"My Chemical Romance has hopped on the Taking Back Sunday tour, and when they stopped in Seattle, I had a chance to speak to these guys. Let me say, I don't think I have met a group of more funny guys in a long time. They were all hilarious, extremely kind, and open to all the questions I asked, often elaborating into some pretty funny and outrageous stories."
Click READ MORE for the full interview, in all it's crashing-into-parked-cars glory.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard MCR before?
Gerard: I would describe it as rock n roll played by a bunch of guys that listen to Iron Maiden, Black Flag, The Misfits, Classical music, Fantasy Metal, and Brit-pop.
Mikey: It’s rock n roll played by a munch of man boys. We’re hard core R&B.
Who are your influences?
Gerard: Iron Maiden, Misfits, Black Flag, Classical music, Brit-pop, At The Gates, The Descendants, umm, fuck who else, Pantera, …
Do you have a favorite city or venue to play at? Why?
All : Chicago, the Metro in Chicago. It’s the shit. Boston and Jersey too.
Gerard: We’ve played at the fireside two times, and I think if we had played there more that would be out favorite venue, but we have only had like two really brief experiences there.
How do you set your music apart from all the other emo/hardcore bands out in the industry today?
Gerard: Well what’s different about us is that we are not really an emo band, we get booked on a lot of the same tours and shows with what people are calling emo bands. Everyone will obviously say that emo is a really loaded term, it is pretty much just what people are calling music that kids are playing now a days. Um it’s punk, it’s rock, it’s hardcore, and we are not really part of that whole emo thing, but we are booked with a lot of bands that are emo, so it’s really interesting for us. What makes us different is that we kinda have an attitude about it, like a rock band, like a rock and roll band and uh, we kinda bring something like that to the table.
Do you see MCR ever moving to a major label in the future, or sticking to the smaller Indy labels?
Gerard: Major Labels are something that . . . well it depends. When you start a band you want to get you message out to as many people as possible. And major labels are a way to do that, and um, we see a lot of bands using that method like Thursday and stuff like that and it never, well shouldn’t change the band. I know it hasn’t changed Thursday, I can speak for them for sure. But sometimes it does change people, but, it doesn’t really change the band. A major label is just a way for them to get better distribution, you know, they get to make records they really want to make. Even a band like Radiohead can spend millions of dollars on a record, now you know? But we defiantly see ourselves always, well we will always consider ourselves and Eyeball band no matter what. We will always consider ourselves Indy, we come from that, no matter what happens in the future we are always going to be involved with the Indy labels, doing splits, doing seven inches, whatever.
What would be the lineup for your ideal tour?
Ray: Wait! We decided this a couple of days ago. It would be us, Recover and The Iron Maidens- an all female Iron Maiden cover band. And they are ugly.
In the background – “No they’re not dude! Not all of them”
Ray: Yea, well one of them is. And it will be incredible.
When you are on the road what do you listen to/what do you do to pass time?
Matt: We got Nintendo to pass time.
Ray: We got the Zelda game that this kid’s been playing all the time. We have an X-Box buried somewhere in here too.
Gerard: We’re like game Nerds. I got the new Cradle of Filth too, so that is what I have been listening to now. Everybody always picks up cd’s.
All: The Exit. We have been listening to them a lot. And The Ghost.
Have you had any really horrible experiences or really great experiences on the road so far that have impacted the band?
Matt: Mikey got into a fight and broke his foot.
Ray: Ha-ha, he got into a fight with a wall. The wall was mouthing off to him.
Mikey: I got to hobble around with a cane for a while.
Matt: Ray ripped the fender off the van.
Ray: That was pretty funny though, it gives it attitude, don’t you think?
Gerard: My dad keeps asking about the fender too. He goes, “Did you guys put the fender on yet.” And I was like, well we have it.
Ray: It was also a crazy time when I ripped my head apart.
Gerard: Yeah he got a really bad gash in his head in Columbus. And his face was like a mask of blood. We were terrified.
Ray: And then this girl sent a picture to me. She sent this email because we put on our website that we wanted a picture of us playing live. And she sent this email saying “oh, we say you guys in Columbus, um, Gerard is so cute. I wonder if you guys remember me, I hugged Gerard after the show.” And the picture that she attached was called Gerard, and it was me and Gerard standing nest to each other, You can hardly see his face, but my face was completely covered in blood.
