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Jul 24, 2012

ARTICLE: My Chemical Romance: Three Cheers For Ten Years (My Chemical Romance Feature)

Everyone seems to have a band that really provoked your love of music, and for me that band - gulp - is My Chemical Romance. I am aware of the stigmas, the opinions, the tags that go along with them, yet I'm not alone in this sentiment. So as today - July 23rd 2012 - marks the 10th anniversary of their debut record 'I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love', I thought it seemed the best time to ramble aimlessly about what made them so important and the transformations they've undergone in the last ten years. If anyone cares about my opinion...

They were essentially a soundtrack to my teens, as were many other bands, but they truly provoked my love of music. When their debut came out, I was just 10. I had my experience in alternative music from my parents, who loved the likes of Guns N' Roses, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, KISS... But as I stumbled upon the adverts for their pending second album, I stumbled upon what would be my new favourite band at the most impressionable age musically.

Considering how I was back then, I tend to forgive the younger teenagers who are manically obsessive about their favourite bands. I practically lived and breathed My Chemical Romance for a good few years, but why?

I had liked Green Day and other bands that have been tied to MCR's 'genre', yet being there so early into a band's career felt like the band grew alongside me. From the haunting and dark 'Vampires Will Never Hurt You' to the novelty "If we can do this, we can do anything" number of 'Headfirst For Halos', Bullets seemed something new and exciting to someone just finding their introduction to the alternative music of their age. 'Our Lady Of Sorrows' - steeped with aggression and that real punk flavour - still remains one of my favourite tracks in existence.

Though Bullets holds some of the band's best and most raw work, personally, their 2004 release 'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge' still remains one of my favourite records of all time. The transformation from a mere dark musical presence to having a real visual presence was one key factor. The blood splatters and bulletproof outfits are iconic, the real concept and thought that was evident in their videos set them apart from their past work and there was just something simply captivating about the music.

  The notable progression was clear, and so was the message: My Chemical Romance aren't going to do produce the same work twice. 'I'm Not Okay' proved an anthem to the outsiders, that it's okay to be different - who the hell wants to be the same anyway? They spoke to a young generation of outcasts and those who felt outsiders. They were just tighter as a band, the likes of 'Thank You For The Venom' blew most of their past work out of the water in terms of skill and production.

  This was around the age that the clothes went baggy and the hair was dyed black (Thanks, Gerard), but despite cringing every time I see photos of myself from this era, it's hard not to smile at how smitten with music this record made me. What's more is I wasn't the only one - the networking system the MCR fanbase had introduced me to some of my best friends of today. We've all grown out of the obsession, but we all still talk about this musical period in our lives like little will be repeated. Sure, we've grown to love albums since, we've been blown away by bands since, but there's little that compares to discovering 'that' album at 'that' age.

  Their 'Life on the Murder Scene' DVD was practically quoted from front to back. I've not met one fan who didn't go "You better stay on that side of the street, motherfucker, I'll knock you out" with a smirk on their face. You could quote their back-story with ease, know the ins and outs of their conception and growth to the present point. The DVD even ended with a hat tip to their new direction, with 'I Don't Love You' being aired in its tentative stages.

2006's 'The Black Parade' saw them depart their previous sounds entirely for a new direction. With the concept surrounding a character losing his battle with cancer, the album deals with experiences of death and life reflection - the journey of this notion. One of the alternative scene's most explosive bands returning with a rock opera didn't sit well with everyone, but it didn't stop the album selling in its masses. From the touching 'Cancer' to quirky bonus track 'Blood', they presented fans with another evolution of a band unwilling to be pigeonholed. It was bold, it was risky and it was different. Live shows saw a notable leap in production, with epic backdrops to abundance pyro and fireworks. Third time still proving the charm, this catapulted them to dizzying heights of fame.

Their two year album cycle was dashed following this as the band went on a break and made their surprise return at two intimate club shows in Hollywood. Debuting three new numbers, one of which would go on to appear on their new album, fans went wild online because the band seemed to not only be back, but had something new and exciting up their sleeves.

  No one could have anticipated their next move. Switching from rock opera to a comic book musical of sorts, My Chemical Romance pulled out 'Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys'. Their biggest step away from the cultural tags that had plagued their name for so long, New Jersey's finest were full of fun, energy and colour. This was an optimistic album, an exciting album. Though as packed with a visual concept as previous work, if not more so, there was a new twist of fun to their music, a reason to dance and sing without being steeped in sweeping metaphors and consuming meaningful undertones. 'Na Na Na' is just a catchy number and 'Planetary (Go!)' is just designed to make you dance but the band have not forgotten their roots or lost their capability of packing meaning into tracks. 'The Kids From Yesterday' feels reflective, looking at their growth as a band to date while 'Sing' sung an anthem of unity through music.

  They just don't stop. Compare 'Bullets' to 'Danger Days' and it's two completely different bands.

  Ten years, four albums, a few drummer changes, countless world tours, numerous accolades, millions of fans, thousands of memories and the band are still here, still evolving. They're not the young guys performing in basements any more, they've taken on the musical world and they're men now, with families and a fantastic career behind them.

  This doesn't do justice to the impact they had on me musically, probably because I'm more disconnected from them now than I ever have been - but that's not a bad thing. I spent the most impressionable years as a teenager following this band, and I started to grow out of them musically. I'm a classic rock 'n' roll girl, but there's a soft spot I will always hold for My Chemical Romance. They really provoked me into exploring these genres, shaped what makes me really connect with a band and have brought me to some of my best friends too.

  Growing out of an obsessive phase with your favourite band isn't a bad thing. Sometimes it's just part of growing up. Although I don't play their CDs every day, nor do I have their posters covering my walls any more, I still adore the band for what they've achieved and the impact they had on me. When I do go see them live, it's just an overwhelming wave of nostalgia, one of the few times I honestly feel 14 again. When I do play their music, I can't help but smile because I miss having them around.

  So, ten years is a long time. They've grown from their humble backgrounds to being one of the hugest bands in their genre. They've impacted my love of music, soundtracked my most impressionable years and will always be an important chapter in my musical story. 'I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love' is still as fantastic ten years on, and judging on how far they've come since then, one can only imagine what evolutions they still have in them from here on.


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