Without My Chemical Romance, These Bands Wouldn’t Exist
They were most commonly assigned the nebulous tag of ‘emo’, but musically My Chemical Romance were magpies in ravens’ feathers, dipping into punk, metal, pop, rock and more to create a marvellous sonic stew that somehow sounded only of themselves. Even at their most bombastic or fantastical they kept a sense of raw emotion and they spoke to and for the outsider even when they became one of the biggest bands in the world.
Now returning after six long years away, MCR’s profound influence on the current music scene is obvious. Many of the fans who loved them grew up and started bands of their own and they continue to have a posthumous impact on new generations.
Here we look at some of the bands who probably wouldn’t have been possible without the trail blazed by My Chemical Romance…
Heading into a new decade, perhaps no other band is more evocative of My Chemical Romance than the UK’s own Creeper. Sure, they have their own approach, but there are definite similarities in the dark gothic tint, the hook-laden punk and rock moves and, more importantly, their penchant for a sweeping, grand design. With overarching themes, mysteries and a blurring of fact and fiction, they’ve taken the baton from MCR and run with it.
twenty one pilots
In that infamous open letter following the break-up, Gerard Way proclaimed that My Chemical Romance can never die because “it is not a band – it is an idea”. twenty one pilots don’t sound like MCR, but they write their own musical and aesthetic rules in a similar way. They’ve permeated the mainstream while maintaining that link with the core fans and, if it matters, Gerard Way is a fan. “I like that band anyway, I like the sound of that band,” he told PopBuzz while discussing pilots’ distinctive cover of MCR’s Cancer. “I think what they do is really interesting. So I was psyched to hear that cover.
MCR’s influence extends way beyond the modern emo or even wider rock scenes. Austin Richard Post would have been 11 when The Black Parade came out, and if you don’t think it had an impact on his subsequent career as Post Malone, you haven’t been paying attention. Again, it’s the spirit rather than the style, but as a video of him losing his shit while playing Welcome To The Black Parade during his DJ set at a recent Emo Nite proves, MCR certainly had an impact on him.
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Lil Peep’s fusion of hip-hop and emo suggests a more obvious debt to MCR. The late rapper drew from a host of influences, but he was vocal about his love of emo and pop-punk, and his confessional style dealt honestly with real issues that resonated with his fans. Good Charlotte performed at his memorial, and it was also reported that the famous ‘So long and goodnight’ line from MCR’s Helena moved family and friends to tears as it reverberated through the room.
New Years Day
With a strong visual aesthetic and a knack for using vivid, often horror-themed imagery as a metaphor for real-life issues, there’s a definite line to be drawn between MCR and New Years Day. Ash Costello also experienced a fangirl moment when she got to work with Gerard and Ray Toro recently. She told Alternative Press, “When Gerard started calling me by my name, it was a really cool moment. I was like, ‘Oh shit! He knows my name!’ So I’d be recording and I’d hear him be like, ‘Yeah, Ash will be able to hit this note fine,’ or, ‘Ash will be able to wail on this part,’ and I’m just sitting there like, ‘Oh my God! He’s talking about my voice!’”
Famous Last Words
If the concept albums filled with obsession and inner demons weren’t enough, the fact that Famous Last Words lifted their name from the MCR song of the same name should spell it out. This is most definitely one band who wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for My Chemical Romance.
Sleeping With Sirens
The Jersey-ites had a big impact on the members ofSleeping With Sirens – and not just frontman Kellin Quinn, who has been pictured in an MCR T-shirt. Guitarist Jack Fowler has described The Black Parade as the album that made him want to follow his dreams, as well as inspiring him “to learn how to play lead guitar, study my playing and become the guitarist I am today”. Rhythm guitarist Nick Martin added that he can still play the album from beginning to end.
Yungblud is another artist with a wide array of influences, but one of the biggest was always My Chemical Romance. He’s previously spoken about growing up on bands like MCR “who were actually genuinely talking about and saying things”. He recently made a mash-up with the lyrics of his own single Hope For The Underrated Youth sung to the tune of Welcome To The Black Parade for Radio 1, admitting, “If this goes wrong it’s sacrilegious.”
Rena Lovelis once admitted to K! that her first gig was Hannah Montana. The second was MCR in their Fabulous Killjoys phase, however, and it was this that had an indelible impact on Hey Violet, who were also in attendance. “My Chemical Romance were a huge influence on us, on our songwriting and what we wanted to do – especially at the start,” she said.
They’re a band of literal brothers with a flair for the theatrical and influences that range from David Bowie and T.Rex to poetry, A Clockwork Orange and Tim Burton’s collected works. They’re smart, creative and individualistic, and they also invite their fans – who they call the Soldiers Of The Royal Council – into their own self-contained world. Palaye Royale have said they’re not trying to be the next anyone, but the parallels are there for all to see.
State Champs might have worshipped at the altars of the usual pop-punk icons such as Green Day, Sum 41 and blink-182, but My Chemical Romance were another early influence. Guitarist Tyler Szalkowski admits to wearing a blazer over an MCR shirt to his ninth grade homecoming and says they had an enduring impact on him. “They were a rock band that’s very comfortable being different, and that’s very inspiring to see them have so much success from just being themselves,” he told Rock Sound after his band had covered The Sharpest Lives.
As an emo-tinged punk-ish rock band from New Jersey, Save Face have the background nailed. They also nailed their colours to the mast with a cover of Teenagers in September. “The Black Parade is one of my all-time favourite albums,” said vocalist Tyler Povanda. “I did a little demo and just went with it! Out of all the songs on that record, this one definitely made the most sense and felt right.”
They might not be a household name, but hotly-tipped Sheffield band Havelocke have been earning acclaim for a sound that updates the 2000s emo and post-hardcore that soundtracked their formative years. “We grew up on My Chemical Romance and the Used and AFI and that comes out in our music,” guitarist Hope Thackray told us recently. They’re self-confessed “emo kids who grew up” and there are plenty more where they came from.
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