My Chemical Romance commemorated their ten-year anniversary on September 11th last year, which was followed up by the announcement a couple of weeks later, that the band would finally be returning to New Zealand - for the first time in five years - as headliners on the 2012 Big Day Out.
Bassist Mikey Way gave Coup De Main a call while doing some last-minute Christmas shopping in Los Angeles at the close of last year...
COUP DE MAIN: My Chemical Romance are playing Big Day Out 2012!
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE - MIKEY WAY: Yeah, we're super excited! Big Day Out is one of our favourite festivals, it's such an eclectic mix of so many different things and it's really about music - which is what a good festival should be about. The reaction from the fans in that part of the world rivals our greatest territories and the kids are always very rabid and very appreciative of us being there, so we're super excited to get back.
CDM: Are you planning to bring any of 'The World Contamination Tour' stage set-up with you?
MIKEY: We're going to bring as many of the elements as we can - the stage permitting - because bringing production to a festival can be tricky sometimes, but I think we've found a middle-ground. There's definitely elements from that first stage-show, that are going to be present at the ones coming up.
CDM: What will your setlist be like?
MIKEY: Every tour is different. We like to give people a piece of something... as fans that go to shows ourselves, we like going on a journey of a band's career, and so that's kind of how we work out setlists ourselves. We give people a taste of different eras of us, it's kind of like a mix-tape of us. We make a mix-tape of our songs every time we make a setlist, so that older fans have something to love on there and newer fans still have something to love, and we even throw a surprise or two in.
CDM: Do you think you'll play 'Bulletproof Heart'?
MIKEY: That's a strong possibility! We haven't gone through the setlist yet, but that's a song that we skipped on the Summer tour, so that coming back for this tour is highly probable.
CDM: Belatedly, congratulations on 'Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys' - it was my favourite album of 2010.
MIKEY: That's nice of you! Thank you so much.
CDM: Do you have any special plans for these upcoming shows, as they'll be the end of the 'Danger Days' touring cycle?
MIKEY: I think we're going to - us and the fans - we're both going to have a good time. We've waited just as long as they've waited for us to get there, we've been waiting to play for them! We still talk about our tours in New Zealand and Australia, we still talk about them all the time, like, oh how great they were! We can come to the UK and have the most rabid fanbase, but they [NZ/AUS] give them a run for their money, so it's going to be something special and a good way to say goodbye to 'Danger Days'.
CDM: It seems like there was a lot of re-writing of songs during the 'Danger Days' recording process - e.g. how the song 'Trans Am' turned into 'Bulletproof Heart' - how do you know when a song is complete or finished?
MIKEY: It's weird... with us, it's like a song is finished when we run out of time and we can't work on it anymore... we'll go down to the very wire, because that's how we are about the little details and fine-tuning. The interesting thing about a song like 'Bulletproof Heart' - it was [originally] called 'Trans Am' - the interesting thing about the amalgamation of that song was that the song also lived within us, like we all got to live with the song and it was around for about a year before we recorded it again, so the song got to really transform, which you don't really get to do. Usually, when you write a song it's like: "Oh it's going right on the album and that's the way it is." And then like a year late you're like: "Well I would have done this different and I would have done that different." So we were actually given the opportunity to amend things that we decided against, which is a luxury that bands don't normally get. So that's what was so cool, [in] getting to recycle some of those 'Danger Days' songs, was that we got to change them to how we were feeling about them at that time/minute, instead of the year-and-a-half prior, how we felt at that moment when we wrote it and it was called 'Trans Am'. Then we found a new direction and we found a new flavour to add to the song, so it sounded more like a 'Bulletproof Heart'. It was a rare thing that bands don't normally get to do - to re-explore a song before anybody's gotten to it yet.
CDM: When you were musically experimenting with writing 'Planetary (GO!)', what was running through your mind?
MIKEY: 'Planetary (GO!)' is something that we've been going for since the very beginning of the band. We had a song called 'Vampires Will Never Hurt You' on the first album ['I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love'] and that had kind of a dance-feel to it, like very subtly. And then as we got more along, there was always a song that was closer and closer to being a full-blown dance song, like on 'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge' we had 'To The End', and then on 'The Black Parade' we had 'The Sharpest Lives'. 'The Sharpest Lives' is almost a dance-song, and then 'Planetary (GO!)' is full-blown. We wanted to go for it, we wanted to make a dance song, we wanted something to convey fun and a party-like atmosphere shooting through your speakers, and we wanted to channel some of our influences in the hip-hop world - and I think we finally accomplished that on 'Planetary (GO!)'.
CDM: Why does your Killjoy character KOBRA KID have "Good Luck" written on his helmet?
MIKEY: That's a nod to an old Nintendo game called 'Star Fox'. When you hit the 'Start' button there's this dog that shows up like a captain and would say "Good Luck" and it was just something that stuck with us for a long time. The game came out when we were teenagers [and] we always thought it was really interesting how the animals talked in that game. It also just means 'good luck' as well, but it's also a nod to Nintendo and 'Star Fox'.
CDM: Your brother Gerard has said that: "You'll see in the future that the Killjoys are not good people." Will there be any more Killjoys music videos to further explain this?
