Offers to be on the covers of men’s magazines rolled in, while he took part in a photoshoot for a music outlet which saw him dressed in a plain shirt, tie and raincoat. He looked like he could have been in almost any other rock band, and the media was treating him as such. That’s not what My Chemical Romance had ever been about. They needed to start over. They needed to rebel. They needed to become dangerous again.
The album they’d recorded was duly shelved. Gerard then retreated to the California desert for a family vacation, and it was there that he had the epiphany that would lead to his band’s salvation. He realised that the restraints My Chemical Romance had placed on themselves were at odds with their DNA. They’d always been fiercely creative, and he needed to harness that freedom to explore once more.
He turned to a comic he’d been working on about a group of rebels known as the Killjoys for inspiration, and everything began to fall into place. He saw muscle cars, laser guns and brightly-coloured masks, imagining a world where these punky outlaws battled a mega-corporation intent on controlling them. But not only did he see this world, he heard what it sounded like: loud, brash, vibrant and futuristic – like a party to soundtrack the apocalypse.
Na Na Na came first, with an explosion of punk energy that saw Gerard sing about control, consumerism and hyperviolence, set in the fictional world where the Killjoys live. The punk-as-fuck Vampire Money – a middle finger to the Twilight franchise – followed, as did anthemic call to arms SING and dance-punk number Planetary (GO!), the latter a joyous fusion of electronica and rock. Drummer Bob Bryar, apparently unwilling to walk this new path, left the band, but despite that wobble, Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys was now born.
What My Chemical Romance wanted after The Black Parade was freedom, and in the world of the Killjoys, that’s exactly what they found. Discarding the melodrama and personal demons that blighted their previous album, but retaining their emotional, adventurous, storytelling heart, they stepped out of the dark and into the light, drowning themselves in bright colour.