My Chemical Romance (often abbreviated as MCR) was an American rock band from New Jersey, active from 2001 to 2013. Founded by lead vocalist Gerard Way, drummer Matt Pelissier, guitarist Ray Toro, bassist Mikey Way, and later joined by guitarist Frank Iero, the band signed to Eyeball Records and released their debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love in 2002. They signed with Reprise Records the next year and released their major label debut Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge in 2004. Shortly after the album’s release, drummer Matt Pelissier was replaced by Bob Bryar. A commercial success, the album was awarded platinum status over a year later.
The band eclipsed their previous success with their 2006 concept album, The Black Parade, which gained generally favorable reviews among music critics and was certified double platinum in the United Kingdom, the band’s first and only double platinum. After the departure of long-time drummer Bob Bryar in March 2010, the band released their fourth studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, on November 22 that same year, to positive reviews. The band’s final release was a series of singles recorded in 2009, released over the course of five months, collected on the compilation album Conventional Weapons. The band announced its break-up on March 22, 2013, one month after the final release in the Conventional Weapons series. A greatest hits collection entitled May Death Never Stop You was released on March 25, 2014.
- 1.1Early career (2001–2002)
- 1.2Major label signing and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2003–2006)
- 1.3The Black Parade (2006–2008)
- 1.4Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2009–2011)
- 1.5Conventional Weapons and break-up (2011–2013)
- 1.6May Death Never Stop You and post-break-up (2014–present)
- Musical style and influences
- 3.1Emo classification
- 3.2UK tabloid incident
- 3.3Accusations of propaganda
- Band members
- Studio albums
- See also
- Further reading
- External links
Early career (2001–2002)
The band was formed by frontman Gerard Way and drummer Matt Pelissier soon after the September 11 attacks. Witnessing the World Trade Center towers fall influenced Way’s life to the extent that he decided to start a band. Way wrote the song “Skylines and Turnstiles” to express his feelings about September 11 and shortly thereafter, Ray Toro was recruited as the band’s guitarist because at the time Way could not sing and play the guitar simultaneously. The name of the band was suggested by bass guitarist Mikey Way, younger brother of Gerard, who was working in a Barnes & Noble when he was struck by the title of a book by Irvine Welshnamed Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance. The first recording sessions were undertaken in Pelissier’s attic, where the songs “Our Lady of Sorrows” and “Cubicles” were recorded. The band refers to those sessions as “The Attic Demos.” After hearing the demo and dropping out of college, Mikey Way decided to join the band. While with Eyeball Records, the band met Frank Iero, the lead vocalist and guitarist for Pencey Prep. Following Pencey Prep’s split in 2002, Iero became a member of My Chemical Romance, just days prior to the recording of the band’s debut album. They recorded their debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, just three months after the formation of the band and released it in 2002 through Eyeball Records. The album was produced by Thursdayfrontman Geoff Rickley after the band became friends with him while playing shows in New Jersey. Iero played guitar on two of the tracks, one of which was “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville.” During this time, the band was booked at the infamous venue, Big Daddy’s, where they began to receive more attention.
Major label signing and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2003–2006)
In 2003, the band signed a deal with Reprise Records. Following a tour with Avenged Sevenfold, the band began working on their second album, entitled Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Released in 2004, the album went platinum in just over a year. The band released four singles from the album: “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)“, “Thank You for the Venom“, “Helena“, and “The Ghost of You“. After returning from a tour of Japan in July 2004, the band replaced Matt Pelissier with Bob Bryar.
At the beginning of 2005, the band was featured on the first Taste of Chaos tour, and was also the opening act for Green Day on their American Idiot tour. They then co-headlined Warped Tour 2005 with Fall Out Boy and co-headlined a tour with Alkaline Trio and Reggie and the Full Effect around the US. That same year, My Chemical Romance collaborated with The Used for a cover of the Queen and David Bowie classic, “Under Pressure“, which was released as a benefit single on iTunes and other Internet outlets.
In March 2006, the album Life on the Murder Scene was released, incorporating a CD and two DVDs. It included one documentary DVD chronicling the band’s history, and a second DVD with music videos, the making of their videos and live performances. An unauthorized biography DVD Things That Make You Go MMM! was also released in June 2006. The DVD does not actually feature any My Chemical Romance music clips or performances, but contains interviews with those who knew the band before much of their fame. A biography titled Something Incredible This Way Comes was also released, written by Paul Stenning and published in 2006. It features information on their beginnings right through to their third album, The Black Parade.
