Biography by Andrew Leahey & Alex Henderson
With their emo-punk songcraft, theatrical vocals, and stylized neo-goth appearance, My Chemical Romance rose from the East Coast underground to the forefront of modern rock talent during the mid-2000s. In keeping with the tragic element of the group's best-known singles -- including "Helena,", "I'm Not OK (I Promise)," "Famous Last Words," and "Welcome to the Black Parade" -- My Chemical Romance has roots in catastrophe, as frontman Gerard Way decided to form the band after watching New York's Twin Towers collapse on September 11th, 2001. Drummer Matt Pelissier joined the project one week later, while Way dealt with his growing anxiety by penning the group's first song,"Skylines and Turnstiles". Guitarist Ray Toro climbed aboard soon after, and the quintet's ranks solidified with the addition of bassist Mikey Way (Gerard's younger brother) and guitarist Frank Iero. With their lineup in place, the bandmates began playing shows along the Northeast Corridor and made plans to start work on an album.
My Chemical Romance's debut effort, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, appeared in 2002 courtesy of New York's Eyeball Records. Comparisons to Thursday were frequent; both bands hailed from New Jersey, both had recorded for Eyeball, and both combined punk-pop's musical aggression with introspective, confessional lyrics. The album attracted a modest underground following, and My Chemical Romance jumped to the big leagues in 2003 by signing with Reprise Records. The following year, they released the aggressively slick Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, a platinum-selling album that featured cover art by Way himself. Proving to be hugely popular, the album produced several radio singles and popular MTV videos, including "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)," "Helena," and "The Ghost of You."
Amid this growing popularity, Pelissier departed in mid-2004 and was replaced by drummer Bob Bryar, who had previously met the band while running sound for the Used (with whom the band had toured several years prior). Relentless touring followed, with My Chemical Romance headlining dates with Alkaline Trio, scoring an opening slot on Green Day's American Idiot tour, and sharing bills with Story of the Year and Taking Back Sunday. As My Chemical Romance prepared to enter the studio for their third album, they issued a stop-gap recording, Life on the Murder Scene, in March 2006. The CD/double-DVD package offered an extensive combination of demos, music videos, live footage, interviews, and more; it sufficiently tied fans over until My Chemical Romance (now boasting a sober and bleach-haired Gerard Way) issued the darkly conceptual and highly ambitious The Black Parade that October. Anticipation for the album reached its apex upon the release of its grandiose first single, "Welcome to the Black Parade," whose elaborate music video looked and sounded like the result of Tim Burton directing Queen. The record acheived platinum status by early 2007 and was followed by a live recording, Black Parade Is Dead!, in 2008.
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