moose_spam (moose_spam) wrote,
moose_spam
moose_spam

mcr primer (1/2)

I've had some people ask me recently about a current MCR primer. I've never been big on primers, TBH, but AFAIK there hasn't been one done for MCR since...2008? And that's kind of ridiculous! Especially since they have a brilliant new album and a huge tour and it seems like we're picking up new fans left and right. So here is my attempt at laying down what I think a newbie fan needs to know.

Caveats:
  • This is intense--10,500 words. If you're not sure you want to read that or you're trying to convince someone to join the fandom, maybe try this primer/picspam from May 2007 first. (Hopefully soon someone will do a more restrained but also updated pimping primer!)
  • This is not part of primedforbandom. It's a great project, though, and run by great people. The MCR Overview page is already a solid starting point.
  • Comments and discussion welcome! Feel free to ask questions about things that you're curious about.
  • My primary source for dates is mizubyte's fantastic Pan-Bandom Timeline.
  • Though I've tried to be as objective as possible, I am only human.

Finally, a million and one thanks to fleurdeliser and cool_rain_kiss for help with sources, images, and hosting and to fabu for feedback at a critical juncture, as well as everyone who's cheered this on via Twitter. Even more so, not enough thank yous in the world for the lovely lovely mods of mcr_unofficial and tothetune. ILU GUYS. ♥



Preliminary Study Materials

Thereis a L O T of history for you to go through in this primer, so I wanted to put some music, video, and pictures up front to give you something to take breaks with. Keep them open in tabs as visual and auditory aids!

The Singles - 110MB zip of the songs you'll hear on the radio. This is just to give you a taste of each album; I heartily suggest you go and buy them for yourself.

The Videos - most of the band's videos are available at their YouTube channel, but for your convenience I've made a playlist you can stream while reading that includes their older videos.

The Albums - already sure you'll like the music or wanna try all of it at one go? FANTASTIC. MCR's albums are stories and complete works, and listening to them at one go is really the best way to experience their music. Try streaming them at Grooveshark:
I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love
Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
The Black Parade
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

The Looks - picspamming is a Thing in bandom because we have SO MANY pictures to choose from. In particular, if I may self-rec, I have a lot of picspams right here in this journal under the MCR tag or at my photobucket. Other great picspammers are fleurdeliser (tag), morebliss (masterlist), desfinado (tag), and annemaris (tag). You can also hit up dotcoms_refresh's MCR picspams tag on Pinboard.



The Band: The history and the mythos



Introduction

My Chemical Romance is a rock band from New Jersey. The four core members are Gerard Way (above: redhead; lead singer, b. April 9, 1977), Mikey Way (above: blond; bassist, b. September 10, 1980), Ray Toro (above: curly haired brunet in jacket; nominally "lead" guitar, b. July 15, 1977), and Frank Iero (above: straight-haired brunet in t-shirt; nominally "rhythm" guitar, b. October 31, 1981). They're really really into Jersey; there are references in every one of their albums, Frank has at least two Jersey tattoos, they talk about it constantly, etc. They have four albums and they're really big into aesthetic, so each album cycle is how fandom tends to refer to an era of the band, and that's how I'll break the primer up. Ish.

(If you want to skim reading all this earlier stuff, you can buy or find a download for "Life on the Murder Scene." You should do that anyway; it was bandom's main canon for years and years and a lot of the fanon is built around it. Also, it's hilarifyingdorable. Also also, I'm going to make references to it.)

Lessee, BASICALLY the band was created out of the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. This has been covered a lot of places, and the band (and especially Gerard) are not that great at keeping their stories straight--Gerard really likes to retcon his own mythos. The story goes, Gerard was working as an intern at Cartoon Network in NYC while living in his parents' basement in Belleville, New Jersey. He hated it. The morning of the attacks, he was on a ferry on the way to work and saw one of the towers get hit, people dying, etc. It triggered a depressive spiral; on the other side of it, he decided to quit his job (which he hated) and start a band.

By September 17, he, Matt Pellissier (aka "Otter"; the band's original drummer), and Ray Toro (who they knew via a friend of a friend) had written a song, Skylines and Turnstiles. They then asked Gerard's brother to join at bass (he actually knew guitar) so they could steal his imaginary band name: My Chemical Romance. They wrote a few demos, (Dreams of Stabbing and/or Being Stabbed (The Attic Demos)), and on October 1, 2001, played their first show, opening for Pencey Prep.

Pencey was super super important to MCR's early days--led by Frank, they gave MCR their first shows and let them use their practice space. (They signed to Eyeball Records soon after the October show; Eyeball is the label Mikey interned for. EYEBALL IS REALLY IMPORTANT.) Frank was a big fan of My Chem from the beginning--he's been quoted many many times saying he was My Chem's biggest fan and they were his favorite band. (He is still, to this day, the unofficial band historian and apparently has boxes and boxes of shit, their old flyers and tapes and merch and IDEK newspaper clippings.)

By March 2002, MCR had played a few shows with Pencey and got together to record some demos for Eyeball. In May, their song "Vampires Will Never Hurt You" began getting airplay, they did three last shows with Pencey Prep, and Pencey Prep broke up. Frank moped around MCR's rehearsal space for a few days until either a) Mikey (or Gerard's dick) asked him to join or b) Geoff convinced him to join after Frank gave him a ride to the studio (this is the more recent canon, but A is the fanon you'll see in a lot of fics). There was some friction early on, especially between Ray and Frank, because Ray's a neurotic control freak perfectionist and Frank...wasn't. Also their styles are REALLY different. At one point, though, Frank took his guitar out to a car and wrote the new counter-melody to "Early Sunsets Over Monroeville," which is why it's the demo you can hear the most change in from Attic to Bullets.




