Music Interview: Looking for some chemistry

A plethora of pierced and black-haired show kids mill around the Stampede Corral, several hours early for the Taste of Chaos Tour. It’s ironic these people, who make considerable efforts to look drastically different from the mass of Hilary Duffs and J.Los, gather together similarly dressed and adorned–the angst and eyeliner so concentrated even their parents couldn’t distinguish them from the crowd when it comes time to pick them up in the minivan. It’s not uncommon for people to emulate their idols, but the throngs of zealous fans haven’t picked up on the aesthetic of Ray Toro. The My Chemical Romance guitarist, with his Sideshow Bob-like curls, clears a spot in the back of the band’s tour bus to discuss music and geography.


“It was really cold,” says Toro of Saskatoon, where they played the day before Calgary’s show. “Is it true that it’s three hours away from the Arctic Circle? There were rumours of people seeing polar bears, but the show was really fun.”


We do get the occasional blizzard in spring, but no, Ray Toro, there are no polar bears in the prairies. You can’t blame the guy for his confusion. MCR has toured with Taste of Chaos since mid-February, shooting music videos, coping with death and dealing with various incarnations of fame, so it’s understandable Toro hasn’t thoroughly researched the wildlife of western Canada. The band’s latest video, “For Helena,” was done as a funeral-istic tribute to the life and death of frontman Gerard and bassist Mikey Way’s grandmother; a harrowing enough event to live through once, let alone twice.


“It was really emotional,” Ray admits of the making of their reverent music video. “That was probably the most difficult part of it, is that it was just emotionally draining. A lot of it was reminiscent of the actual funeral services for Gerard and Mikey’s grandma, but at the same time we knew it was going to be a great video. It was [director] Mark Webb’s idea to have it. Instead of this really dour, sombre funeral vibe, he wanted to make it more of a celebration about someone’s life.”


Although death is a recurrent theme in Gerard’s lyrics, the messages of the video and the song aren’t just of a tragic end, but a fond remembrance. It shows facets of this horror-rock, pop-punk, vampiric emo/screamo ensemble, or however you want to define them, don’t fit neatly into a category. The members of MCR possess the complexities existing in everyone, even the armies of Barbie clones and a corral full of SM Wednesday Adamses.


“As much as people might think that they get to know us through what the videos are or the lyrics, there’s a lot more to who we are than what’s presented.”


And if you can’t see Toro beyond being MCR’s guitarist, at least his hair distinguishes him from the crowd.

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