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Livewire's One on One

My Chemical Romance
Ray Toro & Gerard Way

Exclusive Vans Warped interview with My Chemical Romance

by Phil Bonyata & Karen Bondowski
June 28, 2005

CL: What do you think of going mainstream? Like doing TRL?

GW: Yeah, It's important to do things like TRL because you're not mad for it.. Because you're going to be seen by a lot of people that otherwise would have no idea about your kind of band, your kind of music, your kind of sound, what you're saying and what you're about, you know? It was a real easy decision to do that. It's like, "would you guys even do TRL?" And we talked for like five minutes and we were like "absolutely" because it's not geared for mainstream and it's an amazing opportunity to get in there and kind of screw things up a bit. Make things a little different.

CL: Where do you find the inspiration to write your lyrics and where do you write them?

GW: I write them where ever I may happen to be when I get hit with inspiration. A lot of times I just make notes of sentences. What I usually do is write paragraphs of free style, just really descriptive phrases and I'll draw upon those phrases later. Just simple descriptives and adjectives and things like that. Things that sound good together, that look good together, sound and make the picture look good. But I mainly just free style. I try to get the sound before I get the lyrics 'cause even though lyrics are the important thing, the most important thing is the sound that you are communicating. 'Cause like as human beings or animals, that's the first thing you respond to emotionally is the sound. So.. I try to get those first.

CL: What is punk rock to you?

GW: Punk is something that you believe in not really dictated to you by something else. It's not a fashion style.

RT: It's definitely being yourself.

GW: Yeah, it's how you live your life, how you choose to live your life, decisions that you make. If you even decide to acknowledge it as punk rock instead of acknowledging it as just being yourself. That's all it means to us because it's become such a marketing thing now or at least how people know punk rock.

CL: Is that a bad thing?

My Chemical RomanceGW: Uhh.. Yes and no. It's a good thing because it makes people aware of it. It's a bad thing because people make money off of it and it's not kind of what it's founded on. Shit.. I mean, an old lady in the suburbs who decides to stop mowing her lawn because the town tells her to 'cause she likes the long grass... that's punk rock.

CL: Why did you guys start wearing uniforms onstage?

GW: That's a good question. I was talking to Frank yesterday and he was talking with an interviewer and he really pin pointed it by saying, When I got clean and sober and when we got Bob in the band it was almost important for us to be in the same gang. We needed it. We needed it for ourselves. It was the visual..

RT: Yeah, when all that went down there was definitely a sense of unity among all of us that was never there before and I think it was just good to have a visual representation that staged the show with solidarity like a focus we all had and shared together.

GW: Yeah, it's like we all had each others backs and that's what we had been living this material so much that what we... How it looked specifically was a reflection of living this music for a year and yeah.. it's about getting each others backs.

CL: Do you guys feel that in any way, shape or form going from a smaller, less popular label, to a bigger label, going up on TRL, to becoming the topic of kids at school. Do you feel that with any of that is there a degree of selling out?

GW: No, selling out is a question that often comes up. Selling out is selling out your beliefs for something. It's not standing up for yourself. It's letting people shape and manipulate you into what they want so they can use you and make money. Writing a song to write a single is selling out. Writing a record because it's what you feel, isn't. You know.. We tend to get this question a lot now because that's the general perception of selling out. It's just like all of a sudden you get big or popular, you sold out. I mean.. I don't think Green Day sold out and they're the biggest band on the planet and they started as band playing in basements just like us. As a side note, there's also indie labels that treat bands worse then majors and it's kind of an unsaid thing in the community because you see commercials on TV by labels saying they're fighting high corporate rock and they've treated their bands worse then corporate rock. I think people really need to become more aware of what's really going on instead of what they tell you on commercials 'cause I think that's how actually a lot of people are getting educated by propaganda you know?

CL: Are there any upcoming bands that you listen to who are not really known? That nobody really knows about?

GW: I've been listening a lot to this band from Boston called The Dresden Dolls. They just got uhh.. I can't even describe it. It's like cabaret, piano, drums, singer, songwriter? It's demented, it's beautiful and it's really honest. It's the best live show I've ever seen in a punk club. They just got on the Nine Inch Nails tour, so I'm expecting them to be getting a lot of questions about selling out too.

CL: What are your favorite lyrics? And I was wondering if you could give me some good stories from touring?

GW: Sure! My favorite lyric is, "Oh, how wrong we were to think that immortality meant never dying" from Our Lady of Sorrows, which is on our first record. I can't imagine I'm going to top that. I don't think I will try. I mean, it says a lot to me. Says a lot about how we felt about the band in the beginning and we don't really have any crazy tour stories.

CL: Do you have any favorite lyrics from any other bands?

GW: Umm.... Nothing comes to mind right now but the Mars Volta CD, the new one, gets me going a lot. It's a great CD. It gets me through a lot. It's one of those things that you just kind of put on and just listen to, you know?

CL: Lollapooloza is dying, will Vans Warped ever become stale?

GW: Here's the thing.. The thing about Warped tour.. Ok, here's the difference between Lollapoolza and Vans Warped Tour: Lollapalooza was something that when I was a teenager in high school, those bands specifically on that tour being Pumpkins or whoever it is, Sonic Youth, that spoke to me as a teenager. The thing about Warped tour is that it evolves. So, like Lollapoolza always has the same type of bands like Sonic Youth or The Pixies, bands that I love and I'll go see, but kids are unaware of what that music means, you know? But Warped tour has always been based around like youth culture and youth music like what youth is listening to at the time. And since that's what it represents, I can't imagine it going stale. But it does have to constantly change and evolve. It has to grow, it has to evolve itself.

