Q: What drew you to music?
A: My dad was a drummer. My grandfather was a drummer. And they wanted me to play drums. The first instrument I touched at three years old was the drums. It became apparent to me quickly that I was not good at drums, or at least not as good as them at drums. Plus, I really just wanted to write songs. I tried everything. I took piano lessons. I tried saxophone because it was shiny (laughs). Nothing really stuck until I got a guitar. It was like when Harry Potter got his wand. My hair blew back, and I thought, “Oh My God! This is it!” My first band I started at eleven. When I found somebody else that played something at little league practice, I said, “Fuck baseball, let’s start a band.”
Q: Do you remember your first show?
A: It was the junior ring dance. I was eleven and not old enough so I was allowed to play the show but had to leave immediately after. My mom picked me up. But that was it. I thought, “I’m a professional musician and I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life.”
Q: Has there ever been a point in your life where you considered doing anything but music?
A: My dad and grandfather were musicians. My parents split up very early on, so I would go see my dad on the weekends. Go with him to his show with his blues band in a bar. Or I would go with my grandfather, who would play this old speakeasy. That was my secret world. During the week, I was a mild mannered student. On the weekends, I was a roadie. And if I stayed up late enough, I would get to go to the diner with the band.
Q: Being from Jersey that meant “disco fries?”
A: Yeah! I thought, “Who gets eggs with fries and gravy? That’s crazy!” I wanted to be around that. I wanted to be in a band.
Q: When MCR ended, did you know you were going to go solo?
A: No, I didn’t, to be honest. Even when MCR was together, I was always doing side projects. I did a record with a couple friends under the moniker of Leathermouth. I also did a project called Death Spells. I just always wrote songs. My intention was to never do another band like My Chem again. I wanted to try something new. I had all these songs and started to write and record them, then I thought, “Alright, guess I am making a record.” At the time, I had a discussion with my wife and said, “I don’t know if I want to do this. Be the singer and front man of a band.” She said, “Alright then maybe don’t. But you are never going to know unless you try.” She encouraged me. Here we are three records in.
Q: How have you evolved?
A: I think I’ve gotten better. The first one (Stomachaches) was a very lonely process. Just me making sounds in my basement, making sounds into a computer. I don’t know if I could have continued making music if it were all done in that lonely setting, because I do like that relationship with other players. Bringing my brother-in-law Evan (Nestor) in was huge for me. Because now I feel like I have a partner in crime.