Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way announced this week that he has inked a record deal with Warner Bros and has almost completed work upon his debut solo record. While hardly the most unexpected or left-field news, Way's return is a cause for celebration. Here's why...
LIKE ALL TRUE ROCK STARS, WAY UNDERSTANDS THAT RIDICULE IS NOTHING TO BE SCARED OF…
My Chemical Romance’s fourth, and final, studio album Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys was an absolute dog of a record. A nonsensical concept album detailing the travails of a group of renegade mavericks (the aforementioned ‘Killjoys’) challenging the authoritarian rule of an omnipotent corporation in a fictionalised post-apocalyptic California, it contained some of the weakest material the band ever recorded and seemed to exist largely only to give Way and his bandmates an excuse to tool around in the desert in their videos wearing superhero masks and multi-coloured spandex and leather. A wretched endeavour in truth – its best song sounded like a Black Eyed Peas B-side – but, to paraphrase US punk icon Ian MacKaye, at least they were fucking trying. Never afraid to push his art beyond the point of acceptability, Way’s fearlessness and restless spirit means that his new material is highly unlikely to be safe.
HE REJECTS THE NOTION OF LESS IS MORE
Upon first hearing My Chemical Romance’s flamboyant, daring and never knowingly under-played Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge album, one UK rock journalist was moved to describe Gerard Way as ‘The Emo Meatloaf’. The man himself might have been rather charmed by the comparison, designed to offend though it clearly was. Way’s heroes include Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Smashing Pumpkins Billy Corgan, artists wholly unencumbered by notions of taste and decency, who held that if a song was worth doing, it was very possibly worth over-doing. Alongside The Darkness and Muse, two other bands derided for taking chances, My Chemical Romance brought a sense of theatricality, ambition and adventure back to mainstream rock music: here’s hoping his solo album is an epic rock opera featuring two duelling choirs and a 68-part harmony soundscape played entirely on Alpaca jawbones.
HE PISSES PEOPLE OFF NO END
Exactly how a comic book-obsessed nerd from the arse end of New Jersey became Britain’s Public Enemy Number One is a story best explored in UK music writer Tom Bryant’s forthcoming MCR biography ‘The True Lives Of My Chemical Romance’, but for a time – as their The Black Parade album caught the imagination of a new generation of rock fans – it seemed that everyone, from the Daily Mail to indie rock dullards Kasabian – had an opinion on Gerard Way, running the full gamut from ‘He’s weird’ to ‘He’s dangerous’ to ‘He’s dangerous and weird.’
“It’s like ventriloquists’ music,” said Kasabian’s Tom Meighan. “It’s weird and dark. They don’t have anything positive to say. The only good news is that it won’t last. These clowns won’t be around for much longer. Their make-up will flake off and the scene will die out. And it can’t happen soon enough.”
Naturally, Way was hugely entertained by all the attention. Asked for his opinion on Meighan’s comments, the singer said “It was obviously meant as a slam, but it was so poorly worded that it ended up sounding like a compliment.” Meighan is probably still scratching his head trying to work that one out.
HE’S ONE OF THE BEST SONGWRITERS OF HIS GENERATION
I’m Not Okay (I Promise). Helena. Thank You For The Venom. Welcome To the Black Parade. I Don’t Love You. Love or hate MCR, it’s an undeniable fact that their biggest anthems will be soundtracking rock clubs, teenage tantrums, festival make-out sessions, weddings and funerals for decades to come. That the band struck a chord with rock fans the world over wasn’t down to their image, their puppy dog cuteness or their dinky little uniforms – though that all helped, of course – but a direct consequence of their ability to drill earworms into the hardest of skulls. Welcome back Gerard, give ‘em Hell kid.