Interview: My Chemical Romance
Wed, 11 Feb 2009 10:43:35
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My Chemical Romance needed a change of pace to begin writing their highly anticipated new album. "On past records, we used to stay in Burbank, at the Oakwood Apartments," guitarist Frank Iero explains. "After you're out there for three months, it starts to get to you. There are those bright white walls, and those child actors fucking each other in the pool at night. It's ridiculous. Every night, at around 12:30 or 1am, that would be going on in the jacuzzi. I don't know why, but it was happening every night, especially during pilot season. We definitely wanted some new scenery for this record [Laughs]."
So the multi-platinum, theatrical punk rockers posted up in another section of town, and they've just begun getting their bearings. However, My Chemical Romance have been a rather busy bunch. They just dropped their cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" for the Watchmen soundtrack, and they made an epic video with Watchmen and 300 director Zack Snyder behind the lens. Iero couldn't be more excited about the band's involvement with the film. In this exclusive interview, he spoke to ARTISTdirect.com about why Watchmen rules, what makes My Chemical Romance so important and his favorite horror movie characters.
Were you a big fan of the Watchmen graphic novel?
Yes, absolutely. I've been a fan of pretty much everything that Alan Moore's done. This comic was so ahead of its time. I know that's cliché to say, but as far as a work of art that has something to offer, it's such an amazing novel—let alone graphic novel. Nowadays, they teach it in some colleges, which is so fitting.
It's real dark art in the truest sense.
I totally agree. The fact that it's getting so much publicity now is fitting, with what's going on in the world. There's a whole new generation of people that's being turned on to it and finding out about this great novel. That's ultimately the best thing that could come out of this movie.
What was it like working with Zack Snyder on the video for "Desolation Row?"
That was amazing! I never thought I would meet a huge director like that. He's someone that I've looked up to since his Dawn of the Dead re-make and 300. I think he's created some unbelievable cinematic designs. They're things that will stand out in your mind. To have him work on our video and be directed by him was insane. He has such a great vision and such a great sense of humor. He was so down-to-earth and so cool. You would never know that he was this huge, movie superstar guy if you just saw him on the street, or you were simply hanging out with him. It was really refreshing to work with someone like that. I've met a lot of people that aren't even on the same level as him, but they act like they're fucking superstars. It was really nice to see somebody like him being a down-to-earth guy and listening to everybody.
As such a huge fan of Watchmen, was it surreal to enter into that world in the music video?
Yes, there were elements in the video that were used in the film. Of course, we're all nerds, and we were taking pictures next to them. We were freaking out because we're fanboys, basically [Laughs]. That's the most amazing thing for us. We get to play music every day for the rest of our lives for people all over the world. Also, we get to do this amazing fan shit! It's like, "Holy Christ!" If somebody told me I'd get to play a song for the Watchmen movie when I was in high school, I would've freaked the fuck out. So many opportunities that we get make my head spin. I'm forever grateful that we get these opportunities.
Why did you guys choose "Desolation Row?" What spoke to you personally about Bob Dylan's original song?
Actually, that was chosen at Zack's request. He said, "I'm doing this movie. The entire soundtrack is going to be classic rock songs, and I want one modern artist. Will you guys do it?" We were like, "Fuck yeah." He wanted us to cover "Desolation Row." Of course, we already all had Highway 61. We were listening to it, and we asked Zack, "Do you really want us to do an eleven minute cover of this?" He told us to put our own spin on it. We had to work with him very much to make sure the song worked with his vision of the film. It just so happened that he liked our rendition of it. It worked out really well.
“If somebody told me I'd get to play a song for the Watchmen movie when I was in high school, I would've freaked the fuck out.”
Is there an angst to that song that fits My Chemical Romance and Leathermouth?
Absolutely, I think the angst in "Desolation Row" is different. It's a song that's very socially motivated. It's more of a grownup angst—realizing that everything around you is falling apart.
Who is your favorite character in Watchmen?
Rorschach of course! He is such a fucking badass, man. He's just awesome. Everything about him is great. He doesn't take shit from anybody. He's a true renegade. That whole sequence where he says, "The world will scream out, 'Help us,' and I'll whisper, 'No'" is so fucking intense!
Rorschach is the most complex character in the story. He ties everything together, and he's also the most afflicted and pained.
Yes, absolutely. He's the ultimate anti-hero!
It's fitting that you cover "Desolation Row" for the film because My Chemical Romance is pretty much the ultimate anti-pop band.
Thank you, I appreciate that. We've always talked about bringing something dark and inaccessible to the masses. We make it violent while making it palatable and poppy. It's something your mom will sing along to, but it might be about a kid overdosing on pills or something very terrible in the world. However, it's still in an accessible format for the mass audience.
You bring it to the masses with a message, and nothing's ever diluted.
That's the thing, man. Taking the underlying seediness of the world and allowing people to think about those things in a positive way is a very hard feat. Even though it's there for everyone to see, and it's happening every day, people like to sweep this shit under the rug and pretend it's not happening. With My Chemical Romance, they're digesting every horror without even thinking about it. My other band, Leathermouth, challenges people to have discussions about it.
“We've always talked about bringing something dark and inaccessible to the masses.”
This music gives kids something to believe in. Your 2006 Halloween show in Hollywood proved that. Kids were lined up for days before to see you on Halloween after The Black Parade dropped.
That was a fun show, if only because we never get to play on Halloween [Laughs]. For some reason, there's a curse where somehow we'll wind up on a plane that day and be flying over everything and actually miss Halloween, which is my favorite day ever. That was one thing for me that was really special. It's incredible seeing all of these kids that are from different backgrounds and different places in the world uniting on this one band. They really believe in it, and in turn, they believe in themselves.
Are there any other movies you're excited about?
I'm really excited about the new Friday the 13th. Everything I've read about it has been great. I saw that last Fangoria, and it had like ten pages about it. They were interviewing Derek Mears, who plays Jason. He was such a huge fan that he apparently cleared his schedule years in advance for when he knew they were shooting it, even though they hadn't cast him yet, in hopes that he would be cast as Jason. The people behind it have such a love for the franchise and the storyline, it doesn't seem like they could fuck it up. I got the documentary, His Name Was Jason, that just came out. It has a coupon in it for $5 off your ticket for the new one. That was the first thing I hung up in the apartment, as soon as we got to L.A.—my future ticket for Friday the 13th. I'm so excited.
Do you think Derek Mears makes a good Jason?
He was in The Hills Have Eyes 2, as the Chameleon guy. He's a large motherfucker, seriously. I think that's perfect. I love how the new Jason runs faster, and you can see him plotting and figuring things out. I think that's a great element to bring to the character. It brings him more to life.
Where do you see this next My Chemical Romance record going?
You know, if I told you where I thought it was going, it'd probably be the exact opposite of what I told you [Laughs]. The only reason I say that is that's really been how we've done it since the beginning. We have an idea of what we're going for and what it's going to be. Then we actually get into the record and start writing it. We re-write it. We record it, and it's completely different from anything I thought it was going to be. As of now, what we've been writing is very stripped down. Some of it is kind of fast. Some of it is a lot more Wall. Whether or not that will end up on the record or not is yet to be seen, so I don't know [Laughs].
It's got to be a good feeling to be back in writing mode with My Chemical Romance though.
Absolutely! It's so good to hang out with those guys again and be in a creative process with them. I look up to those guys so much. I really think everyone in the band is a fantastic musician and has a fantastic musical and artistic ear. It feels so good to bounce ideas off of each other and work together. I can't wait to see what we do next.
Check out ARTISTdirect.com's exclusive Watchmen coverage page here!