Far from each other, surrounded by this deafening silence and all these cancelled or postponed gigs, we need more than ever to return to our roots; We need to share positive words and thoughts;
We need to cherish this music that makes us feel like home, open up our chest to help people understand us better. It’s time to think differently, to feel more.
The lockdown really revealed our creativity. There were some amazing new sounds (The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, MGK…), surprising live concepts (YUNGBLUD, Lady Gaga…), great albums (The Used, Nightwish…) but I really was impressed by those artists who used their spare time to share their passion and to create a new kind of connection to music. Dave Grohl writing for The Atlantic, letting his words come alive, sharing his love for live music and his relation with the public, really inspired me to write something real, honest; because working in the music industry, for the good reasons, means being a fan at the very beginning and everything started with a band.
Here’s my love letter to My Chemical Romance; to all the MCR fans, music lovers, to all the misfits, the kids from yesterday searching in music not for a hero, just for a man who sings a song that makes sense to us.
Some artists perceive music as forms and colors, like painters. These musicians find the perfect words and notes to turn our feelings into the soundtrack of our life. We have found our favorite songs when we found these painters of melodies.
THE LIGHT BEHIND YOUR EYES
I always saw My Chemical Romance as a bright light at the end of a dark and long tunnel, like guides to brighter days, guys here to make things clearer in our mind, heart and soul; A band that doesn’t create darkness, but doesn’t deny it and help us fight, carry on, when anger and regrets kiss our life goodbye, so we can be our own hero.
Are you ready to save your own life with these good friends on your side? Don’t forget to celebrate your strength and bravery every day. My Chemical Romance is your anthem of victory.
Did you ever notice how the Disney movies from our childhood are inspired by sad stories? Everything begins with death, abandonment and bad news. We are quite far from Wonderland. But have you ever wondered why?
Like a guidance, these movies are here to explain complicated things to children even though they’re inevitable.
It’s part of the growing-up process. That’s how we learn to face life with all its aspects, as harsh, beautiful, and speechless as it could be. Growing up and facing reality can be really disappointing.
It’s kinda funny to realize that Gerard Way started singing when he played Peter Pan at school.
Isn’t Peter Pan this audacious little kid who fights for his friends and has this desire to stay happy, brave and young forever? Isn’t he the boy who makes us fly to Neverland to form a new family with the lost boys?
THE SAVIORs OF THE BROKEN, THE BEATEN AND THE DAMNED
My Chemical Romance created a pattern to help people face uniqueness, rebellion, mourning, disease, teenage years, adulthood, authority, injustice, addiction, love, loneliness, misconceptions…
They created characters, worlds and storylines, to convey strong messages. One thing I’ve always really appreciated with that band from the very beginning is their faculty to speak to us and not impose their words and convictions (fuck the daily mail). Their songs are like a real conversation, an exchange, an ode to acceptation, honest and helpful without pretention; “I’m just a man, I’m not a hero. Just a boy, who had to sing this song.”
I’m not gonna try and make Gerard, Mikey, Frank and Ray say what I want to. I’m writing today to share what’s on my mind. That’s how we should always speak about music. It should always be about what we feel.
That’s how I grew up with this idea that Medias should be there to promote artists by their Art, with positivity and real interest; That Medias should be there to listen more than speak, be a real platform giving visibility. Hard work, listening and honesty, here are important things I learned thanks to My Chemical Romance.
More than bringing a light of hope, they give me ethics.
« We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones. […] It was the possibility of darkness that made the day seem so bright.” Stephen King
My Chemical Romance was formed just after 9/11, a traumatic day in history experienced as an electric shock. I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love was our introduction to the band. We were quite far from the glamorization of vampires sparkling like Bowie in the morning sun.
This album is raw, authentic, violent… Just like the classic horror movies the guys are obsessed with and that I do like too.
Like The Misfits or The Ramones, a few songs on this debut album are inspired directly by these works: Early Sunsets Over Monroeville (the 78’ movie Dawn Of The Dead), Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us (the Japanese film The Audition)… But to see the dead coming back to life and prepare for revenge, we’ll have to wait for the second album…Dance Helena, Dance. Rise from the ashes of 9/11 like a phoenix, My Chemical Romance turned scars and tears into rage and combativity, to live forever in the light we make. I thought it was really comforting to escape the real monsters and reality.
