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New romantics On a day of tragedy, a band was born. JERSEY? Sure! How New Jersey’s DIY scene bore a legend. gerard way Under the skin of the legendary frontman. I brought you my bullets… The album that started it all. chemical equation The bands who inspired The Chems. DC hardcore The gang talk movies and metal in 2004. three cheers… The classic that made MCR superstars. frank iero How MCR’s dynamite kid came good.

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Going underground Lost eyes and big surprise on tour in 2004. The people versus… When MCR tackled our loyal Readers. Like clockwork The Chem’s first ever Hammer cover feature. the facts My Chemical Romance in statistical form. Road warriors MCR get Warped on tour in 2006. battle lines The Chems come out fighting for Album 3. Tatt’s life Frank Iero’s life in ink. Death becomes them Death or glory at Reading 2006

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the black parade The album that redefined a genre. fans for the memories Here’s to the legion that is the MCRmy. Ray toro Big hair, big riffs, big heart. one vision MCR on post-Black Parade superstardom. are mcr emo? We solve the issue once and for all. DOWNLOAD 2007 MCR invade Donington! danger days… Dayglo rock with The Fabulous Killjoys. major laSers Ray and Frank on their futuristic finale.

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Mikey way From shy kid to bass-bustin’ rock god. hero worship Gerard Way on his passion for comics. live ALBUMS The band’s live albums and DVDs rated. READING 2011 History-making or the start of the end? conventional weapons Hits and misses: the band’s swansong. heartbreakers The end of MCR, the start of a new era. …And now what? The future’s bright for the ex-Chem men. hail to the kings Why MCR deserve legendary status. 9


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Comics, movies and metal legends… for their first full Metal Hammer Feature in early 2004, My Chemical Romance laid their foundations bare.



ast night we were talking about the schematics of superhero weapons,” admits My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero, as the rest of the band wonder whether to change the subject or embrace their geekdom. Frontman Gerard Way is happy to continue. “Frank was reading really shitty Avengers comics and I was reading Preacher, with a stack of Spider-Mans right next to me,” he reveals. “The more I re-read Preacher, the more I realise what a huge lyrical influence it’s been on me. I think I’ve even taken individual issue titles and used them as lyrics!” Gerard isn’t afraid to admit that My Chemical Romance take their influences – such as the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon cult classic graphic novel series Preacher, which itself deserves wider attention for being the best story ever written – from stranger places than most bands. In MCR’s world, Nintendo games and cheesy action movies veil themselves within a dark and sinister landscape of star-crossed lovers, attacking vampires and skull fragments.

“The new album picks up where I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love ended,” explains Gerard. “It tells the story of a guy who comes back from the dead to get revenge. Brian DePalma’s Phantom Of The Paradise is this weird rock opera and that was some influence, as was The Wraith with Charlie Sheen, which is a shitty 80s movie.” As soon as he utters the word “shitty”, Frank cuts him off to explain that it’s a not-shitty story about Charlie Sheen being a vengeful motorcycle ghost who goes around slaying the people who stole his car and murdered him. It whiffs of a tour bus favourite. “We realised how important action movies are to us on the feel of our songs,” says Frank. “For example, there’s a thing from Lethal Weapon 2 that Ray plays on Demolition Lovers!” “It’s totally true,” confirms Ray. “The soundtrack for that movie was by Sting and Eric Clapton – the guitar work is awesome. It’s taken from the last song on the soundtrack [Shipyard]. We’re also about to be influenced by DuckTales, which is an old Nintendo videogame. I nicked a riff from that, too.” Bands, eh? They’re all crazy in some way – it’s just not always a rock’n’roll way.

“We’ve not snorted coke off dead hookers. Yet…” A glimpse of things to come? Er, not really 29


Six months after The Black Parade made them the biggest band on the planet, we endeavoured to find out if that success had become a poisoned chalice for our biggest MCR cover story yet‌ WORDS: Alexander Milas PHOTOS: JUSTIN BORUCKI 87







here’s little point belabouring what’s now an undeniable truth: My Chemical Romance, erstwhile New Jersey nobodies with a dream, are fucking huge. But if you think their follow-up to 2004’s already rapturously received Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge is merely a commercially minded cash grab then think again. It’s a big, fuck-off concept album that more happily sits in a peer group born in the 70s. But, as even they acknowledge, the making of The Black Parade was no split-second decision. Fraught with fears about its reception and their own ability to even achieve such lofty artistic heights, their time in the studio was a jumping-off point into a chasm that may just have been an abyss. Instead, they found themselves at the top of the charts, and – judging by how hard it is to get hold of them these days – it’s been a softer landing than even they expected. Hammer first tried to catch up with them in LA, then New York and


finally settled on Japan – all in the span of a few days. Life, for them, is moving pretty fast. They can hardly believe it themselves. “I almost forgot we were in Japan,” chuckles drummer Bob Bryar.

