My Chemical Romance is an American rock band. Their general style has been categorized as alternative rock, pop punk, post-hardcore, punk rock, hard rock, gothic rock, hardcore punk, and, most controversially, emo. The band's official website describes their music as simply "rock" or "violent, dangerous pop". Gerard Way has publicly rejected the term "emo", describing the genre as "f-king garbage". The band consists of Gerard Way, Ray Toro, Frank Iero, and Mikey Way.
Founding and First Album (2001—2002)
Gerard Way and Matt Pelissier formed My Chemical Romance, which was then an untitled project, when Gerard saw the 9/11 attacks from his office in New York City. He wrote My Chemical Romance's first song, "Skylines and Turnstiles", about his feelings in the aftermath of the attacks. A short time after, the band recruited their current lead guitarist Ray Toro because Gerard couldn't play guitar and sing at the same time.
The name for the band was suggested by Gerard's younger brother, Mikey Way; he was working in Barnes and Noble at the time and was inspired by the title of a book, "Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance". With their new name, the band set out recording a demo CD, with Gerard as lead vocalist, Ray on guitar, and Matt on drums. The Attic Demos, as the band now refers to them, were recorded in Matt's attic and comprised of the songs "Our Lady of Sorrows" (formerly titled "Bring More Knives"), "Cubicles" and "Skylines and Turnstiles". Upon hearing the demo, Mikey Way decided to join the band after dropping out of college.
While at Eyeball Records, the band met Frank Iero, lead guitarist, and vocalist for Pencey Prep. When Pencey Prep split up, Frank joined My Chemical Romance as the rhythm guitarist just a few days before the recording of the band's first studio album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. Despite this, Frank played in two of the eleven songs on the album, "Early Sunsets Over Monroeville" and "Demolition Lovers".
The band's fanbase was gained from shows played at the Big Daddy's venue and free songs downloadable from their MySpace and PureVolume pages.
Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and The Murder Scene (2003—2006)
In 2003, the band signed a record deal with Reprise Records, and following a tour with Avenged Sevenfold, they began work on their second album. The album was released in 2003, entitled Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, and the band released four singles from the album, "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)", "Thank You for the Venom", "Helena" and "The Ghost Of You". In 2004, the band replaced co-founder and drummer, Matt Pelissier, with Bob Bryar following a tour of Japan.
At the start of 2005, the band featured in the first-ever Taste of Chaos Tour, and also performed as an opening act to Green Day on their American Idiot tour. They then co-headlined the 2005 Warped Tour alongside Fall Out Boy and co-headlined another tour around the US with Alkaline Trio and Reggie and the Full Effect. That same year, My Chemical Romance collaborated with fellow alternative rock band The Used on a cover of "Under Pressure", a Queen and David Bowie classic.
In 2006, the band released their first live album, Life on the Murder Scene, incorporating a live CD and two live DVDs, one of a live show, music videos and their making and the other a documentary of the band's story up until that point. An unauthorised DVD biography Things That Make You Go MMM! was released in June 2006 that contained no content by My Chemical Romance, but rather included interviews with people that knew them before much of their fame. Another biography was released in 2006, written by Paul Stenning and entitled Something Wicked This Way Comes. The biography talks of them from their beginning right through to their third album.
The Black Parade Era (2006—2008)
In 2006, the band began recording their third album, The Black Parade, with producer Rob Cavallo, noted for working with similar musical acts such as Green Day and Paramore. It was originally thought that the album would be titled "The Rise and Fall of My Chemical Romance", but in an interview with Kerrang! Magazine, Gerard revealed "It was never the title of the album, more a spoof, or joke."
The first two music videos were completed on August 3rd; "Welcome to the Black Parade" and "Famous Last Words" were both directed by Samuel Bayer, noted for working with Nirvana on the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video and Green Day on the "American Idiot" video. During the shooting of "Famous Last Words", band members Gerard Way and Bob Bryar were injured; Way pulled a ligament in his ankle and Bryar was burnt on the leg, which developed a staph infection requiring medical attention. These injuries, while mistakenly reported as the result of a car crash, caused My Chemical Romance to cancel a few tour dates.