The Black Parade (2006–2008)
My Chemical Romance started recording their third studio album on April 10, 2006 with Rob Cavallo, producer of many of Green Day’s albums. It was originally thought to be titled The Rise and Fall of My Chemical Romance (in reference to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie), but in an interview with Kerrang! magazine, Gerard Way suggested this was just the album’s working title, stating “It was never the title of the album, more a spoof, or joke.”
On August 3, 2006, the band completed shooting the videos for their first two singles from the album, “Welcome to the Black Parade” and although not released until January 2007, “Famous Last Words“. The “Famous Last Words” video was directed by Sam Bayer, director of Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Green Day’s American Idiot videos. During filming for the second video, band members Gerard Way and Bob Bryar were injured. Way suffered torn ligaments in his ankle, and Bryar a burn to the leg which caused a severe staph infection that needed constant monitoring in hospital. Consequently, the band was forced to cancel a few tour dates. While these injuries were reported by several news agencies to have been the result of a car accident, a statement released by the band on their website and MySpace page confirmed that these injuries occurred on the set of the video.
On August 22, 2006, the band played a special one-off show at the 1800-capacity London Hammersmith Palais. The show sold out in 15 minutes, prompting tickets to be re-sold on eBay well over the tickets’ face value. The name of the album was announced and 20 people dressed in black capes with their faces obscured paraded around the Hammersmith, followed by a large group of fans and street team members with signs saying “The Black Parade”. Later during the show, the album title and the UK release date were confirmed. Before the band took the stage, it was announced that My Chemical Romance were unable to play, but they would be replaced by The Black Parade. After initial crowd hostility it became clear the band were simply performing under a pseudonym in keeping with the theme of the album. Since then, the band would often perform under the alias “The Black Parade”, wearing the costumes seen in the album’s music videos. Gerard Way would adopt the persona of the leader of the marching band, The Black Parade, and vary his behavior and performance accordingly.
“Welcome to the Black Parade” was released as a single on September 11, 2006. On September 26, 2006, the music video for “Welcome to the Black Parade” was released in the UK, and on September 27 in the US. The single became the band’s first number one on the UK Singles Chart in October 2006. The Black Parade was released on October 23, 2006 in the United Kingdom and on October 24, 2006 in the United States to positive reviews.
The Black Parade World Tour commenced on February 22, 2007, with the eventuating 133 shows featuring Rise Against, Thursday and Muse as support acts. Reggie and the Full Effect frontman James Dewees joined the band to play keyboards and synthesizer from there on. In April 2007, it was announced that Mikey Way would temporarily leave the tour to spend time with his new wife, Alicia Simmons-Way. Way’s temporary replacement was Matt Cortez, a friend of the band. During the third leg of the tour, as a support act for Muse, members of My Chemical Romance and their crew, along with members of Muse’s crew, suffered food poisoning, and consequently had to cancel six shows. The band later featured on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution tour in 2007, along with Placebo, Mindless Self Indulgence, Saosin, Taking Back Sunday and HIM.
My Chemical Romance received mixed accolades for The Black Parade. Kerrang! rated The Black Parade as the fourth-greatest album of 2006. In Rolling Stone magazine’s ranking of the top 50 albums of 2006, The Black Parade was voted the 20th best album of the year. My Chemical Romance went on to win the award for Best International Band at the 2007 NME Awards, and Gerard Way also won the Hero of the Year award. My Chemical Romance was also nominated for Best Alternative Group at the 2007 American Music Awards. The band announced in a blog on their website that they would be going on a final tour in the United States before taking a break. At the same time, they announced they will be releasing a live DVD/CD collection titled The Black Parade Is Dead!, which includes two concerts from October 2007, the final Black Parade concert in Mexico, and a small show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey. The DVD/CD was meant to be released on June 24 in the United States and June 30 in the UK, but was postponed to July 1 because of a technical fault with the Mexico concert.
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2009–2011)
In 2009, My Chemical Romance released a new single entitled “Desolation Row” (a cover of the Bob Dylan song) on February 1, 2009. It was recorded to feature as the end credit track for the 2009 film Watchmen, an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name. The band then announced that they would be releasing “a collection of nine never-before-seen live videos, straight from the encore set of the Mexico City show from October 2007”, entitled ¡Venganza!. The release came on a bullet-shaped flash drive and also contained exclusive photos of the band from the show. It was released on April 29, 2009.
On May 27, 2009, My Chemical Romance’s web designer, Jeff Watson, announced via the band’s website that the band was headed to the studio to record their fourth full-length album. The recording took place over the following few weeks with producer Brendan O’Brien, who has worked with AC/DC, Mastodon, and Pearl Jam.
