Gerard Way: The Last Action Hero
Rebel. Romantic. Geek. Dad. Teen idol. Alien. Gerard Way has been a million different things to a million different people – and his bittersweet symphony is far from over.
Of all the things Gerard Way – former frontman of the infamous My Chemical Romance, comic book guy and resident rockstar of both realms – could have become, perhaps not even he could have considered ‘family man’. Still, it’s something that he is very much at peace with – he recently celebrated his seven-year wedding anniversary, while his daughter Bandit turned five in May. Even with this in mind, he feels that it hasn’t stifled the creative side of either him or his wife, Mindless Self Indulgence bassist Lindsey “Lyn-Z” Way.
“We’ve both figured it out, because she also tours and is also a fine artist,” he says. “We both really try to balance it out and schedule things properly. I am a family man now, and it’s really enjoyable. I don’t know that there will be much less of the touring because of that, but it will be a lot more strategically placed.” As for Bandit’s comprehension of what it is that mum and dad do, Way feels as though it’s a little clearer now. “I think she’s just starting to understand that what we do is not a common thing,” he says. “I remember she saw me on Yo Gabba Gabba! and was so surprised to find out other parents weren’t on TV.”
This year marks the release of Way’s debut solo album, entitled Hesitant Alien. The album marks a bold venture into the darker spectrum of alternative rock, taking major sonic risks while maintaining Way’s unmistakable vocal stylings. It certainly poses the question as to whether My Chemical Romance – who split in 2013 – had to be killed, per se, in order for Hesitant Alien to live. Not quite, says Way.
“It’s an interesting question, and that’s certainly one way to look at it. What I’ll say about the album is that it’s definitely not something that would have been produced by My Chemical Romance, but My Chemical Romance wasn’t sacrificed in order to produce it. It was one of those things where it was just time. The music happened just because I make music. It’s an automatic thing for me. I can’t imagine a life where I’m not making music. Even though the band was ending, I was still making music – probably more than I’ve made in a long time.”
The elephant in the room is glanced at as conversation moves to what to expect out of a Gerard Way solo show. To borrow a phrase from Upworthy, the answer may surprise you.
“I’ve given it a lot of thought – a tremendous amount, even,” says Way. “There’s basically songs from the album, some new material that will get recorded eventually and some covers. Going into the shows I just did in the UK, I knew that I didn’t want to play any My Chemical Romance songs. That would have been too much of a crutch to lean on. I also feel those songs are very much of that band and what the band stood for. I’m exploring such a new sound that even if I were to do an old MCR song, I don’t imagine it would sound anything like it did.”
In the wake of MCR’s demise, Way began an initiative via Twitter: A P.O. box address was given out to his 800,000-plus followers with one simple request: ‘Don’t make it weird’. It was an attempt to mend the bridge that had been burnt in the lead-up to the band’s split – and it worked far better than Way could have ever anticipated.
“I got a lot out of it,” he recalls. “When the band broke up, it felt like it was exactly what was needed. I felt so removed from the fanbase and so closed off. Things had gotten so difficult for me to exist personally in My Chemical Romance, that I distanced myself quite a bit from fans. I had pulled myself a way, so it felt like the right thing to do. I was giving them an opportunity to say how they were feeling – if they were upset, if they were mad – just so they had an outlet to do so. What I got out of it was really nice. It was an outpouring of understanding and love, and people saying such incredible things about the band. I got a lot of art, too. That would have to be the best part about it all – just seeing all of the artwork coming in.”
On the note of artwork, Way has been particularly busy in the world of comics of late. Not only has he written an issue of the alternate-universe Spider-Man series Edge Of Spider-Verse, he has also had the honour of being asked to do a huge project with legendary Scottish comic writer Grant Morrison.
“Grant wants to write this Batman Black And White issue,” explains Way. “They [DC] ended that series, but they wanted him to have his own issue. In that issue, he wanted me to do the art for it. I’m actually getting to the point where I can actually do that. I’m going to reach out to him so we can start working on it.”
Being at the point in his career where he is able to work with such big names on even bigger names in the comic world is something that is definitely not lost on Way.
“I treat all of these characters with a tremendous amount of respect, but the fact that I’m able to do whatever I want with them and reinvent them is a lot easier for me than going in there and writing a basic story,” he says. “It’s part of the continuity, which is exciting. It’s part of the Spider-Man mythos now. I got to give my own take on it, and create my own world in this alternate reality – it’s a really nice feeling to be a part of that.”