Ray Toro was a relatively late bloomer when it comes to playing guitar, having first devoted himself to it as a sophomore in high school.
He’s made up quite a bit of ground since.
(photo courtesy of Getty Images)
The lead guitarist for Jersey rockers My Chemical Romance has since carved a niche for himself, with a guitar style founded on the licks of his childhood rock idols — with his own flare thrown into the mix.
“My older brother was really who got me started,” Toro told epiphone.com in a 2004 interview. “He always had a ton of guitar magazines lying around and books like Pink Floyd and Metallica that had the tabs so I just started picking them up and trying to learn.”
Now its Toro who’s become standard fare in those same magazines.
A high school classmate of MCR frontman Gerard Way and bassist Mikey Way, Toro was part of the founding of the band in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The band has gone on to wide acclaim and commercial success with three studio albums, including 2004’s breakthrough Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge — which yielded the video hit “Helena” — and a highly successful third album, Welcome to the Black Parade, in 2006.
The band is currently working on its fourth studio album, which is billed as a “back-to-basics” album that will wipe away some of the polished “goth” image and theme that the band has been known for.
“I think it will definitely be stripped down,” Gerard Way told NME earlier this year. “I think the band misses being a rock band.”
And that should play to Toro’s favor, likely highlighting his acrobatic guitar work.
Toro has already become a fanatic for getting the right sound. Perhaps surprisingly, he used to favor the Epiphone Les Paul model, although he can obviously now afford a collection of the high-end Gibson Les Paul that every burgeoning guitarist seems to covet.
“I play a lot of chords where there’s a lot of finger stretching and I use a lot of octaves and then add melody on top,” he told epiphone.com. “I always try to find a tone where you can hear e very single note going on and the Epiphone responds beautifully.”
It’s certainly hard to argue with the results.
So, whether or not MCR is your thing, rest assured their lead guitarists is the real deal. Personally, I’m anxious to hear Toro front-and-center in a stripped-down version of the band.
(NOTE: This is part of my ongoing series of reports on guitar players who fly under the mainstream radar. Keep checking The Listening Room for future installments of guitar players you should know – JF)
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