'Three Cheers' for My Chemical Romance
September 21, 2005 - By ALAN SCULLEY
For the Call
Gerard Way knew when he formed his band, My Chemical Romance, he didn't want to follow the trend of writing confessional angst-filled songs about fractured romances, personal flaws and inadequacies and the hopelessness of life.
"Before the first record, I said to myself: 'Man, I'm so tired of hearing songs about people's ex-girlfriends. It's really nauseating,'" Way recalled in a recent interview. "And the whole me, me, me aspect of it was just like (overdone)."
Just how much different Way wanted his writing to become is apparent on My Chem-ical Romance's recently released second CD, "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge."
The CD features 13 songs that together form a dark and mysterious story, which loosely stated, involves a man who makes a deal with the devil to kill 1,000 evil men in exchange for the chance to return to earth and be with the woman he loves. The story, though, is not told in start-to-finish form. In fact, the song that sums up the plot, "It's Not a Fashion Statement, It's a Deathwish," is the CD's 11th track
"It really doesn't follow a linear thing. It's more like you're getting little snippets of the story, which at the end should make up the whole part," Way explained.
The genesis of the lyrics on "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge" can be traced back to a song, "Demolition Lovers," from the New Jersey band's first CD that told a Bonnie-and-Clyde-like tale of two outlaw lovers facing a deadly conclusion to their criminal adventures. For "Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge," Way essentially transported the man from that story into the afterlife to tell the next chapter of the story.
"I was like I think I could run with this thing," he recalled. "I just felt like there needed to be this tragic, romantic, violent aspect going on in there. So I kind of married two subjects, love and revenge, and just added like a slight supernatural element to that and was able to come up with basically a really, what I think is a good metaphor for how this band operates and how we live our lives and how we feel you should live your life."
As that last comment indicates, the lyrics on the current CD eventually came to encompass autobiographical elements as well as the fictional story.
One event in particular that filtered into the lyrics was the death of Way's grandmother, who had been one of his biggest supporters in his pursuit of music.
"If you really listen to the record, it more ends up being about loss than anything," Way said.
The lyrics weren't the only thing that evolved during the making of "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge." If anything, the band probably took a bigger leap forward musically than lyrically during the course of the project. The band, which includes Way on vocals, his brother, bassist Mikey Way, guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero and drummer Matt Pelissier, had been together only for weeks when in 2001 the band landed a contract with the independent label, Eyeball Records, and an immediate trip to the studio produced their first CD, "I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love."
Despite the group's inexperience, My Chemical Romance delivered a CD in "I Brought You My Bullets" whose urgent and epic rockers and sometimes creepy lyrics suggested that My Chemical Ro-mance had a bright future.
Given the musical growth shown on "Three Cheers for Revenge," that future already might have begun. The CD, the band's first under a new contract with major label Reprise Records, is a dynamic, distinctive and highly accessible work that defies easy description by skirting be-tween the boundaries of metal, punk progressive rock and power pop.
Several songs, such as the recent top-15 modern-rock hit "Helena (So Long and Goodnight)" and "The Ghost of You," are dramatic high-energy rockers that balance instrumental crunch with bold and beautiful vocal melodies. "Give 'Em Hell Kid," is a careening punk tune that packs one of the CD's most powerful melodies. The nifty "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" at various points evokes '70s arena rock, classic metal and Green Day-styled pop punk. The latter song was a top-five modern-rock hit.
Since completing "Three Cheers for Re-venge," the musical growth has continued unabated, Way said.
"We really pushed ourselves so hard to get to a natural progression, not just a com-plete and total leap," Way said of the "Three Cheers" CD. "The writing since that rec-ord is even further of a jump. So it's kind of like if we had gone from the first record to what we're writing now, it probably would not have made as much sense. But now it all makes sense."
My Chemical Romance headlines a sold-out show today — Sept. 22 — at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd.