Unleash The F***ing Bats
Yeah I know, I have hangups with My Chemical Romance, but I still LUV them. I still wish I could do something about Gerard's pronounciation/enunciation (the "r's" do get on my nerves) and their over dramatizations, but that's like asking Kiss to get rid of the makeup and telling Paul Stanley he's too much of a ham. And since this is their DESTROYER/BILLION DOLLAR BABIES-Moment, it's way too late for quibbles. They are the biggest ROCK band in the country this week. And I think Gerard looks great as a blonde. And Mikey's beginning to eat his cereal and put a few pounds on the frail frame, finally. And Frank still rocks. Ray Toro remains (?) the quiet one.
I've always myopically turned a blind eye to their faults (all bands have them, remember?) as they pummeled all qualms out of the equation. Pretty easy for me 'cause when they hit the mark it's as great as rock and roll has ever been. See anyone else doing it for the kids? I haven't sense good new hard rock for eons, and don't expect anything anytime soon. This is it mama.
So I can dismiss "Helena" (overwrought) and that Army video song (ugh) while "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and "You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison" fuking soar. On "The Black Parade" it's pretty obvious on the title cut along with its Bob Ezrinesque aplomb, while "Dead!" is IT for me and "Teenagers" is glam-punk for the modern age. "This Is How I Disappear" crams all their fringe desires into a blaze of quick fixes and sharp turns and the inevitable killer hook they live for. (They've got 'em up the wazoo.) "House Of Wolves" is appropriately ferocious.
The rest is heavily anthemic. And not bad at it. Way less problematic than say Gene Simmons's "Great Expectations" on "Destroyer" or even that soppy hit ballad Kiss really didn't need, "Beth." Sure, this record does have its heavy handed grandiosities, this is My Chemical Romance after all. But it's never to the point where you think they've lost the thread. They're not stupid. My Chem remains heavily intact; pretty much the exact same band who cut their teeth at The Loop Lounge earlier this decade. I think they're still returning Hambone's phone calls, if not dragging him to the after parties to get drunk with.
And I should've asked Johnny McGuire (aka Hambone, The King Of Rock & Roll) about the current status, but now it's 3am on Mischief Night and this blog's gotta be prep for Tuesday's Radio Boy program. (And, no, it ain't gonna be a Halloween show. Tsk tsk.)
WAY BACK WHEN
So it all came flooding back to me, as sleep didn't work and this recurring tale of rock kept spinning. The My Chemical Romance story. Well, sort of, but through my small view of it as I saw it happen. Which brings me back to Hambone, who was part of the first band, Pencey Prep (featuring My Chem guitarist Frank Iero, as lead singer) who came to The Loop Lounge via an opening slot for Nada Surf (circa 1999) which was a gig I helped book when Matthew, Ira and Daniel were trying to give life to their brilliant, yet dying second album "The Proximity Effect" which their U.S. label opted not to release.
Seems Pencey Prep were Nada Surf fans and wanted to be part of that gig. I could be wrong, but that's how I remember it happening. And from there I saw them grow. And become one of the first bands signed to Eyeball Records. In and around that time Mikey and Gerard Way were familiar faces at The Loop, although I don't remember meeting Gerard until the formation of My Chem.
Pencey Prep made one album, "Heartbreak In Stereo" and were still ticking but with powers that be in the cosmos, Frank saw the promise in My Chemical Romance and followed that yellow brick road.
It didn't take long for My Chem to coalesce and come out swinging like a mo-fo, when they "debuted" at The Loop Lounge around 2001/2002. Mikey Way was coy about it: "Yeah, I'm in this band who's playing here next week. You should check us out." And even though I knew Mikey and respected his taste in music, I didn't envision him in a band, although he looked the part. I just never heard him talk like he was a musician. It's something, after years of being around gazillions of friends who were in bands and were musicians, I could usually sense from someone. Mikey really didn't have that air about him. I just thought he was a kid who liked Brit pop and enjoyed going to Tis Was at Don Hill's.
So the shock of seeing what was the most promising young band to grace the stage at The Loop Lounge ever (and I had seen a lot, being the weekly DJ for a few good years) was huge considering it was Mikey's band (along with his brother Gerard, who was the star frontman already).
I made sure I took pix at the next bunch of Loop Lounge gigs they played knowing very well that if it all panned out they would break pretty big. I did rave about them and their debut in "Yeah Yeah Yeah," quickly realizing there was something that set them apart from the emo and punk crop. They would never settle for something half-assed and they went for the brass ring every time out. It was a big boom. They also grand aspirations that belied all the indie mindset. They wanted their cake to eat and throw in the face of everything stagnant. It was a new breed.
So I missed the VMA's and My Chem's recent appearance on Saturday Night Live. Thank god for youtube. Now I'm caught up. Needless to say, they've reached the top. Top of the Pops that is. Can't say what my next conversation with Gerard will be like, if I ever run into him again. Our last one was about the price he was willing to pay to take that big jump to the majors and go for broke. It was just before they signed with Reprise. The boy was ready.
Funny, in a cool way to see how it's taken off. I've heard mixed stories about how it's gone to their heads a bit, but a lot of that is natural. Some of it might be people miffed by such a rock windfall. Some of it is the price of fame. This is the big time no matter how you slice it. And they've always strived to make it big. Nothing to fault when it's done the right way. Let's hope they still remember to keep on covering bands like The Misfits. And of course, we do need a new line of My Chemical Romance action figures for x-mas. Gerard's got blonde hair now...