My Chemical Romance – An IntroductionThe band have fallen under some controversy in their time, both for their music and themselves.A trait they seem to employ is that they change their style from album to album, initially starting out as a more raw pun rock, and slowly progressing through a blend of music to their latest, more pop-punk sound.For my research, I shall be focusing on their earlier, more punk sound. My Chemical Romance Left-Right: Frank Iero (Rhythm Guitar), Gerard Way (Vocals), Mikey Way (Bass), Ray Toro (Lead Guitar)
BiographyMy Chemical Romance (MCR) formed in New Jersey in 2001, currently consisting of four members. They fall under both punk and alternative rock, with a current four studio albums and two live albums. Their music so far has been produced by two separate record labels, Eyeball Records and Reprise Records.Most of their albums have been conceptual, with their early two being more aggressive. This is typical of punk albums, as they tend to be more raw and aggressive.My Chemical Romances‟ official fanbase was built up through free downloads and a MySpace page which built up publicity. They released their first album three months after forming. Rhythm guitarist Frank Iero and bassist Mikey Way both dropped out of college in order to tour with the band, along with the vocalist and frontman Gerard Way, who dropped his steady job to form the band after witnessing the 9/11 attacks.The band have faced their fair share of hardships throughout their career, having been through two drummers since their formation, lead singer Gerard Way tackled drug and alcohol addiction, and they are often up against the media. For instance, in 2008 the band were accused, in an article in The Sun, of the suicide of 13 year-old Hannah Bond. Since then, newspapers and magazines such as The Daily Mail and NME have criticized them for being „emo‟, and associating them with self harm.The band maintain that they have no real genre, which makes it hard to pinpoint their style. From the beginning. Although they have an admittedly somewhat dark sound, they openly rail against any form of self harm, and are Way well known amongst their fanbase (the MCRmy) for giving inspirational speeches along this line.Along with four studio albums, the band have also released two live albums (covered in the discography), the first of which contains a two hour video documenting the band both „at home‟ and on the road. Within this they cover issues including Way‟s drug and alcohol problem.
Biography (Continued)During a break the band took post Black Parade, second drummer Bob Bryer left the band. They gave no real explanation as to why, although rumours speculate that due to arthritis in his wrists. He was replaced with Mike Pedicone for the latest album and the 2011 tours, however, he was soon after dismissed after being caught stealing form the other band members‟ personal possessions. As such, the band, albeit having a live drummer, have been cut down to four, their music videos only consisting of Gerard and Mikey Way, Frank Iero and Ray Toro.Having toured for that album, the band claim to be working on their fifth album, although it had yet to have a rumoured release date. They sated they are being more laid back due to them not wanting a repeat of the ‘Black Parade Incident’.In their personal lives, each of the band members are now married and some with children, Iero with twin girls Cherry and Lily and son Miles, and Gerard Way with daughter Bandit Lee.They have stated they are not dead yet, and it can be expected they will have at least “another 10 years”. They made an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con so as to stay in the spotlight whilst they are busy with their next album.
InfluencesThe band make to effort to hide their influences, in fact they are rather vocal about them. The Smiths were a huge influence, as both Mikey and Gerard Way were brought up to their music, along with the Misfits.Ray Toro and Frank Iero, the two guitarists, came from substantially different backgrounds.Toro was a fan of metal, and has states that he and his brother were fans of Metallica and Iron Maiden.Iero was more of a punk fan. He stated that he admires Black Flag, and idolises their guitarist.The bands music reflects these three genres, they became huge influences in their eclectic style of music. The three distinctive sounds can he heard within their music.Of course, it‟s not just music that influenced the band. All of them love books, especially comics as seen with the artwork for Three Cheers which Way stated was based on a comic he drew previously. In fact, he had a job as a comic book artist and cartoonist before forming the band.
