Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Art is the Weapon"

 Since this is my final blog post, I feel like I should keep up the tradition and write about another musician. If you went through an “emo” phase sometime in your life, you probably know the band My Chemical Romance (MCR). Even though it may sound terribly clich√©, founder and front man Gerard Way is actually a big source of inspiration to me. …But maybe not for the reasons most people expect. I love knowing the meaning and motivation behind people’s acts. Honestly, this can add to my like or dislike of someone or something, and Gerard Way definitely has some major motivation behind everything he does creatively.

             When he was fifteen, Gerard was held at gunpoint and put on the floor, execution-style. This was not his first encounter with death, but he often recalls it as the moment when he began to have faith that the world can change. However, his most defining moment happened while he was working for Cartoon Network in New York. Gerard was drinking and doing drugs, just generally unhappy with his life. Then, on September 11, 2001, he was taking the ferry into work when the Twin Towers collapsed. In his own words, “I saw bodies falling from the sky. I witnessed people dying. And that’s when I decided to turn my life around. I called up anyone I knew who had an instrument and we formed a band. Being on tour for the first few years was bad. All we’d do is get drunk and do drugs, but I loved it. Because I was doing something I loved with people I loved.” 
That’s right, one of the most well-known bands of the 2000s was formed on a sheer whim. With pure intrinsic motivation, Gerard and his band mates just wanted to use music to change the world. Contrary to most artists, the more popular the band got, the less extrinsic their motivation became. They became known for their anti-suicide, anti-violence (ironic when most of their videos feature the band covered in blood), and just generally pro self-love. (Click this link to see the scientific theory behind their music The band even saved Gerard’s own life. With the help of his friends and the support of his fans, he was able to become sober and get help for his depression and suicidal tendencies. The video below is from MCR’s documentary Life on the Murder Scene, when Gerard Way talks about his depression and how the band saved him (Despite the sad topic, I personally find it extremely inspiring).
            It is possible that some of Gerard’s creativity came from his mental illness. He also admits that he felt like he had to do drugs and alcohol excessively so that he could be creative and perform well. However, I believe that he is also just simply a creative person. Although Depression never completely goes away, Gerard was stable for much of the later album’s productions. When he got sober, he was also able to still create wonderful art and music.
"Helena"- Inspired by Gerard's late Grandmother:
Then, many people were extremely upset when MCR ended, but Gerard didn’t care, further showing his intrinsic motivation. He wanted to do what was best for his mental health, even if the world (or some of his bandmembers) didn’t agree. But despite MCR’s end, Gerard did not stop being creative. He’s the author/illustrator of two comic series, and a co-illustrator of at least two more (still in production). He even published his first single comic, On Raven’s Wings, at fifteen! Gerard has also released a solo album, Hesitant Alien, which has a more David Bowie/80s pop-inspired vibe.

("Drugstore Perfume" from Hesitant Alien)
("Hesitant Alien" Gerard with concept character Lola)
            His best friend and fellow band member Frank Iero has said, “Gerard is very sensitive, but very, very, very smart. And sometimes you don’t always see it, ‘cause he’s not book-smart, he’s just an idealist, he’s like a genius.” This shows that the people closest to Gerard, who know him on a deeper level, understand the true depth of his creativity. It also shows that you don’t have to be book smart to be creative.
(Gerard's drawings of MCR)

 I think one of the most creative things a person can do is to inspire it within others, and Gerard certainly did that. Through his music and just his everyday life, he always encouraged everyone to find their passion and be creative. Like Gardner explains, there are many types of creativity and Gerard understands and encourages this:Make your life your art. It doesn't have to be that you're an artist. I know I talk about art a lot, but I mean a very broad thing with that. You could be a veterinarian, that's your art. Find your art; find your thing you love.” 

(Danger Days album concept)

P.S. Follow him on twitter @gerardway for some philosophy, cats, music, humor, and more!

(And, as always, my random knowledge of strange things)


  1. This post made me consider the fine line that exists between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. "Extrinsic" motivation seems to hold somewhat of a negative connotation, suggesting that people are motivated by the approval of others. However, I think we can think about this term in a different way. It seems to me that Gerard is extrinsically motivated in the way that he is motivated by societal issues and events to make a stand and bring light to other people. I think his audiences play a HUGE role in his creation, and although his creativity might come from a very personal place, he seems to create while always placing a premium on the way his messages will be received.

  2. I also think it's worth noting that MCR/Gerard incorporated a lot of creativity into their music through each individual album; three out of their four albums were concept albums and their last two albums (especially Danger Days) involved a LOT of world-building on the part of the band. I remember hearing an interview with Gerard a few years back about the process of writing Danger Days and creating the concept and he actually mentioned that his experience with writing/drawing comics was what he drew upon the most for the album/promotional materials, so something as seemingly removed from music as comic books were actually really important for developing his music. He's definitely a really interesting and creative guy, and I'm glad someone decided to write about him! Great post!


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