In an interview with NME, Gerard Way said the band’s next record would be a rock album, saying, “I think (the next album) will definitely be stripped down. I think the band misses being a rock band.” In a separate interview with Idiomag, Way commented that the next release would be less theatrical in scope, stating that “it’s not going to be hiding behind a veil of fiction or uniforms and makeup anymore.” In an interview with PopEater, Way also stated that the next album will be “full of hate.” He also said “over the years that we’ve been hearing ourselves live and hearing us on records, we kind of prefer the live. There’s more of a garage feel and more energy. I’d like to capture some of that, finally. That’s the goal for the next one.”
On July 31 and August 1, 2009, My Chemical Romance played two “secret” shows at The Roxy Theater in Los Angeles. The shows were the first concerts the band had played since Madison Square Garden in May 2008. The band also premiered several new songs said to be from their upcoming fourth album during the shows, one reportedly titled “Death Before Disco”, a song that Way said he was particularly excited about. The song was since renamed “Party Poison” and was included on the new album. Way explained further in a Rolling Stone interview that “it’s a completely different sound for the band — it’s like an anti-party song that you can party to. I can’t wait for people to hear it. It brings back, lyrically, some of that wonderful fiction from the first album.”
Gerard Way also said in a November 2009 interview with Rock Sound that the fourth album would be their defining work. “A friend who heard the record recently said he now had no interest in listening to our older work anymore, that we had made all our old material redundant. I took it as a compliment, the next thing you should always make the last thing seem unimportant and I think that will happen when we finally release this album.”
On March 3, 2010, Iero announced on their official website that Bob Bryar had left the band, writing:
As of 4 weeks ago, My Chemical Romance and Bob Bryar parted ways. This was a painful decision for all of us to make and was not taken lightly. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors and expect you all to do the same.
The band did not state reasons on why he left.
In a March 2010 MTV interview about the new album, Way explained, “There’s no title yet…I’m actually kind of excited about that. It’s kind of ‘anything goes’ at this point, but I’m so happy with the songs.” Though the band since decided on the title of their fourth album, it continued to go unannounced, with various rumors circulating and the band stating on their website that it will be revealed “all in due time” and in Way’s words, “a special way this time. Maybe some sort of event, something fun, something soon.”
During the San Diego Comic-Con 2010, Way announced that the band had finished recording the fourth studio album. This was later confirmed by Iero on the band’s website, announcing that the album was “done, finished, kaput, in the proverbial can, and being played loudly as we drive way too fast in our respective cars.”
In September, a trailer video was uploaded to My Chemical Romance’s official YouTube page entitled Art is a Weapon, which announced the title of the album: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. The video featured the band wearing strangely coloured outfits and battling unusual characters in a desert surrounding, and featuring a sample of music from the song “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)“. Notable comic book author and the band’s personal friend, Grant Morrison, makes a special appearance, in the role of an enemy and leader of a band of masked characters. On September 22, 2010, the band premiered their song “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” on Zane Lowe‘s BBC Radio 1 show, and Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ-FM. The album was released on November 22, 2010.
Rock Sound had a preview of the album and gave a positive review, commenting “the way they’ve used everything they learned on ‘The Black Parade’ and tightened up in certain places feels natural and confident” and that it sees “the creativity of the band taking flight musically, graphically and literally.”
Michael Pedicone joined the band as a touring drummer late in 2010, replacing Bryar.
During a performance at Wembley Arena on February 12, 2011, Way announced that the band would be appearing at a UK festival later in the year, later confirmed as the Reading and Leeds Festivals, which they headlined. They also performed at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Carlisle, England on May 15, 2011.
On September 2, 2011, Frank Iero posted a blog on the band’s site stating, “The relationship between My Chemical Romance and Michael Pedicone is over” and explaining Pedicone was sacked because “he was caught red handed stealing from the band and confessed to police after our show last night in Auburn, Washington.” He also mentioned his hope of getting a new drummer in time for their next show and avoiding having to cancel any performances in the process.
On September 4, 2011, it was revealed through various sources that Jarrod Alexander will be the new touring drummer for the remainder of the Honda Civic tour. He also performed with them in late October at Voodoo Experience and at their Australian + New Zealand shows at Big Day Out in early 2012.
Conventional Weapons and break-up (2011–2013)
On December 18, 2011, the band appeared on Nick Jr.‘s Yo Gabba Gabba, and performed a song called “Every Snowflake Is Different (Just Like You)”. This was part of a Christmas special for the show. The special included other famous guests such as Tony Hawk and Tori Spelling.