I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love (Bullets)

Bullets! AKA that album where Gerard wrote a lot of overwrought metaphors. TBH, he hasn't stopped, but these are seriously overwrought. (I adore Bullets. "Cubicles" and "Headfirst for Halos" are my favorites.) They recorded it at Nada Recording Studio in the basement of John Naclerio, but Geoff Rickley (lead singer of Thursday) produced all but two tracks. Gerard had a hideously abcessed tooth and was in excruciating pain the entire time. There was booze and drugs. They started getting more airplay and filmed a video for "Vampires Will Never Hurt You." They did a few shows and began being really heavily courted by record labels, but told them all to fuck off and let them be a band.

Bullets was released July 23, 2002. Supposedly, it's a concept album about two characters eventually gunned down in the desert that is possibly a prequel for Revenge. (That means, btw, that ALL of their albums at least began as concept albums. Gerard is and always will be a story teller at heart. The only time they've tried to do an album WIHOUT a narrative was an album they ended up scrapping.)

In mid-August, they met Brian Schechter, who stalked them for eight months until they hired him as their manager. (They were really serious about not being on a major label.) August 31, they got called up to open for Jimmy Eat World; the next day, Frank and Mikey dropped out of college. A month later, the band pooled the cash they had and Frank got a scorpion tattoo on his neck so he'd never be able to get another job. (Quote.)

Spring of 2003 they went on their first really big tour, including Canadian and West Coast dates. They then did a tour with the Used, who Brian was tour managing and who had a sound tech named Bob Bryar. They started negotiations with Reprise for their major label debut and went on their first UK tour, which Bob teched for free and Brian spent his life savings paying for.

Touring touring touring. In August, they did a video for "Honey, This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For The Two Of Us," which is kind of hilarious, then did a tour with Reggie and the Full Effect (James Dewees's band) and Midtown (Gabe Saporta's band). By the end of the month, they signed with Reprise, via Craig Aaronson, who is the funniest A&R that side of the Mississippi.

They finally took a break from touring in November 2003 to record their second LP/major record label debut. Frank and Mikey moved into an apartment together for a while. The Ways' grandmother, Elena, passed away; this inspired the song "Helena," as Elena had been the earliest supporter of Gerard's artistic side and she and her husband had bought the band their first van. After Christmas, the band went out to LA for the actual recording process. We learned only recently that the entire band was doing quite a lot of partying and drug use during that period. (Well. Except Ray. In the same interview that Frank admitted to doing drugs, Ray said, "Really? I had no idea." Oh, boys.)




Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (Three Cheers or Revenge)

They began touring again in mid-March and on June 8, 2004, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge was released. (Fun fact: Revenge was originally a concept album around a Bonnie and Clyde type of story [sound familiar?], which explains some of the songs on it. Also the cover art, which Gerard drew!) Three Cheers was HUGE--it sold over 10,000 copies its first week. The band was really taking off; two weeks later, they went on their first Warped Tour.

Gerard, though, was...not doing so well. He'd been abusing alcohol and antidepressants for years, but sometime around that spring/summer he started using cocaine as well. On July 14 they got their first coverage on MTV News, but six days later in Kansas City Gerard broke down. He called Brian in the middle of the night, suicidal, and they had to wake the band's touring manager to babysit him until he finally passed out.

Two weeks later were the Summer Sonic shows in Japan. These were...definitely Gerard at rock bottom. Mikey (years) later said that he can't even watch that video footage anymore; Frank (years) later said that he seriously considered leaving the band. Externally, tensions had been building with Otter (rumored to be over lack of professionalism and refusal to use a click track and also just being a giant asshole).

After Summer Sonic, Gerard decided he was done with booze, pills, and cocaine. He detoxed on the plane ride back. Stateside, they asked Otter to leave the band (Ray and Brian asked, actually, because Gerard was still detoxing), called Bob in to drum (he was teching for Projekt Revolution at the time) and rehearsed for a day, and filmed the second/official video for "I'm Not Okay."

It is the week that spawned a million fanfictions. It is also possibly the most rumor/misinformation/misremembered/misquote dense week in the band's history. Thus, the one million fanfictions. (Besides which, the video is a high school AU that spawned approximately two million high school AU fanfictions.)

Gerard's official sobriety day was August 11, 2004.

My Chem had a few days off (which I'm sure they spent mostly rehearsing) before their first show with a new drummer and a(n essentially) new lead singer--Gerard had never before performed sober. By all reports, however, the August 18 show in Philadelphia was basically their best show ever. At some point in September the INOK video dropped. Meanwhile, the band kicked it into high gear: releasing singles, touring the US, Canada, and UK, and getting banned from ever again playing in the city of Orange, California, for excessive swearing. In December, they got on TV for the first time by playing for Conan. They also did two tsunami relief shows that winter. (MCR is really really big on charities. ♥)

In January 2005, they filmed "Helena" in LA, got on TRL, Frank knocked Bob's drums over live on TRL, and they got their first police escort due to fans.

CONSTANT NEVER ENDING TOURING. March 2005, the video for "Helena" premieres and Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge was certified gold. In late May, they filmed the video for "Ghost of You" in LA and the entire band almost drowned when one of their boats started taking on water (they didn't really almost drown, but half of them DO have water phobias, so they were pretty freaked).
Sidebar: Shit, okay, speaking of the Used: in April 2005 MCR and the Used released a cover of "Under Pressure" for tsunami relief. The Used and MCR had been bro bands for years, touring together multiple times, hanging out and partying together, and mentiong each other in songs. Gerard and Bert, in particular, were super close at best and codependent drug and booze buddies at worst. They stayed friends after Gerard got sober (there's a particularly adorable interview in which they talk about how Gerard's mom gave Bert a framed picture of Gerard and Bert together. That interview kind of says a LOT about them, actually. "SURS" interviews are always the best; Steven Smith is a really close friend of MCR.), so there was a lot of fic about shipping Bert and Gerard.