How Is Japan? GERARD WAY: “I love Japan. It’s amazing. I’m just really excited to be back on tour again. That’s just, you know… I’ve been looking forward to starting this tour for quite some time.” BOB BRYAR: “It’s going really well. We’ve played the new record everywhere now and it’s going well wherever we go. It’s just weird to see. It’s awesome. It was kind of a risk putting this out!”

Were there points where you doubted how The Black Parade would be received? GERARD: “I had these Frankenstein moments like that once or twice a week, where I was asking myself, ‘Am

“People will bitch and complain about us” GERARD expected some haters


GERARD: “Definitely a monster in a good way, but at the same time it’s such a personal monster. This was a really personal record; this is us laying it out there. It changed things. It’s not so much that as when I was doing Helena though. That was a lot tougher because I wasn’t really ready to deal with my grandmother’s death so head-on, and then when we put the record out it was, ‘OK, you’re going to be dealing with this for the next eight months.’ There was no death that spawned this record.” BOB: “It was definitely a challenge to make this. We were grouped with a lot of other bands and this album blindsided a lot of people. It made them re-evaluate us. This is the defining record. This is who we are. We took everything that we had – every idea, every emotion – and we took it to a place that we hadn’t been. We cornered ourselves. It’s going to be hard to beat this. It’ll be a whole new idea… maybe stripped down and raw?”

Concept albums aren’t very common these days.




GERARD: “Setting ourselves apart came naturally. People say, ‘You worked really hard to distance yourself.’ No, we just worked to do something really special and crazy and nuts. But it came more honestly and organically. We weren’t thinking, ‘We can’t do it like such-and-such band.’ It was, ‘We need to do something that’s going to blow people’s minds.’” RAY: “We’ve always tried to mix it up, to change. We’ve always worried about everything sounding the same. It’s the records that stand out that really excite us.” BOB: “You can tell some bands were in the studio going, ‘OK, here’s our single, now let’s fill out the rest of the record.’ And there’s bands putting out records

f you think the words ‘special’ and ‘edition’ simply mean a few bonus tracks and some spare minutes of live footage thrown in as a so-called ‘bonus’, My Chemical Romance’s special edition Black Parade release blew all competition out of the water. With a 64-page booklet featuring Gerard Way’s own haunting illustrations tying the story concept of The Black Parade to images that bespeak the singer’s vast but morbid imagination, this was truly something special. The same way the album tells the story of a character known only as The Patient facing a potentially untimely death, the booklet also tells the story of MCR’s own journey in the studio. “Making a record is a lot like surgery without anesthetic,” writes Gerard. “You first need to cut yourself up the middle. Then you have to rip out every single organ, every single part and lay them on a table.” It isn’t all so grim, but it candidly documents the lows and highs that are the backdrop to My Chemical Romance’s biggest album to date. With stories of exhaustion, doubt and a creative birthing process – one that began in the extravagant surroundings of the Paramour mansion in LA – it charts the creation of every song in exquisite detail. “I’m glad we actually finished it and I can’t wait to tour and play it live,” closes Gerard, having just finished MCR’s magnum opus. “This is the best and craziest thing that has happened to me and I thank the other four dudes for that. I owe them.” A long way from the operating table indeed.


A monster record or something monstrous?



I nuts?’ I needed confirmation from somebody that had showered in maybe a week that could tell me I’m OK, and that we’re doing the right thing, and that we’re not fucking crazy… that I wasn’t driving us into the sun!” BOB: “Yeah, we definitely hit a point. We were just out to do something to make us happy. I knew that I liked it and we knew it would be special to us, but I didn’t want people to go, ‘What are these dudes doing?!’ Luckily that didn’t happen.” RAY TORO: “While we were in the studio it was all about having fun. The more insane or wacky the idea was, the more likely we were to try it. You tell yourself you don’t care but you really do. Of course you want people to like it.” GERARD: “When it was done, I knew that we’d created a monster.” 89


With Danger Days’ ray gun-toting thematics upon them, in 2010 Ray Toro and Frank Iero revealed the truth behind MCR’s futuristic final venture.



espite what you may have heard, it’s not every day a journalist turns up for an interview to find a group of rock stars semi-conscious on the floor of a five-star hotel room. But this was the sight that greeted us at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, West London. “They’ve been doing press and radio for about three weeks straight now,” says My Chemical Romance’s PR as we step over the Gerard Way-shaped pile on the floor. Fortunately, as we’re guided into one of two conference suites the record label have booked out, we find guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toro in more sprightly form. And for good reason. New album Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys is a revelation. Unapologetic in both its science-fiction stylings and its complete disregard for genre convention, it’s the Back To The Future of rock’n’roll – a light-speed trip through the best bits of contemporary music from the 1950s to the 2020s.