After you finish a set, and you leave the stage, what message or impact do you want to leave on your audience?
Ray: “I just got fucked”
Gerard: Well the main theme is the whole anti-suicide thing. You know we really want to get that across to people that there is always someone to talk to even us, especially us if you are at a show and you are feeling upset. I mean I have had tons of people come up and talk to me about it and that’s the best. When we can talk about that, rather than my hair or some shit like that. Well, that is one main message, and the other message is like just fuckin’ be who you want to be, be yourself, and live out everything you absolutely want to live, cause were up there, and we are like five, probably most self conscious dudes in the world, and we get up there and we try to act like in Queen, you know what I mean. It’s not very characteristic for people who have self esteem issues, you know. And we have gotten over that and so many other problems involving our mental health with this band. This band is our therapy, and we try to get that across to people.
What were your inspirations during the beginning guitar in “Headfirst for Halos?”
ALL: Van Halen, Queen.
Ray: Queen was a big one.
Background: (there were certain other influences too. . . ha-ha)
Ray: Ohhh well that influence was for the rest of the music in this song. We were fuckin’ zoinked out of our heads when we wrote that song. It seems like it is really against what everything sounds like on the record. It’s really major.
Gerard: We wrote it literally on the spot. I mean that song wrote itself. In like 10 minutes, lyrics, everything. We were just joking’ around and I was like this is the catchiest, popiest, stupidest shit I have ever heard, and I was like how can I make lyrics make it not. And then I figured a way to do that. At first we were like no, this in not a My Chemical Romance song, but we just kept fighting it until it was.
What is with all the vampire/hospital allusions?
Gerard: Um, the vampire stuff is actually only in one song. The hospital stuff is in a lot of them. The hospital theme is like; I mean with me personally I am in and out of freakin’ hospitals, constantly and emergency rooms epically, for God knows what. So many different things, and all of us are in the hospital or sick, or so many things, and the hospital is just a good metaphor for a lot of stuff. It’s kinda a safe place but yet scare place so I kinda put it in the songs as a metaphor so people always have something to go to. Like in Vampires I say “take me to the doctor” obviously another hospital type reference. But I don’t know, it is just like the last safe place. And the vampire this was only once, but, we get a bad rep for it.
Mikey: And we’re not even talking about vampires.
Gerard: I think a lot of that came from how we were in the beginning. A little gothic, ya know. Now I got that leather jacket and it is all cool.
What Jersey bands are you into right now? Any we should look out for?
Matt: Up and coming you should look out for Senses Fail. We’re going out with them soon.
Gerard: The only problem with us answering this question is that we haven’t been in Jersey since October so. . .
Matt: Well every band that we like from Jersey is already huge.
Mikey: Yeah ha-ha, check out this band called Thursday, they are pretty good.
Matt: Yeah check out Midtown and Saves the Day.
Ray: I miss “Little Buddy” dude . . .
(someone in back) Little buddy??
Ray: “Little Buddy” you know, from Senses Fail, the singer. He’s a good kid.
Do you feel you have ever done your fans a disservice by not performing to you full potential because you were intoxicated? (I told the band that this was a question submitted on line before I read it to them)
Ray: Hahahaha. Wait did someone actually ask that??
All: Wow . . . . I wonder what show was at.
Gerard: I think maybe he’s asking because he fuckin’ plays live and gets wasted.
Ray: Wait can I read the question?
Gerard: You what the weird thing is. I think people think we are intoxicated, I think that the thing. A lot of people think we are wasted up there and we are not at all. An I think that people have this impression that I am loaded off my ass on booze, and most of the time I am completely sober. (Background: ha-ha completely sober?) No, seriously most of the time I have had at most one or two beers.
Matt: I think the biggest drinker would be Mikey. You know you can never tell if he is drunk or not. Ha-ha.
Ray: Wait, real quick though, I will say that I have felt that I haven’t played as good because I have had like one or two beers and it slows me down.
Gerard: Yea, in the beginning we defiantly had a couple of shows, I mean in the very beginning, because we played a lot bar shows.
Matt: That was also because some people were really scared to get in front of a crowd. So they may have needed to get fuckin’ loaded to do it.
