Q and A with Rocker Gerard Way
just over 10 years ago in response to the September
11 terrorists attacks.
In the decade since, the band have become one of the most passionately followed groups in the world, with their growing stature reflected in their ever more prominent positions on the bill at the Big Day Out. The last time the band toured these shores was in 2007 on the back of The Black Parade concept album, a critical and commercial hit with some dark themes that made for intense shows, over-the-top fan reactions and almost spelt the end of the band. The follow-up, last year’s Danger Days: the True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – another concept album, this time set in post-Apocalyptic California – was a much more upbeat affair bringing the band a new lease on life.
> You have done the Big Day Out a few times before already – what are your memories?
My favorite two festivals have always been the Big Day Out and Summersonic in Japan. The Big Day Out is a little more fun because it lasts longer. It’s like an abbreviated version of the Warped tour because you get to play with the same people every day, which is really fun. Normal festivals can be kind of alienating because you are only there for a day – you have to rush all your gear on and you can’t build up a rhythm.
> What can we expect from the Big Day Out sets and the side shows?
We don’t actually know yet, which is exciting. We feel like we are in a bit of a transitional period so I don’t know where we will be mentally by then. We will have been playing together and working together for a while by that point and exploring new sounds so I don’t even know what kind of band it’s going to be by the time it gets there.
> Your last album, Danger Days, has been out for a year now – what was it like touring that album as opposed to The Black Parade?
It has had pluses and minuses for all different reasons. It was definitely more fun, but it had its own challenges. You didn’t have to worry about putting on the costume and doing the same show every night – that was the best part. You could get out there and change with what the audience was feeling, change song-structures at the last minute. That was really cool because we’d never really got to do that before.
> Audiences reacted so viscerally to The Black Parade at the time. Were they a little less intense and emotionally engaged this time around?
The Black Parade was something that really requested that you engage with it in a very heavy way so that probably had a lot to do with that. Danger Days was really up to the participants in the audience, but they really took to it. So it felt like two really different energies – but there was always a lot of it.
> The Black Parade album and tour was a very tough and intense time for you personally and the band – how do you reflect on that with the benefit of hindsight?
Immediately afterwards I had a lot of negative energy towards it. But as the years passed and I grew up a little more, I realised that was really hard, but it was also an amazing time. It was something really special and something that nobody else was really doing at the time. There is something to be said for that and it’s never going to be easy when you are doing it.
> You have often said that album was misconstrued – how so?
In a million ways. It was seen as a very pro self-harm, dark album, when it was quite the opposite. It took about 2 1/2 years before people started writing about it as something that was very positive. It was disheartening at the time, but not so much afterwards.
> It looked like there was a time back then when the band might split – how are things now between you all?
The band’s really good. The only reason any of those things happened within the band was because there was lower communication the longer we were out on tour – because everyone was so wiped out all the time and dealing with certain things because of the record. It’s much different now and we know we will never allow ourselves to be in a situation like that again.
> US broadcaster Glenn Beck called your song Sing “propaganda” after it appeared on Glee last year – what did you make of that whole palaver ? ( rarely used now; means to chat far too long for little purpose)
Well aside from misquoting lyrics and using the word propaganda – I don’t really know what he meant by that of what it’s propaganda for – that was exactly what our intention was, to irritate people like him. So he was on the mark with a lot of it. It just finally confirmed everything I felt about the song when it finally got out there in a much more palatable way for pop culture. It was doing the damage I wanted it to – at least he was paying attention to the fact that I was talking to him and people like him. So we said yes to it being on Glee for that very reason. I think that show pushes the right buttons and gets under the right people’s skin.
> You ended up using that song to raise money for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami – how did that happen?
We have always had a really strong connection with Japan and Ray (Toro, guitarist) was really inspired to do something. He noticed that kids were using the song in a really positive way to talk about what was going on. So he came up with some arrangements and everyone donated their time and played on it for free. It raised some money, which was really cool.
> You guys are doing your damn~dest to keep the concept album alive in this age of iTunes and downloading singles – what’s the appeal for you there?
