Meeting The Teenagers Who Still Stan My Chemical Romance
Being a super-fan of a band who broke up five years ago is a unique situation, but one that persists with MCR.
Lead image courtesy of one of the contributors.
Sometime around 2005, when I was barely a teen, My Chemical Romance came into my life. The “Helena” video travelled right out of MTV2 and into my chubby goth soul, and the obsession grew from there. I baked a cake on Gerard Way’s birthday and iced his name on it, smothered my bedroom wall in cut-outs of the band from Kerrang! and wrote fan fiction that was lude, lively and wildly inappropriate for a 14-year-old. This band isn't one that you simply ‘liked’ in the ‘00s – they were an addiction. And so, it feels kind of surprising to me – a 24-year-old with a Gerard Way tattoo – that MCR still mean the world to teens across the globe.
The band grew up and finally separated five years ago, in 2013, but their fanbase didn't wane. In fact, it evolved and expanded. With the sort of cult-like obsession that the Daily Mail would relish slagging off, this new wave of My Chemical Romance fandom have a fierce intensity. What was once dubbed the MCRmy, now take the form of Instagram accounts like @gerardsdick and @ieromance. These younger fans interact with memes and private in-jokes, post long lost photos of band members daily and declare Gerard Way to be the ultimate daddy (he is.)
It might seem strange to an outsider that kids today would choose MCR – the band who filled music magazines in 2005 but haven’t made a peep in five years – to be their absolute obsession. This is a band who are now in their early forties. They are all married and have kids. And these new fans are probably never going to see them play live. To that end, I spoke to the teen MCR fans who are keeping the spirit of emo alive on the gram and beyond against all odds.
“As Gerard Way said, it’s not a band, it’s an idea”
MCR means so many things to me. Their music speaks to me in a way no therapist can. They taught me to love myself even if nobody else will. And I’ve met so many wonderful people because of them, discovered who I am, and it has shown me the loving community of other people in the fandom. I don’t know what I would’ve done these past few years if I never became a member of the MCRmy.
It kinda sucks loving a band that I know that I’ll most likely never see. But as Gerard Way said, it’s not a band, it’s an idea. An idea that brought people together. And MCR isn’t truly gone, they still have their solo careers that I can go to. I even saw Frank Iero twice because he’s had a lot of concerts in New Jersey (that’s where both he and I live.) So even though they’re not together, they’ve brought others together, and that’s why I still love them.
I believe that there’s a small chance that they would get back together, but I wouldn’t count on it. They’re all really happy doing their solo things and if they’re happy I’m happy. Kris, 16 (@gerardwayfabpage).
“I don't think they'll get back together and I don't want them to”
It’s obvious I love them – hence the fan page – but they mean something very... unusual to me. I view the band as a historical artefact, or art piece, rather than the living, breathing creature which most fans see them as. It was a gorgeous construct, to be sure, but I feel like it ended when it needed to. I know Gerard didn’t see it going past their third album and, to be honest, I see why. The breakup was necessary for all the boys’ health — be it mental or physical — so I can’t really fault it.
‘The Smashing Pumpkins theory’ is really popular: Gerard once said in an interview that he wished for MCR to have the same fate/future as the band The Smashing Pumpkins, who broke up for six years and then reunited. This would mean that, if the prophecy is correct, My Chemical Romance should reconvene in 2019 after a six-year break, like The Smashing Pumpkins did.
There’s also another theory: 'The Danger Days album'. A lot of fans always thought that the “killjoys never die” saying which the band emphasised signalled that the band would never fully come to an end. As Danger Days was set in 2019, some fans took this to mean that in 2019, the band could reunite and do another album. Gerard once said in a post-MCR interview that he always plans far into the future, so it’s possible that he could have implemented the year 2019 in the Danger Days videos in order to signify a 2019 reunion.
But frankly, I don't think they'll get back together and I don't want them to. They've all moved on and it’s actually fascinating to listen to all of their music separately and see where their different influences came from. Eveline, 16 (@ieromance).
“It's sad and rad at the same time”
MCR is more than my favourite band. MCRs like... my religion. Their music changed me a lot and saved my life multiple times. I'm very proud that I can call myself a 'Killjoy'. It's a very weird feeling [loving a band that aren’t still together]. It's sad and rad at the same time.
I really appreciate their amazing music and everything that they've done, but I can't believe that I’ll never have a chance to see them live. Kate, 18 (@danger.revenge).
“If I don’t think about them being separated, I don’t even realise it”
To me, My Chemical Romance means “home”. It’s like a time machine. I can go to whichever era I want, for whatever I’m feeling. They’re always there for me. I get into so many different bands and so many different songs yet My Chem will somehow rope me back in. There’s always something new to discover with them even though it’s over. They’re safe, and only a few bands can do that for me.
If I don’t think about them being separated, I don’t even realise it. I just have to dig so far down to find new things sometimes, but I’m okay with the old stuff too. I’m happy for them and their solo music and if they don’t want to be together anymore that’s their decision. I also don’t think they will get together in the near future. It would be cool to see them like that again, but I’d want them all to feel comfortable with it. Jessie, 18 (@gerards_hawaiian_shirt).
“Looking at pictures from 10+ years ago gave me this awful gut-wrenching feeling”
I can’t really describe what they mean to me, so I’ll just give you some adjectives: nostalgia, rebellion, friendship, love. They have a song for everything and all of them are amazing. They were able to capture every emotion and they've inspired me so much.
That said, I’m not really obsessed with them anymore – I've kind of outgrown that phase. They're still my favourite band, but speaking as someone who used to be obsessed, it was literally terrible. Watching concerts and looking at pictures from 10+ years ago gave me this awful gut-wrenching feeling of sadness because I knew that I could never actually go to one of their shows or anything. It's an amazing fan base but it's honestly depressing because everyone's in a constant state of mourning. Bridget, 16 (@gerardsdick).
“Once in a while you start missing them”
I've been a fan of My Chem for about three years. My friend kept talking about them in fifth grade, so I checked them out myself and just automatically became obsessed with their music. They've really shaped me into the person I am today and have helped me with things that I've struggled with and I feel like I can relate to them and their lyrics so much.
Obviously being obsessed with a band that isn't together anymore has it's pros and cons. Pros are that they are so much happier than they were in the band – they have kids and wives and that makes me happy. The cons are that once in a while you start missing them. Sometimes you get really deep into the music, and you think, "Wow, now that they're gone, they'll never perform those songs live again." And there are those moments where you think that these things happened, that at some point they went into a studio and recorded songs that saved multiple lives. It's kind of sad. Remi, 13.
“Gerard Way is our undeniable emo king”
My Chemical Romance is not just a band to me… This band helped me a lot over the years. Every time I felt down, I knew I had their music to make me feel better. I can relate to their lyrics, and in some way, the band supported me even more than my own parents. They're like family to me.
What does it feel like to be obsessed with a band that's not a band anymore? Well, it's sad sometimes, because you want to go to their shows and get hyped when they release new music but you know you can't because they're not together anymore. Other times it's good because you are completely sure that they're healthy and happy and doing other stuff they also like, and, as a fan, that's something that warms your heart.
It shows a level of respect unshown in most fandom culture that these fans want their band members to be happy rather than reunite and churn out more tunes that might not mean as much. ‘My Chemical Romance saved my life’ was a message bandied about on Piczo and MySpace in 2007, but teens today are emulating the message without prompting. If anything, the MCR legacy is one that understands teens in what is, apparently, a timeless way. Move over Holden Cauldfield, Gerard Way is our undeniable emo king. Lauren, 19 (@lolur_not_gerardway).
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