GERARD WAY TO RELEASE DEBUT SOLO ALBUM, HESITANT ALIEN, ON SEPTEMBER 30TH ON WARNER BROS. RECORDS
Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way will release his debut solo album, entitled Hesitant Alien, on September 30th via Warner Bros. Records. The new album will be available for pre-order at all digital retailers beginning Tuesday, August 19th. Exclusive album bundles will also be available for pre-order on GerardWay.com on the same date. Fans who pre-order the album will receive the track “No Shows” instantly as a free download. The music video for “No Shows” will also be released on August 19th. Please see below for the full track-listing.
Working with producer Doug McKean, Way knew immediately what he wanted Hesitant Alien to sound like. “I wanted to make the small things sound big,” he says. “My intention was to make 100 percent uncompromised art, using the currently least radio-friendly instrument, the guitar. I knew there would be lots of fuzz pedals. I knew I would play Fender instruments. I knew I would look at who my guitar heroes were in art school, Mary Timony and Carrie Brownstein, and I drew a lot of influence from shoe-gaze and Britpop. I want the record to sonically galvanize people.” Hesitant Alien was mixed by Tchad Blake (Arctic Monkeys, Black Keys).
Lyrically, Way wrote about what he knew at the time, “which was struggle, beginnings, finding a newness in the mundane and the abstract,” he says. “I looked to the Britpop poets like Jarvis Cocker and Damon Albarn, drawing upon every day life. I also experimented with the abstract, and looked at Frank Black’s work both with the Pixies, and as a solo artist. There was no concept and no call-to-arms.
Fans will get their first listen to some of the songs on Hesitant Alien when Way performs his first solo shows at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in England. He will perform at Reading on August 22nd and at Leeds on August 23rd.
Listen to “Action Cat” here.
The track-listing for Hesitant Alien is as follows:
Get The Gang Together
How’s It Going To Be
Maya The Psychic
Photo credit: Eric Ray Davidson
There’s a small feature with details about Frank’s upcoming music video in this weeks issue of Kerrang!
One of the things I learned over the years is that projects grow and change, and you need to be prepared to change with them, providing a new structure for them to stand on.
About 4 months ago, one of the ideas kicking around was a special edition version of Hesitant Alien, and like usual- it was ambitious (maybe a little overly so) and elaborate. Lola played a key element in it, but as time went on and deadlines loomed, the complex nature of the boxed set required more lead-time than we had. And I would rather get my music out there than wait around for factories to turn around art-objects. I also felt that, for this particular album, since I had already done so many things differently than in MCR, I would also handle the launch differently.
Easy peasy pumpkin peasy.
Instead, we thought of doing bundles, which would possibly include some of the elements of the original boxed set. One of them was a zine called The Baby Animal Hospital, which you will learn more about in the zine I’m about to talk about.
To commemorate Hesitant Alien I am doing a zine specific to the album title. It will include a number of things and also, a look into my creative process. Drawing upon notes, mock-ups, and unseen sketches, thoughts. I am hoping the zine will provide some insight into what Hesitant Alien became, and how it got there. But more than a “making of” booklet, it will also contain other art, poetry (a zine has got to have bad poetry), and observations. This first issue will only be available in a bundle, with a limited print run.
I may do future issues with the same title, with Hesitant Alien being a continuing zine, or I may start a brand new one, for some reason I have really been wanting to do a Science Fiction zine so the title fits. I would do these about quarterly, and they would be available on the web, possibly with special printings and color-ways sold only at shows.
If it’s your kind of thing, I’m making it now.
Over the past three years, Epiphone.com has had a running conversation with Frank Iero, inventor of the Phant-o-matic Wilshire and co-lead guitarist with pop sensation My Chemical Romance. When MCR broke up in early 2013, Frank granted us one of his first interviews and we’ve been along for the ride as he stepped back, re-grouped, and began making music again. Frank popped in to see us during NAMM and offered Epiphone and many of our friends around the world a sneak peak at his new album Stomachaches. And of course, we sat down with Frank before the show to talk shop about guitars and the mysterious ways of the music muse.
