My Chemical RomanceMy Chemical Romance are a band known for being very controversial, and one popular trait of theirs is changing their sound from album to album. Their works have gone from punk rock to pop-punk, to a unique blend of many different genres.Their older albums, the more punk-rock genres, are the ones that I am focusing on for my artist research.In this presentation I‟m going to help you meet My Chemical Romance! From left to right: Frank Iero (rhythm guitarist), Gerard Way (vocalist), Mikey Way (bassist) and Ray Toro (lead guitarist)
BiographyFormed in 2001 in New Jersey, My Chemical Romance are a punk-rock and alternative-rock band consisting currently of four members. They currently have four studio albums and two live albums, produced through two separate label companies, Eyeball Records and Reprise Records. Nearly all of their albums have concepts based around them, and their earlier works, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love and Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge focus around the themes of revenge and are quite angry albums. This is stereotypical of punk-rock albums because they often involve a raw aggression. The band are no strangers to hardship over their time, and have been through two drummers since their formation. The lead singer has tackled drug and alcohol addiction and the band often come up against media controversy. The best example of this is in 2008, when The Sun published an article accusing My Chemical Romance (MCR) of the suicide of a 13 year old girl, Hannah Bond. NME magazine and the Daily Mail are also known for heavily criticising the band for being „emo‟, associating them with suicide cults and other dark elements of teenage „emos‟. Their official fanbase was gathered through free downloads and a MySpace page to encourage publicity, and their first album was released only three months after forming, due to their dedication to the band. The rhythm guitarist and bassist, Frank Iero and Mikey Way, both dropped out of college to tour with the band due to the confidence that the band would succeed, while vocalist and „leader‟ of the band Gerard Way abandoned his steady career as a cartoonist to form the band due to witnessing the 9/11 attacks and feeling he had to change his life.
Biography (Continued)Gerard Way and the other members claim they have no real genre, saying “basically, its never been accurate to describe us”, which makes the band difficult to pigeon-hole. From their start in 2001, the band have openly fought against suicide and self-harm, and are known within their fanbase (affectionately known as the MCRmy, a play on the idea of the My Chemical Romance Army) for giving inspirational speeches at their live concerts. The video on the next slide is an example of this in Vancouver, Canada (2007). The band have released two live albums alongside their studio albums, Life On The Murder Scene (2006), and The Black Parade Is Dead (2008). The former also included a video diary that lasts roughly 2 hours, and documents the band both at home and on the road. The band also address various issues such as Gerard Way‟s alcohol and drug problem, with clips to show this on the DVD. The latter consists of two different performances, one in Mexico in a huge venue, the other in Hoboken, NJ, in a small venue that the band originally used to visit. The third studio album The Black Parade was the first album in which MCR tested their performance skills to a new extreme, creating onstage personas and characters that were based upon the characters sung about and shown in the videos. With this album, they toured for almost an entire year, with over 130 shows and no breaks. After this, though, the band were physically and mentally worn out and the bassist Mikey Way even took a break halfway through the tour. This excessive stint of touring forced the band to take a break for a few years, though they released some cover songs such as Bob Dylan‟s Desolation Row in 2009.
Biography (Continued)It was during this break that second drummer, Bob Bryar, left with no real explanation, though rumours flew that it was due to the painful arthritis in his wrists. The drummer was replaced with Micheal “Mike” Pedicone for the 2011 tours of the most recent album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, but he was quickly dismissed after he was caught stealing from the band‟s personal possessions. This latest album is another concept album based around a dystopian future in California 2019, with the remaining four band members (Gerard Way, Frank Iero, Mikey Way and Ray Toro) acting like “superheroes” in this new world, fighting against the villainous “Better Living Industries”. Now, having toured for this album, the band currently claim they are working on their fifth studio album, though they are not working themselves too hard due to fear of another “Black Parade incident”. Each member of the band are now married, some with children, such as Frank Iero‟s baby twin girls, Lily and Cherry, and his son Miles, or Gerard Way‟s young daughter, Bandit Lee. The band claimed in October 2010 at the Hammersmith Apollo that they weren‟t dead and buried, and could give their fans “at least another 10 years yet”. The new album has no rumoured release date as of yet, but it has been reported that the band are building a studio in Los Angeles where they plan to record it. The band are still living in America, but have all said that they won‟t forget New Jersey where they started out, because they don‟t want to “sell out”.The band now have their own lives and have been lucky enough to avoid too much unwanted publicity, making appearances at Comic Con in America to keep themselves in the spotlight a little while creating the fifth album.
