If you are expecting to see a deathly dark performance by My Chemical Romance on their current North American tour, their new kaleidoscope of color might just burst your bubble.
Turns out these boys are done paying homage to the gothic theme of their last album The Black Parade and instead have chosen brighter happier hues in their show to represent the band’s new perspective. And ironically for this critically-acclaimed punk-rock group, this time it’s not a teenage angry rebellious ’emo’ attitude but instead adulthood contentment.
MCR guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toro sat down with Pop Counter//Culture before their Vancouver concert at the Centre for Performing Arts to talk about the new sound of the band and their latest album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
“The world we live in right now, we don’t need any more sadness,” Frank Iero said. “I think that we live in that enough that we don’t need that in our fantasy. At least for us, this chapter of My Chem is… brighter horizons, you know? Things are pretty damn good.”
Pretty good definitely is a succinct and understated way to describe the band’s success. Since forming in 2001 with their first album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love debuting in 2002, the group has had a massive following mostly consisting of melodramatic teens. But with four records now under their metal-studded belts, the band has entered a new chapter.
Sitting across from a small panel of online journalists in a back-stage dressing room, MCR members Iero and Toro do look grown up. Yet still with that iconic youthful edge with Iero dressed in a green hoodie and cigarette pants and Toro’s signature afro hair still on display.
But it isn’t only members of the band who’ve matured – who now include Gerard Way on lead vocals, Mikey Way on bass guitar, Iero on rhythm guitar/vocals, and Toro on lead guitar/vocals and touring members James Dewees on keyboard/percussion/vocals, Michael Pedicone on drums – but the fans too.
“It definitely feels like for a good percentage of them, it’s the kind of music that they wanted to hear, and what they needed to hear in their life at this moment,” said Toro. “They[‘ve] grown with us.”
Iero went on to explain that at any given show the crowd is divided in half, with 50 per cent having come to several MCR shows and the other 50 per cent being new fans.
“It feels like there is this passing down of records,” Iero said. “We’re getting new kids and it’s re-energizing.”
Yet even though the new record is gaining accolades from industry critics and fans of all ages, Toro and Iero expressed that the band still feels like the underdog given their five-year hiatus from the music scene and the group’s departure from their old musical style.
“We tried to get out of the public eye for a while. We felt like we were in people’s faces too much, I was sick of us,” Iero said.
“When we wrote this record, we said it was completely different than the rest, but still similar to the other ones because every one is different than the rest. But it was definitely a conscious effort to go in and do something new. I think if we stay stagnant as artists, that’s kinda like artistic poison.”
“If the change is for the positive and the music is still good, than [the fans] stick with us,” Toro added. “The reception has been great.”
What has carried through is the excitement of all the members to explore new things, forgetting about egos while on stage and instead focusing on their overwhelming love for melody.
This time round, that melody includes a literally brilliant light show to give an added depth to the band’s already famously enigmatic shows.
And instead of fans dressing up in black hooded capes while waiting outside concert halls, neon colors reminiscent of a comic strip are sure to pop up amidst the line-up.
Looks like fans will follow suite with whatever MCR dictates, but the band insists their ambition is not for world domination. Instead Iero mentioned the possibility of world contamination, this time with their go-lucky attitude and their feel-good music as the filtrating message.
“You go to a place where we don’t speak the language but they’re singing along to these songs that we wrote in our basements…the songs, they take on a life of their own,” Iero said.