Graffiti on Graves

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.

Denial

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.

Anger

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.

Seemed pertinent. From  justkeepyourselfalive.tumblr.com
Seemed pertinent. From justkeepyourselfalive.tumblr.com

Bargaining

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.

Depression

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.

Acceptance

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.

A Word on Today and Some Other Days

The ‘start’ of My Chemical Romance has always been 11th September 2001. Unless you think it though, anyway, and then it’s more “sometime between 9/11 and 23rd July 2002 when their first album came out” (9/11 was the catalyst but I kind of think that it took five people making noise to properly get it going, and I’m seriously uncomfortable with people mistaking terrorism for a cause for celebration). This year is the first that we’ve had an ‘end’ of MCR. Actually, this is debatable too, since the announcement was March 2013 but Gerard’s end was May 2012…

Let’s let the historians argue over that.

I’m not fussed about dates, to be honest. Putting a date to something means you have a designated day to feel the emotion(s) you think you ought to feel. Unfortunately, since it’s 9/11/my birthday week, my brain has done what it usually does and started thinking about things – MCR, life, the usual big questions… what’s stood out the most is the fact that this is my first 911/birthday week without MCR in seven years. The first that I’ve known about MCR and its history, anyway (technically it’s my first since I was five, but that makes me feel old). It’s strange. I try very hard not to be superstitious, but part of me has always liked the fact that, probably, on my birthday Gerard was having an existential crisis (on the off-chance Gerard’s reading this: sorry). It was the only upside of my birthday, really, because 12th September has kind of become one of those days that the world woke up and was palpably different.

There’s a pre-9/11 world and a post-9/11 world in the same way that there was 5th August 1945 and 7th August 1945 and during that middle day, everything changed. Not visibly – most people probably had no idea of the long-term effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – but the world was different. Historians had a date with which they could split their textbooks, and 9/11 is another of those dates.

One of today’s many Twitter trends has been #NeverForget. As a Government and Politics student, it’s getting to the point where any mention of the American government makes me want to throw my massive textbook at a poster of George W. Bush, because Afghanistan was a complete waste of time, money, human life, etcetera, and what kind of fuckin’ idiot talks about crusading against Islam anyway?! But that’s not the point, at least for today. The point is that one Tuesday lot of people died horribly, and then lots more died horribly because of the first instance of horrible deaths. Twelve years later and every time I switch on the news I think that today might be another ‘defining date’. Syria, Egypt, the Eurozone crisis, the motherfucking EDL and soldiers who’re decapitated while going for a walk wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt, because someone’s fighting on behalf of a version of god that arguably doesn’t exist anyway.

I think the real reason I don’t want to go to university to study Politics and RS is that the frequent rises in blood pressure would probably kill me before the first Christmas break. But here’s the deal:

Quite a large part of me is splitting the world into pre-22nd March 2013 and post-22nd March 2013. Most days I’m somewhere between okay and completely fine about the end of MCR. The band is still alive and happy and MCR-the-legacy is doing pretty well for itself; the MCRmy’s not going anywhere and neither is the music. So it’s fine, you know, most days.

Some days are harder. I nearly cried in Starbucks the other day, for example, when I read the interview Frank did with Kerrang! Magazine. I went to Wembley Stadium in April and I didn’t realise why I was so down until I realised that we were walking past the Arena, which is where my second-and-last show was in 2011. Watching Live At the Apollo feels odd because the Hammersmith Apollo is the other venue I saw the band live.

That’s coming up for three years ago, and I’m getting worried that I’m going to forget in the same way America seems terrified of forgetting. Forget what it’s like to be in a room with a group of people whom I’ve never previously met and possibly wouldn’t like but love at that very moment because we’re all in the room together. It’s the closest feeling I’ve experienced to Charlie’s infinite moment, and I miss it. There are no cool tunnels where I live either, so that’s out (well there is a tunnel and a bridge, but they scream “CONGESTION CHARGE!!!!”).

There’s a picture somewhere on MCRmy.com of MCR with the caption “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”. And let’s face it, compared to what the families of 9/11 victims went though during its aftermath, 23rd March 2013 was a party. Compared to what Syrians are facing right now, it was My Super Sweet Sixteen with extra tantrum-obtained sparkles. At its worst, it was like a funeral for someone who lived a long and happy life then died peacefully with no trace of dementia or terminal illness.

