Thank You For The Venom
My Chemical Romance
It was the summer holidays that bridged the transition from primary school to high school. I was a jock, over achieving pre-teen who played an unhealthy amount of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2* matched only by an interest in music. 2004’s top 40 was encrusted by the synthetic slick of urban, hip hop and R’n’B; Usher’s Yeah, OutKast’s Hey Ya and Obie Trice’s Got Some Teeth soundtracking school discos across Australia causing some regrettable musical tastes with regards to peer pressure. Having the privilege of cable television, I switched to Channel [V] only to be confronted by an edgy, cinematic music video that highlighted the less glamorous points of high school from the perspective of this band of beautiful losers that were ‘rejected’, ‘wronged’ and ‘angry’. This flaring, punctuated, dynamically electric anthem to personalized dissatisfaction; “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” was my introduction to My Chemical Romance. I scrawled down the band name on the back of a TV guide, even my twelve-year-old doctor’s scrawl couldn’t take away how great that name resonates.
“well if you wanted honesty, that’s all you had to say”
this was the tagline I punched into my parents’ temperamental computer as I set up my original foray into social media; MySpace. Over that summer, I became obsessed not only with the music of five dudes from New Jersey that fused theatrics and frustration, but their image, influences and individual personalities, faults and all. Yep, this was my first fanboy moment. A month later, my father and I were watching that music channel again when the group’s lament ‘Helena’, flashed black and red across the screen. “Dad! This is my favourite band and now they’re going to be huge!” was met not with a reply of horror, but of quiet curiosity. “mm, could be worse”. Thanks, dad.
I commenced my first terms of high school, curious of the new people I was bound to meet but made a direct effort to reconnect with my friends from primary school. “Oh, yeah, hmm, you’re into, like screaming? And My Chem? You’re emo.” My brand new shiny thing had already been black labeled and dragged through the mud of moral panics and social disgraces before I even got to share it. Queen St Mall became overwrought with the self proclaimed emos, the scene royalty, the kids who would insist that you call them by their alliterated MySpace names; each and everyone presented in black, congregating en masse outside Hungry Jacks, pleading passersby for cigarettes or change for the aforementioned. I couldn’t identify with this loitering mentality but I was happy to witness from the fringes. Being in the creative arts cohort of my high school, it was only a matter of time before I found friends who connected with the group on a similar level, if not to a more extreme extent, adopting their image and writing stories about their
musical personal heroes in crimson, leather-bound diaries with twinkling black velvety ink. (I only discovered what Waycest was about a year ago. Fanfiction holds no bounds and it is frightening.)
The Black Parade was released a few months shy of my parents separating. The nights I spent in the basement of my mother’s new house with this album on repeat were countless. I’d mimic Gerard’s flamboyancy attempting his charismatic finesse on the vampvillian, “Mama”, I’d disregard my physical wellbeing thrashing an invisible guitar to “Welcome to the Black Parade” only to scream my guts raw to “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge”, releasing the hurts and anxieties of a broken homed teenage white boy left to his own devices. Through all the verbal ridiculed torment, from the vapid mouths of friends, teachers and later, outspoken tertiary lecturers, this band’s ability to attract the reaction it did, got me through their backhanded remarks. All this ridiculous, adolescent rage that both petrified and empowered Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance made me seem all the more satisfied with it, or at bare minimum, normal.
This is precisely what these gentlemen intended to do; they wanted to save you as much as they wanted to save themselves. They fantasized their own paracosmic landscape, one in which they identified as superheroes, forming an alliance in the face of tragedy while arming their followers, the MCRmy, with a message of love, courage and ambition. Fans and band alike would confess to overcoming and giving up their poisons, their pills and their personal hells with each other’s support. As the band’s blood has now dripped dry, we are left with a goodbye, an idea and a legacy that indeed, saved my life.
to my favourite band,
New Jersey’s finest,
so long and goodnight.
*I can still slay all you bitches at Tony Hawk’s