Chemical imbalance 

My Chemical Romance goes conceptual to ditch the dreaded emo tag

click to enlarge The guys from My Chemical Romance kicked us out - when we used the term fixer-upper.
  • The guys from My Chemical Romance kicked us out when we used the term fixer-upper.

There's a point early in a band's career where opportunity and artistry collide.

The publicity machine radio, Internet, MTV has done its job, and it's up to the group to see how far its success can reach.

One act that recently found itself in these crosshairs is My Chemical Romance. The emo poster-boy outfit saw its 2004 album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, break through to the mainstream in a big way, culminating with an opening slot on Green Day's sold-out "American Idiot" tour.

So last year, when it came time to write a follow-up, the band's members aspired not only to make a statement record, but to slightly alter the course My Chemical Romance had been given by its fans and the media. A decision was made to just go for it, with the result being the decidedly Queen-inspired The Black Parade.

"The album is completely unexpected," drummer Bob Bryar says on the phone from Brisbane, Australia. "We could have put out a record that was expected, and it would have done OK. It would have done well, but it would have died out very quick. It was a risk to put out something different, and this is definitely something more different than I've seen in a long time."

The linchpin of the album is the title track (actually called "Welcome to the Black Parade"), which, early on, received the title "The Five of Us Are Dying." In essence, the band felt the song was both a death march and a freedom ride. Constructed in a highly theatrical and mini-suite fashion perhaps as an homage to Freddie Mercury the song was, for all intents and purposes, finished. But the band members weren't satisfied.

"It's one of the most special songs on the record, and it started off as something totally different," Bryar says. "So we took a total different approach to it, rewrote the song, and some of the parts are the same and some are completely different. It was really hard to do because we had the song completely done."

He adds: "That's one of our favorite songs because of all the work that went into it. Then it became the single, and that's the song that wraps it all up for us."

Billed as a concept album, The Black Parade features plenty of other experimentations, including the chamber-pop sounding "Mama" (with Liza Minnelli contributing vocals). It's no secret that My Chemical Romance is attempting to leave behind the Fall Out Boy world in hopes of forging a new identity that begets longevity.

What remains to be seen, though, is whether the emo monkey on the band's back is ready to let go.

"We feel that we've left that behind, but a lot of people haven't," Bryar says. "I think this whole emo tag is complete bullshit. Nobody really understands what it is. And it's something that people just throw on a band. The only downside to it is that you have people who won't listen to the group or take the group serious because of a tag."

He adds: "We want to be just a great rock band and a great live band."


My Chemical Romance

Magness Arena, 2240 E. Buchtell Blvd., Denver

Sunday, March 4, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $26.25; visit ticketmaster.com.


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