Happy Birthday: Gerard Way
Today we celebrate the birthday of Gerard Arthur Way, but you can call him Gerard, provided you feel like you know him well enough to do that. For those who don’t know him that well, we should perhaps identify Gerard: he was the lead singer of My Chemical Romance until the band broke up in 2013, and while he’s now a solo artist, he’s also a comic book writer of some note, having penned – among other titles – the Eisner Award-winning The Umbrella Academy.
Way’s a guy who’s done a lot of things over the years: he did a little acting as a kid (he played Peter Pan when he was in the fourth grade), he popped up as a guest on Sally Jesse Raphael when he was 16 (the topic: Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes being immortalized in comic-book form), and he worked as an intern for Cartoon Network in New York City. In fact, he held the latter position on September 11, 2001, and being in NYC for 9/11 proved so affecting that it led him to start penning lyrics, starting with “Skylines and Turnstiles,” which soon became the first My Chemical Romance song.
My Chemical Romance released their debut album, I BROUGHT YOU MY BULLETS, YOU BROUGHT ME YOUR LOVE, in 2002, and its success led them into a major-label deal with Reprise Records. Talk about the opposite of a sophomore slump: the band’s second album, THREE CHEERS FOR SWEET REVENGE, went platinum in just over a year, and their live shows – first as openers for Green Day’s AMERICAN IDIOT tour, then as co-headliners of the 2005 Warped Tour with Fall Out Boy – made them even more popular. In turn, their third album, THE BLACK PARADE, matched the sales of its predecessor, going triple platinum.
It took four years for My Chemical Romance to release their fourth album, DANGER DAYS: THE TRUE LIVES OF THE FABULOUS KILLJOYS, but the critics still ate it up, with AllMusic, Alternative Press, and The Guardian all giving it at least four stars. Its sales, however, couldn’t match those of the preceding two albums. For a follow-up, the band went in a surprising direction, releasing five colored double A-side singles in late 2012 and early 2013 – yes, they were also released as downloads – consisting of songs the band had recorded in 2009, prior to the sessions for DANGER DAYS. These tracks were compiled onto an album entitled CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS.
Less than two months after the last of the five CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS singles was released, the band issued a statement to announce their breakup, and a year and three days later, they released a best-of set entitled MAY DEATH NEVER STOP YOU.
In the wake of their breakup, Way released a statement which concluded with the following words:
My Chemical Romance is done. But it can never die.
It is alive in me, in the guys, and it is alive inside all of you.
I always knew that, and I think you did too.
Because it is not a band-
it is an idea.
Of course, Way has continued his music career as a solo artist, and he’s continued his comic-book career as well, but we’re celebrating in the way we know best: by offering up a My Chemical Romance playlist.