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Danger Days coming for My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance interview

My Chemical Romance at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts, April 2 2011. Ashley Tanasiychuk photo

Interview with Frank Iero and Ray Toro of My Chemical Romance

– by Jacqueline Ronson

My Chemical Romance followed up their acclaimed 2006 Black Parade album last year with Danger Days: The True Lives of Fabulous Killjoys after taking some time to recalibrate their artistic direction. The record has an explosive party pop sound and has been well received critically. More importantly, the kids seem to like it.

A few dozen teenagers dressed in black loitered hours before Saturdays show outside The Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. Presumably, they were hoping to steal a glimpse of the band members walking between the tour buses parked outside and the venue.

Inside, guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toro sat down with me and a few other reporters. They told us about their love for music, the happiest moment of Franks life, and their ambitious plan to contaminate the world with their infectious positive energy.

Danger Days

Jacqueline Ronson: You guys struggled a bit coming up with a follow up to Black Parade, and scrapped an album before going on to record Danger Days. What finally sparked the process to come up with this new album?

Frank Iero: Alright, so to start even before that, the tour on the Black Parade album was so long and so daunting, that we really needed a break, we needed to take time away from doing what we were doing. So the catalyst I think for getting back to playing together was doing that song for the Watchmen [movie].

Once we started making music together again, it was like Oh wow, it just feels really great, it feels really pure, we feel inspired and we want to make a record. But I dont think it was the right time for us to make a record. I think we probably should of just sat around and played together for a while.

But instead we kinda just got together, got into a studio, and we started to make music and recording. And in doing that, we had this idea of what the record was going to be before the record actually told us what it was going to be. It was a pretty immature decision to get into the studio.

In the mixing process, when we were hearing it back, we were like alright well, we kinda succeeded with what we decided the record should be, but thats not really the record that we want to live in for the next couple years.

We really just ran out of time. So we put everything on hold, and went back into a studio, and we had a couple songs we wanted [to record].

And thats the thing too, you never want to feel like, oh, theres four or five more songs I want to write after youve made a record. You want to get all of that out.

So we went back in, we started to write these songs, and I think four songs in we had hit Sing, and I think that that notion of Oh, were writing a record was kind of out the window, were just making songs for us.

And that was the mindset we needed leading into a follow up for Black Parade. It took us that long to get to that point.

Something to prove

JR: When you were creating the album, did you feel like there was anything you needed to prove?

Ray Toro: Theres definitely always something to prove to ourselves. We always have to do better than the last. Write a better record, be better songwriters, be better players, be more creative, experiment. I think thats the pressure that we put on ourselves. I guess you always want to prove…

FI: Ray, cut it out!

We tried to get out of the public eye for a while. We felt like we were in peoples faces too much, I was sick of us. I kinda felt like, at that point, do we have something to prove? Well, I think were a really great band, and I think that will just take care of itself when we release a record thats really, really good.

People forgot about us, we were the underdog again. Thats a great place for this band to be. When were under pressure, we do really really well.

RT: Yeah, thats totally true.

FI: Its kind of fun to be the underdog.

JR: Was it a conscious decision to change directions musically, or was it more of a natural evolution?

FI: I think its a little bit of both.

Its definitely a conscious effort to go in and do something new. I think if we stay stagnant as artists, thats kinda like, artistic poison, you know?

But also you grow as people. Its been four years since we recorded that last record. A lot of things happened to us as people. So were completely different people from then.

Old and new

JR: What elements of your old style did you incorporate into your new album?

FI: I think what carries through is an overwhelming love for melody.

I think weve learned early on that theres no egos. Early on, when you start a band, its like, Oh I have this really great idea, I have this idea. It comes into a mishmash of things and sometimes they take away from the main melody, sometimes they add to it, sometimes its contrasting, and kinda hectic.

But I think when youre in a band for a really long time you start to realize to pick your moments. Thats a maturity that the band has reached, where its like, I dont have to play here. You just let it go, and let it be open, and feel that.

Im trying to think… What has carried through?

I guess the excitement.

When I listen to the record, — Ive stopped listening to the record now because were, were in it — but when we were making it thats all I listened to for months and months, almost a year. I just hear these four kids being really excited about playing music and what we do and hanging out. I think thats why it feels like a lighthearted party record. I think that that really carries though. At least I hope it does.

JR: Whats been the reception so far? Do you feel like your fans have matured with you?

RT: It definitely feels like, for a good percentage of them, its the kind of music that they wanted to hear, and what they needed in their life at this moment, you know? And like you said, they kind of grew with us.

Gerard Way’s comic-book connection

JR: The other interviewers and I, before you got here, were talking about how this venue is seated. How does that change the show for you?