Read the interview @ epiphone.
In case you’re like me and missed it, Gerard participated in a live webchat with Wacom today. Fortunately a youtube video of the chat has been posted in it’s entirety.
There aren’t a lot of comic creators who can say that they’ve won an Eisner Award while simultaneously touring the world with their rock bands, but then again, +Gerard Way ’s not most comic pros. A published artist before graduating from college, Way went on to co-create the Eisner-winning ‘The Umbrella Academy,’ plus ‘The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ during his time in My Chemical Romance. Now, with a solo album on the horizon, the writer and artist has signed on for a flurry of new comics projects including work at Marvel, Vertigo and other prominent publishers. Join us next Wednesday July 16th at 11am PT for a Live G+ Hangout with this creative force of nature in conversation with Wacom’s Techman Joe and Caleb Goellner.
Gerard’s interview from this weeks issue of Kerrang! Continued from last weeks issue. As always, apologies for any typos or misspellings. I do this all by myself and I hope it’s at least readable enough for everyone. Here is a link to an easy to read google docs copy.
Kerrang! has had the lion’s share of Gerard Way’s 11-track debut solo album for a month now. It’s a total headfuck. First, there’s Bureau, it’s doomy stabs of organ recalling the minimalistic psychedelica of Spaceman 3 or even The Velvet Underground. Of course, Action Cat - Gerard’s brilliant lead-off debut single - you’ll have already heard, sounding like The Jesus And Mary Chain falling into something soft. Then there’s No Shows - a Pixies tune that’s much better than anything on the most recent Pixies album - and the excellent beat-pop of Millions, which has been doing the rounds as a bootleg ever since Gerard aired the tune at his appearance with comic book hero Grant Morrison last October. Next up, Zero Zero does wonderful things with backing vocals. yet perhaps best of all is Juaraz, which is the most deranged bit of rock’n’roll our man has ever put into the world. It’s a record blatantly not concerned with whether you like it or not, but, at the same time, a collection of songs desperate to be heard.
So, when did these new songs come about?
"They happened over the course of a long time," explains Gerard, sinking into the sofa in a plush side-room of London’s Soho Hotel. "I was depressed. I couldn’t get out of bed. I moved into a new house - a big house way out in Tarzana [in Los Angeles, California] because that was just what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Expanding. Like, ‘Alright! My Chemi are gonna do another album, you know. It’s a guaranteed X amount of dollars. It’s just for doing this, it doesn’t matter if it sells, it doesn’t matter if anybody likes it, it’ll just keep going…’ I got this big house. It was super-depressing and I wouldn’t get out of bed. Doug McKean, the producer of the new songs, who was gonna be the producer of the last My Chem record, too, would call me up and he’d say, ‘What are you doing?’ and I’d say, ‘Nothing.’ And he’d say, ‘Come to the studio, let’s just put something on tape.’ And this went on for some time…"
"And then I started to get really excited about this stuff, and then My Chem was breaking up, and the band broke up, and we looked back at what I had, and we were like, ‘Oh, we’ve got something here, this is an album,’ so we just kept going…"
You don’t think writing your own song exacerbated your decision to call time on My Chemical Romance?
"No," says Gerard, straight off the bat. "The two were so unrelated. There was definitely not a moment where I was like, ‘Oh my god, what I’m doing is so good, I have to break up the band.’ I think the breakup of the band was such a long time coming…"
It must have made you feel good though, if you were writing and recording things that you thought were cool - but, at the same time, you were unhappy…
"In a therapy way, it felt good. It felt good to actually be physically doing something; it gave me something potentially to look forward to. But then there was the time when I had to process the break-up. I had to actually do the break-up, so that took a lot of time away from actually making things…"
How long was it between ending My Chem and going back to the solo stuff?