Things turned nasty after the "Under Pressure" single and on June 30, 2005, Bert showed up at the San Diego Warped Tour stop with a megaphone to harass fans during MCR's set. Bert said in November 2005 that they had had a "falling out," and Gerard revealed in a December 2006 interview that he hadn't spoken to Bert since the incident. AFAIK, they still don't speak, although there have been some one-off tweets from their bands supporting each other.
That summer was their second Warped Tour. (Summer of 2005 is also called the Summer of Like for the Pete&Mikey story that I am not going to get into here except to say EPIC BROMANCE.) They had a bus that Ray conned the label into paying to put a studio in the back of and he spent the entire summer writing demos. They got nominated for three VMAs and did the absolutely fabulous VMA Virgins interview (which somehow fandom forgot about and rediscovered a few months ago).

("Helena" was nominated for Best New Artist in a Video, Best Rock Video, and Best Choreography as well as the MTV2 Award and Viewer's Choice. It won none of them. They haven't been nominated since. We don't talk about it except to yell at the VMAs every year.)

MORE TOURING. They got their first headlining tour in September! \o/ This time, Reggie and the Full Effect (remember, James Dewees's band) opened for My Chem. The video for "Ghost of You" premiered on November 17 and fangirls across the world cried with Gerard as he failed to save his little brother. (Gerard has always been Mikey's older brother. ;____; ) In December, Green Day took them on their first Australian tour.

This is where things begin to get sticky again, and so we will move on to the next album. Sidenote: this is also basically where "Life on the Murder Scene" ends.




The Black Parade (TBP or Black Parade or Parade)

So, a refresher. As of this point, January 2006, MCR is officially a five-man band (Gerard, Mikey, Frank, Ray, and Bob Bryar (b. December 31, 1979)), managed by Brian Schechter. They have been touring almost non-stop since basically August 2002, except for a few months of recording in 2004. They retreat to New York in January to rehearse and write demos for their new album. They're a tight group and from all outward appearances are holding their shit together.

Except for how Mikey is massively depressed and self-medicating, mostly with booze, and for how Brian goes on a three-day bender in late February and the guys help him check into a rehab facility in Utah.

March 6 they leave for LA and move into the Paramour, a mansion/estate in the hills of LA. Things go really really badly, some of which we learn during TBP press and some of which we've only learned last month. The house was apparently, if not truly haunted, creepy as fuck; there was little to no cell signal and the guys were really cut off; it was Gerard's first try at writing a record clean and sober and he had Grand Ideas that he wasn't sure he could achieve; it was the band's first try at recording with Bob; Ray was an uber perfectionist; all of them missed their ladies; at some point Gerard broke up with a girlfriend/fiancée. They all kind of went crazy.

Unfortunately, Mikey went the craziest and left the Paramour after two weeks. He moved in with the band's legal rep, Stacy, started intensive therapy, went on meds, and got sober. Six weeks later, he got LASIK.

MCR did sporadic shows through this period, too, even two in England, and Frank got engaged to Jamia Nestor, his longtime girlfriend and business partner. By June, the band had left Paramour and moved into apartments in LA, Bob living with Patrick of Fall Out Boy.

I'm glossing over it, but. If you read/watch any of the interviews regarding this time period, shit was BAD. There's one interview in particular that took place just a few months later in which Mikey is asked to talk about leaving the house and the other four guys all flinch and look at the ground because they don't want to talk about it. Everyone was miserable and writing was like pulling teeth. (This is another Event that spawned one million fics, some of which are super fucking creepy, all of which are super fucking angsty.)

However, even with all that, they got enough songs done to go into the studio and finish recording, this time with their little brother back in the fold.

July 2006, Gerard showed up at Comic Con San Diego with cropped bleach blond hair. No one knew why the fuck why, but fans were all abuzz. (This happens a couple more times. Oh, Gerard's hair.)

The first few days of August were big: they spent two days filming "Welcome to the Black Parade" and decided fuck, why not, let's squeeze in filming "Famous Last Words" too. They did their damn best to kill themselves during FLW: Frank knocked Gerard over at one point and fucked up his ankle and Bob caught on fire during the last moments because, and I quote, he couldn't stop drumming because they couldn't reshoot. (There's an early cut of the behind the scenes/making of FLW where you can see the song ends and Bob stands up and starts flailing around. Someone asks if he's okay, and then he collapses and the medic runs over. He ended up with third degree burns that he didn't take care of. They got infected, he got blood poisoning and while recovering in the hospital got a staph infection in his head that almost killed him.)

On August 22, they kind of premiered TBP in London, with James Dewees on keys. There was a whole death parade through the city streets with Gerard using a cane. They did several UK shows, then went back to the States for the MTV VMAs and performed WTTBP on-air. (Bob had to keep an icepack on his face while not playing/filming to keep the staph away from his brain. No word of a lie.)

The Black Parade was finally released on October 23, 2006. GLORY GLORY HALLELUJAH.

TBP, it turned out, was another concept album, this time a fully realized rock opera. It features a man dying of cancer, the Patient, which Gerard cosplayed as several times on stage--the blond buzz cut was sort of method acting. The first single off the album, "Welcome to the Black Parade," is a concept of death in which a parade comes to gather you and take you off to...wherever. The songs are stories of the afterlife and reflections on the Patient's life, culminating in "Famous Last Words," the second single from the album.