In February 2012, members of My Chemical Romance revealed that they had been building a studio in Los Angeles to record music for the band’s fifth album under the working title MCR5, now with touring keyboardist James Dewees as an official member. The band worked with engineer Doug McKean, who previously worked on The Black Parade and Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. On September 14, 2012, Frank Iero announced through the band’s official website a new project entitled Conventional Weapons. The project revolved around 10 unreleased songs that were recorded in 2009, prior to the making of Danger Days. The band released two songs each month for five months from the Conventional Weapons sessions, starting in October 2012 and finishing in February 2013. According to the October 2012 issue of Q magazine, Frank Iero reported early sessions for MCR’s next album with the new drummer Jarrod Alexander were progressing well. “Jarrod is a rad guy and a fantastic player. It’s been really fun making music with him these past few months,” Iero commented.
|“||Being in this band for the past 12 years has been a true blessing. We’ve gotten to go places we never knew we would. We’ve been able to see and experience things we never imagined possible. We’ve shared the stage with people we admire, people we look up to, and best of all, our friends. And now, like all great things, it has come time for it to end. Thanks for all of your support, and for being part of the adventure.||”|
Gerard Way posted an extended tweet on his Twitter account two days after the website announcement, where he confirmed the disbanding of the group but denied that altercations between band members was the reason for the split.
May Death Never Stop You and post-break-up (2014–present)
On March 25, 2014, the band released a greatest hits collection, entitled May Death Never Stop You, containing material spreading their entire career, as well a single unreleased track. The track “Fake Your Death” was made available digitally on February 17.
Following the band’s break-up, the members of the band continued to pursue music. Lead vocalist Gerard Way announced his debut solo album Hesitant Alien with the release of an advance-single, “Action Cat“. Hesitant Alien was released on September 29, 2014 in the UK, and a day later in the U.S. Hesitant Alien was a moderate commercial success, topping the US Billboard Alternative Albums chart and reaching No. 16 on the US Billboard 200. Hesitant Alien also topped the “Ten Essential Albums Of 2014” list in Alternative Press.
Rhythm guitarist Frank Iero sporadically collaborated with My Chemical Romance keyboardist James Dewees, forming Death Spells and performing in Reggie and the Full Effect (alongside Ray Toro), releasing No Country for Old Musicians on November 19, 2013. Afterwards, he announced via his official website that he signed to Staple Records and would be releasing a full-length solo album entitled Stomachaches under the moniker of “frnkiero andthe cellabration”. The album featured former My Chemical Romance touring drummer Jarrod Alexander. Stomachaches was released world-wide on August 25, 2014.
Bassist Mikey Way formed Electric Century along with Sleep Station vocalist David Debiak in 2014 and released their debut single “I Lied” in February 2014. The duo announced their debut self-titled EP on March 10, 2015 and was released on Record Store Day on April 18, 2015.
Lead guitarist Ray Toro posted a song on his SoundCloud account entitled “Isn’t That Something” on May 24, 2013. On January 1, 2015 he posted a new song, titled “For the Lost and Brave”, on his website, dedicating the song to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide.
Musical style and influences
My Chemical Romance’s general style has been categorized as alternative rock, post-hardcore, punk rock,pop punk, and, most controversially, emo. The band’s official website describes their music as simply “rock” or “violent, dangerous pop“. Gerard Way has publicly rejected the term “emo”, describing the genre as “fucking garbage”. However, Way has reportedly also described the band’s style as “What-else-ya-got-emo”.
The band’s sound usually has elements of punk rock, pop and alternative rock. I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, the band’s debut album, features a raw sound that has guitar riffs, very energetic vocals and sometimes screaming. The album is considered an emo album with strong influences from punk rock and hardcore punk. I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love also has some influences from heavy metal. The second album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge was one of the albums that launched the emo genre into the mainstream. The band’s album The Black Paradelacks the post-hardcore elements featured on the first two My Chemical Romance albums and features elements of pop, emo and punk rock. The fourth My Chemical Romance album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoyscontinues the band’s pop punk sound.
Gerard Way said to Rolling Stone, “we love bands like Queen, where it’s huge and majestic, but also bands like Black Flag and the Misfits, who would go absolutely crazy.” Way has stated that the band is heavily influenced by Queen, Misfits, Black Flag, Iron Maiden, The Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Smiths/Morrissey. Way has also said that his band patterns their career after that of The Smashing Pumpkins, another band they admire.
