Every week, I take a band or artist from the jar and listen to their back catalog in an attempt at widening my musical knowledge.
This week was the turn of emo Jersey Boys, My Chemical Romance.
What I Knew Before: I was very much aware of MCR prior to this project. At the height of their fame, I did what I could to avoid them, changing channels whenever the videos for Helena, I’m Not Okay (I Promise) or Ghost Of You came on Kerrang TV. I even saw them live, when they supported Muse at their Wembley gig in 2007. As memory serves me, I went with my then girlfriend and rolled my eyes through the entire set. I wasn’t an emo kid. I was put off of a number of bands by the people who were into them. I like to think that people’s tastes are a lot more rounded now but at the time I was an elitist indie kid who didn’t understand what it was that MCR were doing.
What I Know Now: I missed out by being so short-sighted in my tastes. By lumping an entire genre of music together, I didn’t know one of the most important bands of the twenty-first century when they were right in front of my face.
The things that MCR were doing are only now being rolled out on a wider scale. In their excellent documentary; Life On The Murder Scene, they call other bands and musicians out for abusing their positions of power to take advantage of young, female fans. The reason that rock music has grown tired and want to bring some of the fun and pantomime back to it. They celebrate their own soapbox by making powerful statements about isolation, addiction and mental health. I read that statement back and wonder what there isn’t to love about My Chemical Romance.
The way Gerard Way approached songwriting and fronting a band remains unique. He thinks in comic book terms, his first love, and one that he has cemented through his incredible work creating The Umbrella Academy. He knew that he didn’t want to waste the opportunity that was his own life so pulled together a group of friends to form a band. His lyrics tell stories and his confident world-building is bombastic, crazed and colourful. You can feel his love and torture through his songs.
This is combined with the wild thrashing of Frank Iero and Ray Toro, two of the best guitarists I’ve ever watched play. His kid brother, Mikey Way, plays bass and offers support in a way only a sibling can and their eventual drummer (they had previous), Bob Bryar, built something steady into their wild and wired world.
What MCR did with each album is identify what they wanted and grow into it. They provided a voice and an outlet for a lot of disconnected kids. The value that they added is unfathomable.
I have shared the name of my artist of the week on social media for seventeen weeks now. It speaks volumes that the biggest reaction to my announcement was for My Chemical Romance. I dedicate this week to the MCR-my and the Killjoys.
Favourite song(s): Skylines and Turnstiles, Early Sunsets Over Monroeville, Helena, I’m Not Okay (I Promise), I Don’t Love You, Mama, Teenagers and Blood.
Favourite album: There’s no question about it, The Black Parade is not just their best album but one of the best concept albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.