(This is the part where I pause and say I fucking love the song "Cancer," because it's an extremely personal song for the band and also many of their fans [i.e., me]. "Mama" is my least favorite song on TBP. I have unpopular opinions. \o/)

TBP is a really fucking important album. It's the one that made them truly world famous; it's the one that established them as a Band to Listen To; it's the one that they busted their asses (literally blood, sweat, tears and also ligaments and mental health and abcesses in their heads) to finish and tour. If you haven't listened to it, stop right now and go do that. Listen to it from start to finish; it's perfect. It's angry and sexy and tragic and hopeful.

I'm listening to it now, as I write, and it's just so fucking epic.

Anywho. TBP was released October 23 and the guys went on a small European tour and some North American holiday radio shows. The album was certified gold in less than two months, on December 14, Blender named it 2006's album of the year just after Christmas, and it went platinum on February 15, 2007. BOOOOOM big stuff.

In January 2007, the band did a Pacific Rim tour, but Frank's wisdom tooth surgery became infected--IIRC, something about it basically exploding in a welter of gore on a plane to Japan. So Frank got to go home! He hung out in LA getting stuff ready for the album's big promo tour while the guys did Australia. He also got married to Jamia. ♥ (A year later, in March 2008, they had a full ceremony with all of the band standing as his groomsmen.)

On February 22, the band launched the Black Parade World Tour. The tickets actually said "My Chemical Romance featuring The Black Parade," and the band was hedgy about it in interviews that day, so no one really knew what the fuck was going on.

Then MCR did TWO sets--one for TBP, one for Revenge/Bullets songs. They were also supported throughout the tour by bands like Thursday, Muse, and Rise Against.

They did that for the entire tour. Until mid-April. Because they are insane. (Also, Mikey and Alicia got married March 7, and then Mikey went on hiatus on April 10. His bass tech and band buddy Matt Cortez filled in until September. This is notable because a) that's a helluva hiatus and b) it's probably the first time that anyone in the stupid band did something PROACTIVE for their mental health.)

At the beginning of June, Gerard announced his engagement to his girlfriend Eliza, and then broke it off a few days later. This could be the most DRAMALICIOUS ridiculous rumor-riddled time period in the band's history, as in, Eliza wrote thinly veiled fanfiction about the band, and a lot more stuff that TBH I don't know all that much about because I don't give a fuck. The band doesn't talk about it. Good enough! (I mention it just because Eliza does show up sometimes in fic, particularly older ones.)

This is a good time to stop and make a new section! \o/




Projekt Revolution Tour (ProjRev, PR, Stage Gay)

MCR were never the most heteronormative band. They're exuberant dudes that weren't the norm on the Jersey rock scene: Frank and Gerard would kiss to fuck with the homophobes heckling them and both wore makeup throughout the Revenge era. (Note: I'm not saying that makeup is part of stage gay or that men wearing makeup makes them gay; it's just something that set them apart from the Warped Tour set.) All of them wore makeup during the Black Parade uniform stage, and Gerard is (and always has been) a sassy diva on stage. In fact, it is canon that Gerard did drag at least once in college. (My favorite favorite part of the VMA Virgins interview is when they ask Gerard when the first time he wore makeup was, and he says "I don't know, it's creepy," and Ray says "I GUARANTEE it was you alone in the basement," and Gerard is just like, "...yeah. /o\" Oh Gerard, you creeper, your band knows you so well.)

So stage gay was not new to MCR, but in the summer of 2007 they...ramped shit up. A lot. This is another one million fics time period, this time fics about Frank and/or Gerard and/or other band members being in heat and/or sex pollened and/or just really horny. Goooood times.

They went on Projekt Rev with Linkin Park, Taking Back Sunday, HIM, Placebo, Julien-K, MSI, Saosin, the Bled, Styles of Beyond, and Madina Lake. There were...a LOT of shenanigans. Frank and Gerard made out on stage, Frank humped Gerard's head, Frank put a condom on a mic with his mouth, Gerard stripped Mike Pedicone (who was touring with the Bled at the time) on stage, Gerard made Ray take his shirt off and fondled him and pet his hair. You know, that sort of thing.

The stage gay hasn't really stopped, either, though it's not quite as...excessive as it was in 2007. But speculating on it further kind of squicks me out, because it's an awful lot of speculating on another person's sexual orientation and identity via a performance persona, and fandom can be really gross about it, so we're going to stop there. Suffice it to say that Frank and Gerard said in February that they started it to to irritate people and stopped it because people were too into it.

One big spectacularly NOT stage gay thing happened: Gerard and Lyn-Z (Lindsey Ballato, bassist for MSI) began dating. And by dating I mean Gerard started showing up with a bandana around his neck to unsuccessfully hide the hickeys on his throat and they started performing with notes to each other written on their arms and throats (some of which have turned into songs and characters for Danger Days ♥) and they started being pictured canoodling backstage and around the buses. On September 3 in Englewood, Colorado, they showed up on stage in matching airbrushed unicorn T-shirts; that night they were married backstage. (Ray was Gerard's best man.) They're still together and they are the MOST ADORABLE EVER. ♥

Sidenote: ProjRev was also the only tour that MCR had two buses, presumably to give Frank and Jamia some room to be marrieds.