DiscographyI Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your LoveReleased in 2002, this album was the band‟s first studio album, recorded on Eyeball Records and produced by Geoff Rickley, the frontman of Thursday (a post-hardcore band that befriended MCR). The first and arguably most influential song on the album is Skylines and Turnstiles, which Gerard Way wrote about the 9/11 attacks that he personally witnessed. It also features the song Headfirst For Halos which was designed as a little joke between band members, but went on to become a hugely popular song. Iero, who joined slightly later, played on two of the tracks on the album, including Early Sunsets Over Monroeville. The album was not initially hugely popular, but the band built up their fanbase through other ways.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. Cubicles11. Demolition Lovers
DiscographyThree Cheers For Sweet RevengeThis was the first record released on Reprise Records, and was released in June 2004. It was the first real concept album, which started with the artwork drawn by Gerard Way himself. The album has four singles on it, I’m Not Okay (I Promise), Ghost of You, Helena and Thank You For The Venom. Helena is based around the death of the Ways‟ grandmother, who passed away before the album was completed. It recieved mixed reviews, with some people calling it “near perfect”, and others calling it a dud. It reached platinum in the UK and double platinum in Canada, as well as being heavily popularised when the band advertised it by walking through the streets in full costume with a hearse, recreating a funeral parade on the way to a concert. It created a huge buzz which helped to advertise the band in an extravagant way, something MCR have always enjoyed doing.Track Listing1. Helena2. Give „Em Hell, Kid3. To The End4. You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison5. I‟m Not Okay (I Promise)6. The Ghost Of You7. The Jetset Life Is Gonna Kill You8. Interlude9. Thank You For The Venom10. Hang „Em High11. It‟s Not A Fashion Statement, It‟s A Deathwish12. Cemetery Drive13. I Never Told You What I Do For A Living
DiscographyLife On The Murder SceneA three-disc digipack album, Life On The Murder Scene (LotMS) is seen as one of the more hardcore albums of the band. Released in 2006, the DVDs are split up in category, with the first as a video diary, and the other containing live, online and video performances of the band. The third disc, the CD, contains live and previously unreleased songs, including demos. It was very popular with fans, especially because of the video diary that is roughly 2 hours long.Track Listing (CD)1. 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 ParadeThe Black Parade is one of MCR‟s most controversial albums, and was released in 2006, just before the Hannah Bond incident and the real start of the media‟s disapproval of MCR. The album has another four singles released from it, as well as the B-Sides that were released on an album and as B-Sides on the vinyl version. The album concept bases around a man who dies and is welcomed to “The Black Parade”, which is seen as a form of „heaven‟ or afterlife that one can access after death. The videos all focused around this, with the video for Famous Last Words being so extravagant that Bob Bryar, the drummer at the time, received third-degree burns on his leg. The concept is the main reason that MCR underwent such criticism from the media, because newspapers and reporters alike claimed that MCR were encouraging the idea of death, to join this “Black Parade” quicker. MCR fought back by saying that the idea was not about getting to the Black Parade, but knowing that those we love are there and safe, much like an Atheistic version of heaven.Track Listing1. The End2. Dead3. This Is How I Disappear4. 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)
DiscographyThe Black Parade Is Dead!The second live album, released in 2008, focused on the last performance from the band as The Black Parade in Mexico, 2007. It also has a performance done in Hoboken, New Jersey that was a smaller and more intimate performance. It contained a CD with all of the Mexico tracks on it, performed live, and the DVD with the two performances on.The track listing for the Mexico performance is the same as that of The Black Parade.Track Listing (Hoboken, NJ)1. 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 KilljoysDanger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, often shortened to just Danger Days, is the most recent MCR album. It keeps true to the idea of concept albums, and was released by Warner Music & Reprise Records in November 2010. The band based the album around a post-apocalyptic California in 2019, with the band taking on superhero alter-ego characters. Party Poison, Jet Star, Fun Ghoul and Kobra Kid are shown in the single-release videos Sing and Na Na Na. The tracks do not necessarily follow the same theme, because some are forms of love songs and the last track, Vampire Money, is an assault on popular film series, Twilight, because the band felt insulted that they were expected to jump on the bandwagon of the saga. There was a lot of criticism from fans and magazines alike, because it was seen as very „mainstream‟, and that the band were pulling away from their punk-rock roots. MCR responded to this by telling fans that the songs used to be angry because the band was angry, and now that they were all slightly more settled, the music was reflecting that.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. Goodnite Dr. Death15. Vampire Money
Recording LabelsMy Chemical Romance have had two main labels, starting with Eyeball Records and moving to Warner Music & Reprise Records.Eyeball Records was an independent record label formed in 1995 by Alex Saavedra. It was based in New Jersey, and worked on bands such as The Gaslight Anthem and Frank Iero‟s former band, Pencey Prep. It was shut down in 2012, after a long run of recording.Reprise Records was founded in 1960 by Frank Sinatra, and is owned by Warner Music. It works with a wide range of artists, from Michael Bublé to Eric Clapton, and was sold to Warner Music in 1963 due to insufficient sales.Currently, MCR are still signed to Reprise Records, but the band have revealed that they are currently building a studio in Los Angeles to record their fifth studio album, working with the sound engineer, Doug McKean.Eyeball Records Reprise Records
