My Chemical Romance was formed by frontman Gerard Way and drummer Matt Pelissier approximately one week after the September 11 attacks. Witnessing the planes crash into the World Trade Center influenced Way’s life to the extent that he decided to start a band. Way wrote the song “Skylines and Turnstiles” to express his feelings about September 11 and shortly thereafter, Ray Toro was recruited because at the time Way couldn’t sing and play the guitar at the same time. The first recording sessions were undertaken in Pelissier’s attic, where the songs “Our Lady of Sorrows” (formerly called “Bring More Knives”) and “Cubicles” were recorded. The band refers to those sessions as The Attic Demos. After hearing the demo, Mikey Way, the younger brother of Gerard, decided to join the band after dropping out of college. While with Eyeball Records, the band met Frank Iero, the lead vocalist and guitarist for Pencey Prep. Following Pencey Prep‘s split in 2001-02, Iero became a member of My Chemical Romance, just days prior to the recording of the band’s debut album.
They recorded their debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, just three months after the formation of the band and released it in 2002 through Eyeball Records. Despite only joining the band a few days before the album recording sessions began, Iero played guitar on two of the tracks, one of which being “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville.” During this time, the band was booked at the infamous venue, Big Daddy’s, where they began to receive more attention.
In 2003, the band signed a deal with Reprise Records. Following a tour with Avenged Sevenfold, the band began working on their second album, entitled Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Released in 2004, the album went platinum in just over a year. The band released four singles from the album; “Thank You for the Venom“, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)“, “Helena” and “The Ghost of You“. It was during this time that the band replaced Matt Pelissier with Bob Bryar, after returning from a tour of Japan in July 2004.
At the beginning of 2005, the band was featured on the first ever Taste of Chaos tour, and was also the opening act for Green Day on their American Idiot tour. They then co-headlined Warped Tour 2005 with Fall Out Boy and co-headlined a tour with Alkaline Trio and Reggie and the Full Effect around the US. That same year, My Chemical Romance collaborated with The Used for a cover of the Queen and David Bowie classic, “Under Pressure” that was released as a benefit single on iTunes and other Internet outlets.
In March 2006, record entitled Life on the Murder Scene was released, incorporating two DVDs and a CD. It included one documentary DVD chronicling the band’s history, and a second DVD with music videos, the making of their videos and live performances. An unauthorized biography DVD Things That Make You Go MMM! was also released In June 2006. The DVD does not actually feature any My Chemical Romance music clips or performances, but contains interviews with those who knew the band before much of their fame. A biography titled Something Incredible This Way Comes was also released, written by Paul Stenning and published in 2006. It features their beginnings right through to their third album, The Black Parade.
The Black Parade (2006-2008)
Announcement of The Black Parade at London Hammersmith Palais
My Chemical Romance started recording their third studio album on April 10, 2006 with Rob Cavallo, producer of many of Green Day‘s albums. It was originally thought to be titled The Rise and Fall of My Chemical Romance, but in an interview with Kerrang! magazine, Gerard Way suggested this was just the album’s working title, stating “It was never the title of the album, more a spoof, or joke.”
On August 3, 2006, the band completed shooting the videos for their first two singles from the album; including the first single, “Welcome to the Black Parade” and although not released until January 2007, “Famous Last Words“. The “Famous Last Words” video was directed by Sam Bayer, director of Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Green Day‘s American Idiot videos. During the second single’s filming, band members Gerard Way and Bob Bryar were injured. Way suffered torn ligaments in his ankle, and Bryar a burn to the leg which caused a severe staph infection that needed constant monitoring in hospital. Consequently, the band was forced to cancel a few tour dates. While these injuries were reported by several news agencies to have been the result of a car accident, a statement released by the band on their website and MySpace page confirmed that these injuries occurred on the set of the video.
On August 22, 2006, the band played a special one-off show at the 1800-capacity London Hammersmith Palais. The show sold out in 15 minutes prompting tickets to be re-sold on eBay well over the tickets’ face value. The name of the album they promoted was announced and 20 people dressed in black capes with their faces obscured paraded around Hammersmith, followed by a large group of fans and street team members with signs saying The Black Parade. Later during the show the album title and the UK release date were confirmed. Before the band took the stage, it was announced that My Chemical Romance were unable to play, but they would be replaced by The Black Parade. After initial crowd hostility it became clear the band were simply performing under a pseudonym in keeping with the theme of the album.
My Chemical Romance on tour, wearing the clothes of The Black Parade
“Welcome to the Black Parade” was released as a single on September 11, 2006. On September 26, 2006, the music video for “Welcome to the Black Parade” was released in the UK, and on September 27 in the US. The single became the band’s first number one on the UK Singles Chart in October 2006. The Black Parade was released on October 23, 2006 in the United Kingdom and on October 24, 2006 in the United States.