"I think there was a bout a couple of months. They were just demos at that stage, though. It wasn’t until that summer that we went to Texas and did the principal tracking."
So, here’s a question - earlier (readers, you’ll have about this in part one of this interview last week], you said that Danger Days was essentially all about rebelling against the idea of the end of youth…
"It was like a pre-midlife midlife crisis…"
Yeah. But what’s weird though, is you’re not coming back with some gnarly acoustic record and saying, “I’m making music for adults now…” That’s the done thing.
Gerard nods. “Right.”
You’re still like making comic books. You’re still making scuzzy rock that’ll upset people…
Another nod. “Right.”
So, you’re still being the perennial teenager?
"Yeah, I am, and I guess the difference between me now and me then is I don’t have to prove it; I’m not trying to prove anything."
Gerard smiles. “I think the guy that made Danger Days was trying to prove something, was trying to make sure that people knew - but now I don’t care to prove it. I mean, to me, a lot of this record is about figuring out how I fit into the musical landscape. Not in an outsider way at all; I realized I don’t fit in, and that’s how I fit. S, by not fitting, I fit. That’s my place; my place is to be different. And my favourite musicians throughout the years were all the exact same way, like Iggy [Pop], or [David] Bowie, or Brian Eno, Nick Cave, Morrissey… They’re all in this area where they’re not contemporary, they’re not punk, they’re just them. But yeah, this is definitely a record of not trying to prove anything.”
I can’t imagine you ever growing a beard and making an alt.folk record, to be honest…
Gerard smiles. “No, I won’t. Well, I can’t say for definite that I won’t, but writing that sort of record isn’t me. I’m not going to make my grown-up record - even when I am grown up, it won’t be a grown-up record. I don’t think Brian Eno has ever made a grown-up record, I don’t think David Bowie has ever made a grown-up record. He was doing fucking [1997 album] Earthling when he was, what, 45 or something? Breakbeats and hanging out with Nine Inch Nails! So yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever do that. I avoided it in My Chem, and we did a pretty good job of it, too, because there definitely was that period where it was like, ‘Let’s all grow beards and wear flannel now.’ I don’t know. I guess it’s because I’m not a fan of that kind of stuff. I don’t listen to it, I didn’t like the resurgence of it, I didn’t like the old version of it. Like, give me Bob Dylan any day of the week, but I don’t need carbon copies of him…”
So, you can make a promise to those people who miss MCR that you’ll never be boring?
"I’ll never be boring, I don’t think. I can’t promise you won’t’ get bored of my shit. But I’ll never stay the same for long enough for you to get bored of it. I’ll just keep moving."
What’s interesting today, as Gerard sprawls on the sofa, clad in green parka, a faded old Smiths t-shirt, his hair a mustardly yellow, is this is perhaps the first time Gerard Way - that’s not the pale-faced goth schoolboy, the grey-haired Patient, the flame-headed Killjoy - has sat down for an interview with Kerrang! wearing, and indeed comfortable in, his own skin. It’s a look that reflects the new music; no arch concept, no overarching theme, just what it is. He has, literally, to paraphrase that other confused counterculture hero, come as he is.
"Which is really new for me," nods Gerard. "There’s some element of costume - maybe this is just my new costume, to not have one? but you’re right. I know what you mean by that. I’m an artist now, and this is what I look like today. Next week I’ll look like something different, maybe…"
One of the things I loved about My Chemical Romance was the sheer scope, the ambition of it. I can’t work out where that ambition is now…
"Yeah, I can see that…" says Gerard.
Like, you obviously seem very happy and have a beautiful family. You don’t have to beg people for money because you’ve got a big house and stuff, and your legacy is preserved because My Chem were so important. What is it you need by doing this?