On August 22nd, 2006, My Chemical Romance played a one-off show at the Hammersmith Palais, all of the 1,800 tickets sold out in 15 minutes, and later, tickets could be found on popular commercial websites such as eBay for well over the tickets' face value. After the band announced the album's title, 20 people wearing hooded black cloaks promoting the album paraded around Hammersmith while being followed by fans and members of the band's street team, the MCRmy, holding plaques reading "The Black Parade".
At the show, the UK release date and album name were confirmed. Before the band entered the stage, an announcement came over stating that the band couldn't make it, so another group, The Black Parade, would be playing in their stead. After some audience disapproval, it became obvious that it was just My Chemical Romance adopting an alter-ego, continuing the theme of the album.
"Welcome to the Black Parade", the first single from the album, was released on September 11th, 2006, and the video was released on September 26th and 27th, 2006 in the UK and US respectively. The single became the first number one on the UK charts in October 2006, and The Black Parade was released the same month, on the 23th and 24th in the UK and US respectively.
The Black Parade World Tour commenced on February 22, 2007, incorporating 133 shows featuring Rise Against, Thursday and Muse as supporting acts, while James Dewees, frontman of Reggie and the Full Effect with whom the band had toured with earlier in their career, played keyboard and synth. In April 2007, it was announced that Mikey would be taking a break from touring to spend time with his wife, Alicia Simmons-Way; he was replaced by Matt Cortez, a friend of the band. During the third leg of the tour, My Chemical Romance, Muse and their respective road crews suffered from food poisoning, resulting in them having to cancel six shows. The band later featured on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution tour alongside Linkin Park, Placebo, Mindless Self Indulgence, Soasin, Taking Back Sunday and HIM.
The band received mixed accolades for its third album. In Kerrange! magazine, issue 1139, The Black Parade was was rated as the fourth greatest album of 2006, and placed 20th on the Rolling Stone magazine's 50th greatest album of the year too. My Chemical Romance later won the award for Best International Band at the 2007 NME Awards, and Gerard was awarded the Hero of the Year award as well. The band was also nominated for Best Alternative Group at the 2007 American Music Awards.
The band later announced in a blog post on their website that they would be going on a break after a final tour of America and that they were going to release a live CD/DVD album entitled The Black Parade Is Dead!. The album included two concerts from October 2007; more specifically, the final Black Parade show in Mexico City and a smaller show at Maxwell's, New Jersey. The album was intended to be released on June 24 and 30, 2008 in the US and UK respectively, but both dates were postponed until July 1, 2008 due to a technical problem with the Mexico concert.
Danger Days (2009—2012)
On May 27, 2009, My Chemical Romance's web designer, Jeff Watson, announced via the band's website that the band was headed to the studio to record their fourth full-length album. The recording took place over the following few weeks with producer Brendan O'Brien, who has worked with AC/DC, Mastodon, and Pearl Jam.
In an interview with NME, Gerard Way said the band's next record would be a rock album, saying, "I think (the next album) will definitely be stripped down. I think the band misses being a rock band." In a separate interview with Idiomag, Way commented that the next release would be less theatrical in scope, stating that "it's not going to be hiding behind a veil of fiction or uniforms and makeup anymore." In an interview with PopEater, Way also stated that the next album will be "full of hate." He also said "over the years that we've been hearing ourselves live and hearing us on records, we kind of prefer the live. There's more of a garage feel and more energy. I'd like to capture some of that, finally. That's the goal for the next one."
On July 31 and August 1, 2009, My Chemical Romance played two "secret" shows at The Roxy Theater in Los Angeles. The shows were the first concerts the band had played since Madison Square Garden in May 2008. The band also premiered several new songs said to be from their upcoming fourth album during the shows, one reportedly titled "Death Before Disco", a song that Way said he was particularly excited about. The song was since renamed "Party Poison" and was included on the new album. Way explained further in a Rolling Stone interview that "it's a completely different sound for the band — it's like an anti-party song that you can party to. I can't wait for people to hear it. It brings back, lyrically, some of that wonderful fiction from the first album."