The Black Parade World Tour commenced on February 22, 2007, with the eventuating 133 shows featuring Rise Against, Thursday and Muse as support acts. Reggie and the Full Effect frontman James Dewees played keyboards/synth on the tour. In April 2007, it was announced that Mikey Way would temporarily leave the tour to spend time with his new wife, Alicia Simmons-Way. Mikey’s temporary replacement was Matt Cortez, a friend of the band. During the third leg of the tour, as a support act for Muse, members of My Chemical Romance band and crew and members of Muse’s crew suffered food poisoning, and consequently had to cancel six shows. The band later featured on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution tour in 2007, along with, Placebo, Mindless Self Indulgence, Saosin, Taking Back Sunday and HIM.
My Chemical Romance received mixed accolades for the third album. In Kerrang! magazine, issue 1139 The Black Parade was rated the fourth greatest album of 2006. In Rolling Stone magazine’s ranking of the top 50 albums of 2006, The Black Parade was voted the 20th best album of the year. My Chemical Romance went on to win the award for Best International Band at the 2007 NME Awards and Gerard Way also won the Hero of the Year award. My Chemical Romance was also nominated for Best Alternative Group at the 2007 American Music Awards.
On December 19, 2007, EP Live and Rare was released in Japan. The EP features b-side tracks from The Black Parade’s singles. My Chemical Romance released a new single entitled “Desolation Row” (a cover of the Bob Dylan song) on February 1, 2009. It was recorded to feature as the end credit track for the 2009 film Watchmen, an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name. It was then announced by the band that they would be releasing “a collection of nine never-before-seen live videos, straight from the encore set of the Mexico City show from October 2007”, entitled Venganza!. The release was stored on a bullet-shaped flash drive and also contained exclusive photos of the band from the show. It was released on April 29, 2009.
Fourth studio album (2009-onward)
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.”
The band announced in a blog on their website that they would be going on a final tour in the United States before taking a break. At the same time, they announced they will be releasing a live DVD/CD collection titled The Black Parade Is Dead! which includes two concerts in October 2007, the final Black Parade concert in Mexico, and a small show at Maxwell’s in New Jersey. The DVD/CD was meant to be released on June 24 in the United States and June 30 in the UK, but was postponed to July 1 because of a technical fault with the Mexico concert.
In an interview with PopEater, Way also stated that the next album will be “full of hate.” He has 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.” Frank Iero then stated in an interview on December 4, 2008, “We are going to be getting together this month (December) to discuss and arrange the new album. After the new year we will begin writing.”
On their website, on Wednesday May 27, 2009, their web designer Jeff Watson announced that they were headed to the studio to record their fourth full-length album for the following few weeks with producer Brendan O’Brien, who has worked with AC/DC, Mastodon, and Pearl Jam.
On July 31 and August 1, My Chemical Romance played two secret shows at The Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, the shows being their first concert the band has 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 front-man Gerard Way has noted he is particularly excited about.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview[when?] about the fourth album with Gerard Way, Way said “I’d say we’re right in the middle of it. Brendan [O’Brien] is the kind of producer who really likes a lot of things going on at once, so we’re tracking and he’s going right across the hall and mixing. It’s a process that always keeps everyone involved the whole time. The songs are all wildly different, but the one I’m really excited about is called “Death Before Disco.” 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.
In a recent MTV interview[when?] with Gerard Way about the new album, he said “There’s no title yet. It’s crazy – this is the first time we’re waiting to get really far into the project before [choosing a title]. 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.” He also told MTV “I feel like it’s getting close to being finished (the album). We’re doing tracking now.”
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 do should always make the last thing seem unimportant and I think that will happen when we finally release this album.” 
On Thursday, 13 August, My Chemical Romance were announced to be co-headlining Australian music festival Soundwave 2010. Though, due to throat injuries sustained while recording their upcoming album, Way, on medical advice, had no choice but to cancel their participation in Soundwave 2010 to ensure his voice could heal properly. This was confirmed on the 4th of February 2010 through their official website/blog.
Musical style and influences
The band during the Big Day Out in 2007 February
My Chemical Romance’s general style has been categorized as “alternative rock“, “post-hardcore“, “punk revival“, “pop punk“ and, most controversially, “emo“. The band’s official website describes their music as simply “rock” or “violent, dangerous pop“. Band frontman Gerard Way has publicly rejected the term “emo”, describing the genre as “fucking garbage”. However, Way has reportedly also described the band’s style as “What-else-ya-got-emo”.
Way said to Rolling Stone, “We love bands like Queen, where it’s huge and majestic, but also bands like Black Flag and the Misfits, who would go absolutely crazy.” Way has also said that his band patterns their career after that of The Smashing Pumpkins, another band they admire. Growing up, they were also very influenced by horror films and comic books, and therefore their music, lyrics, and image all have overt elements of fantasy, horror, and theatricality.