At this moment the door van opened and Ross and Dan from Recover stopped by to say hi. They also asked My Chemical Romance to back their van up a little. So Ray jumped into the front seat to move the van, and as he backed up, Ross didn’t do too good of a job directing him, and we backed the trailer into a car parked behind us. The laughing took a while to calm down. And the band decided that this incident belonged under my question of memorable experiences on the road.
Ray: Well we just backed into a random car with our trailer. Ha-ha.
How much technical guitar lesions have you had, you music seems very sophisticated and impressive?
Gerard: Well, it’s just that we are very sophisticated gentlemen, and out music is very sophisticated. No no, we just listen to a lot of metal, and Ray is a fucking genius on guitar. That’s it. That is what you are hearing.
Ray: Ha ha genius? Do you want to hear about my years of technical guitar lessons? I had no life in high school. No fucking friends, nothing. After I got out of class I would just sit at home and play guitar all fucking day. And play street fighter too. Oh, and I also took typing lessons. Typing lessons help with your fingers.
Gerard: Well we basically have four punk rock dudes, backed up by a really great guitarist, and it sounds really technical.
Can you give your feelings on your album “I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love”
Gerard: We love it, um, I think the experience itself in making the recorded and getting to hang out with Jeff and Alex and John and Tucker, it was just a great experience for us all and we’re always going to look at that record as being special. We only did it in like nine days ten days something like that. But it was such a great experience and we love everything about the record, we love every song and we love the way the cover looks.
Ray: it was defiantly an incredible experience. It was the first time I think any of us had gone in to record fucking for real, and it sounded so fucking good. We were blown away. We were like whoa, that’s us. It was awesome.
What expectations do you have for MCR in the future?
Ray: To be the biggest fuckin’ rock n roll band in the world.
Gerard: To open up for iron maiden- direct support. We actually almost did in Germany, but we can’t go over there now, so it stinks. But to directly support Iron Maiden that is my personal goal. And to just be a rock band. And to reach as many people as possible. And not so much to leave a legacy, because that kinda stuff is bullshit, but to make a difference, you know what I mean, and then people will remember that as opposed to like “ah they were the biggest rock band ever” which is cool too.
As far as new records or videos go is there anything coming up?
Ray: Well we hired a group of writers to write the second album, because we didn’t feel like doing it, ha-ha, so they are the guys who worked on the last “NSYC record.
Gerard: The same guys that worked on the Good Charlotte record. Ha-ha that was for you Frank because I know you want to talk shit.
Ray: Yeah the new shit is going to be a lot more commercial and radio friendly, all over TRL. We are trying to keep all the songs under two minutes and twelve seconds, song titles really short. It is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to hear what it sounds like.
Matt: I can’t wait to learn it. We have to learn to play that stuff live you know.
Ray: Honestly, we’re writing all the time. Well actually that’s a lie, we haven’t written in a couple days. But we are always experimenting with shit. We just need some time off, but at the same time we don’t want time off because we just want to fucking tour forever.
Gerard: It’s really hard to find the medium in that you know.
Ray: I am fucking psyched about recording the new shit because it is going to be sick.
All: It will be out when it’s ready.
At this time, we had finished with the interview, but the guys wanted to show me what some of their fans in Chicago had made for them. Gerard pulled out this huge scrap book that covered every show they had played in Chicago with full picture detail. It was extremely impressive, and the guys were so honored, proud, and appreciative to have fans make it for them. I was extremely impressed as well. There was a lot of work put into this scrapbook, and I could tell that My Chemical Romance loved it and is going to treasure it forever.
All: It’s the best thing we have ever gotten. It is amazing. It’s incredible. This is every show we have ever played in Chicago. Pictures of us playing at all the shows. This is taken by Teresa, Amanda, Lil Motherfucker, Sarah, Ashley. It took them two months to make. It goes from playing the Fireside to Metro. And in the back it gets even better because they all wrote us notes each. It’s amazing. The best thing we will probably ever get and we love it. It’s saying what the bands means to them, and how they found out about us and all their experiences at our shows in Chicago. We love it. When you see something like this, it’s just . . . . I don’t know. That’s Chicago for you. We are very lucky. We have the best fans.
Although these guys are lucky to have fans like that, the totally deserve it. They are all extremely friendly, funny, and humble, and deserve all the success in the world. They are a great group of guys, and if you get the chance you should support them when they come to your town.