Gerard Way also said in a November 2009 interview with Rock Sound that the fourth album would be their defining work. "A friend who heard the record recently said he now had no interest in listening to our older work anymore, that we had made all our old material redundant. I took it as a compliment, the next thing you should always make the last thing seem unimportant and I think that will happen when we finally release this album." On March 3, 2010, Iero announced on their official website that Bob Bryar had left the band, writing:
"As of 4 weeks ago, My Chemical Romance and Bob Bryar parted ways. This was a painful decision for all of us to make and was not taken lightly. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors and expect you all to do the same."
The band did not state reasons on why he left.
In a March 2010 MTV interview about the new album, Way explained, "There's no title yet...I'm actually kind of excited about that. It's kind of 'anything goes' at this point, but I'm so happy with the songs." Though the band since decided on the title of their fourth album, it continued to go unannounced, with various rumors circulating and the band stating on their website that it will be revealed "all in due time" and in Way's words, "a special way this time. Maybe some sort of event, something fun, something soon."
During the San Diego Comic-Con 2010, Way announced that the band had finished recording the fourth studio album. This was later confirmed by Iero on the band's website, announcing that the album was "done, finished, kaput, in the proverbial can, and being played loudly as we drive way too fast in our respective cars."
In September, a trailer video was uploaded to My Chemical Romance's official YouTube page entitled Art is a Weapon, which announced the title of the album: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. The video featured the band wearing strangely coloured outfits and battling unusual characters in a desert surrounding, and featuring a sample of music from the song "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)". Notable comic book author and the band's personal friend, Grant Morrison, makes a special appearance, in the role of an enemy and leader of a band of masked characters. On September 22, 2010, the band premiered their song "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show, and Los Angeles-based radio station KROQ-FM. The album was released on November 22, 2010.
Rock Sound had a preview of the album and gave a positive review, commenting "the way they’ve used everything they learned on ‘The Black Parade’ and tightened up in certain places feels natural and confident" and that it sees "the creativity of the band taking flight musically, graphically and literally."
Michael Pedicone joined the band as a touring drummer late in 2010, replacing Bryar. During a performance at Wembley Arena on February 12, 2011, Way announced that the band will be appearing at a UK festival later in the year, later confirmed as the Reading and Leeds Festivals, which they headlined. They also performed at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Carlisle, Cumbria|Carlisle, England on May 15, 2011.
On September 2, 2011, Frank Iero posted a blog on the band's site stating, "The relationship between My Chemical Romance and Michael Pedicone is over" and explaining Pedicone was sacked because "he was caught red handed stealing from the band and confessed to police after our show last night in Auburn, Washington." He also mentioned his hope of getting a new drummer in time for their next show and avoiding having to cancel any performances in the process.
On September 4, 2011, it was revealed through various sources that Jarrod Alexander would be the new touring drummer for the remainder of the Honda Civic tour. He also performed with them in late October at Voodoo Experience and at their Australian + New Zealand shows at Big Day Out in early 2012.
Fifth studio album
In an interview with Rolling Stone in October 2011, guitarist Frank Iero revealed that new music could be out "by summer". In February 2012, the band revealed that they have been building a studio in Los Angeles to record music for their fifth album. They would be working with engineer Doug McKean, who previously worked with them on The Black Parade and Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
On March 22, 2013 My Chemical Romance announced their breakup on their website after 12 years being together with 4 studio albums and one that was in the making, known as of 2012 by MCR5.
My Chemical Romance posted the following statement on their official website: "Being in this band for the past 12 years has been a true blessing. We've gotten to go places we never knew we would. We've been able to see and experience things we never imagined possible. We've shared the stage with people we admire, people we look up to, and best of all, our friends. And now, like all great things, it has come time for it to end. Thanks for all of your support, and for being part of the adventure."
On March 25, 2014, the band released a greatest hits collection, entitled May Death Never Stop You, containing material spreading their entire career, as well a single unreleased track. The track "Fake Your Death" was made available digitally on February 17.
Post Break Up
Following the band's break-up, the members of the band continued to pursue music. Lead vocalist Gerard Way announced his debut solo album Hesitant Alien with the release of an advance-single, "Action Cat". Hesitant Alien was released on September 29, 2014 in the UK, and a day later in the U.S. Hesitant Alien was a moderate commercial success, topping the US Billboard Alternative Albums chart and reaching No. 16 on the US Billboard 200. Hesitant Alien also topped the "Ten Essential Albums Of 2014" list in Alternative Press.
