The First Album I Ever Bought: Ray Toro

My Chemical Romance guitarist Ray Toro on the brilliance of Pink Floyd's album The Wall
(Image credit: Mark Sullivan\/WireImage)

“My dad was into a lot of Latin artists, and that was predominantly the sort of music we listened to in the house. But he was also into stuff like the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan – he wasn’t a huge fan but he had the big songs on mix-tapes. He liked classic rock and my older brother was into, I guess, the ‘newer’ school of classic rock like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix.

“The first album that had a real impact on me was The Wall by Pink Floyd. Everything about how that record was put together was amazing. The artwork, the book that it came with, the photos. Everything.

“There’s a moment in Mother when the song goes quiet for, like, a millisecond, then that David Gilmour lead and guitar solo comes in and you feel like you’re actually in the clouds. It’s such an incredible moment and those are the kind of moments I try my best to create for the listener, where they’re lulled into a sense of safety before something comes in to surprise them, whether it’s with a guitar line or a melody, and it just lifts your spirits.”

“What I took from The Wall is trying to create a world with what you’re doing, where all these elements tie into each other. I still remember going over to my friend’s house in junior high and putting that record on, and we’d just close our eyes and be transported into another place. You sit there and try figuring out what it all means, what it’s trying to say, what’s that noise in the background? You make all these different connections, like with The Wizard of Oz and The Dark Side of the Moon, and I love that about The Wall too. There’s always more to find. It had a huge impact on how I approach the album-making process.

“I listen to The Wall and The Dark Side of the Moon all the time, they’re two of my all-time favourite records. It’s so cool how you absorb all this stuff when you’re younger and it affects you years down the line, even if you don’t know it; not just through your playing and writing style, but I feel like it changes who you are as a person. I was just extremely lucky that my family had such great taste in music! You can listen to The Wall a thousand times and you’ll always be struck by some new element in the background, or you’ll get a new appreciation for the songwriting or the production or the lyrics. There’s a lot in there and the best records continue to give years after your first listen.”

Ray Toro will release his debut album Remember The Laughter on November 18.

Lyrics Quiz: how well do you know Pink Floyd's The Wall?

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.