Post-ProjRev/Pre-Hiatus

Gerard's comic book came out! The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite is six-issue limited series of The Umbrella Academy that went on to win the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Finite Series/Limited Series. You go, Gerard, actually using your degree! (I kid. Gerard did study comic book illustration, but it's not like he stopped doing art after 9/11. He's always been the main designer/creative director behind all of their album art and aesthetic. There are pictures and even some video of him talking about TUA years before it came out, or talking about other projects, or drawing little sketches for fans.)

After a month off, the band went back on tour. They filmed for The Black Parade Is Dead and !Venganza! in Mexico City, and then filmed a tiny show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey before opening two nights for Bon Jovi in Newark. During one of these shows, one of Bob's tendons uh. Snapped and rolled up inside his arm. He didn't tell anyone because he didn't want to ruin Bon Jovi. That's just...very Bob. So he sat out for a while. They went on to tour Europe and the UK, which Frank had to leave early due to a grandparent's passing.

Frank and Bob rejoined the band for the Pacific Rim leg in December and January, and they swung down through South America for the first/only time before a final small-venues tour of North America, culminating with playing Madison Square Garden on May 9, 2008.

It was a good spring, but unfortunately, not all good. (Nothing can be, for MCR.) The UK tabloids blamed MCR for a teenager's suicide and in Mexico MCR fans were being beat up for wearing "emo" clothes and eyeliner. The guys had been on tour for almost six years straight. They were emotionally and physically wrecked. They all missed their families and Gerard, especially, was upset with how the message of The Black Parade was being twisted by fans and press alike.

MCR's mantra since Bullets had been "this is a band that will save lives"; Gerard talked all the time about MCR saved his life twice, they chatted it up in press, fans rallied behind it.

But saving lives is a lot of fucking work, and the band was tired.


Hiatus (Summer 2008-September 2010)

The first big Event of the hiatus was the band parting ways with Brian Schechter. There wasn't an official announcement; Brian just...disappeared from he internet by deleting his management company's website. It was a very weird time in fandom because Brian was a huge part of LOTMS. He's the one talking to the camera about Gerard's downward spiral, he's the one that got the band their big label deal and their tours, he's the tiny tattooed hotass spraying Febreeze on Gerard's nasty clothes. He later came back to Twitter and announced he was going to become a stuntman, and then he made a whole lot of bitter passive aggressive tweets, and now he's back to tour managing. I think. Anyway, before mid-2008 he was in quite a few MCR fics, and he's still pretty popular in some circles of fandom, so don't let that throw you.

The Black Parade is Dead was released June 30, 2008. It's another CD/DVD and has the entire performance of TBP being "killed" at Mexico City as well as the Hoboken, New Jersey show. It is GOOD TIMES. (The Revenge portion of the Mexico City tour was released through the website on April 10, 2009, as a video album called ¡Venganza!. They were sold on bullet shaped USB drives with copies of Gerard's Revenge-era flak jacket. Band of nerrrrds.)

Gerard did more appearances and signing at Comic Con San Diego again that July, where they announced they would be covering "Desolation Row" for the upcoming Watchmen movie. Gerard also won his Eisner. Whoop! \o/ August saw Bob having surgery on the tendons in his wrists, which was nervewracking because no one knew if he'd be able to play again. Ray married his long time girlfriend Christa (which, btw, is definitely C-H-R-I-S-T-A, as per her Twitter). Frank got bored and went on tour with Leathermouth, singing and opening for Reggie and the Full Effect. Gerard showed up at Dragon*Con Atlanta with hot pink hair. Mikey wrote a Batman comic, and Leathermouth did an album (and Frank later got visited by the FBI about a song about killing the president). Gerard's second comic was released and he announced his wife Lindsey Way was pregnant. Bandit Lee Way was born six months later on May 27, 2009. The birth was announced to the Internet by LeVar Burton * via Twitter and then RT'd by Mikey. I'm not making this up.

They filmed a video for "Desolation Row" mid-December and we all got really excited from the behind the scenes pictures and interviews. o___o It was released a month later, on January 26, and oh, there was much glitter text across the internet because it is a fucking sexy ass video. Two words: handcuff porn.




The spring and summer were quiet, with the guys making a few appearances here and there and Leathermouth doing some shows. On June 11, they entered the studio to start recording their next album, and by July 31 they were more or less workshopping the new cuts with "secret shows" at the Roxy in LA (zip of the Roxy bootlegs of the demos) and then two Summersonic shows in Japan. The new songs were described as stripped-down and Stooges influenced. The band stayed locked in the studio for the fall, emerging only occasionally to blog.

Late in the summer we started getting press though! Gerard called the new album "a love letter to rock and roll" (sidenote: James Montgomery, aka JMont, is the best music reporter and is totally in bandom writing bad fanfic about Pete Wentz). They did an interview with Kerrang! and previewed some of the finished tracks and then got special covers with AP in some of the worst photoshopping in music history but it got us a lot of lulz and some details on the new tracks. Gerard did an interview with NME with a hilarious/hot photoshoot. Then, at the end of January, there was a biiiiig spread in Kerrang!. (Kerrang! loves MCR.)

Then...Soundwave got cancelled, and Frank blogged about it, and we all flipped our shit about Gerard's voice being fucked up.

It turned out to be a cover up, though, because that was actually when Bob left the band. Nobody knows the exact details (MCR can be like Fort Knox) and there was a L O T of drama in the fandom that I don't want to get into because it's really not pertinent. Bob left and the band scrapped the album they'd already done promo for and moved on to recording new material. (Bob went on to do some tour managing, then dropped off the radar. He recently, as in October 2011, came back to Twitter and is apparently bored and happy with his new dogs and girlfriend in Nashville.)

So! The band moved on! We got some interviews/photoshoots of Gerard being very pretty and then Gerard being very pretty with Iggy Pop. Frank announced Jamia was expecting twins.