Rhythm guitarist Frank Iero sporadically collaborated with My Chemical Romance keyboardist James Dewees, forming Death Spells and performing in Reggie and the Full Effect (alongside Ray Toro), releasing No Country for Old Musicians on November 19, 2013. Afterwards, he announced via his official website that he signed to Staple Records and would be releasing a full-length solo album entitled Stomachaches under the moniker of "frnkiero andthe cellabration". The album featured former My Chemical Romance touring drummer Jarrod Alexander. Stomachaches was released world-wide on August 25, 2014.
Bassist Mikey Way formed Electric Century along with Sleep Station vocalist David Debiak in 2014 and released their debut single "I Lied" in February 2014. The duo announced their debut self-titled EP on March 10, 2015 and was released on Record Store Day on April 18, 2015.
Lead guitarist Ray Toro posted a song on his SoundCloud account entitled "Isn't That Something" on May 24, 2013. On January 1, 2015 he posted a new song, titled "For the Lost and Brave", on his website, dedicating the song to Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide.
On October 15th, 2013, My Chemical Romance's official twitter page was re-verified. This led fans to believe something may be happening and that the band may be reuniting to release MCR5.
Along with the reverification, the band's twitter bio was also changed. It read "Sometimes, in order to grow, you must tear down everything that came before". This information has since been changed.
It was later revealed that this change was the result of hackers, who have been since banned from Twitter.
On July 20, 2016, My Chemical Romance posted a video on their official YouTube account entitled "MCRX." The video, which is only 34 seconds long, depicts a flag with a cross-shaped symbol waving in the wind, and the piano introduction to "Welcome to the Black Parade" plays twice. A date, "9.23.16," is displayed at the end of the video. It was noted that, since The Black Parade was released on October 23, 2006, its ten-year anniversary will take place in 2016 (and X is the Roman numeral for ten). As to why the date depicted in "MCRX" is September 23 as opposed to October 23, no popular theory has been proposed; however, the music and date included in the video led many fans to believe that My Chemical Romance will have a reunion tour.
Leading up to the video's upload, it was noticed that My Chemical Romance's tweet concerning their breakup had been deleted. The "Tour" page of their website had also read, "Check back soon for more details on the upcoming tour." Additionally, new merchandise, printed with the cross symbol from "MCRX," was released on their online store and in Hot Topic.
However, the day after the video was released - and fans had thoroughly voiced their eagerness for the band's reunion - My Chemical Romance revealed through their official Facebook page that no reunion event of any kind was to take place - that instead, there would be a special release in honor of Black Parade's tenth anniversary:
"We've been really touched and blown away by the response to the teaser trailer. We are not touring and there is no reunion planned - only a release for the anniversary of The Black Parade. Thanks so much for continuing to keep MCR in your minds and in your hearts."
Many fans expressed disappointment at the fact that the band's "Tour" page still hinted at a new tour; however, it is likely that this was simply left on the page before the band's breakup, as a default message in between tours.
Reunion and Future (2019 - present)
On October 31, 2019, the band announced they would be reuniting with a date in Los Angeles on December 20 and a new merchandise line. The announcement was accompanied by the captions "Return" and "Like Phantoms Forever...". They have also uploaded photos on their website.
The December 20th, 2019 reunion show sold out in 4 minutes despite high ticket prices. Believed initially to be a one-off show, almost a week later, the band announced more dates in Australia, Japan and New Zealand for 2020. They later revealed via Twitter that they had first regrouped in 2017 and had been working together since then, before the official 2019 announcement. The concert grossed $1,451,745, with an attendance of 5,113.
In January 2020, the group announced plans to present one, then two, then three concerts at Stadium MK (Milton Keynes, England), on 18, 20 and 21 of June 2020 as tickets for each day sold out within minutes. The stadium has an (all round) capacity of 30,500 for sports events. Later in the month, the group premiered a cryptic video on YouTube which ended by announcing a North American tour.