The Band ImageThe attitude My Chemical Romance display, including but not limited to the recording industry and politics are different that that of many other punk bands. They have, in fact, publicly stated a love for their record label, which they stated the reason being they were well treated. Gerard Way made a speech well known amongst bands about being „screwed over‟ by record labels, losing integrity and his feelings on other bands abandoning their morals by being dishonourable with their fans, especially with girls.In terms of politics, where the „first-wave‟ of punk bands were openly political, and tended to broadcast their music either openly or through well-written lyrics, My Chemical Romance do not want their political opinions tainting the fans‟ opinions on them, and so air their views in the ideas in their songs.One openly shared view throughout the band is that they are all pro-gay rights. Famously among fans, Frank Iero made an ironic t-shirt reading „Homophobia is Gay‟. He is also openly a strong supporter of PETA.
Discography I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your LoveTaking the spot of their first studio album, it was released in 2002, recorded on Eyeball Records and produced by Geoff Rickley.Perhaps the most influential song on the album is Skylines & Turnstiles, a song Way wrote about his witnessing of the tragic 9/11 bombings.Iero joined later, and only played on two tracks in this album, for instance Early Sunsets Over Monroeville.This was not a intensely popular album, but help them build up a fan base nevertheless.Track Listing1. Romance2. Honey, This Mirror Isn‟t Big Enough For the Two Of Us3. Vampires Will Never Hurt You4. Drowning Lessons5. Our Lady Of Sorrows6. Headfirst For Halos7. Skylines & Turnstiles8. Early Sunsets Over Monroeville9. This is the Best Day Ever10. Cublicles11. Demolition Lovers
Discography Three Cheers For Sweet RevengeReleased in 2004, this was the first record they released on Reprise Records. It was the first of their subsequent run of concept albums, including the cover art being drawn by Gerard Way. The album includes the four singles Helena, I’m Not Okay (I Promise), The Ghost Of You and Thank You For The Venom. Helena was written around the death of Ways‟ grandmother.It received mixed reviews, referred to as „near perfect‟ or a dud. However, it reached platinum in the UK and double platinum in Canada, and was popularised by the band walking to a concert like a funeral parade to advertise the album.Track Listing1. Helena2. Give „Em Hell, Kid3. To The End4. You Know What They Do To5. Guys Like Us In Prison6. I‟m Not Okay (I Promise)7. The Ghost of You8. The Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You9. Interlude10. Thank You For The Venom11. Hang „Em High12. It‟s Not A Fashion Statement, It‟s A Deathwish13. Cemetery Drive14. I Never Told You What I Do For A Living
Discography Life On The Murder SceneReleased in 2006, this is a three-disc digipack, often thought of as one of the most hardcore of their albums. The DVDs are categorised, the first a video diary (roughly 2 hours long), the second live, online and video performances by the band. The third disc is a CD , which contains live, demo and previously unreleased songs. It was immensely popular among fans.The cover art is the human version to the drawing on Three Cheers.Track Listing1. Thank You For The Venom (Live)2. Cemetery Drive (Live)3. Give „Em Hell, Kid (Live)4. Headfirst For Halos (Live)5. Helena (Live)6. You Know What They DO TO Guys Like Us In Prison (Live)7. The Ghost Of You (Live)8. I‟m Not Okay (I Promise) (Live)9. I Never Told You What I Do For A Living (Demo)10. Bury Me In Black (Demo)11. Desert Song (Previously Unreleased)
Discography The Black ParadeThis is one of their most controversial albums, released in 2006 shortly before the Hannah Bond incident, sparking media unrest. The album has four singles and further B-sides, released on vinyl as well as on CD. This is a heavily concept based album, following a man dying of a terminal illness (possibly cancer) as he if welcomed to the afterlife, the „Black Parade‟. The videos follow this theme, the one for „Famous Last Words‟ being so extravagant, it lead to serious burns to then drummer Bob Bryar.The concept is one of the main reasons they achieved such bad press, as people took it to mean they were encouraging death, rather than providing an artistic afterlife.Track Listing1. The End2. Dead3. This Is How I Dissappear4. The Sharpest Lives5. Welcome To The Black Parade6. I Don‟t Love You7. House Of Wolves8. Cancer9. Mama10. Sleep11. Teenagers12. Disenchanted13. Famous Last Words14. Blood [Hidden Track]