“I guess that one thing we had talked about is, ‘What would My Chemical Romance sound like in the year 2019?’” explains a clearly excited Ray, distinctive for both his awe-inspiring barnet and his equally cool Steven Tyler voice. “This was supposed to be music from the future. There are elements of sci-fi running throughout, so that really had an influence on the tones we were choosing. We tried to make our guitars recreate the sound of lasers and synthesisers.” Of course, all of their hard work crafting tones would mean diddly squat if Frank and Ray’s playing had gone down the pan, but Danger Days represents a big step forward for the two guitarists. The album’s solos are particularly special. At once extravagant and soulful yet never outstaying their welcome, they form many of the album’s best moments. “I don’t like to overdo it,” says Ray when asked how he approached the task. “Certain songs call for certain things. Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back is an arena

“What would My Chemical Romance sound like in the year 2019?” Ray was feeling philosophical 105

HER W rship Proving once again that he is indeed a man of many talents, Gerard Way has continued to showcase his passion for comic books with The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys.

WORDS: Stephen Jewell IMAGES: © Dark Horse & respective copyright holders


here’s always been a comic book/rock music crossover, from the Kiss comics of the 70s to Paul McCartney singing about the Titanium Man. But never has a rock star made quite such an assured impact on the medium as Gerard Way. With the first two series of The Umbrella Academy five or so years back, Way proved there were more strings to his bow than music making, but now he’s formed a veritable comic book super-group, recruiting co‑writer Shaun Simon and artist Becky Cloonan (Batman, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) on his latest Dark Horse offering, The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys – and it’s as impressive as The Umbrella Academy ever was. Spinning out of the New Jersey rockers’ fourth and final album, Danger Days, the six-part series has quickly surpassed all expectations, with May’s teaser issue becoming this year’s Free Comic Book Day’s most sought-after item. Then, having held its own against the summer’s inevitable tide of crossover titles from the Big Two (Marvel and DC), the clamour surrounding June’s debut issue continued to build. Make no mistake: this My Chemical Romance spin-off is very much its own project, as well as being one of the year’s hottest comic books. “I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never seen a reaction like


this to anything I’ve been a part of, with people immediately and across the board loving it like that,” reflects Gerard himself. “Obviously some people won’t like it, but I’ve got a feeling it’ll be quite a while before we hear from them. I’m stunned, as there wasn’t even this kind of reaction to the first Umbrella Academy. I personally went into that very confidently, and the reaction was great, but this blows that away. “It also feels free of hype. Dark Horse did a really cool job in letting people know that this book was coming out, while not overdoing it. So people still got to discover it on their own – it hasn’t been jammed down anyone’s throats.” Gerard first began formulating the basic idea for The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys more than a decade ago. It was formally announced by Dark Horse as far back as 2009, and the dystopian rock’n’roll sci-fi epic has been in the pipeline ever since. Co-writer Shaun Simon once played in a band with My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero, so he’s a long-time associate of the singer. “It’s pretty incredible,” says Shaun of his first foray into comics. “It’s something that’s been in our heads for five years and, having worked on it for that long, you start to lose a lot of perspective – you can’t look at it with clean eyes any more. But from all the press and reviews we’ve been getting, it’s great to know that our work is

having such an impact on readers. It really means a lot to us, and it means that we really did know what we were doing in setting out to tell a good story.” However, having flown solo on 2007’s The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, and on its 2008 follow-up Dallas, Gerard took some persuading that writing with someone else this time would be a good idea. “I had a lot of growing up to do,” he admits. “Shaun and I have been friends for a long time, and I’ve always known how creative he is. He really is an abstract thinker, and that’s what I look for in a partner. So one of the things I had to learn was the immediate trust necessary in a collaboration. I had to resist not sitting there and micro-managing everything. “When I first did Umbrella Academy, I had yet to develop a strong relationship with the artist, Gabriel Bá, so a lot of my early scripts were, like, super-dense, Alan Moore-style paragraphs, which really translates as me trying to control everything that’s happening on the page.” Once any initial hurdles were overcome, he and Shaun hit the ground running. “I started getting stuff back

o” d to p u g in w o r g f o t lo a d “I ha oject t for this particular pr Gerard on changing tac 113



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Metal Hammer Presents: My Chemical Romance  


Metal Hammer Presents: My Chemical Romance