Kate's Notes

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance (born 2001) also goes by the shortened My Chem, MCR or The Black Parade. This alternative rock band, formed about a week after the September 11th attacks, and came into prominence with their 2004 album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, and the single, “I’m Not Okay.” They have since gone onto create several hits in the alternative rock music scene, and devise their most ambitious album yet, entitled The Black Parade, with its first single “Welcome to the Black Parade” grabbing from musical influences, like Queen, David Bowie, and The Misfits. The band consists of Gerard Way (lead vocals), Ray Toro (lead guitar, backing vocals), Frank Iero (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Mikey Way (bass) and Bob Bryar (drums). Bassist Mikey Way coined the band's name from a book entitled Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance, by Irvine Welsh. Based in New Jersey, My Chemical Romance is classified as alternative pop/rock and punk-pop band that has been compared to Thursday and, to a lesser degree, Cursive; and their music has been described as loud, fast, hyper, and aggressive and a favorite for screaming fans everywhere.

Early Career: 2001 - 2002

The band was formed in New Jersey by front man Gerard Way and ex-drummer Matt Pelissier around a week after September 11, 2001 attacks. Gerard had witnessed the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and it subsequently influenced his life to the extent that he decided to start a band. Gerard wrote the song "Skylines and Turnstiles" to express his feelings about September 11th and shortly thereafter, Ray Toro was called up and asked to join the band because ,at the time, Gerard could not both sing and play the guitar at the same time.

The first recording sessions were done in Matt's attic, where the songs "Our Lady of Sorrows" (then called "Bring More Knives") and "Cubicles" were recorded. Mikey Way, the younger brother of Gerard, loved the demo so much that he decided to join the band.

My Chemical Romance was signed with Eyeball Records and played in the same room as Pencey Prep and Thursday. It was there that the band met Frank Iero, the lead vocalist and guitarist for Pencey Prep. After Pencey Prep broke up in 2001 or 2002, Frank became a guitarist for My Chemical Romance, just days before the band's debut album was recorded.

Three months after the formation of the band they recorded their debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, subsequently released in 2002 on Eyeball Records. Despite only joining the band a few days before the album recording sessions began, Frank Iero played guitar on two of the tracks, one of them being "Early Sunsets Over Monroeville." The album was described as dark as it is introspective and cathartic; Mikey Way has been quoted as saying that the band's lyrics were a great way for him to deal with the problems he had been going through (which included severe depression, drug/alcohol abuse, and a serious illness in his family).

Breakout: 2003 - 2005

In 2003, the band signed a deal with Reprise Records. Following a tour with Avenged Sevenfold the band began work on their second album, entitled Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Released in 2004, the album went platinum within a year. The band released three singles from the album: "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)," "Helena" and "The Ghost of You."

It was during this time that the band replaced their drummer, Matt Pelissier with Bob Bryar, after they went to Japan in July 2004. The true nature of Pelissier's departure was due to an argument with band member Ray Toro or as a result of mistakes made by the drummer during live performances.

At the start of 2005, the band was directly supported on the first ever Taste of Chaos Tour, and was also the opening act for Green Day on the American Idiot Tour. Later that year MCR co-headlined and headlined their own tour with Alkaline Trio and Reggie and the Full Effect, around the United States.

That same year My Chemical Romance and The Used collaborated on a cover of the David Bowie and Queen classic "Under Pressure," which was released as a benefit single on iTunes and other Internet outlets. This collaboration obviously influenced the bands upcoming projects as seen by the release of their next album.

Life on the Murder Scene: Summer 2006

On March 21, 2006, a 2 DVD/1 CD set entitled Life on the Murder Scene was released. It includes one DVD chronicling the band's history, and a second DVD with music videos, the making of their videos and a couple of live performances. An unauthorized biography DVD Things That Make You Go MMM! was also released, on June 27, 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.

The band 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, 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 finished shooting the videos for their first two singles from the album, "Welcome to the Black Parade" and "Famous Last Words," which were released in early 2007. The video for “Welcome to the Black Parade” was directed by Sam Bayer, director of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Green Day's “American Idiot” videos. The video for “Welcome to the Black Parade” features the group singing the epic, symphonic, Queen-esque song on a parade float surrounded by a wasteland.

