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Gerard Way        

Solo Artist and Comic Book Writer; Former Frontman of My Chemical Romance

As the compelling, pale-faced frontman of dynamic rock outfit My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way is one of a few key musicians responsible for bringing emo and punk music into the mainstream eye at the turn of the millennium -- and successfully sparking a million conversations about what is and is not considered punk in the process. He was born on April 9, 1977, in Newark, NJ, and raised in nearby Belleville. His grandmother Elena was a huge source of inspiration and encouragement to him growing up, teaching the young Way how to sing, draw, and perform. Way's first public performance was as Peter Pan in an elementary school play, but just as that show was over, he made a conscious decision to immerse himself in art and comics (preferring things "slightly evil") rather than anything dealing with drama club. Since his neighborhood wasn't exactly the safest place, Way spent a lot of time indoors with his younger brother Mikey, creating imaginary worlds to which they could escape. Despite his passion for drawing, Way never lost his love of music and taught himself how to play guitar as a teenager. He was a withdrawn kid -- in contrast to his outgoing, life-of-the-party brother -- and Way spent a lot of time by himself sketching and listening to bands like Iron Maiden, the Smiths, the Cure, the Misfits, and Queen.

Following high school graduation, Way enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York to study cartooning and illustration. He spent some time interning at DC Comics, and after earning his bachelor of fine arts degree, eventually landed a gig doing work in toy design and animation; he even pitched an animated series to Cartoon Network at one point. Way had always wanted to be in a band -- especially after one particularly inspirational Smashing Pumpkins gig in 1997 with his brother -- and though he played in a few random ones over the years, it wasn't until the September 11th attacks that he really got the motivation to do something important with his life. He witnessed firsthand the collapse of the World Trade Towers from his office window, questioned how he was making a difference with his days, and soon wrote the song "Skylines and Turnstiles" about the 9/11 events back home in his parents' basement. Pressed with a sense of urgency, he confronted high school friend and drummer Matt Pelissier to start a band, and after convincing guitarist Ray Toro (whom Way felt was the best guitarist he knew), the seeds to My Chemical Romance were sown. Bringing aboard his brother Mikey on bass -- who brought with him the band's name -- and eventually rounding out their sound with second guitarist Frank Iero, My Chemical Romance recorded their first album within three months of forming. It was released in 2002 on local indie Eyeball Records and produced by the band's good friend Geoff Rickly, whose own local band Thursday Way had previously designed some T-shirts for.

As My Chemical Romance's popularity steadily grew over the next few years, especially after the success of their second album, "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge" (whose cover art Way drew), Way continued to battle -- as he had for many years -- depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse. This was especially compounded by the death of his grandmother, for whom he wrote the song "Helena" as a means of coping. After suffering through some very low lows, Way finally managed to get himself sober in mid-2004. By the time of the fall 2006 release of the group's wildly popular concept album "The Black Parade," Way appeared in the media noticeably several pounds lighter and with bleached-blonde hair in contrast to his prior jet-black locks. His transformation sparked many comparisons to Billy Corgan; Way denied those comments, attributing his look as merely a reflection of The Black Parade's sickly main character and its album themes of life and death. Through his band's success, Way never lost his passion for art and comics, and continued to sketch while on the road. He created a comic book series called "The Umbrella Academy" that was due to be released in late 2007 via Dark Horse Comics; Way wrote the story, broke it down into issues and designed the characters, leaving the actual drawing in the hands of two other artists, however.

In 2008, Way and musical project Julien-K remixed a version of the song "Sleep When I'm Dead" by The Cure for their EP "Hypnagogic States." All profits gained from the sales of the EP go to funding the International Red Cross.

In early 2009, Way and Japanese singer Kyosuke Himuro co-produced the new theme song for "Advent Children Complete," the Blu-ray director's cut of the movie sequel to the popular video game franchise, Compilation of "Final Fantasy VII." He is also credited with writing the lyrics, and singing alongside Himuro. The song, titled "Safe and Sound," was released on iTunes on April 29, 2009. He also contributed vocals for the vocal mix of the deadmau5 song "Professional Griefers."

Gerard Way contributed guest vocals to "Falling in Love Will Kill You" from Wrongchilde's debut solo album "Gold Blooded," a pseudonym project from Kill Hannah frontman Mat Devine.

In May 2014, Way launched his Tumblr based website where he announced that he had signed to Warner Bros. Records as a solo artist and was nearing completion of his first solo album. Further to this he announced his first solo single, "Action Cat," released later in June and his first solo shows at Reading and Leeds Festivals 2014. In August 2014, Way streamed a new music video for the song "No Shows," released as second single off the new album. The album, titled "Hesitant Alien," was released in September 2014.


Inside Gerard Way's Crusade to Change American Music

Gerard Way discusses how My Chemical Romance accidentally became a brand , why he wanted to go in a new direction with his first solo LP.

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