My Chemical Romance Talks "Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys," The Who and Ridley Scott
Mon, 22 Nov 2010 07:17:01
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My Chemical Romance lock and load Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys with some of the most haunting, yet hopeful music of their career.
The band—Gerard Way, Frank Iero, Mikey Way and Ray Toro—crafted an incendiary, infectious and inimitable post-apocalyptic tale that's as memorable as any classic album or film, for that matter. The record has got a lot in common with Blade Runner, in terms of posing all kinds of big philosophical questions about what it means to be human. At the same time, there's an elegant heaviness to every aspect of Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys which instantly evokes The Who's Quadrophenia. In essence, it's one of those perfect rock albums that come along so rarely and have the power to alter the course of pop culture forever. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the album of the year, welcome to Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys.
My Chemical Romance sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. The band discusses hearkening back to The Who, which director would be perfect to helm the My Chemical Romance movie, some favorite lines on the record and so much more.
Check out the interview below and pick up Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys in stores everywhere now!
Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys shows genuine evolution from The Black Parade. It's reminiscent of what The Who did with their transition from Tommy to Quadrophenia. Is that a valid correlation? Do you go back to The Who often?
Gerard Way: When we first started—even before we got together—I immediately said, "Alright, well what did they do right after Tommy?" I'm not saying The Black Parade was as great as Tommy. However, for our concept record, we did The Black Parade. So I was thinking about what The Who did after Tommy, which was Who's Next. I thought, "This is really interesting because Who's Next is not a concept record, but it feels like there's a concept." I feel like it came full circle at the end. Even "Baba O'Riley," my favorite Who song, is "Bulletproof Heart" in some weird ways. "Bulletproof Heart" is reminiscent of the "Baba O'Riley" riff.
Frank Iero: We definitely talked about that, but we weren't like, "This is the record we're making." The Who was brought up in talks. We would make mixtapes for each other and stuff like that. I remember listening to these mixtapes on the way to Jim Henson Studios when we were recording for the first time. It was like intro music into starting to record. What we came out with does feel full circle. You're right…
Gerard Way: We had talked about that the other night, and I thought, "Oh yeah, Who's Next." Quadrophenia arguably has got some of the best songs ever too. What's cool and interesting about The Who is, obviously, they're not "unsung" at all, but everybody is quick to mention The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The Who is still persistent, and they're kind of a polarizing band. I know we are as well. I think if we're linked in our path to anybody it's probably to The Who. When you watch them play, they've stayed so youthful, and the two of those guys just have each others' backs still to this day. I feel that way about us. I feel more close to them in a lot of ways.
What's the story behind "DESTROYA?"
Gerard Way: Because of the colorful nature of the record, I had become very interested in this festival in India called Holi Festival. It's literally the celebration of color. They take all of this pigment powder, and they throw it everywhere. By the end of the day, everybody is just covered in all of this color. I started to think a lot about religion and the caste system. Then, I went and watched a couple videos of Holi Festival, and there were a couple of street performers. I just heard this drum, but it was really hard to hear. It was like 15-seconds long, but it was 15 seconds that I latched onto and kept repeating in my head. I said, "I want this 15 seconds." Then we all recreated that 15 seconds and stretched it out so there's that wall of drums coming from nowhere. We never had a song like that. Then there's this tough-ass riff coming in and probably some of the bolder lyrics I've gotten to write. I'm proud of that one.
Mikey Way: That was a fun night in the studio. Remember we killed all the lights and set up a strobe. We had all of these drums going, and people were hitting other things too [Laughs]. It was so much fun!
Frank Iero: When I think of that song, I really think of the spirit of the band. Even in our early days when we'd have double headers, we would play the first show and be like, "Alright, everybody take it easy because we have another show coming up." We would destroy basically all of our equipment and our legs. We would just be humbled masses at the end of that first show and we'd have to go on to the next show. To now be a four-piece and start a song on just drums is this band being like, "This is the way we do it because people say we can't."
Gerard Way: Absolutely! There are a few songs on the record that start with drums, and they're arguably my favorite songs on the album.
There are so many poetic lines on the record, and "Fame is now injectable" especially stands out. Was there anything significant about that line for you?
Gerard Way: That was big one for me. That was what I had been wanting to say. I wanted the lyrics to be direct but couldn't find my voice on that first attempt. I wanted them to be these slogans that you could put on a billboard or you could say as a pirate radio DJ. It's funny because all of the slogans are very interchangeable between the corporation, the DJ and the gangs. They're all using the same verbiage and language, yet it means something different depending on who's using it. "Fame is now injectable" was a really big line for me. There are few lines on the record that stand out. "Planetary (Go!)" has a lot of them. That's what I wanted say. I'm also saying, "Faith is unavailable" as well. I feel like that's the kind of world we live in right now. Fame is injectable, but faith is unavailable to us.
Who you would you choose to direct the My Chemical Romance movie?
Frank Iero: Terry Gilliam!
Gerard Way: He's fantastic. He was an inspiration. Ridley Scott was a huge inspiration. John Waters would do a very amazing version of story.
Frank Iero: Lo fi!
Ridley Scott would really capture that epic side.
Gerard Way: Yeah! I think there would be huge battles. There's a documentary called Dangerous Days about the making-of Blade Runner, and that was very relative to our process. I remember watching it at probably my most depressed moment about the first attempt, and that gave me hope. Just watching Ridley Scott talk about how hard it was to make Blade Runner really gave me a little bit of fire.
Did you make a conscious decision to utilize different instruments and textures from the outset?
Frank Iero: Yeah, I think when we decided we were redoing this record we were like, "Let's reinvent." We put down our guitars and bass. There was a time where all four of us were on keyboards creating new sounds. I don't think any of us really knew how to play them. The thought was "How would I write a song if this is what I played?" It took the song in a completely different direction. You'd have that laid down, then you'd pick up the instrument you're proficient in and write to that.
What's your favorite movie at the moment?
Mikey Way: Temple of Doom! We watched that about five times in Europe. It was always on one of the TVs somewhere.
Frank Iero: Backstage or on the bus, we were watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Gerard Way: It was pretty weird! It was like we all rediscovered it together.
Mikey Way: At any point in that movie, Harrison Ford is two seconds away from dying. He's in danger.
Ray Toro: The movie is just nonstop! I went back and was reading some reviews. He's always in peril. It's just nuts…
That's the unsung Indiana Jones film.
Gerard Way: It is! Temple is the best!
Frank Iero: When you're not in peril, you're being touched by dirty hands, so essentially you're in peril again because it's just germs.
Even though the world you created is ravaged, there's a lot of hope and freedom.
Gerard Way: Yeah! Freedom is a real big theme. We needed freedom to happen for us on this record so that's why it's such a strong theme. It's saying, "Would you live in the safety of a beautiful, utopian clean city where your life is spelled out for you and your emotions are doled out to you in medication or would you choose to live outside of that but in constant danger?" There's no middle ground. You have to choose between the two. It was a metaphor for how hard will you live? How much risk will you take in order to be free?
There's some Rick Deckard in there too.
Gerard Way: Definitely! There's a little bit of that.
Will you be picking up Danger Days?
Enter our exclusive My Chemical Romance for your chance to win a Danger Days prize pack here!
If you haven't yet, also be sure to check out our interview with Lindsey Way here!
Read our feature about the movies Danger Days evokes here!
Check out our review of the album here