Liza Minnelli and My Chemical Romance are two great tastes that don’t seem to taste great together. In fact, they’re two distinct musical sounds that one would think would repel one another. But on MCR’s new album, The Black Parade, the follow up to their platinum breakthrough, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, which sent them rocketing into the stratosphere, Liza makes a cameo. No, I’m not kidding. And Liza’s voice set to My Chem’s charged post-hardcore truly works; her voice is the perfect complement to the music. But more importantly, choosing to incorporate a Broadway/cabaret icon into their mix is indicative of MCR’s refusal to toe the line or to shy away from something new, different, exciting, risky and fun.
On The Black Parade, the infinitely stylish and ever fashionable My Chemical Romance reinvent themselves while retaining their signature sound. How the hell, you may ask, do they do that? Simple. They layer their urgent, youth-directed post- hardcore with pop melodies that are catchier than a cold in January. The Black Parade is a record that will launch My Chem (featuring frontman Gerard Way, bassist Mikey Way, guitarists Frank Iero and Roy Toro, and drummer Bob Bryar) even further and will cause them to furrow even deeper into the hearts of teenaged girls the world over. But they still have a soft spot for the Garden State, which they still call home.
I spoke to guitarist Iero about the band’s evolution, dirty Jersey, concept albums, Queen, and of course, Miss Minnelli.
After the release of Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, My Chemical Romance became like The Beatles of the new emo/screamo generation. At the 2005 Taste Of Chaos shows, girls were screaming their faces off. How are you dealing with that, as a band and a person?
I don’t like to hear that reference to The Beatles. It’s so weird. It’s flattering but at the same time, it’s really bizarre. You hope that the people who are there listening to what you have to say are there to see your band for the right reasons.
It’s pretty amazing. The past two years we’ve gone from writing songs in the basement and playing shows in the basement to having all the kids sing along. It’s bizarre. It hasn’t gone to my head at all. You can’t let it go to your head. You write songs for yourself, and ever since we started the band, when we went to shows and played shows, we always wanted to kill everyone in the room with our playing. There is always that you vs. the world mentality, and you play your heart out. We use that method whether we are in front of 10 kids or in front of 10,000 kids.
In the past couple years, with playing, recording and doing all this touring, we didn’t have time to see how big things were getting. It’s us living in our own little world. We’d get calls from relatives, saying, ‘You are all over tv,’ and we were like, ‘Really?’ We just saw more kids coming to shows. But as for any of this going to the head? That’s not even a thought. That’s how you do it: keep your head on straight, do what you love to do, and do it no matter how many people are listening.
New Jersey is your home and hearth. What’s your favorite thing about your home state?
For me, there is nothing I don’t love about New Jersey. Everyone says ‘Dirty Jersey,’ and that it’s a wasteland. But there is something about it. You can go anywhere in the state, and it’s different. There are beaches, mountains, city parts, country parts. There is something about where you grow up and where you are familiar with, but when I come home I truly love everything about it. Diners? I love them!
I’ve seen a lot of places and have been to a lot of places in the world and have seen things my parents won’t ever see, and I have come to realize that there is no better place than home. What else can I say? Whenever I am home, I am excited to be home. Jersey is so beautiful in October. I’ll never leave. The older I get, the more north I move in New Jersey, but if anything, I will probably stay in this area.