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My Chemical Romance: Merci Pour Le Venin (Feature)

Sunday, 24 March 2013 Written by Heather McDaid
My Chemical Romance: Merci Pour Le Venin (Feature)

Being a teenager is kind of a crazy time; everything seems huge to you and you have a lot of firsts. For music fans, we tend to experience a first true love with music - a band we discover outside of our parents' influence and that we fall head over heels with, that we obsess over and call our own. This band then leads us onto discovering other new music and - more often than not - some questionable fashion choices. That band, for me, was My Chemical Romance.

ImageIt seems just yesterday that I wrote 'Three Cheers for Ten Years', a celebratory feature of the band making it to ten years past their 2002 debut 'I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love'. There, I mentioned that despite being reared on classic rock 'n' roll, I stumbled across these New Jersey rapscallions at the most impressionable time of my life. To say I fell head over heels was a complete understatement; I lived and breathed that band. I had plans to cover myself in tattoos in dedication, I couldn't see a single inch of bedroom wall because of their posters and I would glare at anyone at school who dared say a word against them. Then again, I was 14.

At 21, I faced the reality that 14 year old me would crumble beneath: My Chemical Romance split up. And, despite what the song title suggests, I am okay about it. I am sad, I am heavily nostalgic, but - ultimately - I can never be anything other than glad that the band formed a part of my life, despite that coming to an end now.

The split shocked some fans, while others saw signs of it coming. Though time away from music can often mask dark happenings in the background, more often than not MCR used it to pull out all the stops with their latest evolution. While the band claimed to be 'more inspired than ever' with their new record, others saw many reasons for the band calling it a day.

The band have families to take care of, the band have other projects at hand. Frank Iero is about to embark on a tour with his latest musical suit Death Spells, supporting Mindless Self Indulgence on a handful of dates. Gerard Way laid some guest vocals for the new Kill Hannah record, as well as working on the comic adaption of their colourful concept 'Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys'. As for Ray and Mikey, who knows what they will do now - but the point is that just because the band is over - whatever their reasons may be - that doesn't mean they fall off the face of the planet.

There is so much to potentially look forward to, from the presumably noisy art that Frank will create to the inked adaption of music we've grown to love.

And, they leave behind them four albums - each a new band. 'Bullets' is raw and aggressive, a time in history that kicked off the band's career. 2004's bloodied 'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge' saw the band evolve into a darker world, one that came with concepts and a unified vision. I said it in my last feature and I'll say it again: My Chemical Romance were never going to be pigeonholed, and this was their bold declaration.

2006's 'The Black Parade' brought forth the dreaded phrase: rock opera concept album. Dealing with experiences of death and life reflection, the band found themselves catapulted to their highest career peak. This was a new vision, and it was a huge vision - few could pull it off, but they did. And though it split the masses, it proved what many have come to say about My Chemical Romance: they were ahead of the crowd. Yes, their influences were clear, but in today's music scene they pushed boundaries confidently, unwilling to settle for anything less than a completely new MCR.

And what better proof is there of that than 2010's 'Danger Days'? Colourful, joyful, upbeat! Stepping away from the cultural tags that had plagued their name for so long, the band revolutionised their music and appearance with a new dose of optimism and excitement. Though the likes of 'The Kids From Yesterday' really evokes nostalgia (especially if you watch the famed fan-made video), the likes of 'Na Na Na' proved that, after years, My Chemical Romance could just have fun with their music. Yet, still there's more. The concept played right into their hands, perfectly suited for comic book adaption.

But where do they go from here?

Sadly, that is something we will now never know. The release of their scrapped album left many fans excited for the future: if something scrapped can be so good, then who knows what the next record may bring.

And, really, that's the beauty of My Chemical Romance. They were unpredictable, and they influenced a generation. Many may disagree with that, but I stand by it. The majority of rock fans of my age that I know were influenced by them heavily through their teenage years at some point or another. Many of us travelled far and wide, queuing crazy hours in ghastly weather just to see them - and the best part? Well, yes, we got to see My Chemical Romance - but we made friends.

It's not until today I truly appreciated how many people My Chemical Romance has brought me to, and how many opportunities that band has brought me. I took to Facebook this morning to find multiple posts from my old MCR friends reminiscing about our tour stories. I took to Twitter to find lots of replies saying how we wouldn't have met if it wasn't for My Chemical Romance. I then sat and thought about it and realised that without My Chemical Romance I wouldn't have met almost all of my closest friends, local or UK-wide. I wouldn't have friends all over the world, who in turn have afforded me the opportunity to travel by giving me a spare room or couch to sleep on when required. I wouldn't be able to tell the story, "I went to Los Angeles for one day", because it was purely to see them. (Note: my bank balance has never quite recovered from that teenage splurge.)

My Chemical Romance inspired me to write. I always wanted to be a writer, but I could never quite pinpoint something I was passionate enough over to focus in on. Then I fell in love with music. I started my first webzine at 15, and I have never really looked back.

And I'm not alone in this. I scroll through social networking sites to see how big the My Chem network is, and how many people are in the same position as me. Some still love My Chemical Romance with that aching passion that I held through my teens - others have become a little more distanced from the band but still love and appreciate what they do and the impact they have had. Some of the best writers and artists I know are heavily influenced by My Chemical Romance, driven by the love their music evoked, and it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Towards the end of my last feature, I said, "Growing out of an obsessive phase with your favourite band isn't a bad thing. Sometimes it's just part of growing up. Although I don't play their CDs every day, nor do I have their posters covering my walls any more, I still adore the band for what they've achieved and the impact they had on me. [...] They've grown from their humble backgrounds to being one of the hugest bands in their genre. They've impacted my love of music, soundtracked my most impressionable years and will always be an important chapter in my musical story."

I can't really say it any better than that. Sadly part of growing up is also losing one of your favourite bands, and what's worse is it felt like they still had so much left to give, so many more musical evolutions brewing within them.

What I will say, however, is another thank you. Thank you to My Chemical Romance for bringing me my best friends, and so many good memories. Thank you for the album that changed my life at 13 (although I may never forgive you for the fashion choices you inspired) and for fuelling my passion for music.

My Chemical Romance - merci pour le venin.

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