Gerard shuffles in his seat. “What do I need? Part of the point is that I don’t need anything. I need to make art. I don’t need fame, I don’t need any of that stuff. I need to exist. I need to be giving, I need to be sharing. It’s my job to share and give. I need to share my art - that’s all I need. I don’t need anything else. People allow me to do that, and I’m really grateful for that; they allow me to share. I think they always will, so there’s no ceiling on it - but my ambition isn’t to galvanise a youth culture.”
I think that’s what I’m getting at. As a fan of My Chemical Romance, that makes me sad…
"Yeah, I get it," says Gerard. "But my goal was never that, in a weird way. I was never trying to get them to fight the government! I was just trying to get them to be good to each other. I definitely just feel like they don’t need direction from me. I’m not trying to give them a direction."
You talked a bit about the responsibility thrust upon you to ‘look after’ My Chemical Romance frans [readers, see last week’s issue…] and how you didn’t always feel qualified to help…
Gerard hangs his head. “All that stuff, dude… it has an effect on you over a long period of time; it wear you down a bit. It’s not me running from that responsibility is it? It’s my responsibility to be a good person and that’s it, really. Again, I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m trying to change some stuff - I’m trying to get fuzz pedals on the radio. I’m trying to do a lot of stuff - but what I’m not trying to do is force it. I’m trying to do my thing and, if people dig it, that’s cool. If they don’t, that’s also cool, but I’m going to keep doing it. I think all my favourite artists are the same. Like, ‘This is what I do - dig it or fuck off.’”
I never saw that as your mind-set in My Chemical Romance.
"Dig it or fuck off?"
"I think it was, I think it absolutely was. I think we were like, ‘get in line or kiss my ass.’ So maybe it was a harsher version of what I was explaining now. I definitely am not saying kiss my ass."
Okay, help me understand the DNA of these songs - What music inspired them?
Gerard looks flushed with excitement. “okay, so what I did was tap deep into the state of what was having the most profound effect on me when I was going to art school as a teenager. that was My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, and then on the other flip side of it was Britpop, it was Supergrass, it was Blur, some [Smashing} Pumpkins. But it was really shoegaze and Britpop. That was the big thing - this drony fuzz. [defunct London shoegazers] Lush was a big influence on this record. So those were the bands, and I decided I was going to make a fuzz-rock album, only I was going to make it accessible, too, because I want to communicate with people. I don’t want people to not understand what I’m doing.”
It definitely sounds like a record that doesn’t care all that much who likes it…
Which brings us back to the ambition thing.
"Well, you can have ambition and not give a shit what anybody thinks about you. You can have a lot of ambition. My ambition is to stay alive, my ambition is to be a cockroach, a survivor. Money and fame won’t stop me because that fucking kills people. When you boil it down to its essence, I was on a dark path back there. I was sitting in my car at 2 AM, pitch black, not knowing what the fuck was going to happen to me. The darkest it has ever gotten, staring down the road and saying that rock’n’roll has beat me down, and twisted me, and poisoned me. It’s done worse stuff, in fact, the only thing I had at the other side of it, the only thing I have to stand by is my wife, and my daughter is too young to know what’s going on. What I’m trying to impress upon people is that I’m going to survive. Like, an atomic war can happen and I’m still going to make art, because, in essence, it’s the greatest thing in our lives."
So, it’s almost like you did MCR for pop culture - however lofty that sounds - and you’re doing your solo stuff for…well, you?
"Well, it’s time to look after myself. It’s time to do something for myself, time to take care of my artist. Yeah, the other stuff falls in line, the mental health, the physical health - it’s all connected to what my purpose is, to be an artist and share my art with people. I’m taking care of that guy, you know? It is about survival, more so than anything My Chem did. My Chem wasn’t about survival - it was about keeping yourself alive and breaking through the bad stuff. But this is about getting through the worst thing and I’m still going to survive. I’m going to be here making music. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it when I’m 50, I’m going to do it when I’m 60… I’m not stopping because it got too big. I’m not stopping because I wanted to end my life early, or crash a really expensive car when I’m wasted. I’m not going out like that. I’m not going to be a cliche. I’m not going to become a stranger to my daughter, I’m not going to slowly kill myself with alcohol. I’m not going to do it.
