“My Turning Point” podcast host Steve Baltin will celebrate the show’s 100th episode tomorrow (Oct. 12) with a very special guest: Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance.
Baltin, a noted music journalist and Variety contributor, launched the podcast with Live X Live and producer Adam Chavez two years ago, and reached out to Way to join in marking the milestone event.
“I never in a million years imagined we’d hit 100 episodes, so I always wanted to do something special for this milestone episode,” says Baltin. “I interviewed Gerard earlier this year for a yet-to-be-announced project, and in trying to come up with the right idea for this episode, I asked him if it was OK to use our interview — since it was such a fascinating talk — for the podcast. Being one of the nicest guys in music, he graciously gave his blessing.”
Baltin — who has known Way since first interviewing the MCR frontman on a Warped Tour stop in 2000 — had plenty of ground to cover, including Way’s decision to take a breather after the band broke up in 2013, the triumphant reunion shows six years later, his friendship with Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, and stories about My Chemical Romance’s landmark album, “Welcome to The Black Parade.”
“As soon as you tune in, you can hear we have known each other a long time, so it was, like all of my interviews, incredibly conversational,” Baltin adds. “And the depth he gets into on the stories behind the song ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ are incredible for any proud music geek.”
Asked about the New Jersey band’s triumphant, sold-out reunion show at Los Angeles’ The Shrine in 2019 — right before the pandemic — Way said: “It was the most fun I’d ever had playing a My Chem show.” The show was the venue’s highest grossing gig, clearing nearly $1,500,000.
“After the band broke up and I had a lot of time to think and change and grow and all that stuff, I started to have a real issue with control,” added Way. “So I started to kind of examine my own part in that, and think about playing big shows and kind of working a crowd and hyping a crowd up. And we did always try to keep our shows really authentic, almost like you didn’t know what was gonna happen up there night to night, even if we played the same songs. So when it came time to do My Chem again, I had said to myself, ‘OK, I’m not gonna control the audience. I’m not gonna direct them. I’m not really gonna work them. I’m just gonna let them do what they wanna do.’ And so it made that show even more rewarding.”
On his decision to stay out of the spotlight after the group broke up, Way said he was inspired in part by Dave Chapelle, who took a time-out when his Comedy Central show went off the air.
Said Way: “So Dave Chappelle, post ‘Chappelle’s Show,’ he had gone away, which I really related to, by the way. When it had felt time to kind of end My Chemical Romance, I found his situation, although very different from mine, obviously, to be very relatable, being in this kind of machine that had gotten super big and felt a bit out of control, and then kind of not wanting to do it anymore for mental health reasons.”
That time away helped Way understand what the band meant to fans, given the reaction to the music years later.
“I was just so grateful, and just really just blown away by that,” said Way. “When I saw the shows, they just kept selling out. And we kept adding them, and it just kept selling again, and I was like, ‘Wow, something happened in the years that this band went away.'”
Speaking of his move to California, Way credited Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan for offering guidance and support.
“He’s so smart, and he’s said so much to me over the years in the times that I’ve hung out with him,” said Way. “He’s just been really good to me. And when I moved to LA, he would go to vintage rooms with me to try out amps, [because] I was looking for a heavier sound. He would go and try the stuff out with me. But he’s given me advice over the years. Some of it I wasn’t ready to hear, some of it I had to find out for myself.”
Way also spoke of Queen’s influence — particularly the song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” — had on the recording of “Welcome to The Black Parade.” ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was always an influence on this song,” he said. “Just these big sweeping section changes and things like that. But at the same time, we realized when we were working on it, you can’t remake ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ You could be a little inspired by it, but we can’t try to do that.”
Way continued: “The triumph of the human spirit over darkness was something that was kind of built into the DNA of the band from the beginning. The self-actualization, the triumph of the spirit and things like that, getting through really hard things. There’s darkness in the world. And I think overcoming that darkness, that darkness externally and internally is a beautiful thing. It’s a challenging thing, but it is beautiful if you can do that, if you can kind of triumph over that. So that’s a theme that’s definitely in ‘Black Parade,’ the song, and it’s in my work.”