During the shoot for "Famous Last Words", 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 has confirmed that these injuries occurred on the set of the video.

Course not everything is always good times: when they played the main stage at the 2006 Reading and Leeds Festival— the largest show they have ever played in the United Kingdom, according to issue 221 of Alternative Press, they followed Slayer and were not received warmly by the crowd at Reading, as the band was subjected to heavy bottling. Large sections of the audience threw bacon, tangerines, golf balls, and bottles filled with urine at the group as they played.

The Black Parade: August 2006 – Present

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 being sold on eBay well over the tickets' face value. The name of the album they promoted was announced and 20 people dressed in black capes with their faces obscured paraded around 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 United Kingdom release date were confirmed. Prior to the band taking 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. When the set began, the backdrop art displayed the words "The Black Parade."

The concept album uses Pink Floyd's The Wall, The Beatles's Sgt. Pepper and Queen's A Night at the Opera as touchstones; with the guidance of producer Rob Cavallo, MCR holed up in a haunted monastery in Los Angeles to create a twisted, heroic and ultimately hopeful concept album about a cancer patient who discovers a will to live and love, after getting a sneak peek at death.

On September 2, 2006, My Chemical Romance posted "Welcome to the Black Parade" on their MySpace page and their PureVolume page. It can also be heard on their official website. "Welcome to the Black Parade" had its first radio airing on September 11, 2006. On September 26, 2006 the "Welcome to the Black Parade" music video was released in the United Kingdom and on September 27 in the United States. The album was described by All Music Guide as “darkly conceptual and highly ambitious” and added that the first single’s (“Welcome to The Black Parade’s”) “elaborate accompanying video looked and sounded like the result of Tim Burton directing Queen.”

On October 12, 2006, My Chemical Romance made a rare in-store performance to 500 fans at Virgin Megastores on London's Oxford Street. In order to get wristbands for the event, many fans slept outside the shop the previous night. British band Towers of London caused trouble at the event when the Towers guitarist, Dirk Tourette, allegedly flicked a cigarette butt at Bob Bryar while he was performing.

"Welcome to the Black Parade" reached number one on October 15, 2006, on the United Kingdom Singles Chart, giving them their first number one. October 21, 2006 marked their first appearance on “Saturday Night Live” as the musical guests where they played "Welcome to the Black Parade" and "Cancer."

The Black Parade was released on October 23, 2006 in the United Kingdom and on October 24 in the United States. The record went Platinum by early 2007.

My Chemical Romance played six dates from January 19 to February 4, 2007, in the world renowned Big Day Out festival in Australia and New Zealand. They were billed alongside Tool, Muse, The Killers, and Jet.

Gerard Way commented that the band would be returning to New Zealand at the 2007 Big Day Out in Auckland.

In Kerrang! magazine, issue 1138, My Chemical Romance won the following categories in the 2006 poll: Best Band, Worst Band, Best Album (The Black Parade), Worst Album (The Black Parade), Best Track ("Welcome to the Black Parade"), Best Video ("Welcome to the Black Parade"), Best Live Show, Best Thing About 2006, Worst Thing About 2006, Hero of 2006 (Gerard Way), Villain of 2006 (Gerard Way), and Sexiest Male (Gerard Way). In issue 1139, Kerrang! rated The Black Parade as the 4th 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.

Recently, My Chemical Romance performed "Famous Last Words" on top of the Pontiac Building on MTV's New Year's Special. Another notable detail from this performance is Gerard Way's newly dyed (still short) black hair.

The United States headlining tour The Black Parade started on February 22, 2007. The band is currently on tour with Special Guest Rise Against, who in July came out with their album The Sufferer and The Witness. They will tour the United Kingdom with Thursday at the end of March.

On April 2nd 2007, My Chemical Romance will release "I Don't Love You" as their third single off The Black Parade album. In May, My Chemical Romance is scheduled to headline the first day of New Jersey's annual rock festival, The Bamboozle. The band has headlined the festival in past years. The band will be announcing a new leg of the tour on Monday, February 19, 2007 that will include dates in Canada in May. They are also confirmed to play at Oxegen '07 in Ireland in July.