Demolition Lovers has another kind of inspiration: the tragic Bonnie and Clyde’s love story. It’s gonna bring the storyline of the next album. It’s a really powerful song. It hurts us in the most beautiful way and I’m still really attached to that one, after all this time. But it’s with Headfirst For Halos that something clear appeared to me:
My Chemical Romance is gonna be the band of the soundtrack of my life and the next big thing.
The Queen fan that I am started to see in MCR a real potential, a band able to be a bridge between the good old Rock’n’roll and the new Punk scene, a crossover between bands like Queen and Green Day and abolish all the barriers killing creativity and dividing music lovers. I saw hope not only for me, but for music.
I fell for the rebellious mind of the revenge era born from the horror vibes of the first album to face our reality with theses videos looking like short movies. Helena was tragic , I’m Not Okay (I Promise), was funny, The Ghost of You was heartbreaking. The beauty of these new music videos directed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spiderman, 500 Days of Summer…) started to settle a real aesthetic. It gave more power to the songs, they were even more meaningful. Even 15 years later, I’m still watching these music videos with a stupid smile on my face and a tear in my eye.
“EMO ALWAYS MEANT EMOTIONAL. ANY KIND OF ART OR MUSIC SHOULD BE EMOTIONAL. IF ITS NOT, THAN IT’S PRETTY MUCH JUST A JINGLE SELLING BLEACH OR PIZZA.” – FRANK IERO
I always loved that quote by Frank; Funny, simple, efficient, just a friendly reminder that they can’t be put in a box. That’s funny how we all considered ourselves as emos because we were kinda the most logical evolution of emotional punks. Because we were wearing black clothes, making noise and feeling things with intensity, were concerned by each other more than just spreading hate. Emocore is real, it’s a part of the Punk scene, but every Punk band isn’t emocore. More than a genre, for most of us, Emo is an era (2003-2007). It became a sense of fashion, a behavior and a way of life. The boundaries became blur af through the years.
Emo music was born in the mid-80’s with bands like Rites Of Spring or Dag Nasty. Then came a second wave in the late 90’s and early 00’s but the first names that come to my mind are actually more Tuesday or Orchid than My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy. Alex Saavedra from Tuesday was the MCR producer but sincerely I can’t define their music as Emo, exept in the way Frank defined it.
Actually, the best description of their sound I ever read was maybe in a magazine after the release of The Black Parade: “This is crisp, vast and fiercely melodic stadium punk that’s barely emo in the slightest.”
But whatever people think, it doesn’t really matter. I just liked this vision of music: emotion and no barriers. It reminds me a lot of a long conversation I had with Yungblud when we met last year. He’s a big fan of the guys himself. We had this conversation about how barriers of any kind were stupid and a creativity killer.
My Chemical Romance never sold their souls for success. They didn’t give a shit about what people say. They evolved. They experienced.
It could sound pretty unexpected for a 30-year-old girl like me but I’ve always been a fan of roots rock and soul music. Not all of my friends know that one of my favorite singer is Sam Cooke, that I love listening to Joan Beaz, Joni Mitchel, Nina Simone or even to Bob Dylan, that my favorite bass sound is the bluesy one of Jake Bruce, that I can listen to Howlin’ Wolf playing guitar for hours.
Roots music comes from pain, loss and combativity. It creates hope to hug your heart and show its scarves with pride. It’s the promise of better days to come, despite the tragedies and failure. That’s how a Punk kid like me can also love this kind of music. That’s why My Chemical Romance moves me and I couldn’t agree more with this definition of Frank.
They talked about vampires when they were scary. When they became trendy, they killed them in their clean white suites, making them ridiculous and obedient. In the same way, they murdered their black clothes with really colorful outfits and were ready to kick ass when everybody started to wear black. You can call it “provocation”, to make the shit out of you; I call it bravery, audacity, freedom. You’re never gonna fit in much, kid. Deal with it.
“If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, you can find out firsthand what it’s like to be me. So gather ’round piggies and kiss this goodbye. I’d encourage your smiles I’ll expect you won’t cry.”
What if The End was just the beginning? The beginning of the album, but also of your journey.