"It’s like I quit in the best way. Say ‘Fuck your job - I quit, I don’t want it!"
It’s fitting that a man who named his band after a book by Irvine Welsh, he who penned Trainspotting…well, chose life. Drowning in impotence, the car careering down the road, swerving blindly from oncoming traffic, Gerard Way pressed the ejector seat. For his family, for his ambitions, for himself. You might think that’s selfish. That Gerard Way broke up MCR to save himself. That Gerard’s making music now for himself, not for the moments. To be honest, the man who’s sitting before me, smiling, excited about his trip to Forbidden Planet once we’ve wrapped, buzzing off fans opinions on his new songs, doesn’t seem like he particularly cares. Gerard Way, see got, his life back. Mission accomplished.
I’m going to ask you a terrible question that I’ve been pluck up the courage to ask for our entire chat now. Do you think you’ll ever get onstage with My Chemical Romance again?
"That’s not a terrible question!"
It’s a really terrible question, because everyone you speak to while promoting your solo album will ask you that…
Gerard laughs. “That’s okay, too, because I’ve been ready for it since I knew I wasn’t going to do it anymore. A lot of these questions are flattering questions. They don’t make me sad and they don’t make me angry. I’m grateful people would ask that…”
Gerard sighs. “I don’t think it’s ever a possibility that that is ever going to happen again. I could tell you that if it was a possibility that it would definitely be because it was the right thing internally for me to do. But I don’t think it’s going to happen again. I don’t think My Chemical Romance is supposed to happen again. I think it’s supposed to stay beautiful forever; it’s a beautiful thing. It’s supposed to die young in the car wreck, is what it is.”
Gerard smiles. “I don’t think it’s going to happen again, getting onstage. If it does, it does. I can never say never. I just know that the way I feel about it is that it shouldn’t…”
My Chemical Romance are dead. Thank god they didn’t take Gerard with them.
MCR: THE FINAL WORD
WOULD GERARD CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT THE SPLIT?
"No, not at all." Gerard says. "I’m super-happy. When you treat something with respect like that, and you preserve it, I don’t think there’s a greater gift. It’s like we don’t need to get inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, we don’t need a Grammy. They can never take any of that from us - we have that. There are people with Grammys that are in shit bands, you know? They’ll go on forever and still keep getting grammys, but they’re in bands that don’t have what we had. My Chem wasn’t a thankless job, but it was definitely an unsung type of job. You didn’t get the awards, you didn’t win the Grammys… Kerrang! gave us a lot of awards, mind. But what we got was this kind of immortality that’ll endure. I can’t think of many bands who have what we have."
Exclusive: Frank Iero on life after My Chemical Romance
FRANK IERO is exhausted: flat out, buried. He’s got deadlines he has no idea how to meet, commitments all over the place, and people everywhere he needs to talk to. He has a family too, kids to whom he wants to give his undivided attention and a wife he loves dearly. He’s got stuff going on all over the place.
New video interview with Gerard via NME
Gerard’s interview from this weeks issue of Kerrang! As always, apologies for any typos or misspellings. I do this all by myself and I hope it’s at least readable enough for everyone. Here is a link to an easy to read google docs copy.
If you wanted to know where Gerard Way was staying on his recent trip to the UK, you just had to keep an eye out for the punk rock kids. Neon hair, holey Converse and Misfits tattoos mark the spot. They’re everywhere today, hunched in the alleyways of Soho that lead off from Dean Street, surrounding the plush Soho Hotel like a castle’s moat.
"If you see Gerard, can you ask if he’ll come sign my arm, please?" says the blue-haired girl. "We want to get it tattooed today." says the green.
"I think I’ve lost my job," says blue. "I heard Gerard was in town and I just walked out."
"It’ll totally be worth it," adds the green, giggling.