Except comparing bad events and weighing them against one another is what’s got the world running in circles over the last few decades. 3000 people die on American soil and the middle east gets turned upside down. A Fusilier’s killed in the street and minor racist pressure groups suddenly have the right idea when it comes to non-British/white/Christian people’s treatment. 800,000 people are systematically murdered over one hundred days in Rwanda and it’s like, “they aren’t geopolitically important so we can ignore it until the general public notices that it’s not cool to see dead Africans on the six o’clock news.”

We’re all from Africa, people. Get your fucking act together and don’t forget any of it.

Complaining About Kerrang! Magazine and Other Links to YouTube

   I’m still in the middle of catching up with everything, so I’m going to post a blog that I originally wrote for the mini-series I’m Somewhere Hot and You’re Probably Not in August, which never published because I forgot to press buttons.

  If that doesn’t keep you ticking over, then go and vote for My Chem at the EMAs (Best Alternative and Best World Stage), ask me anything on Formspring and enjoy VenetianPrincess terrorising people at Disneyland.

In Which I Complain About Kerrang! Magazine

   After reading a glowing iTunes festival review about My Chem in the Kerrang! published 30th July, and laughing at the Frank Iero poster in the very same issue, I was content and not expecting to see anything about any of the other two bands I follow. Until I saw this:

  Yes, Mr. Beebee, The Left Rights offer as much to society as fly tipping. But, er, what do you expect? It’s Jimmy Urine and Steve, Righ?. Mindless Self Indulgence.

Mindless. Self. Indulgence.

I haven’t actually gotten around to listening to the whole album, because I’ve been putting off buying it since its release in November, and I’m not YouTubing forty-one songs in the order they’re tracked in. But it’s Jimmy and Steve. Making noise. Which I’ve noticed they do rather well. So enjoy the madness, and, for our own entertainment:

Anyway, I can’t take a magazine seriously if the editor’s note hasn’t been edited… Spot the mistake.

In Which I Compare MCR to Amy Winehouse and Decide I Like My Chem Better (Happy International My Chemical Romance Day!)

Today I did a grading in karate that involved forty-five minutes of sitting still on wooden floor and five minutes of trying to get my legs to do what I wanted them to (I failed on that front) so I was going to save all my IMCRD stuff for September – when I’m planning a huge Interwebz My Chem party – and just go on Twitter. Then I heard that Amy Winehouse died. ‘Cause of death is yet to be explained’, etc… But everyone knows it’s more than likely that she overdosed on some form of drugs or alcohol.

It reminded me instantly of this week’s Kerrang! interview with Gerard and Mikey. They discuss growing up together, the Smashing Pumpkins and how they used to be called ‘the chemical brothers’… Mikey said using drugs was “Like installing a shut-off switch in the back of my neck,” and later added “People I knew started to drop dead from mixing things and that’s a wake-up call – if you go to the barber shop enough times, eventually you’re gonna get your haircut.” It sounds like Amy finally got her turn in the seat… She was twenty-seven.

 

To be honest, I never really approved of Amy. I wondered why the hell she was encouraging her listeners to say “Fuck rehab.” I did, however, totally envy her voice and love the fact her first album was called ‘Frank’. As I curled up on the sofa earlier and watched Isobel and Maxim play Monopoly, feeling vaguely guilty for not doing a My Chem Day post, it occurred to me why there’s a My Chem day.

No one in the band is perfect. Neither do they encourage anyone else to be perfect. But, to quote one of my sensei’s favourite sayings, “Lead by example, don’t be the example.” Which is exactly what My Chem do. Gerard and Mikey have both had drug problems, but they’ve both gotten through it (with each other’s support a big factor, by the sounds of it). Now in their thirties, they’re doing stuff that couldn’t have been remotely possible if they’d stayed in the queue for those haircuts. And that’s the big difference between My Chemical Romance and singers like Amy Winehouse, rest in peace.

Regardless of what she actually died of, maybe Amy’s death will slap some of her hardcore fans in the face. She had immense talent and only managed to record two albums… What could she have been capable of making? To quote Jimmy Urine (shut up I’m tired), “You didn’t give a shit bout her when she was a living drug addict now you miss her cuz she’s a dead drug addict.” Mikey and Gerard were living drug addicts and now they’re living recovered drug addicts. Legendary live shows, the mantra ‘MCR saved my life’ and an internationally recognised celebratory day established by fans speaks for itself.

So when you think about it, this post was completely pointless. Happy first-day-of-the-summer-holidays, everyone.