Critical Opinions on the BandMy Chemical Romance have been heavily impacted by the media and the opinions made about them. One of the biggest „flaws‟ that the media has picked is their supposed „emo‟ style. The Black Parade created a large controversy about the concepts of entering heaven or the equivalent, and newspapers such as The Daily Mail were the first to accuse MCR of becoming a band that were encouraging suicide because they wished people to join them in The Black Parade. This was not helped by Hannah Bond‟s suicide, for which MCR was blamed by the newspapers. The Daily Mail claimed “the black parade is a place where all emos believe they will go when they die”.This emo stereotype contradicts the punk-rock label that the band originally earned from previous albums, such as Bullets or Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. The band themselves have claimed that they are in no way associated to any „emo‟ movement, and do not endorse suicide in any way.Their original punk-rock albums were extremely popular within the punk-rock and alternative-rock crowd, and their album Three Cheers received a platinum in one year. It had strong, positive reviews from Rolling Stone magazine and Stylus magazine, but IGN, Blender and Robert Christgau all declared the album to be a little less spectacular. Criticisms ranged from “twelve nearly flawless songs” to a “gulping, gasping whine”, which shows how obvious the divide between love and hate for the album was.I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love was not as popular, because the band were very new (three months old). Due to this, there are very few reviews, but the fans often choose it as their favourite album, and they say this because there are many emotional and raw tracks on the album.
InfluencesMy Chemical Romance have been very vocal about their influences, and one of their more famous quotes is that they wanted to create a band that sounded like “as if Morrissey joined The Smiths”. The Smiths were a huge contribution to the band‟s sound, because both Mikey and Gerard Way were raised listening to the sounds of The Smiths. The Misfits were also hugely influential to the band, and for the Way brothers.The two guitarists, Ray Toro and Frank Iero, came from very different backgrounds, Toro from a metal music one and Iero from a punk one. Toro has stated that he and his brother were huge fans of bands such as Metallica and Iron Maiden, whereas Iero says that he admired Black Flag, and always wanted to be like guitarist Greg Ginn, his hero. These three different genres became various different influences and their sound can be seen in MCR‟s songs, with a strange mash-up of metal and punk taking part in some, and some featuring the Morrissey-esque styles that the Way brothers loved so much.Non-musical influences are very important to the band too, and all of them love books, especially comics. This can be seen in the album artwork for Three Cheers, designed by Gerard Way, which he claimed was based on a comic book he had written and drawn. Way was previously a comic book artist and cartoonist, drawing for Cartoon Network, before deciding to form the band.
My Chemical Romance – The Punk-RockGenreMy Chemical Romance have created much controversy within the idea of genre, because although their earlier albums show a punk-rock and alternative-rock style, the newer works are seen as much more „mainstream‟, and almost branch into the pop genre.Focusing on the albums that are punk-rock, the older ones, we can see that the style of punk-rock that My Chemical Romance use is made up of many different fashions within the genre. Their influences clearly heavily impact their work, which creates a whole new branch of sound that is entirely unique.This is similar of many punk-rock bands that are sort of like crossover bands; they take many different ideas within music and try to combine them, which then gives the band something of their own ideas forming.It isn‟t just music that symbolises the punk-rock genre, though, and My Chemical Romance have the attitude to match it. When the media and other sources such as fans have criticised the band too heavily, they have never been afraid to display a lack of caring or a thick skin to prove that they are not offended or affected by the negativity.Overall the band are definitely not a first-generation punk-rock band, but they combine the elements of many bands that were/are, and allow their own style to shine through at the same time. Their newer creations that maybe pull away from this genre are less relevant to the genre but this shows the band‟s lack of desire to conform to one genre or style, which in itself is a very punk value.
The ‘My Chemical Romance Image’My Chemical Romance have a very different attitude to most punk-rock bands to politics and the recording industry, among other things. They have spoken publicly about their love of their record label, but they claim that this is purely due to being a well-treated band. There is a speech that Gerard Way made that became known amongst fans, where he talks about his views on other bands that are being “screwed over” by record labels or that have lost their integrity. He also talks about his morals and how he feels that other bands lose their morals through asking girls to show their breasts at shows or through getting involved with fans in a less than honourable way.Their political views are not heavily discussed, and rumours say that this is because the band do not want their views to taint their music or to ruin others‟ opinions of them. The ideas that they discuss in their songs are the way that they portray their views.However, one heavy view that the band share is that of pro-gay rights, and guitarist Frank Iero even created an ironic shirt that read „Homophobia is Gay‟, which became infamous with the fanbase. Iero is also a strong supporter of PETA and is a known vegetarian since 2008, after learning of the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses and rearing farms.