CL: With a death in your family, is it hard to sing these songs everyday or is it more of a release for you?

GW: It was difficult in the beginning. Performing the songs off ofRevenge, in the beginning was difficult, then it became a release and now it's like a remembrance, you know? I'm not working out my issues anymore with these things but I'm remembering them and I feel the emotion mainly during the chorus' especially. Those things were designed by us to hit you right in the heart. It hit us in the heart and that's what those songs do.

CL: What is the most amazing stage show you've ever seen?

GW: (looks at Ray) Iron Maiden?

RT: Yeah, that was definitely a good one. Seeing those guys at their age, work like they're sixteen year olds was inspiring.

GW: I think for me it's a tie between the Maiden show I saw.. Actually, it's a three-way tie. The Thursday show I saw with fifty people and The Dresden Dolls. And the tightest of all I think was The Dresden Dolls one, but that's crazy to watch.

RT: Watching a Green Day show is really inspiring too. Like, the level of command that Billy has over the audience. The whole band.. The whole audience will do whatever they want at any moment. It's incredible.

GW: I think if we of had a chance to open for them doing a show in the UK with fifty, sixty thousand people, that's probably the greatest rock show ever. That would probably be the greatest to see him work sixty thousand, you know?

CL: Are bands like Iron Maiden an inspiration to help keep you going?

RT: What's cool about bands like that is that you can tell they still love it. It's not like a band like Motley Crue who.. I don't know. Just to me it's a money maker tour and you can just see in their eyes..

GW: Yeah and it translates. Even if there's like fifteen thousand people, you feel it. At least on the video, you see their faces and they're not loving it. They don't live for it.

RT: Slayer! It was the same thing with Slayer. We got to do these festivals with like Maiden and Slayer and stuff and even them... they just love going up and doing it.

CL: Ok, so a little about the "I'm not Ok (I Promise)" video and how that ties in with your high school days?

GW: It ties in no way to what we were like in high school. But the funny thing about it is our personalities did kind of come through in the video. Mikey is kind of like a ...

RT: What does that say about me, man?!
(everyone laughs)

GW: Well, I don't know! I was definitely.. I didn't get picked on our punched in the face but I was definitely probably trying to be a lot cooler then I was. Probably tripped and fell a lot. For sure. And Frank was definitely aggro. Our personality -
(Frank yells, "What did you call me?" Gerard and Frank yell back and forth while everyone laughs at their bickering).

GW: You see how aggro that was?

CL: Did you guys go to the same high school?

GW: No.

RT: We met right after college.. Or during.. (looks at Gerard) When you were still in school I think.

GW: In college. Yeah, yeah. We met in our college years.

CL: What did you go to school for?

GW: I have a bachelor's degree in fine art.

CL: And now you're a rock star!

GW: I guess! That's what people call me. I'm in a rock band that got really big, I think.

CL: Do you ever read your own CD or concert reviews?

GW: Occasionally.

RT: We haven't done that in a long time.

CL: Does a bad review piss you off?

GW: Only when they rip apart our fucking hair! (laughs) Or especially if we had a show that night that we felt was just on fire.

RT: Or even shows we've played that we thought were just the pits and we've gotten great reviews..

CL: "You're gods!"
(everyone laughs)

RT: Yeah! It's like what are they talking about?

GW: We're like what show were you at?

RT: Yeah, it can be quite the opposite.

GW: Yeah, yeah, yeah... We've had some ones that felt pretty incredible too.. And like live reviews are fine to read, but as a rule, we generally don't read good or bad press. We live in a bubble. It keeps our musical integrity, that's for sure and we live in a bubble for two records in.

CL: You're a bubble boy!

GW: I am a bubble boy. (laughs) For two records in that's how we live and like we don't want any music trends influencing us, we didn't even want subconsciously... 'Cause that stuff subconsciously influences you whether you know it or not. We don't read message boards. I don't want to read somebody telling me how awesome I am, just like I don't want to read someone telling me how bad I suck.

CL: Do you have a say in the design of t-shirts, videos?

GW: Oh yeah. We have a say in absolutely every asset of the band and that's probably why we get worn out. We approve, some of them we flat out design. Some we get our friends to design. So yeah, we're involved in everything from what goes on the kick drum head.

CL: And the videos?

GW: It's always collaborative. I feel that if we did something collaborative.. Like if it wasn't collaborative and just someone else's idea that was great.. I wouldn't feel great about it. We have to find someone who really gets us and that's probably why we've worked with Mark Webb three times in a row and probably a fourth time is just because he really understands this band. We've got near insulting treatments from the "Helena" video. I was like.. Do these dudes even know it's about my dead grandma?

CL: From people of the press?

GW: No, no.. Just from people who were interested in directing the video for us. And you know what, a lot of them have a stack of treatments and they'll be like I don't know. This didn't work with this band so send it to this band. Maybe they'll like it.

More My Chemical Romance
Vans Warped Tour 2005, Milwaukee June 19, 2005
Taste of Chaos Tour 2005, Milwaukee, WI Mar. 12, 2005

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