On February 22nd, 2007, at the first concert of The Black Parade World Tour in Manchester, New Hampshire, My Chemical Romance announced the addition of Reggie and the Full Effect front man James Dewees, who will play Keyboards/Synth on the tour. Dewees is formerly of The Get Up Kids, and most recently played in a similar capacity with New Found Glory.

My Chemical Romance will be headlining Friday night of the Download Festival in 2007. This was an unpopular decision by the festival organizers as fans of the festival did not feel the band fitted in to a rock/metal festival, the official announcement received thousands of negative responses criticizing the choice.

My Chemical Romance won the award for "Best International Band" at the 2007 NME Awards. Gerard also won the "Hero of the Year" award.

Musical Style

The band's music has been described variously by the media as "alternative rock," "emo," "emocore," "nu-punk," "pop punk," "post-hardcore," and "punk revival." The band themselves described their music as simply "rock" or "violent, dangerous pop" on their official website, as well as rejecting the term "emo" to describe their style. But another source quotes Gerard stating they are “What-else-ya-got-emo.”

My Chemical Romance cite their main influences as Queen, Thursday, Iron Maiden, The Misfits, Pink Floyd, and Morrissey/The Smiths. Geoff Rickly, the lead singer of Thursday, has also compared them to Ink & Dagger. Growing up, they were also very influenced by horror films and comic books, and therefore their music, lyrics, and image all have overt elements of fantasy, storytelling, horror, and theatricality.

Fan Base

My Chemical Romance was initially lauded as a band with a strong "grassroots" or "cult" following. It was among the first bands to achieve prominence by offering free downloads through PureVolume and the social networking site MySpace, where MCR gathered its first few thousand fans. The band has clearly grown well beyond those initial numbers, expanding their fan base beyond the typical fans of their musical style and direction, partially helped by the more mainstream sound of their 2004 album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. MCR are sometimes maligned by the "grassroots" fans for the expanded fan base, due to attracting fans they claim are "teeny boppers", after the release of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Due to the increased amount of new fans, some of the old fanbase considers the band a "sellout" and the new MCR fans "posers." The fans are particularly vocal on online forums.

Media Attention and Controversy

Many of My Chemical Romance's music videos are 'horror film' based. Due to this, MCR are often criticized for their appearance being “Emo,” which is a reference to the music and style culture that are classified as “emotional.”

The band Guttermouth was supposedly removed from the 2004 Warped Tour for insulting My Chemical Romance, stating that the band were more concerned about their clothing and making money, rather than the artistic merits of the music they make. This is denied by Guttermouth, who claim they left of their own accord and not due to a complaint by My Chemical Romance.

In October 2006, the British Indie Rock band Kasabian criticized My Chemical Romance, labeling them "clowns" and "Emo kids" who "don't have anything positive to say" and "should get out more and try and have a good time instead." However, with the reception of their 2006 album, they have proven that they might just have something positive to contribute after all.

The Used is known to have both a personal and a professional relationship with My Chemical Romance. My Chemical Romance and The Used have covered "Under Pressure" (originally by David Bowie and Queen) in concert on multiple occasions. Bert also sings on the track "You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison," off of My Chemical Romance's Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. Critics, however, have often criticized this relationship saying that My Chemical Romance used their relationship with The Used to gain a more international and wider audience. However, on My Chemical Romance's DVD, Life On The Murder Scene, the band's manager, Brian Schecter, stated that he introduced the two bands to each other, as he had once been The Used's tour manager.

In recent months, however, the two lead singers of both bands seem to have had a fallout due to disagreements over the addition of "Under Pressure" to In Love and Death.

In an interview with Blender, Way talks about the last time he and Bert McCracken crossed paths, during the San Diego stop of Warped Tour 2005. "It was really unfortunate," says Way. "We were about to take the stage and he was standing with a megaphone trying to get kids not to watch us. We just hit the feedback and drowned him out."


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