Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance | Interview
How superheroes and Duran Duran kept Gerard Way from an early grave. “I’m not injuring myself. There’s no death wish anymore.”
Gerard Way is older than he seems. He has boyish looks and hair dyed as red as horror-movie blood. The New Jersey native fronts punk band My Chemical Romance. He created a successful comic-book franchise, the Umbrella Academy. In the videos promoting his band’s latest, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, MCR sports superhero alter egos and ray guns. Surprisingly, Way turns 34 on Saturday 9. He has settled in L.A. with wife Lindsey and their two-year-old daughter, Bandit. It’s a remarkable lifestyle change for someone who says he once subscribed to the notion of “live fast, die young.”
You were born hours after the first Clash record was released.
Funny, I just found that out! I just read that literally a week ago.
You came into the world at the same time as punk. Is that why you feel a special attachment to it?
I never have. It’s weird. The only thing I’ve thought about is that’s the same year Elvis died. You have the death of traditional rock & roll and the birth of punk. Every record or band I’m drawn to is right around that period.
What feels older to you, the music of 1977 or you yourself?
It’s weird. There’s something about those recordings that doesn’t sound old. I was just having a conversation with my wife last night. The stuff we listened to in high school, you listen to them now and, whoa, it sounds horrible! Dated. You put an old Misfits record on, and it sounds like it came out yesterday.
Is music a daily conversation between you and your wife?
Absolutely. Yesterday we spent the day talking about Duran Duran.
How does that fill an entire day?
I talked about how the band was relevant when it came out, then wasn’t at all, and is now relevant again. Their lyrics are about power, greed, sex, desire, control. It was relevant then in a period of excess. We’re in a period of excess again. My wife and I, we’re trying to figure all this stuff out.
Do you argue about anything?
My God, we’ve never… Oh, oh. Biggie versus Tupac. When we got married, it was the only music we argued about. I really like Tupac. She has the same birthday as Biggie. She’s very into Biggie.
With Danger Days, you set out to make a raw punk record. It ended up completely different. What happened?
Chasing the sound of something and chasing the spirit are two very different things. I didn’t realize that on the first attempt. So there was a lot of stuff that was really dirty and raw sounding, but it didn’t have the original spirit. I often say if Iggy Pop had heard both records, I’m certain he would have chosen Danger Days. I got to do an interview with him in the middle of making the record, and he told me he was always doing the thing that people didn’t want him to do. That’s what Danger Days is. He said he took up golf just because it would bother people. There’s definitely that part of me, too. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really grown up. Well, what does everyone not want us to do? Use color. Fuck our hair up. Dress half our age.
Danger Days feels empowered by your success with comic books.
It was really informed by it. I learned a valuable lesson: You should stop separating your art.
KISS and Gorillaz can keep going and going into old age because they turned into cartoon characters. Do you envy that?
I think about it a lot. What am I going to do when I’m 40? Is that weird?
Will you change?
I know I’ll change. I’ve already changed tremendously. I’m definitely doing stuff differently onstage. I’m not injuring myself. There’s no death wish anymore. You get past the crash course and you don’t want to die. “Oh! I wanna live! I don’t want to end up one of these cats that die young.” Once you get over that, people almost immediately find you boring.
How much of this came from having a child?
It definitely cemented it. But I started to feel that way in my late twenties: “Living is awesome! Life is great.” I realized what I liked. Performance is fine, yeah, but I like to create. I didn’t want to run out of time. I just want to keep making things. If you’re not around, you’re not making anything.
Who has cooler toys, you or your daughter?
I definitely do right now. But she’s going to get them all.
My Chemical Romance visitsApril 15 at 8:30pm.