet, didn’t act like it. We learned a lot just from being in the same room as these guys.
MJ: Do you have a favorite moment from that tour?
MW: Oh, when they fricking pranked us.
GW: When they pranked us, yeah.
MJ: Really? What kind of stuff did they do?
MW:What didn’t they do?
GW: Let’s see. We got out on stage, we knew something was fishy, because they were laying down carpet, and we were like “Alright. They’re doing something.” And then we saw dudes hanging out in the tresses up above the stage, with the lights, and it was something. And so we started off, we were playing our set, and then all the sudden Micah, their guitar tech, came out and just started spraying us with water?
MW: Yeah, it started out with water and beer.
GW: It started off very subtle. And then beer.
MW: They got a Super-Soaker.
GW: And then they got ayeah and then what happened?
MW:Then they put a poker table on Billie Joe’s (Armstrong, Green Day vocalist/guitarist) catwalk.
GW:They had a catwalk and Billie would come out on it, and they put a poker table out there, and so I started playing poker.
MW: And then Billie Joe
GW:They covered him in popcorn.
MW: Yeah, they had two bags of popcorn
GW: They shot us with confetti.
MW: And kept doing the concussion bomb
GW: Yeah. In between our songs, I would try to talk, and then “POW! POW!”
MW:Billie Joe and Mike Dirnt (Green Day bassist) ran out with light sabers.
GW: Yeah, and then Billie Joe tossed me a light saber and I fought Mike Dirnt.
MW:Oh, Tre Cool was playing drums behind
GW:Behind Bob.
MW:Behind Bob. And he was playing whatever, just behind him.
GW: It was just the best. That’s something we’ll never forget.
MW:Yeah, and then they were pointing lights in our faces so we couldn’t see
GW: Oh yeah. Bright. Bright, ****ing light. On the side. Maxed out. Blinding us. Skin melting on face, you know? They just have the best sense of humor. And the best part is after, we were backstage, and they come up to us and they go, “Just so you guys know, we only do that because we actually like you guys. We don’t just prank anybody.” And they got us PSPs. It was amazing! They’re just so sweet, you know?
AG: So are you guys looking forward to doing Warped Tour next year, or are you going on to something new?
GW: The rules are, that if you’re playing Warped Tour an entire run of Warped, you can’t play the next year after that. It’s cool that way, it’s Kevin’s (Lyman, creator of Warped Tour) way of keeping it fresh.
MW:Especially if you’re on as a headliner, they won’t let you come back.
GW: Yeah. You’ve gotta wait.
MW:You’ve got to wait awhile.
GW:I’m sure one day we will again.
AG: Who are you thinking of touring with next?
GW: I really like Alkaline Trio.
MW:We’re going to be doing a headlining tour in the fall.
GW: I really like Reggie and the Full Effect. I really like a lot of bands, but those two stand out.
KG: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
MW:The Smashing Pumpkins. They’re getting back together, so…
MJ: Are they really?
MW:No, yeah, they really are. Billy Corgan [lead singer, Smashing Pumpkins] took out an ad in the Chicago-Tribune.
To reach Nicole or McClain or Katie or Aubry of TeenStar, send e-mail to

LOAD-DATE: June 23, 2005


Copyright 2005 The Kansas City Star
All Rights Reserved

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