My Chemical Romance excited many an emo nostalgist after making the decision to reunite last year. The group broke up in 2013 to pursue other projects. After coming together privately in 2017 just to see if things still felt right, they decided to launch back into the world with a reunion tour.
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Their unique brand of orchestral, glam punk inspired an entire generation of musicians. Of all the bands in the “emo scene,” they are undoubtedly one of the most loved. Their reunion was long-awaited and much appreciated.
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While we wait for their impending album, we’re taking a look back at the group’s formation and career. Find out the meaning behind their name, below.
Behind the Band Name
Gerard Way and Matt Pelissier formed My Chemical Romance after Way saw the 9/11 attacks from his office in New York City while working for Cartoon Network. He then penned what would become the first MCR song, “Skylines and Turnstiles,” about the aftermath. Shortly after, they recruited guitarist Ray Toro because Way could not play guitar and sing at the same time.
The name for the band came from Way’s younger brother, Mikey, while he was working at Barnes and Noble. He saw the title of a book, Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance by Irvine Welsh, and thought the phrase “Chemical Romance” had a ring to it.
After their name was solidified they began recording a few demos in Pelissier’s attic. Among the demos were “Our Lady of Sorrows,” “Cubicles” and “Skylines and Turnstiles.” After hearing the demos, Mikey Way dropped out of college to join the band full-time.
MCR had its first show on Oct. 1, 2001, at Elks Lodge in Ewing, New Jersey. Quickly they began to book shows and find peers throughout the Jersey music scene. Eyeball Records caught wind of them and gave them their first record deal. Guitarist Frank Lero joined the group around this time, rounding out the line-up.
The Black Parade
The Black Parade is largely considered the group’s magnum opus. Released in 2006, the album melded punk with a sense of melodrama often found in Broadway shows. The tracks were written from the perspective of a man dying of cancer. From his deathbed, he looks back on his life with a dark humor that brings levity to his situation.
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“This was a really difficult record to make,” Way explained to MTV upon the album’s release. “And there was a certain point where it was so dark for us that it felt like we needed to become much more than brothers. We had to be there for each other in many more ways and we also needed to become a new band. Normally, a band says that every time they make a record, in some ways, they become a new band. But we really did it this time and became a different band. Make no mistake—we are My Chemical Romance still. It’s just our alter ego for this record.”
Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic