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A flurry of tour dates leaves little time for relaxing, but the band is still flying high
Gerard Way is getting accustomed to waking up and wondering where he is. Not to worry though, he is still clean and sober. The cause of the confusion: The Black Parade tour has My Chemical Romance hopping from city to city, from the United States and Canada, to Ireland and the United Kingdom, to Australia and Malaysia. And this weekend the bands rocks the Blaisdell Arena with its emotionally charged and edgy tunes.
With My Chemical Romance and special guest Saves the Day
In concert: 7 p.m. Friday
Place: Blaisdell Arena
Call: (877) 750-4400 or visit ticketmaster.com
"The touring hasn't kept us in one spot for too long," said Way, lead vocalist for MCR. "We've been on lots of airplanes, and endured lots of modes of travel."
The continual traveling has made it difficult to work on new material, he said. "We were able to tear out back lounges and build recording studios in the back of buses during 'Revenge.' We can't do that anymore, so we haven't written as much."
Way added, "I think it's a good thing. I think we need to get a healthy distance from songwriting for a bit."
The band, which last performed in Hawaii at Pipeline Cafe in February 2005, typically brings lots of gear and pyrotechnics. Way said to expect a show at least 90 minutes long, but beyond that he had no specifics. "We rehearse and have a set list, but nothing is ever planned out. Every show is completely different."
My Chemical Romance launched in the early 2000s, when Way and original drummer Matt Pelissier started experimenting with songwriting. They signed with Reprise Records in 2003, and released "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge." Their first song was "Skylines and Turnstiles," inspired by Way's experiences of working in the field of animation in New York City.
Pelissier left in 2004, to be replaced with Bob Bryar. By then the band was a bona fide success.
"I made the initial calls to put it all together, but it's something I just walked into," Way said. "I had a knack for it, and so did the other guys, so it ended up taking off really fast."
"Welcome to the Black Parade" is a tight concept album featuring fast, aggressive (and occasionally slow and melodic) tunes. The hauntingly epic album, which celebrates both life and death, includes tracks about cancer, hospital stays, scary teenagers and happy memories -- with the primary story line being a terminal patient's journey toward death.
The music has a '70s flair, and it's often compared to Queen or Pink Floyd. And the over-the-top songs never fail to send a message. MCR's last album, "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge," also followed a loose concept, the fear of losing someone -- specifically the death of his grandmother, according to Way.
The band went to great lengths to create the theatrical appeal for this particular album. "'Black Parade' was a huge undertaking. It had a lot of layers, it's really crazy," Way said.
His favorite track is "Mama," which includes vocals from Liza Minnelli. "'Mama' is a lot of fun. When we wrote it, it kinda forced us to throw out a lot of other songs because it was so crazy. You can't put this song on a record without songs that aren't equally as inventive. We chucked out a lot of average punk songs."
With success comes great expectations, but Way is not worried. He doesn't feel a need to top "Black Parade."
"I don't think you can top something like this -- you go in a totally different direction," he said. "We don't try to make the same record, we just make a completely different one."
Will the next release will be another concept album? He doesn't know. "But I know it will all make sense together. It will be a cohesive record, because we can't bring ourselves to make something that is just a bunch of songs."
Way finds inspiration in everyday life. "Art is basically perspective, it's how you interpret the world." It's his own perspective and his perspective of other people's experiences that mold the music.
"This band interprets the world a certain way. It gives us our unique perspective. I think that is why people actually like the band, whether they know it or not," Way said. "We provide a certain perspective that they are not used to hearing."
The rigid schedule does not allow for much downtime, so when the boys in the band are not rehearsing or performing, they seek solitude and relaxation, Way said.
"We don't get to go out much anymore" -- the days of karaoke and hard-core partying are over. Way has remained sober for three years. "It's been great ... it's going pretty solid."
Writing comics helps him wind down. "I drink lots of coffee, smoke a lot of cigarettes and write. I really enjoy that." He's written "The Umbrella Academy" for Dark Horse Comics.
As for the others -- "Mikey (Way, bassist) plays video games, Frank (Iero, guitarist) watches movies, Ray (Toro, guitarist) plays guitar a lot. He also goes for walks and he likes looking at architecture and things like that. Bob (Bryar, drummer) generally stays in," Way said.
"We need quiet and downtime, for sure."