It’s just our personal taste – it’s the way I like to listen to albums. All of my favorite albums have this incredible amount of conceptual glue to them even if they are not telling a story. Even something like Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life or The Idiot have an energy that is like a concept to me so it’s just a preference.
> You are into the second decade of the band’s life now – how do you reflect on the journey of the first 10 years?
I have learned a lot about what we are and I think it took a long time to realise. It’s almost impossible to compare the band to other bands you loved in terms of the trajectory or the path they took. So I have really come to the understanding that our band is one of a kind. There is no reference for when we are stuck and no escape route if we are in trouble.
> You formed the band as a reaction to the September 11 attacks – how did the 10th anniversary of that day affect you?
We were playing a show and it felt really good to be doing that. I think what I said that night was that it was really good to be doing something creative and positive 10 years later from something that started from something completely negative. That’s how I have always felt about the band. I have moved past it and grown as a person and I think a lot of other people have, too. Things are different, things change – but I don’t live in fear any more.
> How far advanced are you with the next album?
We were writing so much material on the road that we have a lot to sift through and we are just about to get together and start doing that. It’s going to be the first time we are playing shows still with material from our previous albums while working on new stuff.
credit to by James Wigney From Australia’s Herald Sun
Quotes of Gerard Way
“If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see,
you can find out first hand what it’s like to be me.”
“If for one minute you think you’re better than
a sixteen year old girl
in a Green Day t-shirt, you are sorely mistaken.
Remember the first time you went to a show
and saw your favorite band.
You wore their shirt, and sang every word.
You didn’t know anything about scene politics, haircuts,
or what was cool.
All you knew was, that this music made you feel different
from anyone you shared a locker with.
Someone finally understood you.
This is what music is about.”
― Gerard Way
“Sometimes you have to kind of die inside in order to rise
from your own ashes and believe in yourself and love yourself
to become a new person.”
― Gerard Way
“I’m not psycho…I just like psychotic things.”
― Gerard Way
“Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.”
― Gerard Way
Be yourself, don’t take anything from anyone,
and never let them take you alive.”
― Gerard Way
“Yeah, obviously we use vampires as a metaphor for something else,
something deeper than just the supernatural.
But there’s just something about
the bloodsucking walking dead, that can say so much to people.
There are really so many people trying to get control
over you on a daily basis and steal your soul in some way,
take a part of you..”
― Gerard Way
“Making a record is a lot like surgery without an anesthetic.
You first have to cut yourself up the middle.
Then you have to rip out every single organ, every single
part and lay them on a table. You then need to examine the parts,
and the reality of the situation hits you.
You find yourself saying things like;
“I didn’t know that part was so ugly.
Or; “I better get a professional opinion about that.”
You go to bed hollow and then back into the operating room
the next day. . . facing every fear, every disgusting thing
you hate about yourself.
Then you pop it all back in, sew yourself shut and perform. . .
you perform like your life depended on it—-
and in those perfect moments you find beauty you never
knew existed. You find yourself and you friends all over again,
you find something to fight for, something to love.
Something to show the world.”
― Gerard Way
“I went to school in drag, in art school and my day was completely
different because everybody thought I was a chick.
You should see me as a chick.
So I went as a girl, as like an experiment
and it worked really well; everyone was really nice to me but
I couldn’t talk obviously… you know train conductors
were really cool to me on my commute…
HA! I looked hot as a chick!”
― Gerard Way
“You’re going to come across a lot of shitty bands,
and a lot of shitty people. And if anyone of those people
call you names because of what you look like or
they don’t accept you for who you are,
I want you to look right at that motherf*****,
stick up your middle finger,
and scream F*** YOU!”
― Gerard Way
“Hey, girls, you’re beautiful. Don’t look at those stupid magazines
with stick like models. Eat healthy and exercise. That’s all.
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.
You’re good enough, you are too good.
Love your family with all your heart
and listen to it. You are gorgeous, whether you’re a size 4 or 14.
It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, as long as
you’re a good person, as long as you respect others.
I know it’s been told hundreds of times before,
but it’s true. Hey, girls, you are beautiful.”