In July, Ray tweeted that the album was finished.

September is when the fun started.




Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Danger Days, DD)

The first hint was Gerard showing up on Twitter with chalkboard art. Lyrics? Inspiration? Lindsey's art? No one knew. Then we found out it was a song title...or something. A mysterious transmission page appeared on the band's website. Twitter accounts popped up that seemed to be some sort of related characters. Frank officially announced both his daughters and the album's completion on September 7, and Gerard tweeted "surveillance video" and told the internet to "blow it up."

Because you see, the band was LARPing for us. For their new album. From the desert. Because they are the biggest nerds in the universe.

I highly highly encourage you to go look at the various Twitter accounts and backread them to last year, because they are funny and teasing as hell. It was an exciting time to be in MCR fandom, I'll tell you what.

LUCKILY someone on HMV.com jumped the gun and leaked the album title: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Which happened to be, in part, the name of a comic Gerard had been talking about for ages. None of us were sure what this meant--was it a mistake? Was the CD with a comic book? WTF? Then Rolling Stone told us it was party record with synth. :O (No, honestly, a lot of people got freaked out by the fact that it was going to be synth-y and dancey.)

And then..."Art Is The Weapon" popped up. AKA the video where our dorkass band discovered Crayola and went out in the desert to shoot laser guns at vampires.

Color! Slogans! Fast paced exciting rock with gang vocals! Grant Morrison dressed up as a dandy villain! Thigh holsters everywhere! Post-apocalyptic comic book aesthetic! I still have the chat logs from that night and they are full of capslock and speculation.

We had no idea what the fuck was going on, but we had plenty to talk about, like the upcoming World Contamination Tour and tweets giving us canon. James Montgomery chimed in being his fanboy self. Gerard, Ray, and Mikey showed up on stage with Weezer playing "My Name is Jonas." Weezer. Apparently they're big fans of each other! WHO KNEW. We didn't care, we had pictures of (most of) MCR on stage again.

"Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" premiered on KROQ (the LA rock station with close ties to MCR) and BBC1. We had an upcoming single with press and merch! KROQ gave us a video interview. Frank posted the tracklisting which--none of us knew what the hell to do with that, but we liked it. We liked it even more when we started getting press like reactions to listening to the album. Kerrang gave us our first long interview (part 2). Gerard told us that in the video "some of the guys look like they sleep with men for money." Jmont gave us video behind the scenes shots.

We finally got the video for "Na Na Na" October 14, 2011. It was truly the beginning of a new era.

I know I've thrown a lot of links at you, but this is vital--this is where the band departs from their heretofore aesthetic and message, this is where the Danger Days began. This is when we all got bumper stickers that said ART IS THE WEAPON, this is when we all started quoting the video at each other and calling each other Killjoys and Crash Queens and Motorbabies. MCR has always been supportive of their fans and fanworks, and the Danger Days album saw them asking us for submissions from the zones and our Killjoys personas. This is another point where I just stop and flap my hands at you, so. Take a moment, read these links, watch the "Na Na Na" and "SING" videos a few dozen times. I also highly encourage that you trawl through tothetune's photos tag for gems like Gerard's magnificent plumage.



The boys before the first World Contamination Tour show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Look how excited and happy they are! Ahhhhh.

(Sidebar: Now, as part of all the album promo, the guys were doing a lot of interviews. In November, Gerard ~revealed~ he occasionally drank. This was a Big Fucking Deal for fandom. See, the theme and calling card and buzz phrase for MCR for years, from 2001 until TBP tour ended in 2008, was that MCR will save your life. That's the major recurring theme in LOTMS and in interviews, especially for the Revenge era. With the new Danger Days stuff, the band started saying they weren't here to save our lives anymore.

Translation: The band's life is saved. They are moving on. They're finally happy.

Part of that, for Gerard, is that he feels comfortable drinking. Fandom...had a hard time accepting that, because a lot of fannish investment was centered around the story of Gerard's sobriety. (Which, remember, is the story that we got via heavily edited media like LOTMS and interviews after the fact.) Some fans were already upset that the band had abanded the ~MCR will save your life~ creed; losing "Gerard is clean and sober" on top of that was a fatal blow for some people's fannish involvement.

This is why, until recently, fic was generally very serious about Gerard being very sober.)


So, October and November were album promo and some one-off shows in London and LA. The first show for the WCT was at the Apollo in London, and we found out that Mike Pedicone, friend of the band and former tourmate/drummer for the Bled, would be their touring drummer. (The band repeatedly made it clear that they were a four-piece, now; in a later interview, Gerard compares it to rushing into marriage too often and now they're "keeping things loose.") In December, they did a whirlwhind US tour of radio shows. (Which is where I first saw them, b'aww!) The took a month off...ish. January was for resting, some TV appearances, the 98.7FM Acoustic show in LA, and the Grammy Museum show and Q&A.

Then the World Contamination Tour started in earnest. They did shows in Japan, then the UK and Europe in February-March, and then did US dates April-May. mcr_unofficial has a master concert post, if you want more info on that.

If you look at the chronology of their shows, it's really obvious that they're making a conscientious effort to work breaks into their tour schedule. Something else that has been outright said/hinted at in interviews in the past two years was that TBP damn near killed all of them, and part of that was the band not knowing how to say no to doing this or that show. "Vampire Money" and Brian parting ways with the band possibly (plausibly, probably) ties into this as well. In addition to touring being hard fucking work, all of them were married and Gerard and Frank had kids. The guys wanted to make sure that they kept the touring more reasonable so they could, you know, have lives and shit.




