After the tragic attacks of 9/11, two boys from New Jersey, Gerard Way and Matt Pelissier, discussed the possibilities of starting a band. With Way’s talents in between singing and playing the guitar, Pelissier was a drummer, the guys came together to get in touch with former friends such as Ray Toro, and with the three of them combined, they had nothing to lose but to make music and a difference. Bassist, Mikey Way, was introduced to the band after the brothers (Gerard Way and Mikey Way) attended a Smashing Pumpkins concert. Mikey was instructed to improve his bass skills within the space of a week to fit into the current skill level, and after joining the band suggested the name My Chemical Romance after reading a book titled, Ecstacy: Three Tales Of Chemical Romance by Irvine Welsh.
“Gerard had a billion great ideas and he was very excited about it all, Mikey had a great record collection but had no idea how to play bass. Ray was the sort of guy you’d find working in a guitar shop – one of those people who’d be a little hard to deal with because he’d be a much better player than anyone else. Otter (Matt Pelissier) was messy though.
The thing was, they had great ideas. Ray had tons of different guitar parts. I asked, ‘How are you going to play those live?’. He just shrugged and went, ‘I’ll just choose between the important parts and the not so important parts’. I thought, if they’re that important, you need to get another guitar player to play them.” – Geoff Rickly
2002 brought the bands’ first album titled ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love,’ and was produced by Thursday’s lead singer, Geoff Rickly. Following a storyline of love and heartbreak, each song on the album followed the various reasons of a couples’ breakdown. The album, picked up by Eyeball Records set the tone for the start of MCR, and with dark influences laced throughout their music, they were different to the brigade of pop punk that spewed rebellion. Stand-out track, ‘Skylines and Turnstiles’ referred to the events of 9/11, in which Way witnessed from afar. The track is emotion captured in such a real and raw away, with lyrics forcing hearts to skip as people recall the terror of the towers collapsing in 2001. With chests being torn open, the band needed one last addition to really make this work, and that was another guitarist. Contacting MCR fanboy, Frank Iero who had been playing in local bands around New Jersey, they offered him the position. At the time, Iero’s favourite band was My Chemical Romance and he was about to be playing alongside them on one of the most spectacular journeys in music. Iero, playing the guitar for Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us, and Early Sunsets Over Monroeville, the album was close to completion.
“I don’t know if we were really ready for it, but we were ready to tour, so that’s what mattered and we were ready to really take on the world.”
Gerard Way – Life On The Murder Scene – 2006
Under the impression of playing in a generic rock ‘n’ roll band, Way grew up in an unsettling and dark neighbourhood of New Jersey, where murder and violence was a threat to residents. Being somewhat of a recluse, Way rarely left the house and indulged his love of horror films that were to later influence on his songwriting. He frequently wrote about topics such as death, suicide, vampires, drugs and being useless in love – and his emotions intertwined with his creativity, MCR brought a unique take to the emo genre.
“We really had no identity, to me at least, every song on that first record sounded very different from the next and I think thats one of my favorite things about our band, there’s not one set style.”
Ray Toro – Life On The Murder Scene – 2006
Bullets is full of angst, giving it an overall anarchist feel as it combines elements from genre’s from post-hardcore and emo. Introduction song, ‘Romance,’ was actually the only song not written by My Chemical Romance, and while the origins of the song is still questionable, it has since been linked as ‘Romance Anonimo,’ (Anonymous Romance) and has been attributed to names such as Antonio Rubira, Francisco Tarrega and Narciso Yepes. Being a drama student during high school, Way’s knowledge of theatrics expanded his influences which really captured the essence of MCR, portraying the albums ideology with an eerie melodic opening. The album bursts open in initial riff for ‘Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us,’ later entering into fan-favoured track throughout of MCR’s career, ‘Our Lady Of Sorrows.’ The latter track had been on rotation in the band’s set right until their split in 2013. A variety of tracks from starting album, Bullets, were among those at their final show at Bamboozle 2012 in New Jersey.
“There were times that Gerard completely ripped himself apart on that record. The second I started recording Gerard’s vocals I turned to his little brother and said, ‘If you stick with this, you’re going to be the biggest band in the world’. I knew from Gerard that they were a band who would have an impact. There was a level of humanity in there that meant people would be able to relate to it. I was amazed by it because I’d never seen that in a person before.” – Geoff Rickly
The very first song to capture my attention on the Bullets album was ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You,’ and much like the album, this song grows on you. At the first listen, the song can seem long with a lot of things going on, but the raw passion and emotion can be heard in everything since your brain can’t concentrate on just one element of the song. The lyrics that create a meaningful and somewhat inspiring story that has since been interoperated to be yourself among society, or of fitting in with the famous artists around them. Overall, the drops, guitar picking and backing vocals really bring out the element of horror that massively influenced the making of the album. ‘Demolition Lovers’ is another example of Way’s influences of horror and theatre. Taking on a Romeo and Juliet style story of two lovers on the run from their sins and ultimately taking their own lives, Way dedicated the song to a person that’s now assumed to be his then-partner. In the footnotes of the album, the sentence “To K: I’m sorry I wrote all these songs I wrote about killing you. I hope the last song makes up for it,” was written by Way himself.
Previously stated, the album is made of pure and raw emotion, visible throughout Way’s singing. Without any professional help or practise prior to recording, there are parts on Bullets that could be described as out of place and earlier reports of his dental abscesses during this process did affect his singing. But, despite this, what Bullets had captured proved to be monumental as it stuck with the band and their fans throughout their career and to this day. It holds onto some golden material that will continue to be some of MCR’s highlights as their legacy continues.
Written by Owen Jeffreys