For My Chemical Romance, a new LP isn't just music — it's a full on art project. That's certainly the case with their November 22 concept album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. And it was the same with their recent photo shoot for SPIN's December cover.



The band — singer Gerard Way, 33; bassist Mikey Way, 30; guitarist Frank Iero, 29; and guitarist Ray Toro, 33 — met up with SPIN photo director Michelle Egiziano and photographer Ture Lillegraven at L.A.'s Pink Motel, a '50s joint often used in movies and music videos (like Cee-Lo's latest).



The idea was to continue the concept of the album, which is about a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-like gang called the Killjoys who fight an invading army of vampires. The tale unfolds like the comic books Gerard grew up on, and also takes cues from Japanese animation. "Gerard said he discovered Japanimation when the band was on a tour of Japan. He was really inspired by that imagery and it influenced the album, videos, and photo shoot," Lillegraven says.



Click through the gallery to see our exclusive photos and read commentary from Lillegraven.



Photo: (Left, clockwise from top left: Mikey Way, Gerard Way, Ray Toro, Frank Iero. Right: Gerard)

1.The Concept

1/11

In the video for the album's first single, "Na Na Na", My Chemical Romance, a.k.a. the Killjoys, are left with the remnants of a ravaged and desolate nation. They dress up in what's available — tights, biker jackets with American flags, roller skates, astronauts helmets — and race around in a weathered muscle car and shoot laser guns. It's quite surreal.

To stick with the theme, Egiziano and Lillegraven brought in a few props, including a giant red rocket, an orange-painted toy gun... and a giant inflatable panda bear. "They really gravitated toward the panda, so that became the focus," Lillegraven tells SPIN. "They ran with it!"

2.The Concept

2/11

In the video for the album's first single, "Na Na Na", My Chemical Romance, a.k.a. the Killjoys, are left with the remnants of a ravaged and desolate nation. They dress up in what's available — tights, biker jackets with American flags, roller skates, astronauts helmets — and race around in a weathered muscle car and shoot laser guns. It's quite surreal.

To stick with the theme, Egiziano and Lillegraven brought in a few props, including a giant red rocket, an orange-painted toy gun... and a giant inflatable panda bear. "They really gravitated toward the panda, so that became the focus," Lillegraven tells SPIN. "They ran with it!"

3.Way Out There

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While each member of the band was involved in the concept of the shoot, Gerard, the consummate frontman, took charge. "He was really interested in the artistic aspects of the shoot, and looking at and evaluating everything," Lillegraven says. "I always research bands before a shoot — but he did his research, too. He knew my work and I sensed that he likes to collaborate."

Gerard also flaunted his unique style. "He showed up in this American flag T-shirt, which was a perfect fit considering the video and concept. The shirt really popped with his bright new hair color."

4.Pool Party

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"I had each bandmember [guitarist Frank Iero pictured here] go into the pool and get under the panda and try to push it up," says the Los Angeles-based shutterbug. "It was a very interactive shoot."

5.Location, Location, Location

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The Pink Motel proved to be the perfect place for the photo shoot, since it resembled the dilapidated 1950s diner in the band's "Na Na Na" video. "It's a rundown and odd motel with this desolate feel," Lillegraven tells SPIN. "We wanted to draw from that Mad Max aspect of their new video."

6.The Play's the Thing

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Lillegraven's approach was to set up a scene... then let the band run amok! "They just went with it. It was very spontaneous," he says. "They were falling all over the place and having a lot of fun."

7.Panda Express

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Lillegraven and Egiziano kept My Chem on their toes. "I had them running back and fourth with the panda and that's one thing Gerard really loved," says the photographer. "They're probably used to very static shoots, in which they're put in still positions, all dressed up and beautiful. With them moving around the shoot became more fun and interesting. It was different than just standing there and looking cool."

8.Banding Together

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Lillegraven and Egiziano had the band work together during the shoot, resulting in some provocative and unique photos. "They couldn't just stand around with their hands in their pockets," says Lillegraven.

But the shoot ended up taking a toll on the panda prop: "There's a fan that has to be attached to it all the time. But it became a little deflated after a bit!"

9.Fun Times

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The band, says Lillegraven, was having a blast with the photo shoot. "They were having a lot of fun with the little challenges," says the photog. "Everybody was falling all over the place! They chatted, hung out, and were very enjoyable and friendly people."

10.Hot Wheels

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To close out the day-long shoot, the band jumped into a vintage Jeep — rented from a movie prop company — and took it for a spin. "I wanted to create this dreamy dust field for the photo," says Lillegraven. "My assistant would come spin donuts and kick up dust in another car, then the band would come burning through the cloud in the Jeep. It reminded me of a graphic novel. I grew up with that stuff, too, just like Gerard."

11.Cover Stars

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The cover photo proved to be the most labor intensive for My Chem. "They were worried about running up the side of the pool over and over, since they're not exactly athletic people and it's over nine feet deep," says Lillegraven. "But they were all about it. They'd run up and someone would be blocked from the camera, so they'd have to do it all over again. But they did. They were such a pleasure to work with."

WATCH: Behind the scenes at My Chemical Romance's December 2010 cover shoot