Discography The Black Parade is Dead!Released in 2007, this is their second live album, focusing on their last performance as The Black Parade in Mexico. It also contains footage from a more intimate performance done in Hoboken, New Jersey. It contains a CD with the live tracks from Mexico, along with a DVD of the two performances.Track Listing1. Welcome To The Black Parade2. Thank You For The Venom3. Dead!4. The Sharpest Lives5. This Is How I Disappear6. Teenagers7. I‟m Not Okay (I Promise)8. You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison9. Famous Last Words10. Give „Em Hell, Kid11. House Of Wolves12. It‟s Not A Fashion Statement, It‟s A Deathwish13. I Don‟t Love You14. [Untitled]15. Mama16. Helena17. Cancer
Discography Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous KilljoysOften shortened to Danger Days, it is the most recent My Chemical Romance album, having been released in November 2010. It once again stays true to the pattern of concept albums , the idea being based around a post- apocalyptic California (2019), the band take on superhero alter-egos Party Poison, Jet Star, Kobra Kid and Fun Ghoul, who fight against the villainous „Better Living Industries‟. The songs do not necessarily follow the theme, some being more like love songs, and Vampire Money an assault on the Twilight series after they were asked and expected to add to the soundtrack.The album received a lot of criticism, as it was often seen as too „mainstream‟ and them pulling away from their punk rock roots. They responded with the idea that their music reflects their moods, when they‟re angry the music is, as of now they‟re settled, as reflected in the music.Track Listing1. Look Alive, Sunshine2. Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)3. Bulletproof Heart4. SING5. Planetary (GO!)6. The Only Hope For Me Is You7. Jet-Star & The Kobra Kid/Traffic Report8. Party Poison9. Save Yourself, I‟ll Hold Them Back10. S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W11. Summertime12. DESTROYA13. The Kids From Yesterday14. Goodnight Dr. Death15. Vampire Money
Recording LabelsMy Chemical Romance have had two recording labels; Eyeball Records, and more recently Warner Music and Reprise Records.Eyeball Records were an independent record label formed in New Jersey in 1995 by Alex Saavedra. They were shut down in 2012.Reprise Records were founded by Frank Sinatra in 1960, and was sold to Warner Music, the current owners, in 1963 due to lack of funds.My Chemical Romance are currently signed to Reprise Records, however they have revealed that they are considering building their own studio in Los Angeles to record their fifth album.
Critical OpinionsThe media have had a heavy impact on the band, influencing decisions made about them. Possibly the greatest „flaw‟ the media pick up on is their apparent „emo‟ image. The Black Parade induced the greatest backlash to this effect, the bases being of an apparent afterlife, which The Daily Mail among others picked on, stating they were encouraging suicide. This opinion was inflamed by the suicide of Hannah Bond in which My Chemical Romance were „blamed‟ in some newspapers. The band themselves claim no association to the „emo‟ movement, and do not endorse suicide. In fact, this stereotype directly contradicts the label of punk-rock previously earned.Early albums received some of the best reactions within the punk and alternative rock scenes, especially that of Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, which reached platinum. However, the opinions go both ways, where reviews from magazines such as Rolling Stone are positive, others refer to the album as less spectacular.The least popular album was I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love as at that point in time the fledgling band had been formed for around three months. There are few reviews, but it is often a fan favourite.
Representing Punk RockThere has been a fair amount of controversy in the genre of the band due to their habit of changing style from album to album. Where their early music conforms to the punk and alternative rock genre, the later albums stray to ballad and pop-punk, an altogether much more „mainstream‟ style. My focus is on the older style of music.My Chemical Romance take a stance on punk rock that is influences buy the different factions within the genre, similar to other genre-crossing bands. They lean heavily on their influences and a combination of sounds, which is what gives them their own unique style.The punk rock genre is not just about music, it is an attitude which My Chemical Romance also match. Through the criticism they received, they stayed fairly uncaring to the negativity they were receiving.In conclusion, the band do not fall into the first generation of punk rock, however they do combine elements of this to create their own sound.Their later creations pull away from the genre, but the lack of conformity they show fits with the punk rock attitude.