Everyone who ever liked or heard My Chemical Romance knows who Gerard Way is. I was never a big MCR fan, but I have to admit, The Killjoys struck a chord deep in the depths of my being. Aliens, apocalypses and giant animal heads are great but a “hesitant” alien is intriguing – and a good title to a début CD as a solo artist.
Gerard has accomplished many things in his short time on this planet – he’s fronted the highly successful band mentioned above, has 2 comic book series under his belt, is a good songwriter and has a family. He is married to Lyn Z, has a daughter (Bandit who’s 6) and from where I stand, he is enjoying what he’s doing as it’s on his own terms now. You still have to be part of the “machine” but it’s better to be in a good position from within the “machine”. Being a solo artist is hard when you’ve had the security of a well oiled band behind you. But, Gerard is doing it his way and it seems to be paying off.
When I received the package with some nice things inside, it was the CD that stood out in it’s simplicity. The photography is well done, showing a “hesitation” photo of Gerard on the front. I’ve really enjoyed the videos, the tour and other things I’ve seen on Facebook and YouTube. I caught a full show on YT from the UK Redding show and also some really well done interviews. Facebook took me to many articles and interviews from Gerard and I have to say, I like this guy.
The CD was produced by Doug McKean. It was engineered by Doug McKean and Tom Rasulo. Recorded at Sonic Ranch in Tomillo TX and at Lightning Sound Studio in Hidden Hills CA. Assistant Engineers are Gerardo “Jerry” Ordonez, Zach Mauldin, Lance Sumner and Andrew Law. Mixed by Tchad Blake at Full Mongrel, Wales UK. And the CD was mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Portland, ME. The band members besides Gerard are Ian Fowles (guitars), Matt Gormey (bass) and Jarrod Alexander (drums).
Having said the above, let’s move onto the CD itself. The tracks are in this order:
- The Bureau
- Action Cat
- No Shows
- Zero Zero
- Drugstore Perfume
- Get the Gang Together
- How It’s Going To Be
- Maya The Psychic
There are many discussions from fans on many threads about the fact that they don’t like the new bands that the other band members have formed. And many don’t like the new solo direction that Gerard is taking. Life changes and things move forward. As you age, you’ll understand that. You have to grow and change – experience different things and situations with other people. Otherwise, the repetition is a death chant to some of us who are creative.
Taking the CD at face value for the music, I found the music to be pretty much what Gerard is saying in his interviews. He’s exploring totally different sounds (a departure from the MCR sound) from the Britpop phase in the 90’s to glam rock from the early 70’s. And he has a really definitive way he wants it to be heard. If you read the fine print on this CD, Gerard plays bass, guitars, percussion, piano and keyboards. And Gerard’s brother, Mikey, even does some vocal work on the song “Millions”. All lyrics were written by Gerard with various other people under Sub Atomic Tourist Music and others affiliated with the other person writing with Gerard. And if anyone wants to know why sometimes you see Blonde hair on Gerard, you have to bleach your hair blonde and then dye it again. It’s a process.
The first song “The Bureau” has got some crazy sounds going on – heavy fuzzed out guitars in a simple 2/3 chord structure – which sounds like someone is on caffeine and maybe a bit on the paranoid side. Interesting that there is a British phone ringing at the end. Lyrically it speaks of “get in/get out” and “everybody keep it calm tonight”. The impression I see is that Gerard is making it clear that something different is coming up. It’s not like MCR music, and it’s a good statement.
With “Action Cat” it’s like after the paranoia, let’s have fun and enjoy a pop song. Pure and simple. I’ve been listening to this song for a while and I like the part that goes “we can make it up again”. Everyday is like being a new version of the last version. Actions and decisions are all part of the process. I have a deep impression that this song has something to do with his daughter Bandit and how he sees the purity of childhood imagination and how to be inspired by that. I like the chorus, it speaks of “we can make it up again” plus “and we don’t care we just pretend”. It also is saying to the innocent “Do you miss me/cuz I miss you”. The music in the bridge is pretty cool with the guitars and is simple but effective.
“No Shows” reminds me immediately of not touring and missing and questioning the self. It could be family life and strong bonds between two partners. It could also mean questioning the whole “lifestyle” of your professions. I like how the lyrics leave you guessing and is in the third person meaning this song can be about anyone who works a job and has a family. Well structured, a little lazy in it’s feeling and a very solid melody, this is a good pop song.
Moving on to the song “Brother” it sounds melancholy with a sweet and perhaps down feeling melody. With lyrics like “can’t sleep tonight”, “cuz now we don’t sing so loud” and “remember when you and I would make things up” is some a song of fond memories recent and past. And it could mean more people than just a brother – wife, child, mother, father, etc. It’s a well structured song that speaks from personal experience.
“Millions” has a slight off tune sound but works well within the structure of the song itself. The music sounds very much like the Manchester sound from the early to late 90’s like Blur and Pulp. It’s a good pop song in the fashion of an era that defined music from this area of the globe.
Another song to hit up is “Maya The Psychic”. The music is fast, upbeat and almost reminds me of a tamer version of what Gerard used to be in MCR. One lyric that stands out to me in this song “but when you read my future/are we running home or running free today?” which totally strikes a very deep chord in me. I must admit when I’ve had a bad thought of someone else in front of me it usually happens. Or having dreams come true. “Use weapons of clairvoyance” directed to “teenage believers” is consistent with blocking radio waves from all sorts of metallic devices. There have been studies on this.
All in all, this is a good effort at a solo career and direction to take to expand your knowledge and musical tastes to an individual. I’m interested in what direction this will go. I hope that sometime in the future Gerard puts out more music of his own for sharing. Other songs on the CD to check out are “Zero Zero” and “Drugstore Perfume”.
Enjoy the videos and the interviews posted for this album.