With The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance released their most beautiful masterpiece being literally these leaders we were expected for so long. Just like in the music video of Welcome To The Black Parade, they became these dark sgts Pepper dressed by Colleen Atwood (costume designer for Tim Burton) celebrating life and bravery with even more harmonies and strong guitar solos.
At the beginning of the album, the patient was completely alone, facing the terrible truth: “Have you heard the news that you’re dead? No one ever had much nice to say. I think they never liked you anyway.”
With WTTBP he is joined by the marching band. Together they will carry on. It’s not about “I” anymore, it’s about “us”; “WE” will carry on. Together. With their songs, the band taught me it was okay not to be okay but also that this was not a reason not to enjoy life. It’s not because we are aware of something that we can’t get over it and move on.
This album is no more about anger or revenge, it’s about acceptance and quiet. More than ever, they give a model, a structure, a helpful hand to face something that always comes with no instruction: death and illness (like cancer but also depression). There’s something almost theatrical with the aesthetic but also some songs of this album mixing some kind of tragedy and irony, such as Mama, House Of Wolves or Blood, dramatic, pleading and extravagant.
They reminded us of a burlesque vaudeville, painting death like something so tragic that it can seem sometimes a little bit cartoonesque…Once again the frontier between reality and fiction is really blurred. Awake and afraid? Asleep or dead? This kind of distension is kinda comforting: protect us but teach us.
The most iconic part is probably in the song Dead! with this riff sounding like the Woody Woodpecker’s laugh, the funny but chaotic and noisy character, hero of our childhood.
I always made fun of myself saying My Chemical Romance was my free psychologist and more than ever with The Black Parade. With the first albums, they taught us it was okay to be angry, then that it was okay not to fit in, with The Black Parade, they taught us that death would never stop us. I personally lost my grandfather to cancer, a really traumatic experience for me that came with insomnia, terrors, sleep paralysis but also depression a few years before The Black Parade. I think that’s why this album is so important. As a teen trying to construct myself, with this album I found a structure, consolation and motivation.
Cancer, Sleep and Famous Last World, were my holy trinity. It may be quite ironic but I couldn’t stop listening to Heaven Help Us for a few months. Even if it wasn’t on the album, it was really one of my favorite from this era.
With My Chemical Romance it’s always about fighting and making noise being vampires, outcasts, leaders or mask avengers. It took time for me to fully enjoy the songs of Dangers Days and Conventional Weapons. I already loved them younger but being an adult now, I understand them better, I feel them with more intensity. They are speaking to me differently. Now I’m this kid from yesterday. If the first songs still move me, the ones that make me happier are probably the last ones.
Both bring me a different kind of nostalgia but this one is sweet and positive… so sweet and positive.
In 2020, these songs are still my “Madeleines de Proust”, as we say in French (a poetic expression and reference to writer Marcel Proust, used to describe smells, sounds, pictures, reminding us of our childhood; comforting and healing). I think I will always have a special affection for these songs that never ended up reflecting on me differently .
When you listen to Planetary (Go!), its only motivation was to make us dance. It represents the entire mood of this record so perfectly: the aftermath is secondary. Sometimes it’s just cool to stop overthinking and show our jazz hands, then we are gonna do this long road trip all together and save the world.
Here we are again: rebellion against the system, belonging to the misfits and the desire of a brighter future. I feel even more like a kid when music and comics collide. It was a call to creativity: fans were creating their own characters, outfits, stories and killjoy names.
There are so many songs of Danger Days and Conventional Weapons putting a stupid bulletproof smile on my face because it just feels so good, like the sun on our shoulders, warm and reassuring. Maybe that’s why I love Summertime so much. For me, it captures so well the essence of the era. On Danger Days, The Kids From Yesterday, The Only Hope For Me Is You, Bulletproof Heart and S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W give me really good vibes.
CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS & unconventional love
Even if I’m still very attached to The Black Parade, I have to admit that most of my favorite songs are on the compilation album Conventional Weapons. I never loved any 2 tracks LP more than Number 3. The amount of love, support, pure kindness and hope of The World Is Ugly and The Light Behind Your Eyes is unimaginable. I’ve wanted to play bass since I was 13 but I was afraid of failure. When My Chemical Romance came back last year, I decided one month later to finally buy a bass and give myself a try. I don’t know why, the first song I decided to learn was The World Is Ugly. I could have picked Helena or WTTBP, but I don’t know why, The World Is Ugly was kinda obvious.
