I don’t know if you guys share my morbid fascination with dates, but if you do then this is the post for you! It’s also the post for you if you like My Chemical Romance because it’s been two entire years since that day. There’s been some things I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, and now is as good a time as any. I’m going to use the five stages of grief because
it was like getting dumped over the Internet the experiences of ending a relationship, bereavement and having your favourite band end are weirdly similar, and I think I can finally talk about My Chem (relatively) objectively, without wanting to cry or throw things.
After reading the announcement on the computer (the first hint I got was a lot of activity on my phone notifications) I think I wanted to puke for a couple of days, either from denial or shock. Then I read Gerard’s letter, cried a bit and I think I accepted it as reality. I am very aware that a lot of people on the Internet are still in denial – there was a spate of rumours last week, because the MCR website moved hosts and somehow streamed information about a Bruno Mars show. Then it was put on Tumblr and hey, MCR was back together! It made sense because it was near the second anniversary, and Gerard’s letter was very cryptic and they’ve attended each other’s shows recently and the breakup didn’t make sense and-
You get the drift. If anyone reading this is still at that stage, maybe because you didn’t get to attend a show or only got into them recently: I am very sorry that you missed out, but that doesn’t make you any less of a fan. It doesn’t invalidate your love of the music. It’s totally okay that you’re only getting into MCR now. I’m late to the Monty Python party by about 30 years. It doesn’t mean I’m any less into the parrot sketch.
There’s only one aspect of the breakup that has really angered me over the past couple of years, and I’m still not sure if I’ve recovered, but I’m not angry at MCR because it wasn’t in any way their fault. A big part of something being over is that it gives you the freedom to talk about it in a way you couldn’t when it was still around. Just as you can discuss aspects of a person’s life after they’re gone that you wouldn’t bring up while they’re still living, the MCR guys can be honest about what being in MCR was like. It was almost harder to hear than the end of MCR.
When I was first getting into the band, there was five years’ worth of interviews, videos and media to pour over, and it was pretty clear that The Black Parade and its touring cycle was bleak. What had been a rock opera about life and death which pushed the boundaries of modern rock became bastardised, twisted by ignorance into something unrecognisable. MCR was ‘the voice of a generation’ but the generation either loved it or beat up kids for being part of it. MCR was a suicide cult, a bastion of rock, an expression of everything right/wrong with the 21st century… everyone was glad when it was over. I kept up with the news from about 2008, and as time went by we learnt that the next record MCR made wasn’t good enough for release so it was shelved, re-imagined and transformed into Danger Days, which was exactly what MCR wanted to be making. It was everything art should be: unapologetic, the opposite from what you’ve just made and incredibly polarizing.
Except it wasn’t.
In the flurry of press that’s accompanied Hesitant Alien, G has talked a lot about how the band did not enjoy the recording nor the touring process, that the concept was very intense and the effort forced. It hurt to hear, partly because it always hurts to hear that someone you love who you thought was having a good time was not having a good time… and it hurt because during Danger Days I had the best time. I went to shows with my friends (and from our side of the stage it was a fucking party), I dressed up in stupid clothes, I absorbed all things Danger Days and decided that artistically, that was how I would work. Now I am an artist (well, I work in the arts) and I try to stick to those values. So learning, years later, that for MCR Danger Days was the opposite of what it taught me to be pissed me off. I don’t love the music any less, but I really, really wish I’d known when I was 15 that everything was not as it was portrayed in Kerrang!.
Can’t think why I’m reluctant to go into journalism.
I do not know if this is something I’ve experienced, but I think other people might have. I’m not interested in offering up my soul, or money, to get the band back together. I don’t want to hear MCR songs played by the guys on solo tours, because that’s not MCR. I do not want to listen to a band that’s trying to be MCR, whether copycat or tribute. MCR only worked because it was those guys on that stage playing those songs. Anyone else, as far as I’m concerned, can fuck off.
Reluctance to get the band back together may in part be to the guys’ willingness to be open and generous with their time – Gerard’s Twitters, Frank’s insistence that he’ll meet everyone at a show, their continued kindness to the MCRmy. The end of MCR was not easy for anybody involved with it and they’ve been generous enough to make it easier. The guys who formed MCR are alive and continuing to make excellent music. The music itself is not going anywhere and I am grateful beyond words that it exists. The MCRmy is the same group of smart, friendly misfits it was when I first found it. I dunno about Tumblr, but I’ll take that over an actual death any day.
I must say I had a big problem with music magazines for a lot of 2013. I didn’t really go in music shops or watch music channels, and I couldn’t listen to live recordings because the hardest part to come to terms with was that there will never be another show. Then I went to #revenge10 and I don’t know if it was an inadvertent equivalent of a support group, but they had live recordings playing all day and it felt really normal. I suspect that’s because I was hanging out with other MCR fans and reaffirming my belief that we are the nicest group of people on the planet – plus that weekend I read Tom Bryant’s book, and reading MCR’s history from an objective viewpoint helped get some perspective and, I guess, closure.
MCR is done. Completely. I will never go to another show or spend an evening on a YouTube listening party. I’ll never have heart palpitations ordering show tickets again. I don’t think I want to, for two reasons. The first is that if you love someone, you want them to be happy. As hard as relationships are to end, or death is to cope with, if it means you aren’t in a bad relationship or someone you love isn’t in pain, it’s the right thing. Plus now we have solo albums to rock out to alongside MCR albums.
The second reason is that most bands get back together a few years down the line, either to top up their bank account or to assuage the onset of middle age with a trip down memory lane. MCR is not most bands. It has a start date and an end date and during those 12 years it was exactly what the world needed. Time will tell if the music stays relevant and in my incredibly not humble opinion I think it will, because good music is like good wine and there will always be people who need to hear those records and interviews and recordings. They’ll just hear them in the context of their time and circumstances.
Maybe they guys will play together again as friends – I have a daydream they’ll be in a blues and jazz band together in New Jersey when they’re 65 – but My Chemical Romance is finished.
I think I’m okay with that. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go rock out to my favourite band and send my friends pictures of us at the shows we went to.