Led by the nearly-insanely catchy first single “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” and its equally attention-grabbing video — a kind of riff on Rushmore , only with a more rocking beat — My Chemical Romance is grabbing for the brass ring. Endless touring has helped build a rabid following for the New Jersey natives and firmly ensconced its second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (Reprise), in the Billboard Top 50.
“We had to pull ourselves off the road to get fully focused on the album,” says singer/songwriter Gerard Way. “We put ourselves under a lot of pressure to exceed what we’d done the last time around, which was a good thing. But at the same time we allowed for the music to evolve and grow. We experimented a lot, tried a lot of new things.”
Indeed, the set began as a full-bore concept album, until the group — which also includes Way’s brother Mikey on bass, guitarists Frank Iero and Ray Toto, and drummer Matt Pelissier — realized it was writing itself into the songs. “Half of it is about making a deal with the devil,” says Way. “The other half is taken from our experiences as a band.”
The raucous result contains bits of everything from Nine Inch Nails to Iron Maiden to Nick Drake and beyond, all delivered convincingly in a muscular, power-pop form. (The group’s name, incidentally, comes from Irvine “Trainspotting” Welsh’s 1996 collection Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance .)
What’s next for these purveyors of what Way calls “violent, unsafe pop music”? The “Taste of Chaos” festival tour, alongside The Used and several other thrashy outfits, during which MCR will undoubtedly win over even more fans. “We’ve really made a lot of progress in the past year, and had a lot of fun,” Way says. “We’re committed. Why stop now?”