"No concept. Just songs. I wanted to break away..." - hmv.com talks to Gerard Way
When multi-million selling oddball rockers My Chemical Romance announced quietly one Saturday morning back in March of 2013 that they were parting ways after 12 years together, it came as a complete shock. The group had just completed a successful world tour in support of their fourth album Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, which included headlining Reading and Leeds Festivals and were openly discussing their plans for its follow-up, making the split a total bombshell to the band’s devoted fanbase.
In the months afterwards, each band member told their stories about the split and their plans for the future, and, what quickly became obvious was that the group just wasn’t serving any of them anymore. Each member had their own vision, their own ideas and was now planning to branch out in their own direction, each radically different from the others.
Following the split, guitarist Frank Iero has focused on his lo-fi punk rock outfit FrnkIero And The Cellabration, bassist Mikey Way has formed electro-influenced trio Electric Century and guitarist Ray Toro is working on an avant garde solo album, which brings us to frontman Gerard Way, who makes his solo bow on Monday (September 29th) with his first album Hesitant Alien.
The album is a world away from My Chemical Romance’s bombastic rock and roll, their detailed concepts, day-glo action adventure plots and radio sheen production. Instead Way has crafted an album that calls to mind the driving guitar fuzz of Sonic Youth, the angular grooves of the Pixies and the mournful melodies of late-period Blur.
We sat down with him to find out all about his radical left-turn….
Does it feel odd to be sat here talking about a solo album?
“Not really odd, but certainly very different. This is something I always knew I wanted to do, and the time was right.”
When did you start working on the songs for Hesitant Alien?
“I started working on them during the foggy, uncertain period toward the end of the band. Doug McKean, my producer, encouraged me to just write, for writing sake. He knew I was in a pretty depressed place, and he was trying to coax me out of it.”
What inspired you in the songwriting process?
“Everything I had loved but hadn’t tried yet, or hadn’t put out into the musical landscape before. It was all about the tones, the fuzz. Everything needed to be covered in fuzz."
Who played on the album with you?
“Jarrod Alexander, who drummed with me in MCR at the end. Matt Gorney and Ian Fowles play bass and guitar. We had other people like Jamie Muhoberac on keys – that was inspirational.”
You did the album with Doug McKean, why did you decide to work with him and what does he give you as a producer?
“I am not sure I decided to work with Doug so much as needed to work with Doug. Doug’s encouragement, taste levels, understanding of music and of me, made him the only person I wanted to do this record with. I trust him, and I needed to be around someone I really trusted as I tried to do something completely different. Doug just got it, but he also knew when to pull it back. And we are friends, we laugh and goof around together.”
What inspired this album lyrically?
“The abstract and the mundane. I tried to convey feelings instead of stories, even if I would use cautionary working class recollections to do so.”
Does the album have a concept or unifying theme running through it?
“This is the first time where I can say no, no concept. Just songs. I wanted to break away from the confines of a concept record for my first solo effort.”
Tell us about the cover, when did you decide on that image?
“At the very last minute. Really.”
When will we see you back in the UK on tour?
“See you in November, and I cannot wait. I have been really loving being in the UK.”
Gerard Way’s debut solo album Hesitant Alien is released on Monday (September 29th) in hmv stores all across the UK. He tours the UK in November.