Gerard Way knows that people miss guitar music

It’s also interesting to look back, because they had the grunge label and we had the emo label, and I don’t think any of our bands were comfortable with those labels. I was never really interested [other] grunge; It was Nirvana for me. I didn’t necessarily consider them grunge, I guess they epitomized it, but at the same time, nobody else that was a grunge band really sounded like them, you know? I also felt the same way about My Chemical Romance. We had emerged into this second wave emo scene, and it never really felt right.

But anyway, I loved what Nirvana was doing. It was this new way of seeing this punk rock that we had all grown up with, including Kurt. Stylistically, the interesting thing is that there was this working class [look] — eventually it would become a uniform grunge look, but with those early grunge bands and Nirvana, it was almost anti-uniform, you know? Kind of like the opposite of what we’ve seen before. To relate that to My Chem, stylistically, My Chemical Romance was almost an answer to the t-shirt and the jeans. We went for more costumes and more theatrics, that felt fresh when we started doing it again. Kurt, Krist and Dave really paved the way for bands to continue to morph into punk rock and find new ways to channel that energy that we grew up with. Seeing that on MTV, I guess I was surprised that something so authentic, loud, different, and unapologetic would end up on that channel all the time.

With My Chem, how did you approach that theatrical aspect? What were you thinking about in terms of how you wanted to present yourself and how would that be reflected in your sound? Or did the sound inform him?

Theatricality evolved over time. When we started out, she was wearing really ripped old jeans, duct taped shoes, Motörhead t-shirts and these glued-together leather jackets that had really eaten up show after show. She had experimented with things like eyeliner and different types of makeup. Dave Vanian from The Damned inspired me growing up, like, “You know, it would be cool to be a vampire.” I grew up listening to Misfits and Danzig: all of that was theatrical, although not very extreme. I mean, you look at the Misfits wearing a skeleton suit, they have these devil locks and they’re playing these monstrous instruments. There’s a theatricality there that I don’t think was happening in punk at the time, and that made its way into My Chemical Romance.

You mentioned how Nirvana felt different from the rest of the grunge scene. What made Kurt great? And more generally, what makes a great leadership style?

oh man. Well, I think what makes a great leader changes all the time. Many things happen in cycles. [Comic book writer] Grant Morrison is a very good friend of mine, and they have this theory that basically [trends go from] hippie to punk, hippie to punk, over and over again. It has something to do with the phases of the sun, or something. You never know what’s going to connect with people, who they’re going to gravitate towards, who they’re going to look to to be a voice for them. You can’t design that, it just happens.

I think the first time I saw a [Fender] The blue racing Mustang with stripes was “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and the first time I saw a beat-up old Jaguar was watching Nirvana. The good thing that Kurt did is that he went to pawn shops; I remember seeing an interview where Krist was also going to pawn shops and looking for Mustang guitars for Kurt. It was a blast after that: everyone wanted a Jaguar, everyone wanted a blue Mustang, everyone wanted the stuff he was playing. That’s what an artist can do sometimes: take something that has slipped a bit from the public consciousness and represent it to people in a different context than what they’ve seen before.

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