Toro live with My Chemical Romance in 2011
|Raymond Manuel Toro-Ortiz|
July 15, 1977|
Kearny, New Jersey, U.S.
Toro was born July 15, 1977, in Kearny, New Jersey. He is of Puerto Rican-Portuguese heritage. He grew up in a small house on the border between Kearny and Harrison, New Jersey, which he shared with his parents and two brothers.
By the time he entered Kearny High School, he had become interested in music. Toro's brother introduced him to several bands whose guitarists influenced him greatly. He enrolled in guitar lessons, as well as typing lessons to improve his manual dexterity.
Toro became involved with several local bands, the most successful of which were The Rodneys, who formed in 1994 and released their first and only album "Soccertown USA" in 1998. Future My Chemical Romance drummer Matt Pelissier also played for the band. However, after graduating from high school in 1995, Toro decided on film instead of music. He enrolled in an editing course at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, and his only musical pursuits[when?] involved playing drums in the short-lived band Dead Go West.
In an interview with Rock Sound, Toro said that "being in a band wasn't really a dream of mine. I always wanted to write music. I enjoy recording more and the process of writing, I never thought that being in a touring band was a possibility. I enjoyed getting a bunch of scenes and cutting it together so it makes sense. I made one short film about a guy who was obsessed with eating eggs every day. He finally opens up this egg carton and there's one egg left, but he can't crack it open, so he gets driven insane".
Rodney's frontman Shawn Dillon is credited with introducing Toro to Gerard Way in the late 1990s. Toro agreed to work with him and Pelissier in practice sessions, which were primarily held in Pelissier's attic. After Gerard's younger brother Mikey Way joined the trio as bassist, My Chemical Romance was formed.
Especially since My Chemical Romance's third album The Black Parade, Toro has been compared to Queen guitarist Brian May. He has long cited May as a key influence on his guitar style. As Toro said in an interview: "I appreciate [the comparisons]. He's one of my favorite guitarists. I just love his work. That guy is capable of everything. He can lay back when he needs to, then writes some of the best leads. He comes up with great harmonies, he's a great singer. To me it's an honor for anybody to say that I play like him or that parts remind them of Queen". My Chemical Romance performed a portion of their 2011 Reading and Leeds Festivals headline concert with May.
Toro was the leading force behind My Chemical Romance's #SINGItForJapan project, which was dedicated to supporting those affected by the 2011 T?hoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. He arranged much of the instrumentation of the band's original track "Sing" to create a sound that emulated traditional Japanese music. "SINGItForJapan" was released on April 13, 2011, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross.
My Chemical Romance has released four studio albums, two live albums, six extended plays, 19 singles, four video albums, 15 music videos, one demo and have 11 original appearances on other albums. The band was working on a fifth studio album before their split.
On May 24, 2013, Toro posted a solo song, "Isn't That Something", to his SoundCloud account. He also stated how the track was entirely a solo effort: "I played everything. Sang everything. Recorded everything. Mixed everything. Myself" via his Twitter.
On January 1, 2015, he released a new song, titled "For the Lost and Brave", on his website, mentioning Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide, in the blog post. In an interview with Toro, Kerrang! magazine described the song's style as "aching synth-rock brimming with [My Chemical Romance]'s us-against-the-world spirit" and revealed that Toro intended to release his debut solo album later in 2015; Toro also commented that this was the first time he's ever "written lyrics or songs on [his] own".
Toro has cited heavy metal guitarist Randy Rhoads and hard rock musician Brian May as his two biggest influences. As a teenager he was a big fan of Randy Rhoads because "he was one of the first players I can remember who mixed classical music with a metal and hard rock style of playing, and he did it very tastefully. It was really inspiring." Later he began to listen to classical guitarist Andrés Segovia and Christopher Parkening. He admitted to being obsessed with the way in which they would take classical pieces and arrange them for a single guitar resulting in a moving melody and bass lines that work together.
Despite declaring to be a "music snob" when it comes to new artists, he praised Muse's work. He said that he mainly listens to the same music that he did when younger and enjoys the process of discovering harmonies or nuances that he was unable to notice during his youth, gaining a different appreciation for the music.
Toro recognizes his older brother as a huge influence, being the person who bought him his first real guitar and showed him how to play it. Becoming Toro's gateway into guitar playing and introducing him to bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and also Mötley Crüe and Metallica.
Toro married Christa in November 2008, during My Chemical Romance's break between The Black Parade and Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. They have one son, born in November 2012.