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Gerard Way on rock music's resurgence: “People missed the sound of the guitar”

Gerard Way
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

While some proclaim the death of rock and roll – including Gene Simmons, who last year reasoned that new bands “haven't taken the time to create glamour, excitement and epic stuff” – others are far more hopeful for the future of guitar-based music.

Take Alice Cooper, for example, who reminded the Kiss bassist earlier this year that “there's a bunch of 18-year-old kids” out there “learning Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses”, and yearning for a resurgence in “that whole area of hard rock”.

And now, My Chemical Romance leader Gerard Way has added his voice to the chorus of those optimistic about the shape of things to come.

In a new interview with NME, the vocalist addresses the cyclical nature of guitar music in the mainstream.

“In the 2000s, when we emerged, you saw other bands like Green Day have almost a whole revitalization: it was a time for rock and roll,” he says. “Rock and roll was a really dominant thing. And then pop starts to take a lot of risks, then all of a sudden you see people trying to get bands to use guitars less.”

“You keep hearing ‘Rock is dead,’” he adds. “If somebody gave me a free guitar every time somebody said ‘Rock is dead,’ I'd have a lot of guitars.

He continues: “What I believe happened in that time that rock was gone, [when] you wouldn't hear guitars in things, I think people really missed what you can get out of a rock band and you can't get anywhere else. They just missed the sound of the guitar.

“I think that's why you're starting to hear them in pop. I think as this cycle continues, sounds are going to get heavier and more visceral because I think people just need that. I think people just need it.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Way discusses his love for Nirvana, and how they “had the grunge tag and [MCR] got the emo tag”.

“I don’t think either of our bands ever felt comfortable with those tags,” he says. “I was never really into [other] grunge; it was Nirvana for me. I didn’t necessarily consider them grunge – I guess they epitomized it, but at the same time, nobody else that was a grunge band really sounded like them, you know? 

“I felt that way about My Chemical Romance too. We had emerged into this second-wave emo scene, and it never really felt right.”

Sam Roche

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.