Gerard Way got kicked out of first band for being “really bad at guitar”
He spoke at length about his career during the panel and shared a few interesting stories about his journey.
He talked at first about how he got into comics and then eventually how he developed an interest in pursuing music. He talked about getting kicked out of his first band at school for being “really bad at guitar”.
“I wanted to do original songs and they wanted to do cover songs,” Way said. “The reason I got kicked out was because I couldn’t play ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.”
He said being kicked out led to him learning how to improve his writing and drawing skills in the comic realm, leading to him publishing his first comic at 15. He mentioned that when he was starting out, he went back and forth from music to comics rather than initially intertwining the two.
Way also talked about how he met Ray Toro through a friend while he was in art school.
“I remember seeing Ray Toro play live and thinking ‘this is the greatest guitar player ever,’” Way said.
He then talked about a band he started called Raygun Jones in art school that was “Weezer-ish” and how that got him back into playing music. After that, he discussed various artistic and creative jobs he had post grad prior to 9/11 happening.
Way then spoke about how My Chemical Romance came as an aftermath of 9/11.
"So 9/11 happens, and I pick up the guitar again and I write ‘Skylines And Turnstiles’, and then I called Otter and then I called Ray, and I got Mikey and we just built this momentum,” Way said. “It became my therapy from the PTSD that everyone had experienced from 9/11 and how to process that.”
He said playing music at that time also helped him deal with his depression. It’s playing that helped him improve his guitar playing substantially from when he was kicked out of his first band.
“Regardless of what kind of skills I had at the guitar, I was always able to write songs,” he said.
Way briefly spoke about the initial show he pitched to Cartoon Network called The Breakfast Monkey. It was supposed to be about a Scandinavian monkey who was also a chef. He shared the importance of breakfast to viewers and encouraged them to never miss the most important meal of the day.
Way attempted to pitch the show to Cartoon Network, but it was never picked up because they said it was too similar to Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He wrote a song for the show that led to one of his earlier collaborations with Toro.
“My first collaboration with Ray Toro was this song in ‘The Breakfast Monkey’ animatic called ‘Cruisin For Crazy’. That was actually the first thing we worked on together,” he said. “Ray really helped transpose those ideas that I would have into something that made sense. He’s just such a good guitar player - sometimes I would just be able to sing something to him and he could play it and make it a lot cooler.”
“If I couldn’t play it on the guitar, I would just sing it to him. And that’s how we generated the sound of the band - we’d just sit together and sometimes I’d have a guitar, sometimes not, and then Ray would have his own ideas,” he continued. “He learned how to play by listening to metal records, so he would play along to Metallica records and stuff, and Pantera records, and that’s how he figured it out. So he would help get this stuff out of me, and that formed the sound."
Discussion of his first collaboration with Toro led Way to further elaborate on MCR’s early sound.
"We were trying to take bits of everything we loved, like driving and fast punk, but then it’ll have metal, and the lyrics will be like storyteller lyrics," Way said. "I really liked Nick Cave and he was a storyteller, and there wasn’t a lot of storytelling happening in rock music at the time. It was very much about relationships and boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. … It was about relationships, but no one was really doing this conceptual stuff, or telling stories.”
“Pop-punk was about the high school experience, boyfriend-girlfriend stuff. I wanted to build worlds with music, and that’s what we started to do together in bringing in gothic elements, or bringing in vampires, and building this thing and there was always a momentum in My Chemical Romance,” he said. “Every week there was a new thing that happened and then eventually Frank joined the band and we never stopped.”
You can see Gerard Way’s full panel at Comic Con below.
Lahey and her band recorded a cover of the iconic track for the Australian radio station Triple J’s recurring Like A Version segment. Watch it below.
Now, Gerard Way has personally posted the cover on his Instagram and spoke a bit about what it means to have so many artists covering the band’s work after all these years.
“This made my morning! Alex Lahey (@alex_lahey) and her band covering Welcome To The Black Parade. Last month, Frank told me about the beautiful Kimya Dawson (@kimyadawson) cover of Kids From Yesterday, which was so special. Then, a friend of mine just sent me a link to this Alex Lahey cover, which gave me chills (both covers did, really, and both for different reasons),” Gerard Way’s caption began.
“And what I appreciate about Alex and Co’s Parade cover is how much they really went for it, and with all of the additional instruments (those cymbals!) and everyone singing and just smiling and having a good time. Really amazing performance,” the post continues. “It’s a really nice feeling to see such fantastic musicians appreciating our work.”
Check out the full post below.
View this post on Instagram
This made my morning! Alex Lahey (@alex_lahey) and her band covering Welcome To The Black Parade. Last month, Frank told me about the beautiful Kimya Dawson (@kimyadawson) cover of Kids From Yesterday, which was so special.
Then, a friend of mine just sent me a link to this Alex Lahey cover, which gave me chills (both covers did, really, and both for different reasons). I appreciated how delicate and raw and soulful Kimya’s cover was, it made me look at the song in a different way. And what I appreciate about Alex and Co’s Parade cover is how much they really went for it, and with all of the additional instruments (those cymbals!) and everyone singing and just smiling and having a good time. Really amazing performance.
My friend told me to check out her album, I Love You Like A Brother and I thought it was great, you should check it out too if you like. But watch this performance if you can, and watch Kimya’s cover of Kids, it is on her Insta dated July 29th, and check out her amazing albums as well. It’s a really nice feeling to see such fantastic musicians appreciating our work. #alexlahey #kimyadawson #theblackparade #welcometotheblackparade
Alex Lahey is making waves in the pop-punk scene with her sardonic, catchy hooks and outspoken charisma. She released her sophomore album The Best Of Luck Club in May of 2019, which was the followup to I Love You Like A Brother. You can see Lahey and the band’s upcoming tour dates here.
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