Tom Doyle investigates…
So then, My Chemical Romance have announced their decision to split some 12 years after lead singer and mischief-maker-in-chief Gerard Way formed the band in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Now that the dust has had a chance to settle, what better time to have a look at why MCR were such an important band in the story of the last decade of rock music and why metal fans, whether you like the music they produced or not, ought to care about the New Jersey quintet?
Firstly, they were a band with a firm grasp on the concept of spectacle. Their penchant for military regalia owed more than a little to Iron Maiden and the pomp and circumstance they brought to their at times knockabout punk gave it a widescreen appeal that took them to stadia across the globe – they weren’t nicknamed “Queen Day” for no reason. This is why Metal Hammer were the first mag in the UK to put them on our cover; because we could see what everyone would eventually see, that they were turning what they had into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Slipknot, in the world of pop-punk and ‘emo’ (or whatever you want to call it) it was MCR. These bands induce something in their fans beyond the regular adoration. To call one of these bands your own feels defining and all-consumingly powerful. Maggots and The MCRmy – not so dissimilar.
That tribalism can be a powerful force for self-definition, but be under no illusions, it is quality that is ultimately the most important thing, regardless of what specific creed of rock music the band in question are from. Hammer straddles many of those creeds; from power metal to powerviolence and beyond, it is only right that we take an embracing rather than exclusive stance.
MCR were a genuinely vital band and capable on their day of winning over fans from all corners of our diverse family. As a lover of music (as each one of you reading this surely is), it is important not to get bogged down in the seemingly ever more divided lines of sub-genre warfare. That way, dogma lies. Put it this way: apples are lovely, but you wouldn’t want to eat them all the time, would you? There’s nothing wrong with trying an orange every once in a while.
Maybe even more important than all of this, though, is the band’s relationship with the ‘mainstream press’. When vile hate rag The Daily Mail set its sights on tarring Chem’s fans as a cult of self-harming devil worshippers, it was no different to Christians Against Slipknot or Tipper Gore having a pop at Dee Snider. What was heartening to see was a group of fans, some very young, prepared to stand up for themselves and what they believed in – the right to listen to whatever they wanted to and express themselves however they see fit.
MCR’s penchant for military-inspired garb and sense of showmanship in the ‘Black Parade’ era drew comparisons to everyone from Queen to Marilyn Manson
Do you agree with Tom’s thoughts? Are MCR are band that we, as rock fans, should embrace? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think.