The My Chemical Romance legacy, in five songs

There are not many bands you can pinpoint a date in history when they were destined to form. The Sex Pistols playing Free Trade Hall is a well-known event to many but for My Chemical Romance, it’s even deeper than that.

Working as an intern at Cartoon Network in New York, frontman Gerard Way was moved to start making music again after witnessing the World Trade Centre Towers falling in 2001. Way would go on to write their first song, ‘Skylines and Turnstiles’, based on that day.

Rising from the East Coast underground goth-emo/punk-pop scene, MCR as they are often called, moved from the independent Eyeball Records to major- label Reprise just two years after they formed.

Thanks to breakthrough tracks such as ‘Helena’ and ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ making their way onto heavy rotation on MTV back when it played music videos, the group would go on to have legendary status, inspiring a generation of musicians, artists, and fans to express themselves creatively.

It seemed like we’d never see a reunion. But in 2019, after several years of planning, the band was back! Returning was Gerard, his younger brother and bassist Mikey Way, as well as double axe wielding guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero.

Not that well versed in one of the biggest names ever to come to Warrington? (May 27th if you don’t know) Or maybe you are wanting a bit of a refresher? Here’s five tracks for you to check out (one from each album), and why they are so important. Fancy an after party after the gig on 27th? Asylum Club night have you covered!

I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (2002)
Highest UK Chart position: 17, Independent Albums (Gold, over 100,000 sales).

 Recorded just three months after the band formed, this album is raw, punky but already has the staple of catchy lyrics, tight guitar work with a not so subtle sledgehammer of darkness. These undertones to their music, with frequent references to horror tropes and Vampires, set MCR up as a cross of The Misfits and Alkaline Trio. Credit goes to Gerard for enduring the entire recording process with a bad case of toothache!

Our go-to track has to be ‘Skylines and Turnstiles’. Like much of the album, it’s scrappy around the edges, but showed all the potential of a band who had much more to give. Despite the horrors of the track’s origin, it still brings around an overriding sense of unity and bringing people together through adversity.

“Vampires Will Never Hurt You” Released: May 27, 2002
“Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us” Released: December 15, 2003
“Headfirst for Halos” Released: April 5, 2004

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)
Highest UK Chart position: 1, UK Rock & Metal Albums (Platinum, over 300,000 sales).

It wasn’t long before the New Jerseyans would catch the attention of the major labels and My Chemical Romance would ride a wave right to the top. The album, like many of those that followed, had a loose concept running through it.

“...the story of a man and a woman who are separated by death in a gunfight and he goes to hell only to realise by the devil telling him that she’s still alive. The devil says he can be with her again if he brings the devil the souls of a thousand evil men and the man agrees to do it, and so the devil hands him a gun.”

Oh yes, this was undoubtedly an Emo record! But one that remains to stand the test of time, taking in themes of loss, grief and trauma. For every outsider in their fanbase, I’m Not Okay (I Promise) would become their anthem and crowds would soon be full of people imitating their idols with striped shirts, dark eye makeup and dyed hair.

It was a more polished release, with pop structures that appealed to the mainstream and angst-ridden teenagers alike. There’s a charm that despite how serious they took shaping the record, they’d drop in b-movie horror tropes to make the tracks more colourful.

There’s no way they could see what was coming after this album dropped. With well over 3 million albums sold worldwide, the band went from recording demos in their basement, to being put on the front cover of The Daily Mail with their next release.

EVERYTHING ON THREE CHEERS FOR SWEET REVENGE! ONE OF THE BEST ALBUMS EVER. EVERY SINGLE SONG IS A WORK OF ART.
– Sean Smith, ex The Blackout, S’Appenin Podcast, MCR DJ

The cult of My Chemical Romance was heading into the mainstream, and the tabloids would not let rationality get in the way of a good headline.

Our go-to track here is Helena. Once again, there’s a strong overarching story about death, but this track was written as a tribute to Gerard and Mikey’s late grandmother which starts with a whispered verse before exploding into a hugely energetic track. It’s Gerard at his rawest and his finest. What’s the worst thing I can say?

“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” Released: September 13, 2004
“Thank You for the Venom” Released: December 13, 2004 (UK)
“Helena” Released: March 8, 2005
“The Ghost of You” Released: August 29, 2005

The Black Parade (2006)
Highest Chart Position: 2, UK Album Chart (x3 platinum, over 900,000 sales)

There is no irony that the band’s darkest album almost drove them apart. But what might not be expected is that the record that gave MCR their biggest shows would also see them feared as leaders of a movement that threatened children across the world. Fair to say “fuck the Daily Mail” came a common statement during their UK gigs by the band from the stage.

The saviours of the broken, the beaten and the damned ramped up the theatrics and embraced the rock & roll opera, bringing it up to date for a new generation. It was no wonder that they would be in the headlining slots at the Reading & Leeds Festival in 2011, where they brought Queen guitarist Brian May onto the stage with them. It was built on this song’s legacy.

I love Famous Last Words. It has everything – the epic riffs and guitar solos, powerful vocals and a big chorus that sticks in your head. [unlike The Black Parade] it wasn’t quite as hyped up so it still feels like it belongs to the die hard fans. I’m taken back to my teenage years every time I go back to it. -Aaron Evans, War Stripes

Celebrations were also in order when they gained their first UK number one single with ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’, which holds the double distinction of not only knocking Razolight off the top spot, but also being identifiable to a generation of music lovers with a single press of a piano key (G).

Cue the iconic black military marching band uniforms, with Gerard reinventing himself with bleach blonde hair, knowing how important image would be for modern music and reinventing themselves with every album cycle. The album became part of the cultural landscape and things would never be the same for alternative culture.

With the incredibly heavy touring schedule, which featured three legs in North America, two legs in Europe, and one in Asia, Australia, and Latin America, plus the necessary press commitments attached to a band of such magnitude and a tour of such proportions, it is perhaps no surprise that these pressures would amount to the beginning of the end for My Chemical Romance.

Our go-to track is none other than ‘Welcome To Black Parade’. Not only does it have an outstanding music video, but it defines not only the band but almost the entire Emo genre. Celebrating life as much as death, it’s a roller coaster of a song that will always be there for you.

We’d probably pick a different song but my favourite is Teenagers. The reason being it’s totally anthemic and brings a crowd together better than any Oasis Song – Vic, HMV Warrington

“We were spent, burnt, totally out of it,” Ray Toro says. “Being this costume band in black night after night, country after country, it was a grind. We started to see The Black Parade as the enemy, one we wanted to kill on our next record.”

“Welcome to the Black Parade” Released: September 12, 2006
“Famous Last Words” Released: January 22, 2007
“I Don’t Love You” Released: April 2, 2007
“Teenagers” Released: July 9, 2007

Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2010)
Highest UK Album Chart: 14, (Platinum, over 100,000 sales)

Seemingly having more fun than ever, MCR came out of the blocks with the highly catchy first single “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)”. It was a conscious decision by the band to work on something stripped back from costumes, (without complex narratives across the recording. Aiming, ultimately, to create something more upbeat.

This was the band having fun after a gruelling tour and the dark tone of the previous album.

The album’s loose storyline follows a city in post-apocalyptic California circa 2019, where a few outsiders called Killjoys fight against an evil corporation. In 2013, frontman Gerard Way published a comic that continues the story described in the album.

Our go to track here is Planetary (Go!). This may seem a controversial choice, but this track is the anti- everything to everything on The Black Parade with a strong dance vibe, synths and programmed drums and yet is indisputably a My Chemical Romance track filled with positivity. The track is also very different to what they initially went into the studio to record. The stripped back tracks that would eventually be scrapped when the album was restarted would later appear on the Conventional Weapons EP.

“Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” Released: September 28, 2010
“The Only Hope for Me Is You” Released: October 11, 2010
“Sing” Released: November 3, 2010
“Planetary (Go!)” Released: March 25, 2011
“Bulletproof Heart” Released: June 13, 2011
“The Kids from Yesterday” Released: January 20, 2012

Conventional Weapons (2013)

Consisting of ten unreleased songs recorded in 2009 prior to the making of Danger Days, this compilation showed off the band going back to basics over several weeks, as tracks were dropped in five parts.

The recordings were scrapped as the group was unhappy with the results, having felt they were holding themselves back, but there are certainly strong tracks here and you can see moments that would have inspired parts in the Danger Days EP. Sadly a month after the final tracks were released, My Chemical Romance announced it was all over.

Our go to track is ‘The Light Behind Your Eyes’. A softly sung ballad over guitar and piano sees Gerard talking about loss but having been picked to be released weeks before their split, it’s not hard to romanticise that it was written about the end of the band, long before it ever came to be.

My Chemical Romance will never die, which is ironic considering their constant obsession with death. The stories weaved into their music gave light to those who needed it and no doubt saved lives. Even years later, they would always win a fan-voted award in Rocksound Magazine as one of the most upsetting band break-ups of all time.

Now, over two years since they were due to return to the UK for the first time in a decade, their crowd will be made up of a whole range of different fans; those who have been there from the start, those who may have lapsed from their ‘emo phase’, as well as those who had only discovered the band after they split.

My Chemical Romance are one of those genre defining bands with timeless music that transcends generation splits associated with most music. Or perhaps, you never truly grow out of teenage angst, which the demographic of the crowd will surely reflect.

It’s going to be a night to remember.

Limited general and VIP tickets remain via gigsandtours.com

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