My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is, on the surface, yet another concept album from a band that seemingly makes nothing but concept albums. It’s a daring, DayGlo-addled story about a band of outlaws — that would be, of course, the titular Killjoys — battling an oppressive corporation in a postapocalyptic future world (or something like that).
But if you dig a little deeper, past the costumes and car chases and down to the nuts and bolts of how it came to be, you quickly learn that Danger Days is a lot more than just a work of fiction. Its creation was, in all honesty, much stranger than anything frontman Gerard Way ever could have written.
Because, in the near two years they spent making the album, MCR were pushed to the brink. They lost their drummer, very nearly imploded and contemplated walking away entirely. They recorded an entire album’s worth of material, the overwhelming amount of which they absolutely hated. Times were grim. Lesser bands would have quit. But My Chem refused to break. Instead, they reteamed with an old friend, powered through and somehow emerged a better, badder band.
With Danger Days, My Chemical Romance defied the odds — and so, with the album finally hitting stores Monday (November 22), we’ve decided to take a look back at the (very) long and tenuous road that led to this point. Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction, and this album is the proof.
In October 2008, MCR bassist Mikey Way tells MTV News that the band is taking “a long break” and that, aside from the version of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row” they recorded for Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen,” there were no plans to begin work on a new album. At the end of 2008, Gerard Way hints that recording sessions had begun in earnest and that the new My Chem album probably wouldn’t be a conceptual thing: “I think I had to get it out of my system, as far as writing concept records,” he says. In January, the video for “Desolation Row” premieres, showing a lean, mean, decidedly non-conceptual version of the band. In February, Gerard Way tells MTV News that the new album would more than likely be a bare-bones, proto-punk affair, promising “there’s a purity to it. There’s less happening.”
After nearly six months out of the spotlight, MCR premiere a trio of new songs, including “Death Before Disco” at the Roxy in Hollywood. Way re-emerges at Comic-Con 2009, touting the skills of producer Brendan O’Brien and saying that the new album is shaping up to be “love letter to rock and roll.” At the end of the year, the band previews a handful of songs for SPIN magazine, and Way says the album “has these feelings of being like a 15-year-old kid at the Jersey Shore, trying to win a Mötley Crüe mirror or an Iron Maiden hat. … [There are] many themes: that a band and an audience can be immortal through rock and roll, even if just for one night. The power of believing in something. Being a survivor … leaving home in order to come back.”
Following that statement, things are oddly quiet for months, until March 2010, when the band parts ways with drummer Bob Bryar . In a statement, MCR call the decision “painful,” and while no official reason was ever given for Bryar’s departure, rumors begin to swirl that he left after a rather heated argument between him and the rest of the band. In April, there are even more rumors, this time that the band’s album would be called The Midnight Curfew and would drop June 29. Those rumors prove to be false.
Finally, in September, My Chemical Romance come roaring back with a seriously killer teaser trailer for their new album, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. Later that month, in an interview with BBC Radio’s Zane Lowe, Way says My Chem nearly broke up while making the album but were reinvigorated thanks to producer Rob Cavallo and the strength of one song: first single “Na Na Na.” In October, the breakneck video for “Na Na Na” premieres, drawing raves from long-suffering MCR fans. That same month, MTV News gets an advance listen to Danger Days and calls it “a four-on-the-floor, pedal-to-the-metal, bullets-in-the-chamber, bugs-on-the-windshield thrill ride.” In mid-November, MCR announce plans for the North American leg of their World Contamination Tour and premiere a dark and moody video for the second single from Danger Days, “Sing.”
What are you expecting from Danger Days? Let us know in the comments!
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