It’s nice to hear a My Chemical Romance fan laugh. For a while there, there was no laughter. No laughter at all.
March 22, 2013. The day My Chemical Romance pressed stop. The day the most important rock band of the past decade called it a day. The day the rock rainbow lost a colour. Maybe two, Maybe three. One of the most rubbish of days.
"I was in bed," Dan King recalls. "I broke the news to my girlfriend as if a family member had passed away."
"I started hyperventilating and almost fell down the stairs," remembers Dajah Brown. "It didn’t hit me until two days later when I started bawling in the middle of town," Says Aisling O’Connor. "Then I thought My Chemical Romance would want me to mourn in a creative way, so I bought a black jacket and painted it so it looked like a Black Parade jacket. It looked crap though…"
Among the tears there was anger, too.
"I felt numb," admits Mel Brehaut. "Then I felt angry. That message on the website [announcing the split] was cold. It hurt."
"I was shocked," says Andrew Worboys. "Then I felt betrayed."
"I felt pissed they did it in such a shoddy way," recalls Heggie Speller. "It felt disrespectful."
Gerard Way’s visit to the UK is a big deal, not only for Gerard, but for everyone invested in My Chemical Romance, that most fan-friendly of bands. It’s the first time Gerard will tell his side of the story not on his own terms - exclusively to Kerrang!, we might boast - and not sitting in front of the computer with an open blog or the blur of his twitter feed before him. It’s the first time he’ll hear feedback on a mas scale for his solo compositions - lead-off single Action Cat is released digitally the day that we speak - and it’s the promotion of that solo album that has seen his record label, Warner Bros., fly him in for our meeting. And at the Relentless Kerrang! Awards, 24 hours after our interview, it’s the first time he’ll personally greet the people whose hearts he broke.
"I want to give you a choice," I say to Gerard as he eases himself into a sofa. "I want to ask you about the past, but also the future - but you can choose which one we talk about first."
"Well, let’s start with the past, Gerard replies, smiling but shifting in his seat. He leans forward, nibbles at a biscuit, sips his frothy coffee.
There’s been 16 months to put together the questions that follow. There’s been 16 months picking at the carcass, waiting for answers. And so we talk and we talk and we talk some more. What follows is the first day of the rest of Gerard Way’s life.
Perhaps what hurt most about the My Chemical Romance split was that it just didn’t feel done. Anticipation for MCR 5 had been whet by the astonishingly high quality of the Conventional Weapons releases. There was a new logo for fuck’s sake. Of all the things the fans went to sleep thinking about on the evening of March 21, the break-up of their favourite band would have been far, far from their mind…
"I guess I’ll start by addressing your feeling it wasn’t the right time," says Gerard, his Sesame Street speaking voice sharp and alert. "Because that’s an important key in it being the right time. Had it been up to everybody else, it would have been too late. I think that had it ben when we were worn down, ineffective, joyless, when it had become obvious to all the fans that it should be over, that’s exactly when they’d have wished it was over. It’s too late once the fans know it’s too late. And I knew…"
"And so I guess I decided I was gonna preserve it for everybody. I didn’t want the fans to ever have the memory of it being ruined. I didn’t want you to be like, ‘Uh, are that band still around?’ I wanted you to have, ‘That was a great band.’ Even if you’re a little angry at the band - "I’m angry at them, but that was a great band.’ I’ll settle for that over, ‘These guys are washed up…’"
But you were so far from that. There was obviously still gas left in the tank…
"Yeah," squeaks Gerard.
You know that?
You know you weren’t spent?
"Right! Because you should never get to a place where you’re spent. There was gas in the tank, I’m just not sure I wanted to end up where the gas was gonna take us."
That’s enigmatic. What do you mean by that?
"Well we could have kept going, but we might not have ended up where anybody wanted us to be, or where we wanted to be as human beings. People that had separate dressing rooms, separate car service and separate planes - people that only see each other at rehearsals."
You thought that was a genuine danger?
