SAN DIEGO — Everybody knows that Zack Snyder thrilled moviegoers with the first “Watchmen” trailer and dropped into Comic-Con to hold what many considered to be the most successful buzz-building panel of the week. Our regular readers also know that we broke the news last week that My Chemical Romance will contribute the only new song to the film’s soundtrack, a cover of Bob Dylan‘s “Desolation Row.”
The one person who doesn’t seem to know that you know, however, is MCR frontman Gerard Way.
“Oh, he did?” the 31-year-old singer said when we told him Snyder had revealed the song to MTV News. “I didn’t even know that!”
Clearly relieved, Way was eager to spill the beans for the very first time: “That’s been so difficult for me to keep under wraps, because ‘Watchmen’ is my favorite comic of all time. So when Zack had asked us to do the song for ‘Watchmen,’ the end-credit song and the single for the movie, we were floored. And when he said it was going to be a Dylan cover that he wanted, that was so amazing.”
As the “300” director also revealed to us, the movie is going to stay true to its decades-spanning source material by using no music written after 1985. So instead of the Smashing Pumpkins song we heard in the trailer, Snyder confirmed that we’ll be hearing classic, era-defining tracks from Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Nat King Cole and Bob Dylan.
The movie will feature MCR covering Dylan’s “Desolation Row,” a track that clocks in at nearly 12 minutes. In an effort to condense the song, and make it sound appropriate for the ’80s, Way and Snyder came up with some ideas.
“That song is epic,” Way said. “It has so many amazing lyrics. But I’ve picked my four favorite verses. We wanted the song to feel like a product not of its era, but of the movie’s. So it’s recorded and performed in a very early-’80s punk style, similar to the Sex Pistols or the Ramones. That’s what it feels like. It’s a dirty punk song.”
While furthering his vision of the cover song’s sound, Way discovered a unique connection to Snyder: “It’s really inspired by James Carroll’s version of ‘People Who Died,’ ” he revealed. “When I brought that up to Zack, he said, ‘That’s in the end credits to [Snyder’s remake of] “Dawn of the Dead.” ‘ … I didn’t realize that, but that’s what I wanted ‘Desperation Row’ to sound like. It’s amazing.”
A longtime comic geek who was at Comic-Con to promote his own “Umbrella Academy” series , Way explained to us that Alan Moore’s critically acclaimed anti-hero novel inspired him greatly as an artist and that several My Chemical Romance songs wouldn’t exist without “Watchmen.”
“Some things were even born out of [the comic],” he said. “On Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, the third single, ‘Ghost of You,’ comes from the ad in ‘Watchmen’ for Nostalgia that says, ‘Oh, how the ghost of you clings.’ ”
Way insisted that ever since MCR’s inception, he’s tried to keep the band on people’s iPods rather than their movie screens — but when it came to “Watchmen,” he just couldn’t resist any longer. “We’ve held out, actually, for a long time,” he explained. “You don’t really find My Chemical Romance songs in films. I believe [one] was in the end credits to ‘House of Wax’ or something at some point, but [other] projects were never right for us. ‘Watchmen’ is right for us.”
Snyder told us recently that MCR have already submitted their first takes on the Dylan track to him for approval, and Way added that the legend himself has already heard the band perform it in concert. “Bob Dylan had apparently heard from his assistant that we’d covered it. He’d seen a clip of it on the Internet,” Way said. “We’ve been doing it live just to warm up. And apparently [Dylan] was very happy about it and very psyched.”
Now, Gerard added, all he wants to do is actually see the highly anticipated film, which hits theaters on March 6. “I haven’t [seen any of the film yet],” he sighed. “I’ve seen the trailer, loved it, and I keep trying to push Zack, saying, ‘Hey, we’re doing the song. Can we see some footage?’ Every time I see Zack, I ask. So I think I’m going to get to see some of it soon.”
Then the MCR frontman took off, heading across the convention floor to get a look inside the massive “Watchmen” Owl-Ship on display at the Warner Bros. booth.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Watchmen.”
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