FI: I have absolutely no idea.

RT: Were gonna find out!

FI: Its the first time weve ever played a seated venue like this.

RT: Weve done outdoor amphitheaters that have a little bit of floor. Its gonna be weird. I dont know. We definitely walked in and were like hey, this is kind of weird.

FI: I might pull up a seat and sit down as well.

RT: I have a feeling… Im sure kids will find a way to move out there.

JR: You guys went to Comic-Con a while ago, did that inspire the show? Im hearing that this tour is very colourful. [Ed.’s note: MCR singer Gerard Way wrote a comic book series for Dark Horse Comics* (ed.’s note: thanks to commenter for alerting us to this; we originall had it as DC) called The Umbrella Academy.]

FI: I think we just lived in a monochrome world for a really long time. It was nice to break out of that a little bit. Comicon is just fun because were nerds.

JR: What do you guys do right before you go on stage?

FI: We try to get at least an hour alone, where we just kind of get ready, warm up a little bit. Then maybe five to 10 minutes before we go one we kinda get into this group huddle, laugh at how ridiculous everything has been during the day, how amazing our lives are, tell each other we love him, and wish everybody good luck and say have fun. Then we go out on stage and do it.

The Future of MCR

JR: Does My Chemical Romance have aspirations for world domination?

FI: Uh, I think world contamination…

RT: Yeah, I like that better.

FI: I dont think so.

RT: Yeah, world domination, no.

We love touring the world. When we first started the band wed never think wed get to some of the countries that weve been to. On Black Parade we hit some incredible places, and I think next year well probably start hitting some of those areas again.

That the crazy thing, you know, when you hit those countries, places say like Vietnam, places in South America, Chile, we played in Korea. You play in those places like once or twice, and you can always go back to them and play an amazing show. That feels good.

Theres no overarching plan, theres no scientist behind the scenes. It does feel good to go to places where you feel so far from home, and then theres a large group of kids that make you feel at home.

JR: Can you describe your attraction to music, and has that changed over time?

RT: I gotta say, especially lately, music is the best drug. It keeps me up all night, it keeps me going, its incredible. I love writing music, I love playing music with these guys, its the best time. I think its actually grown. Just like [Frank] said earlier, weve all grown as people, as musicians. I just feel like for all of us, I feel so much more confident as a musician and as a person because of this band. Its pretty amazing.

FI: When youre lucky enough to get to do what we do, and you really become witness to how universal the language of music is, your attraction has to go up.

Its insane, you go to a place where we dont speak the same language but theyre singing along to these songs that we wrote in our basements. These kids that you though you would never meet care about these songs almost as much as you do. But its in a completely different way. It affects them in their daily life. I cant even fathom to understand what their life is like.

If it helps somebody in some way, thats an amazing gift. Its very, very precious. The songs, they take on a life of their own. Its really amazing.

JR: If you agree that this new album is a new chapter in the My Chemical Romance saga, whats the chapter about?

FI: I think its about, one, growing up and being ok with that. Two, finding out how to have a good time again. This may sound weird, but I think its easy to be a tortured artist. I think its easy to spawn creativity out of pain and suffering.

But its very hard to create something out of just sheer happiness and having a good time. When life is good, thats when your art usually goes to shit. Thats why people usually drink themselves into an early grave and theyre considered geniuses.

The world we live in right now, we dont need any more sadness. I think that we live in that enough that we dont need that in our fantasy. At least for us, this chapter of My Chem is… brighter horizons, you know? Things are pretty damn good.

I was talking to Gerard [Way], we had about eight days off and I went home, we were just talking through text and whatever. I was hanging out with my daughters, and I actually just started to cry. Just sitting there, and I actually had a tear and I was like, oh man, I am so happy right now. This is the happiest Ive ever been in my entire life, and I didnt know how to handle it because I never thought it would be that way.

We were just talking, and we were like, “Things are really, really great, and I cant wait to get back on the road.” Of course I miss my kids more than anything, but I know when they grow up theyre gonna be like, “Look what my dad did, look at what he was doing. He did all this stuff, and he did it cause he loved it and he did it for us.”

And we were just like, “Lets get back on the road and fuck shit up.” And I was like, “Im in.

More My Chemical Romance photos:

Concert review – My Chemical Romance in Vancouver

6 responses to “Danger Days coming for My Chemical Romance

  1. Pingback: MCRmy SouthEast Asia » Blog Archive » Interview with Frank Iero and Ray Toro – by Jacqueline Ronson

  2. Pingback: Entrevista a Frank y Ray | Danger Days Argentina

  3. Pingback: My Chemical Romance - Polska Strona

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