On the Cover: My Chemical Romance

On the Cover: My Chemical Romance
WRITTEN BY
Timothy Gunatilaka

You rock...
You are my life...
You are many people's lives...
You save lives...*

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE SAVE LIVES.

It's the kind of cute, gimmicky slogan that tempts headline writerswhenever the morbidly military-garbed superstars grace the press withtheir cosmetically clouded faces and lofty declarations aboutmortality. Yet it's not until you surf the pages of ImNotOkay.net and MyChemicalRomanceForum.com,or witness a thousand teens in the pit, roaring, "I am not afraid tokeep on living!" in a communal burst of affirmation, that this claim ofsalvation becomes a palpable principle.

"It's the mantra of the band," says bassist Mikey Way, from MCR'stour bus, which has just traveled 34 hours, from San Diego to theRiverside Theater, in frigid Milwaukee. "Kids would say they were gonnakill themselves, then they heard our music. It's great when you canimpact someone like that. It's our mission."

I even wrote my suicide letter. I even planned a date that I was going to kill myself. But then, My Chemical Romance came into my life....They helped me believe that I wasn't alone, that someone actually cares. Their music inspires me so much. And I cannot thank them enough for giving me a reason to live. For giving me a reason to be myself. Thank you, MCR, for saving my fucking life.

The My Chemical Romance phenomenon bridges two of the new millennium'smost significant, if far-flung, cultural convulsions: the tragedy of9/11 and the launch of MySpace. That's heady stuff for a Jersey bandthat thrashed around that state's basement punk scene beforegraduating, in 2004, to lavish arena rock and the kind of worshipfulsuccess that has made earnest believers of even themselves. Not thatthe role of pomp rock'n'roll savior didn't take some getting used to.With every online post crediting them with rescuing another soul,devotion to the band approaches religious fervor. "I'd meet these kidsthat were outsiders," says frontman Gerard Way. "And I realized they'relooking to us for the answer. It started to scare me."

Any fear of that responsibility has since turned into an embrace.

On the strength of their 2002 debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love,these former misfits -- Mikey, 26, his brother Gerard, 29, drummer BobBryar, 27, and guitarists Frank Iero, 25, and Ray Toro, 29 -- built adie-hard following playing New Jersey basements and VFW halls. But itwasn't until 2004's Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and thevideo-driven success of its post-Weezer anthem of teenage disaffection"I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and the maniacal dirge "Helena" that MyChemical Romance found their voice. And the voice of a new generationof jaded youth -- the unloved, the overlooked, the burned, bruised, andbattered, punks, preps, jocks, and the sworn enemies of punks, preps,and jocks.

Fittingly for a band that, more than any other since SmashingPumpkins' mid-'90s run, has had tremendous therapeutic impact on itsfan base, they often soundcheck with the Pumpkins' "Zero." ConsummateCorgan pupils that they are, MCR followed Three Cheers with a dip into the infinite sadness: last fall's ambitious The Black Parade, replete with Mellon Collie-meets-Night at the Opera bravado, plus a flash of Sgt. Pepper's panache.

They appeal to the darker side of my personality that I suppress to be the happy bunny most people think I am.

Read the complete My Chemical Romance cover story in the February 2007 issue of Spin, on newsstands now.

* All posts taken from MySpace and themessage boards of ImNotOkay.net, and MyChemicalRomanceForum.com. Theyhave been edited for clarity.

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