MIKEY: I don't think we're going to be making any more videos, but something is definitely on the horizon, the Killjoys story is far from over. I know Gee's working with Shaun Simon on the Killjoys comic - and I think that will... I don't know if it's going to directly tie in with the story, but there will at least be a sense of what happened somewhere within the story I'm sure.
CDM: I interviewed Shaun back in 2010 about the comic - so that's been a long time coming, right?
MIKEY: That's awesome, yeah! They're working on it, it should be relatively soon that you should hear something [new] about the comic.
CDM: Does the band still have any plans to release a THE MAD GEAR AND MISSILE KID full-length album?
MIKEY: Oh absolutely! That's something we talk about a lot, we just have to kinda find time. There's more songs we have that are Mad Gear songs and actually, there are more songs that Mad Gear have written that we are yet to discover. So sooner or later, that'll probably come to fruition as well.
CDM: If the 2012 doomsday prediction were to come true and you found yourself in a post-apocalyptic world, what would be the first steps you'd take to protect your family?
MIKEY: I think the safe bet would have to be: get canned food, you get your family, and find a bomb-shelter. <laughs> And then wait for everything to blow over, or try and come up with a solution from a safe haven, I think that would be the best course of action.
CDM: What do you think the spirit animal - or patronus - of each member of My Chemical Romance would be?
MIKEY: What's funny, is that we've all collectively talked about this, because it played into our characters of the Killjoys. Gerard's spirit animal is a gazelle - that's how he's always answered - Frankie would definitely be a wolverine, I would be a shark because of my inability to sit still, and Ray? Ray would be... I'm thinking super intelligent, super articulate, I would think, owl.
CDM: What was it like performing on 'Yo Gabba Gabba!'?
MIKEY: That was a real dream come true! We've been huge fans of that show from its inception, because it had that feeling of those old Sid and Marty Krofft 70's kids shows - and there was a huge void for that in TV, for a kid's show that adults can enjoy on a different level. And the songs are always fantastic! I think Frankie [Iero] was on an airplane with someone that worked on the show and they got to talking: "Yo, if you ever have an opening, it would be an honour for us to be on your show." And they were also interested in us being on their show, so it was like one of those things where we both admired each other's work, and [then] we got to work together being on the show. And then they let us write our own song, which is even cooler, which was our own take on a Christmas song ['Every Snowflake Is Different (Just Like You)']. The experience was incredible, the atmosphere on the 'Yo Gabba Gabba!' set was so relaxed, and everybody on that set is really good friends and they're all just having fun. It's all positivity, which when you shoot television shows, sometimes that's not the case - but yeah, super positive vibes on that set, the nicest people and so intelligent.
CDM: Are there any plans to release a follow-up DVD to 'Life On The Murder Scene'?
MIKEY: It's actually something we talk about a lot, making a spiritual successor to 'Life On The Murder Scene'. If you were a betting person, I'd say, absolutely. It'll happen probably sooner than later, I'd say.
CDM: What did the band do to celebrate My Chemical Romance's ten-year anniversary?
MIKEY: We played 'Skylines And Turnstiles' on our Summer tour - we hadn't played that song in six or seven years - and we did a little bit of a different rendition of that song. We did it on the tour with us and Blink-182, so that's kinda what we did, pay tribute to what had happened on that day [September 11th, 2001], and to celebrate the history of the band.
CDM: Have you begun thinking about or working on the next My Chemical Romance album yet?
MIKEY: We're kinda always writing, so it's like we're always thinking about what's next, so that'd be a yes. We're always constantly wanting to get onto the next thing or the new thing. So as soon as Big Day Out ends, we'll probably jump right back into trans-ship.
CDM: Tell me something that no-one else knows about each member of the band, including yourself...
MIKEY: That's a tough question! For me I'd say... a fact that nobody knows about me is that I hate eggs, they gross me out. It's this weird thing from childhood, I don't know what it is, but I just think eggs are disgusting. I can't really think of anything for anyone else, I think people know almost everything about us! <laughs> But I could say for me, I hate eggs.
CDM: Apparently you're a self-confessed fan of Britpop - who are your favourite Britpop bands of past and present, and why?
MIKEY: Oh man, there's a lot! Some of my favourites... there's the classics like Blur and Oasis and Pulp, Suede and The Charlatans, The La's, The Smiths, The Cure, stuff like that. That was a huge part of my teen-years and bands I still listen to right through to this day, but it had a huge bearing on me as a teen and it was some of my favourite music, and is still to this day some of my favourite music.
CDM: If you had a full day off in New Zealand, what would be number one on your bucket-list?
MIKEY: I'd love to go visit the 'Lord Of The Rings' set! That's something that we always want to do, but we don't ever have the time. Maybe this time we can squeeze it in, but that's always the top thing that we always want to do when we get to that part of the world.
CDM: Lastly, do you have a message for your New Zealand fans?
MIKEY: Thank you for waiting for us! We miss you as much as you miss us - and we promise that the wait will be worth it and we can't wait to see you there.
...and with that, our time with Way is up. We thank him and he says: "No worries! Word up, we're very excited to come back. Excellent, bye!"
My Chemical Romance will play the main Big Day Out Stage from 5:30-6:30pm at the Big Day Out 2012! Click here for the full line-up and timetable.
[ Photo Credits: Neil Krug ]