Collaborating with Fender and Squier to design his signature Mustang, Mikey Way of My Chemical Romance envisioned finding the bass of his dreams. Sporting a powerful humbucker pickup, a sweet silver flake finish, and a comfortable short-scale neck, the Squier Mikey Way Mustang Bass is exactly that. We talked to Mikey about building his dream bass, his favorite MCR song, the Caped Crusader, and more.
What was the design process like for the Squier Mikey Way Mustang Bass?
It was such a surreal feeling getting to design a signature bass with the wonderful folks at Squier/Fender. It all began with building a custom bass for myself. They came back with "Well, we would like to release this as your signature model, if that is OK with you," and I was completely floored. It was one of those cosmic coincidences: I wanted to build a bass, and they wanted to work with me. As a lifelong fan of all-things Fender/Squier, it was one of the highest honors that i could possibly imagine. For the aesthetic, there was a scenario that I kept running through in my head; I walk into a guitar shop and find my "dream bass." What would it look like and how would it play? We started from there and ran with it. I've always been a fan of the classic Fender "Super Sonic" guitar, as well as a sucker for the classic "competition stripe." All of these elements together brought me to the final design.
You've played a lot of Fender basses over the years with My Chemical Romance. What attracted you to the Mustang in particular?
What's awesome about Fender is that regardless of your play style or preference, there's an instrument that fits you perfectly. I always have such a blast playing on Mustangs, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to build the Mustang bass that I wished existed. The short scaled neck and the lightweight design really enhances the fun and comfortability of it all.
After seeing you as the "Kobra Kid" character in the artwork for "Danger Days," we were expecting the Mikey Way signature bass to be bright red and yellow! What's the story behind the cool silver sparkle paint job with black stripes?
It's funny you should mention that! There was such a temptation early on to make the Kobra Kid Mustang. After thinking it over for a bit, we decided to go with a design that was timeless. We ultimately wanted the bass to represent me regardless of the era that the band was in, so the silver flake finish was ideal for that. Silver flake has always been my favorite finish for any instrument, hands down. When the band first started, Fender had released a special edition of silver flake Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jazz and Precision basses. I picked up the Jazz bass, and used it at all of our early shows. One night, the lock to our trailer had opened up, spilling some of the contents onto the freeway we were traveling on. A couple boxes of merch and my Jazz bass were the casualties, unfortunately. Our guitar player, Frankie, being such a stand-up guy, risked life and limb to run onto the highway to try and retrieve some of the remnants. I still have a chunk of the body, thanks to him! We have talked about possibly making an alternate color down the line, so we may just see the Kobra Kid ride again!
The Mikey Way Mustang bass has a short scale, or neck length, that's great for younger players or guitarists who are new to the bass. And Squier is making this one available at a price younger players can actually afford. Any gear tips you can offer for beginner bassists?
The best advice that I could give a beginner bassist about gear would be to play what you enjoy. Try not to worry so much about what people tell you you're supposed to play. I'm not saying that they are wrong, but exploration is my favorite tool for learning. You should try out everything you can get your hands on, and then one (or many!) of them with speak to you. Playing on the right bass can really unlock aspects of your playing that you never knew existed.
The Mikey Way Mustang wields a single humbucker, as opposed to the split single-coil usually found on Mustang basses. Do you typically prefer the fatter sound of a humbucker?
When we were talking pickups, I wanted to jump outside the box. I wanted to take some elements of the Precision bass and mix it up with that of the Mustang. The answer to this was the humbucker. You really get a great deal of "big-ness" out of them, which is perfect for what I do.
What's on your iPod these days?
I've been listening to the new Blur singles a great deal -- they are fantastic! I have been waiting for some new music from them for many years. I've also been listening to a lot of Stone Roses to get pumped for their reunion. I really hope that they decide to tour the United States.
If MCR could cover any song, what would you choose?
We've always been itching to cover a David Bowie song! I think we could do a fun version of "Rebel Rebel" or "Ziggy Stardust." I know you said one, but I can never pick just one David Bowie song.
What's your Favorite My Chemical Romance song to play on the bass?
It's kinda hard for me to pick just one, but it would have to be "Give 'Em Hell Kid." It always comes off blisteringly fast and angry live, with a sweet wall of distortion. Our fans always seem to have a great time during that one too.
It's no mystery that you and the rest of the band are huge comic fans. What sort of features do you think Batman's signature bass would have?
Guilty as charged! We all really love comics and Batman in MCR. If the Caped Crusader had a signature bass, I think it would be shaped like a "Batarang." The tuning keys could be pulled out, and launched as smoke screen. There would also have to be a mechanism that launches the neck like a grappling hook.