"Yeah," admits Gerard. "We’d already started to get really good at not seeing each other, then showing up and rehearsing and then having it all come back right away. Which is a good thing. It’s chemistry. But that sense of camaraderie was slipping, and it was nobody’s fault…"
How did you know what was happening?
"It’s just something you feel…"
Was there an attempt to salvage that?
"I think everybody tried to salvage it by being good to each other," Gerard answers.
"I think everybody tried to salvage it by still trying to be a part of each other’s lives. But people can change and grow, and I think - I can only speak for myself - I stopped growing. I felt like I was stunted, I felt like I had so much more to offer the world.
Gerard pauses, gulps his coffee.
"And I don’t just mean that, like, ‘I will break up the band so I can make a solo record!’ That is an awful reason to make a decision like that. But I felt like I had so much more to share as a human being to my daughter and my wife."
the band was starting to impact on your personal life?
"Well, the person that they were starting to come into contact with was somebody who’d become extremely detached and eternally depressed."
Gerard’s eyes begin to drift.
"Because it all comes down to being true to yourself. When you’re misaligned with who you are, and you’re not listening to the truth, and you’re trying to desperately to force yourself to do something, you get sick. And I got really sick."
In what way?
"I got sick physically and mentally because I didn’t listen to what my inner self said…"
"Which was when Parade was over, that’s the end. I always said to myself and had been relatively vocal about saying that around the rest of the band. I plan things out pretty far in advance. I sat down with a piece of paper before Bullets came out and I wrote. I wrote down titles of records, what they were going to be like and what they were going to accomplish for the band."
So you’d strayed from the plan?
Gerard nods. “I never went past the third record because to me that was the pinnacle - it was the combination of everything we had learned on one and two but really taken to some crazy extreme. That was Black Parade, and when the tour basically ended with us conquering the world, we were supposed to ride off into the sunset. I can’t think of a better ending than that. And that’s what I had internally planned for myself as a human being the whole time - this is it, that’s the end.”
The question is, why wasn’t it?
"Because it’s a lot more complicated than that. Because you get into careers, mortgages, families, crews, people, the machine itself - not to mention the expectations of a record label that invested quite a bit in you, that would like more out of you, a fanbase that wants more out of you. So I kept going, against every fibre in my being, I kept going. I went against myself and I lost…"
There is no drought or pause in my conversation with Gerard. But I’m inserting one anyway to relay what the room feels like right now.
Gerard rarely looks me in the eye while talking. He alternates between sitting up straight and curling his feet on the sofa. He wears his coat throughout - his tatty green parka - despite the weather outside being arid in the way only central London can be. At one point he lies half on and half off the couch, torso shifted down on the cushions and legs stretched out at an angle off the edge, stiff like one of those jock teenagers who filled instagram with their planking craze a few years ago. He sporadically nibbles at the biscuits. He rarely sits still. Despite all of the above, there’s no question in my mind that everything he says is… pure.
What was the moment you finally knew it was the end?
"The last show. The last Danger Days show. Everything up to that point was denial, everything up to that point was, ‘This is gonna work. I have something to say, I have something to say, I have something to say.’ I’m proud of Danger Days, I love it, but all I was trying to say in the end is, ‘I don’t want to grow up.’ Like, I became a dad, and I got married, and now I’m in my 30’s, but I’m gonna prove that I can still be rebellious! If you distil what came outta my mouth in that period, that’s kind of all I was talking about. That’s not a great reason to stay in a band or make music…"
"I guess I also felt like… I wanna see them do this. I wanna see them do something."
In the sense that My Chem were a seed that their creativity could blossom from?