MCR versus NME

Before the album came out, MCR did a print interview with NME. It features one of fandom's favorite photoshoots, in which the MCR guys pretend they're filming America's Next Top Model: Rockstars Edition, but it's also riddled with typos and shitty commentary. (The typos may possibly be forgiven when one considers that it's an early pre-print copy; the shitty commentary, not so much.) One of the more offensive themes is commenting on the band's looks:
Gerard Way and Frank Iero are so irritatingly pretty that you want to stretch a bin liner over their heads. ... Both men are rail-thin something Way attributes to not eating, rather than exercise, which he hates. For the new albume he wanted to look staving and on-the-run, though he actually looks healthy, certainly in comparison with his Xanax and cocaine days pre-Black Parade, when he ballooned to 200 pounds and got so blitzed his trousers fell down onstage. Back then, unkind souls dubbed him the emo Meat Loaf, such was his shambolic demeanour. Now he looks more like Christina Ricci.

In the background lurks guitarist Ray Toro the archetypal heavy metal nerd, with corkscrew hair and a wheedling voice. He doesnt look starving and on-the-run: when he takes off his Randy Rhodes, I notice doughy love handles spilling over his belt.
The band did not take kindly to a "journalist" judging their looks. Gerard took it to MS Paint and Ray RT'd a fan tweet asking them tonever book with NME again and then said:



All of which set off a minor Twitter flamewar in which Killjoys 'round the world went after the NME author/editor's Twitter. As I recall, he was douchey and unapologetic.

It died down and everyone mostly forgot about it, since the album came out a week later.

Until MCR was invited to perform at the NME Awards in February 2011, as they were nominated for six awards, and they opened the show in black balaclavas and suits. Gerard's acceptance speech for best video was incredibly earnest (and pointed): Don't ever let the media tell you what your body is supposed to look like. You're beautiful the way you are. Stay beautiful, but keep it ugly.

And THEN they sang "Na Na Na" and "Vampire Money"--remember, the song that was about the industry's bullshit? After the show, Gerard changed his Twitter profile picture to double middle fingers and cigarettes^ and tweeted Gimmie gimmie some of that vampire money*. Frank went the less subtle approach: thank you to everyone who voted for us. winning awards based on your opinion is very flattering. i hope you got our message loud & clear*. (More pictures and video at MCR_U.)

And then the band threw an assault party -- aka, a spur-of-the-moment concert/video shoot for Planetary (GO!).

Four for you, MCR-coco. Four for you.


#SingItForJapan

On Friday, March 11, 2011, the northeast coast of Japan was hit with an undersea megathrust earthquake and subsequent tsunamis.

MCR has always had a close relationship with Japan and their Japanese fans. Even though it was where Gerard broke down in 2004, MCR loves to tour there and they've all taken at least one vacation there (or rather, arrived early/stayed late before/after a tour with their wives). When they heard about the earthquake, they knew they would do something, though they were touring in Europe. The quickest thing was to auction meet and greet tickets, but Ray had an idea: to harness the power and love and talent of their fanbase. Thus, #SingItForJapan was born.

Ray posted inspirational blogs and took to the Twitterverse, encouraging fans to submit posters, videos, family, and first responders. He posted in-studio teaser photos and video. (After he tweeted that the mix was finished, he asked for more parents, grandparents, siblings and pets, babies, and pregnant stomachs for the video. OH RAY TORO.)

(While organizing all of this they were still touring, btw, and Ray broke some shit in his foot. So he kept playing with a rocker boot. Of course he did.)

On April 13, SingItForJapan.com launched, with a new mix of "SING" set to fan submissions and video of the band in studio, a limited-run signed-by-Frank photo of Tokyo, a t-shirt, and a single to download. (The project got retweeted by George Takei, which Ray was very excited about.) The video got over 100,000 hits in two days.

We never did get any final numbers on how much was raised, but the guys did an interview with some more background info. It was later nominated for a VH1 "Do Something Charity Song."


MCR versus Glenn Beck

Lolol fun sidenote time. On April 28, Glenn Beck mentioned MCR on his show. Apparently he decided that the lyrics of "SING" were propaganda. You know, the song that the band was raising money for Japan with, that is one of the more inspirational songs they've ever done.

Ultimately it was silly and dumb, but it got us a hilarious lol defensive blog post from Gerard.




BRIAN FUCKIN' MAY

Summer means festival circuit, and MCR hit it--they did 15 shows in 3 weeks. Because they are hardcore. Some of these festivals gave us GREAT videos and pictures, including Coke Sound Up in Germany and Roskilde in Denmark. The London iTunes festival was streamed, and Ray mixed a six-track Live EP that is fucking amazing.

After the festival circuit, the guys went on the Honda Civic Tour with blink-182. This was a pretty big deal, because all year part of MCR's promo shtick has been their upcoming tenth anniversary, and it was the tenth anniversary of the HCT, and blink-182 was on the first HCT. So tons of promo and exposure, and a big risk for MCR since their fans don't exactly overlap with blink's.

The tour ended up going REALLY well, IMO. Ticket sales were good, AFAIK, and there was a good reception from the crowd. There was some fannish wangsting because MCR was billed as "co-headlining" but played a shorter set that was the same every night. blink-182 was definitely the true headliner, though, and of course MCR played almost the same set every night; it's incredibly difficult to change up songs and the light/sound cues for them. Everyone I personally know had a fab time until blink went on stage, anyway, so. Huzzah! \o/

MCR had announced they would be headlining Reading and Leeds in March and talked it up at Coke Sound Up, hinting at a Big Surprise. TBH, though, by the time Reading Festival rolled around, everyone'd forgotten about the ~surprise~. People were still excited! But they were excited because MCR was headlining a big fucking show--a show that in 2006 they'd gotten bottled at, a festival that Gerard had afterward sworn they would never do again unless they were headlining. So it was a big deal, regardless of surprises.

