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Aug 19, 2011

ARTICLE: Introducing the Headliners - My Chemical Romance

The Facts:

My Chemical Romance had a rather unique start to life, rather than forming at college or on the local bar scene, the band was created as a direct reaction to September 11th. Gerard Way and ex-drummer Matt Pelisser formed the band a week after the tragic events, as Way explains:

“One of the other things I thought about when the first building went down was, “Everything’s kind of pointless that you’re doing right now.” I was involved in commercial art in New York, trying to pitch a show to the Cartoon Network… At that moment I was like, “This doesn’t mean anything. This is all garbage. This is all bullshit. I need to do something that actually means something, or my life’s gonna mean nothing. Just like this cartoon means nothing.”

Way found his outlet through music, quickly recruiting Ray Toro as the band’s lead guitarist so the inexperienced Way could focus on vocals. The band expanded to include Mikey Way, the younger brother of Gerard, who is credited with naming the band after the Irvine Welsh collection of novellas “Esctasy: Three Tales Of Chemical Romance”.

The band recruited its final member Frank Iero through Eyeball records, pinching the rhythm guitarist from the band Pencey Prep shortly before the release of 2002’s I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, the band’s debut LP. It went only to 129 in the UK charts, but would eventually go gold in both the US and UK.
While the album failed to gain traction, My Chemical Romance began to gain a cult following with the help of songs like “Honey This Mirror Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us”, a scything tale of addiction that reflected Way’s real life alcoholism.

This early success earned the band a deal with the major label Reprise who would release the band’s second LP Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge in 2004. Unlike I Brought You My Bullets… Three Cheers… was a run away success going platinum in the US and UK and going Gold all over the globe. My Chemical Romance soon found themselves opening for Green Day on their lucrative American Idiot Tour before co-headlining the Warped Tour with fellow upstarts Fall Out Boy. At this point the band ditch drummer, and founding member, Mike Pelisser for Bob Bryar at this point.

This new LP launched four of My Chemical Romance’s biggest hits; the fearful heartfelt of yearning of “Ghost Of You”, the jagged thrills of “Thank You For The Venom”, the mammoth sing-along that would come to define the new Emo sound “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”, and fan favourite album opener “Helena”. All four of the singles made the top 100 in both the UK and US and set the band on course for superstardom.

Tellingly, The Cheers For Sweet Revenge was loaded with potential singles that were never released, most notably the bristling grooves of “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid” and the frankly hilarious hater goading swagger of the silly to dead serious “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison”.

Reprise were quick to cash in on the album’s success releasing the live album Life On The Muder Scene as a forerunner to the band’s highly anticipated third album. It’s at this point that the anti-emo sentiment reached its zenith. NME and Kerrang regular reported on violent incidents where “emo kids” were beaten up and abused at gigs. While bottling bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, Aiden and My Chemical Romance became common place at festivals.

2006’s The Black Parade couldn’t have come out at a better or worse time. The pseudo concept album was based around “The Patient” saw the character dying on album openers “The End” and “Dead!” and reliving memories across the rest of the LP.

My Chemical Romance also died as a band, and were replaced onstage by the black military marching band The Black Parade. Fronted by a now silver haired Gerard Way. The band gave their first major performance at Reading Festival where they were bottled mercilessly by Slayer fans, but managed to soldier on and complete their set.

The album was a huge success catapulting the band to superstars status. It entered the charts at number 2 in the UK and US, went platinum across the world going double platinum in the UK. While “Welcome To The Black Parade” shot to number one in the UK singles chart, with “Famous Last Words”, “Teenagers” and “I Don’t Love You” all shooting into the top 20.

The band came under fire fromthe Daily Mail during this period, who published a bizarre article that implied that My Chemical Romance were some kind of suicide cult for kids. Gerard Way fought back at Reading Festival leading chants of “Fuck The Daily Mail”.

The band’s biggest test came at Download Festival 2007. A controversial headline slot that saw the band play to one of the smallest headline crowd’s in recent memory, and enduring and early bottling. The band were more warmly greeted on their ultra-successful world tour that included at date at London’s O2 arena and a major support slots for Muse at Wembley. The tour was documented on the Live album The Black  Parade Is Dead!

The band took a four-year break between official studio releases before returning in 2010 with another loose concept album Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, which saw the band’s new alter egos battling the evil Better Living Industries corporation in a series of stylish music videos.

At this point the band ditched their dark clothes for some bright colour (including a bright red hairdo for Gerard), and refined their sound into a more poppy and bouncy end product.

The album was a flop compared to The Black Parade only going gold in the UK and Australia, and launching the moderately successful singles “Na Na Na”, “The Only Hope For Me Is You”, “Sing”, “Planetary (Go!)”, and “Bulletproof Heart”.

The Opinion:

Rather than stoking the fires of anticipation, the death of the “emo curse” appears to have taken the edge off of My Chemical Romance. The backlash and bottling may no longer be a fear, but the excitement and event status doesn’t really seem to follow them in the way it once did….but who cares? 

My Chemical Romance have a collection of some of the most infectious and irresistible pop and post-harcore tracks at their disposal. “Teenagers”, “Na Na Na”, “I Don’t Love You”, “Sing”, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” and “Planetary (Go!)” will provided the approachable grooves and mammoth sing-alongs that festivals are built upon, while “Welcome To The Black Parade”, “Famous Last Words” and  “Thanks For The Venom” will bring the darker slightly-harder energy that is perfectly suited to Reading and Leeds.
Gerard Way actually has a tremendous sense of humour, and the band’s ability to go from kitschy irony to OTT super serious emotional catharsis is an incredible weapon that can be deployed at any moment.

Hopefully the band will unleash some of their quirkier numbers at R&L like the crooked waltz “Mama”, the sardonic jaunt “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison”, and the frankly brilliant “Helena”.

Most of all, it’s important to remember that beneath all the silliness and hate, My Chemical Romance are fun post-hardcore band that specialize in quick thrills, and OTT sing-alongs. If you give them half a chance, you might just find yourself bouncing and singing-along, and *Fingers Crossed* Gerard will be in good voice (we can hope).

For more information about Introducing The Headliners – My Chemical Romance please visit Reading and Leeds Festivals » Features.

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