"Yeah, because that was the goal of it! It was just seeds, it wasn’t supposed to be, ‘Oh now I’m, like, a role model.’ I’m the last person in the world that should be a role model, for anybody…"
Punk rockers never feel easy with expectation. It’s the whole Kurt Cobain thing…
"Yeah, but I’m not," he sighs. "None of My Chem wore that well. I know I didn’t. It was very uncomfortable - we’re punk kids, we’re not role models. We don’t have the answers, we have the answers for ourselves. Maybe that relates to you, but it got to the point where I didn’t want to say the wrong thing to a kid who had been cutting themselves. I’m not qualified to help them. What if I say the wrong thing? There was one female fan who I met, where I was like, ‘you’re gonna stop cutting, you’re never gonna do this again.’ It was less aggressive than that in my memory. But if I had even been slightly aggressive, who am I to say that that’s the right way to talk to somebody to get them to stop cutting? It might have made her cut more."
Gerard’s eyes aligns with mine.
He looks down at his shoes.
"I’m not authorized for any of that shit…"
Let’s return to music. I think it’s interesting, that even 16 months on, you keep referring to My Chemical Romance as ‘we’. Does it still feel like ‘we’?
"Hmmmmm," he ponders. "I like to say ‘we’ because My Chemical Romance was such a ‘we’. I feel a really strong connection to it, and I think that’s also a result of ending it the way it ended: amicably, and because it was the right time. I think a lot of interviews for my solo record are gonna go a lot differently than the other guys’ interviews for their solo records when they come out of a band. My interviews aren’t gonna be filled with anger, and spite, and resentment, and ‘I won’t talk about that,’ because none of that exists, because it ended right."
Do you think the other members of My Chemical Romance have that anger, spite, and resentment?
"No. We all still talk. I love them so much and I wanna see them do great, too. I wanna see them grow, and I like to think they wanna see me grow, and all do great work…"
I don’t mean to be intrusive, because it was obviously a private moment, but what happened when you told the other guys everything you’ve told me?
"Well, we weren’t all together, but we were on a phone call. I wrote this thing. It’s the only way I could say it."
The thing with the bird? That you put on the website?
"No! This other thing. It was really brief, and it was very direct, and it was about how I felt and that was kind of the way it went. The bird thing would have taken far too long! It wasn’t impersonal, but it was very quick and I think it was something people needed to process. It wasn’t something to talk about a lot. It wasn’t a therapy thing; it wasn’t something to sit down with each other and talk about. Maybe in our dreams we’d hoped it would be like that at the end, like we’d all be together in a bar somewhere, but I don’t think life happens that way."
Was there anyone that went, ‘No, don’t finish saying this…’?
"No. No. People may have felt that way, and I know people have…"
Gerard shuffles in his seat.
"Without really getting into this too deeply… Because I don’t want to get into the psychology of the end, and there’s probably some things better left private for people involved…To be honest, I think I’ve almost gone too far in saying it was even on the phone…"
We can talk about something else, if you would prefer?
"Mmmmm, it’s not that I don’t wanna talk about it 0 I just don’t know that anybody else in the band will wanna talk about it later. So I don’t wanna put my ammo out there for anybody to have to speak about it."
It must have been hard telling your brother, Mikey, that he didn’t have a job anymore…
"Well, it didn’t feel like a job, it felt more like saying, ‘This is the end of a big adventure,’ and he just understood. He could see it, he could see it on my face, he could see what had happened to me physically over the course of, like, three and a half years. So he knew. I can’t speak for anybody else - I don’t know if they knew - but he knew. And I think he knew he had to find his own way. Mikey accepted it."
Did you follow the fallout of the announcement? Did you go on twitter at all?
"No, actually. My lasting memory of the break up is that I saw such an amazing outpouring from all different corners, all different music outlets, and how much they loved our band. That’s my memory of it."
And the fans?
"On the fan front, I stayed away from that for at least a couple of weeks. But having said that, I knew for my sake and theirs that I needed to go back and reconnect with them. I think they needed somebody to talk to, and I needed somebody to talk to. I felt like that was good for us… Until it wasn’t good for us."
Should we talk about the future now?
Gerard lets out a deep sigh. “Let’s talk about the future…”