Then tweets started showing up that MCR had soundchecked a Queen song. Then there was a photo from sidestage, presumably from a tech, that looked like someone with white hair was soundchecking with them, that was deleted shortly after. Brian May, guitarist for Queen, maybe?

Surely not, we said! That would just be crazy! Especially when the band showed up on stage in their Killjoys costumes. That was the surprise, obviously! (And lord, they are some sexy ass costumes.)

The tweets said the show was KICKING ASS and the stream (which fleurdeliser has generously hosted for me) confirmed. Then came the encore.

Fucking "We Will Rock You" with BRIAN FUCKIN' MAY, y'all. Lo, and the fangirls did flip their shit, and with good fucking reason. Take a moment and watch the video, because after opening their encore with "We Will Rock You," BRIAN FUCKIN' MAY stayed on stage to play "Welcome To The Black Parade" with them. WTTBP is their most obviously Queen-influenced song and Ray drops Brian May's name every single time he's asked about inspirational guitarists.

The pictures from that night are some of my favorites ever ever. It only got better when Frank and Gerard posted all of their ~FEELINGS~ about what a big fucking life-changing career culminating show it was. And THEN Brian Fuckin' May posted a blog in which he FAVORABLY COMPARES GERARD TO FREDDIE MERCURY and calls them masters of their crafts and recognizing that they're a FAMILY that tried their best to take care of him by making sure he wasn't too close to the pyro. ♥♥♥

It was a beautiful beautiful moment. This is a good point to take a break, roll around in the gifs and video and squee, because the next section hurts.


MCR verses Mike Pedicone

On September 1, 2011, after the Seattle, Washington show, a tweet popped up that MCR's drummer had been fired. We all laughed it off or tried to ignore it, but unfortunately this was another case in which Twitter was right about a MCR drummer being fired. Frank confirmed it in a blogpost late the next day, which I've copied here, as it's short and very important:
Just The Facts

Hello all,

Some shit happened last night and before the blogosphere gets all crazy with false statements and ridiculous opinions we want the true story to come from us... But please listen close because this is the only time we are ever going to talk about this. The relationship between My Chemical Romance and Michael Pedicone is over. He was caught red handed stealing from the band and confessed to police after our show last night in Auburn, Washington. We are heartbroken and sick to our stomachs over this entire situation. The band has no intention of pressing charges or taking this matter any further than we have to. We just want him out of our lives. The people who play in this band are a family, and family should not take advantage of each other like he did. We are currently moving forward, and hope to have a new drummer in place for our show in Salt Lake City, Utah. The show must go on.

XOMCR
That is, indeed, the only thing we've heard from MCR about it. The next day Gerard posted about going to see a horror movie. (Apparently he went with Frank; probably, tbh, all four of them went. There was a tweet about seeing the Ways sunglass shopping on that day off.) Fandom, of course, was incredibly upset. Pedicone had been a friend of the band for years, and we'd all grown really fond of him in the 10 months he'd been touring with MCR. There'd been tons of lolzy adorable bro-tastic tweets and pictures between him and the band. (Not to mention the fact that the man hand-sewed a rocker denim jacket for his chihuahua.) Mostly, people were worried about MCR. Speculation ran rampant and we all very quickly decided to support them loud and hard.

Pedicone took to his Twitter after Frank's blog, trying to defend himself and passive aggressively failpologizing. A few days later, he released a statement through Kerrang.com, in which he claimed he hadn't been stealing but trying to frame a band crew member that had been mean to him, or something. We, as a fandom, were uh...not very sympathetic to this, since if there's one thing MCR does it's take care of their people. Pedicone is basically Bandom Public Enemy No. 1 and has recently begun being cast as a villain in fics (when previously he was a sexy muscley bro and friend).

So, that...sucked. But the band appreciated their fans' vocal support at shows and moved on; they were still on the Honda Civic Tour, and on September 10, they announced they would be playing the 2011 Voodoo Experience.

Jarrod Alexander (Death By Stero, The Suicide File, A Static Lullaby) has been filling in since September 3. It is unknown at this time (November 16) if he will be with them again when they go to Australia in late January.


Danger Days and Beyond

The remainder of the tour was much calmer. Gerard sang happy birthday to his baby brother on September 10. On September 11, for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Gerard gave a bit of a speech about hope and remembering before performing "Skylines and Turnstiles". He sang accompianed only by Dewees' keys.

The guys also rediscovered their love of costumes, dressing up for both Houston and New Orleans. The band Halloween concert'ed us. Twice. Because that's who they are.

The end of HCT also, apparently, officially signalled the end of the Danger Days era: Gerard dyed his hair black again. [ETA] Except they've just announced World Contamination Tour dates in Australia in January! Who knows. [/ETA]

Right now, fandom is in a rest period. Other than a handful of tweets, the last we heard from them was a video interview that was actually filmed before the Voodoo concert. It's got some good insight into Gerard's creative neuroses and &BAND; moments. They also talk about how eager they are to be writing again and their writing process. According to this video, they're going to dive right into more music and comics. So, aside from the upcoming dates in Australia, I suspect the band will be fairly quiet in the coming months.

Which means it's time to talk about fandom, and how fandom is keeping ourselves busy! TBH, it's super swell of the guys to go off tour just in time to give us a break before the holiday fic fest season. Thanks, MCR!




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Part 1 | Part 2
Tags: band: my chemical romance, topic: primer
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