The Music Is The Weapon - Gerard Way, June 2008
For the last eight years of my life, expectation has been my biggest ally in the war against the prepossessed.
The first gig My Chemical Romance ever played was in front of about eighteen people.
The crowd was made up of jaded twenty-somethings, parking-lot philosophers who would rather have been at the diner dissecting the show they had seen than watching it.
We had lousy gear, looked like we hadn’t seen the sun in years, and we wore black T-shirts. We turned our backs to them before we hit the first note, the hum of the amplifiers only increasing the tension in the hall. We never said hello. We never said our name.
They didn’t expect much; in fact, they most likely expected it to suck.
As a musician, I would face thousands of rooms just like this one, so many that the faces started to blur, the truck stops and the road signs became my only safety.
But more than rooms full of people, I was facing something greater. I was facing the predetermined notion of what being a rock band was, I was in direct opposition to disbelief. I would spend years doing this, I would give blood doing this, eventually getting people to pay attention to what I had to say.
As a comic writer I would have to do it all over again. Starting from absolute zero.
Getting clean is an interesting thing. I didn’t go to rehab - just a few meetings, a week to collect my thoughts, and a lot of time in the van. You find that you have to re-learn everything you used to know - sleeping, showering, breathing, washing clothes, social interaction (I’m still working that part out), and all of the basic human functions like making a sandwich and watching a movie. You end up with a lot of time on our hands because you only sleep five hours a night. You have all this nervous energy you have to find a place for.
I decided to draw again, picking up a sketchbook and a fistful of the non-photo blue pencils I loved so much in art school. As with most things I do, it started out as a kind of therapy, simply for myself, scribbling and doodling at nine in the morning. Drinking coffee, chain-smoking, losing track of the time of day, which city I was in. I would draw for hours at a time, play the show, start drawing again, go to sleep, wake up, start again. I ended up with sketchbooks full of ideas, but not the kind of ideas people were used to seeing from me, not what was expected of me.
There were astronauts with martian-gorilla bodies and ray guns, chimpanzee sidekicks with PhD’s, closet aliens with pink hair, orchestras with the power to destroy the world. The ideas came fast, reckless, and inspired, and they came in the form I least expected - superheroes.
Maybe it was the warmth of nostalgia I needed to get me through the day. Maybe it was the hope and wonder all those comics held for me as a kid that would get my mind off of my rapidly recovering body. Maybe it was the mentality I had been cultivating since starting a band, dropping the art-school trappings of coffee-shop snobbyness and jaded elitism. It was definitely the reprints of The Doom Patrol by Grant Morison that kept me company at three a.m. that sparked my creativity, and it was most certainly an interview Grant had given that read like a manifesto, a call to arms for a “new wave of lo-fi weirdness.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, and I didn’t realize the interview was four years old at the time, but I knew I wanted to be a part of that - and I knew it involved sticking some superheroes into a blender.
I had something I needed to do, I decided to do it.