I always felt guilty to love this compilation album so much as it wasn’t supposed to be initially released. I respect the choice of the band but with Conventional Weapons I can really feel all the talent of each member, the identity of the band and I relive their whole journey as artists. I can really enjoy this mix of old Punk rock and cool classic rock. I can hear the guitar heroes, the crazy Punk energy, the powerful rhythmics and imagine Gerard Way as a flamboyant Ziggy Stardust. I can hear riot songs, wild and nuts, but also the more poetic slow tracks, so clean and sweet that they are hugging your heart. I can hear honest songs and the more ambiguous, almost ironic ones. This combination can be really disturbing. These songs don’t follow any pattern, any plan, any story. They don’t complete each other. They just exist. They simply exist. Maybe that’s why I love them so much.
My favorite song of Danger Days is probably Vampire Money and it has this kind of same old-school rock energy as we can hear in Conventional Weapons: the impressive solos, harmonies and the frenetic guitars and rhythmics. AMBULANCE, Gun., Make Room!!!, Tomorrow’s Money…. These songs blow my mind.
Not convinced by Conventional Weapons, the band didn’t drop it as the 4th album. They just went back to the studio and just did it again. They could have promoting something they didn’t believe in. Even if I love these songs I admire the courage and audacity to risk everything to finally do something totally different, no matter what the public thinks, whatever the amount of time and money already invested in the project.
Gerard, Mikey, Frank and Ray came back stronger, more inspired, motivated … They didn’t give up, just decided to try once again. Here we are again: hope, creativity and combativity.
My Chemical Romance taught me audacity, hard work, bravery, acceptance, creativity, honesty, singularity …. They gave me a structure, marks, a model, an escape, a vision, ethics.
Everyday I’m still feeling their song differently. Everyday I understand new things and discover easter eggs. Everyday I’m still learning from them and share my passion of music thanks to their light. Music never dies. It’s always evolving. I couldn’t be more thankful to have found inspiring Art and men. I hope you have also found your leaders, your painters, the soundtrack of your life.
I hope for the MCR fans, to see you scream, sing and dance next to me in these crowds of thousands of people next year. I hope you will enjoy even more this moment, cherish one more year their Art and that maybe, new friends of yours will join us on our journey. You are not losing one year waiting for your next shows, you are remembering yesterday to live a better tomorrow. Everything is gonna be even more intense, beautiful.
So listen to more music, let yourself get inspired, create, live, share your passion. Always XX
THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS. THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS
“Things are better if I stay.” – Helena
“You’ll never take me alive, you’ll never take me alive. Do what it takes to survive, ’cause I’m still here. “ – Kill All Your Friends
“You can run away with me anytime you want . » – Summertime
“We carry through the fears disappointed faces of your peers. Take a look at me ’cause I could not care at all. Do or die, you’ll never make me because the world will never take my heart. Go and try, you’ll never break me. We want it all, we wanna play this part. I won’t explain or say I’m sorry, I’m unashamed, I’m gonna show my scars. Give a cheer for all the broken… We’ll carry on.” – Welcome To The Black Parade
“If they ever let you down. I’ll be the one who drives you home tonight.” – AMBULANCE
“This hole you put me in wasn’t deep enough and I’m climbing out right now.” – It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Deathwish
“I’ll never let them hurt you, I promise.” – Vampires Will Never Hurt You
“If I could be with you tonight I would sing you to sleep. Never let them take the light behind your eyes. One day I’ll lose this fight. As we fade in the dark just remember you will always burn as bright” – The Light Behind Your Eyes
« I am not afraid to keep on living. I’m not afraid to walk this world alone. » – Famous Last Words
“We don’t care about the message or the rules they make. We’ll find you when the sun goes black and you want to live forever in the lights you make.” – The Kids From Yesterday
“You’ll never fight alone ’cause I wanted you to know. The world is ugly but you are beautiful to me.” – The World Is Ugly
“You wanna see how far down I can sink. Let me out!” – This Is How I Disappear