A Note From Gerard – new song today!

Yay new song!

posted by Gerard on Jan 26, 2009 9:54am

Actually it’s not a new song, it’s a cover song, but it’s the first music we’ve recorded since Black Parade. As we are gearing up to start the next album I wanted to pop in and talk about the track we were asked to cover for the Watchmen film by Zack Snyder, which you can get here.

Firstly, I’d like to point out that we have never recorded a song for a film. We have allowed a couple of our songs to be used in trailers or end-credits, but since we are usually pretty busy with either recording or touring there has never been time to do something like this before, and even this was kind of tight, as we started it before even finishing our last tour. There have been other offers to do this kind of thing, and usually the timing always made it impossible, but more often than not the project never seemed to fit the band, and we have always passed. But when the chance came to do a cover of one of my favorite artists, Bob Dylan, for a film version of my favorite work of fiction of all time we had to jump at the chance.

Sometimes an interviewer will ask a musician “What’s the one record or musical experience, like a concert, that made you want to make music?”. Usually people will mention some sort of 7 inch record or a show they saw in a basement that really changed their lives, got them into punk rock, and shaped the way they looked at the world. For me it was Watchmen. At 15 years old, just as I was discovering The Misfits “Walk Among Us” I was reading the first chapter of the graphic novel. It is the one thing I can pinpoint that shaped my views and aesthetics, even down to the way I dressed at the time, not that I walked the hallways in a stained brown trench coat, but I definitely chose more antisocial articles of clothing, like an army jacket, picked up after watching Taxi Driver for the twentieth time, a film I was lead to by the comic. So I would definitely say it’s pretty important to me and the band.

The talks started about the same time as Projekt Revolution, and I remember getting on the phone with Zack, who was as excited as I was, somewhere in the middle of the desert as out bus rolled to the next venue. We talked about the comic and he asked what I felt the approach
to the song should be, which was to take a cue from Jim Carroll, who is not only the author of The Basketball Diaries but also a musician, and a pretty great one at that. On his album, Catholic Boy, he has a song called “People Who Died”, which I love, as does Frank, as he always includes it in our “Front Of House Mixes” you would hear during set-change during one of our concerts. Zack responded to this approach right away, as he actually used that song to end his remake of “Dawn Of The Dead”, which I had totally forgotten about, even though the whole band saw it on opening night and loved it. So the tone was decided upon and then came the length, which initially Zack wanted to be the full version of Dylan’s.

Now, I would consider myself a pretty big Dylan fan, especially after having worked with Scott Allie on my comic, as he really got me into him even more than I was before. And while I didn’t want to alter the song at all, I found that I had to, due to the new approach and the aggressive nature of the cover. There was simply no way I felt you could make it feel like a trashy punk song and play it for ten minutes…I think it’s impossible to keep that kind of energy up without either burning out or boring yourself, as anyone will note that most Ramones songs don’t exceed three minutes, and there’s a reason for that. Down-strummed til your wrist breaks! Fast and fucking hard!

So back at a hotel in Arizona I sat in a hotel and did a rough arrangement, which clocked in at around 2:40, and I paid careful attention to the lyrics, while losing some of my favorite verses I managed to keep the ones I felt were represented by Alan Moore in the comic. We then started playing the song at sound check, and had so much fun doing it that we decided to play it live, to get warmed up for the recording.

We did some initial tracking in Nashville and then just lived with it for a while. When crunch time came, and after seeing some of the film, I became increasingly unhappy with my vocal performance, and we felt we could get more out of the guitars. So we asked our friend Rich
Costey to help us finish the track and get some new sounds, which he did, in NYC at Electric Ladyland, with the addition of some sweet old Marshall Plexi’s, to get a kind of Sex Pistols tone, and we had a blast.

And thats pretty much the story of the song. We’re really proud of it, and really excited you finally get to hear it.

Hurm,
G

PS- Special thanks to Bob Dylan for letting us cover the song and for not getting really mad at us for hacking out some of the best lyrics ever written.