My Chemical Romance’s lead vocalist and songwriter Gerard Way has previously stated that he strongly disagrees with the band’s frequent classification of “emo”, saying:
|“||Basically, it’s never been accurate to describe us. Emo bands were being booked while we were touring with Christian metal bands because no one would book us on tours. I think emo is fucking garbage, it’s bullshit. I think there’s bands that unfortunately we get lumped in with that are considered emo and by default that starts to make us emo. All I can say is anyone actually listening to the records, put the records next to each other and listen to them and there’s actually no similarities. I think emo’s a pile of shit.||”|
|— Gerard Way|
UK tabloid incident
On May 8, 2008, British tabloid The Sun published an article entitled “Suicide of Hannah, the Secret Emo“, which reported the death of a thirteen-year-old British girl named Hannah Bond, who had hanged herself supposedly because of her involvement with a reported “self-harming ’emo’ cult”, which the newspaper directly associated with My Chemical Romance, and their then-current album The Black Parade, which was said to be linked to her suicide. In the article, coroner Roger Sykes expressed concern that Bond’s “emo” lifestyle glamorized suicide, and suggested that her obsession with My Chemical Romance was linked to her death. The Sun‘s article, and an article in NME about The Sun‘s article, had linked My Chemical Romance to the suicide. Supporters of emo music contacted NME to defend the genre against accusations that it promotes suicide.
A group of British fans eventually planned a march across London in protest against the depiction of the band in the media. The march was expected to be held on May 31, beginning at Hyde Park’s West Pond and ending outside the offices of tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail, which widely criticized My Chemical Romance and had published general pieces about the dangers of “suicide cults”. The march was expected to attract 500–1000 protesters, according to the organizers. After concerns by police, the march was called off and instead about 100 fans congregated at Marble Arch. The band repeated the statement “fuck the Daily Mail” during their gigs in the United Kingdom.
The Daily Mail defended its position saying its coverage was “balanced and restrained” and “in the public interest”, and they were reporting genuine concerns raised by the coroner at the inquest and claim that their coverage of the incident has been misrepresented and confused with rumor. They state that their coverage of the coroner’s remarks and the parents’ comments was in common with that of other newspapers, and point to their publishing of readers letters defending the band and positive reviews of the band’s albums and tours.
Accusations of propaganda
On April 28, 2011, US broadcaster Glenn Beck labelled the My Chemical Romance song “Sing” as “propaganda” after it was featured and covered on the US musical drama TV series Glee in February 2011. Beck stated “It’s an anthem saying ‘Join us’. How can you and I possibly win against that?” The lyrics that Beck pointed out were: “Cleaned up corporation progress, dying in the process / Children that can talk about it living on the railways [sic] / People moving sideways / Sell it till your last days / Buy yourself the motivation / Generation nothing / Nothing but a dead scene / Product of a white dream”. Gerard Way responded to the accusation on the band’s official website, writing, “I think the word Glenn Beck was looking for was ‘subversion’ not ‘propaganda’, because I don’t know what it would be considered propaganda for—truth? Sentiment?” He also said that he was “shocked that no actual fact-checking was done on the lyrics”.
My Chemical Romance played in many major tours of 2005. The band toured with Green Day in 2005 on the “Green Day Presents American Idiot Tour”. They were also part of the Warped Tour in the same year. “For a lot of kids, it’s the one thing they look forward to all year,” said Gerard Way of the Warped Tour. “They save up for it. They get to see all the bands they like in one shot.” Their set list included mostly songs from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge.
My Chemical Romance co-headlined the main stage with The Used on the Taste of Chaos tour, before starting their first headlining tour, simply named the “My Chemical Romance Tour”. The tour launched September 15 in Ohio, stopping at 30 locations in the United States, to promote their album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Supporting were Alkaline Trio and Reggie and the Full Effect. This tour marked the beginning of the heavy theatrics later showcased in many of their live shows. Way expressed his plans for the tour in an interview with MTV, saying, “we’d talked about bringing out dancers for our headlining tour in the fall, but it’s a big undertaking; you have to have a bus full of dancers. We’ve always wanted to do a big theatrical tour. But you have to do it in steps”. The use of theatrics was evident during The Black Parade World Tour, which supported their album of the same name. The tour featured 133 performances worldwide, featuring three legs in North America, one in Europe, Asia, and South America, and one internationally.
The band joined headliners Linkin Park on Projekt Revolution 2007, starting on July 25 and ending on September 3, 2007.The band played a one-hour set on center stage, opening with “This Is How I Disappear”, as flames burst behind the band. The set ended with “Cancer”, occasionally with falling confetti, and fireworks. Following the Projekt Revolution tour, they opened for Bon Jovi in October, and then departed for a European Tour with Mindless Self Indulgence.
On September 19, 2010, the band announced “The World Contamination Tour”, which took place in parts of the UK, France, Amsterdam and Germany.
- I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (2002)
- Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)
- The Black Parade (2006)
- Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2010)
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